Back from Berlin! Here’s what I got up to before going.

The main station at Mangapps Railway Museum.

Such is the buggered state of the ticketing of our railway network, that I discovered an interesting fact:  It often costs the same – sometimes cheaper – to get a ticket to visit a town just outside London with a one-month return period as it does to just get a ticket into London with the same conditions.  Before heading into Berlin I had this brainwave when I failed to obtain cheap flights at a sensible time that wouldn’t entail a night in a London Airport, due to the fact that the trains go to bed as well as we do; faced with the prospect of a night on the Red Bull, I opted to take the Eurostar instead (with onward ICE connections to Berlin), but once again I had been thwarted in my attempts to go at a sensible time in the morning that left me enough leeway to take the train into London.

This led me to book a single-night stay beforehand at a Hostel known as Clink 261, virtually right outside London St. Pancras International.  At a cost of £14 booked a little over two months in advance, this wasn’t too bitter a pill to swallow when my train travel to Europe had cost just under £180.  With this in mind, it occurred to me that seeing as I had a full day before I had to head into London anyway, why not make a day out of it?

Let’s conduct an experiment for a moment; as of the 8th of July (the time of writing), a one-month ticket to London Zones 1-6 costs £42.80 should you stick to off-peak times, so both the London Ticket and Town Tickets will be from Monday 9th at around 9am to Friday 13th(!) at around 8pm for the sake of comparison.  With this in mind, let’s examine a few destinations under the same conditions:

  • Burnham-on-Crouch:  £39.50 – This is where I elected to go in order to visit Mangapps Railway Museum, which isn’t the easiest to get to on foot, but still a highly interesting collection of Locomotives, Rolling Stock and Railwayana.
  • Tunbridge Wells:  £33.10 – This Kentish town is home to Tunbridge Wells West, one end of the Spa Valley Railway.
  • East Grinstead:  £30.20 – The highest risk option, given that the only way in-or-out from London is via perpetually strike-stricken Southern trains, but the carrot on this particular stick is the Bluebell Railway, that beautiful pioneer of Railway Preservation.

So we pick three destinations close to London, and we save £3.30£9.70, and £12.60 respectively.  Sure, if you opt to only use Zone 1 of the Underground, you’ll get a price of £38.60, which is cheaper than Burnham-on-Crouch, but it is still above the prices of Tunbridge Wells and East Grinstead by a considerable margin.The only issue you are likely to encounter is some of the gates into the London Underground throwing a wobbly, which isn’t exactly helpful in the late evening, but there’s usually at least one worker near the gates who’ll let you through.  Oddly enough, when I got to London Waterloo for the final leg of the journey, the ticket barriers worked without issue!

Come to think of it, many Hostels offer a lift to London Airports, so this is something worth investigating the next time I have to fly to GodKnowsWhere at Silly ‘o’ Clock in the night.

In any case, here is my photo album of the quirky and interesting Mangapps Railway Museum.

 

Berlin – Just passing through? Not this time…

S-Bahn Train at Berlin Hbf.

If it seems to those who view my Flickr page think I have an affinity for Germany, they’re right.  As a kid in Secondary School I was a little bitter that I had to learn Spanish as opposed to German; after all, what the hell did Spain do during the war, right?

Of course, this was before I learned about Latin America and the many exciting phenomena there; A desert drier than Weetabix, spiders that cure ED, and steam trains left in salt flats to crumble into dust.  If I’m going to go there in the next year, I’ve got anywhere from seven to nineteen months to make up for all the nights spent with Babel Fish instead of doing my god-damn homework.

Anyway, that’s then, and this is now:  In a month’s time I shall turn a stopping point in my Germany trips so far into a destination.

My dalliances with the city so far

Both times I have been through Berlin, I came in via Tegel Airport to the north-west.  A fairly unremarkable place, probably not such a good starting point if you’re allergic to taxis like I am; the buses are only for those who want to know what it feels like to be at crush-depth underwater whilst breathing bottled air from the rainforest.

From there it was straight to Berlin Hauptbahnhof, for onwards passage to Leipzig on the first trip, Züssow on the second.  And that’s really all there is to report, me and my father never really travelled far beyond the station, the Tiergarten being the furthest extent of our wandering.

Sniping deals on accommodation and travel for numpties

This is how much difference two weeks makes.

In the middle of April, around the 14th, I snagged three nights at a hotel literally minutes away from Berlin Hbf, giving me a lot of scope for onward travel throughout the city and possibly beyond.  Three nights for ~£110, or ~£37 a night.  Breakfast is a bit expensive but I’m sure I’ll work around that.

Fast forward to the 25th, 11 days on, and the time has come for me to book my flights.  I plan to come into Schönefeld as it has an S-Bahn right next to it, which immediately sticks two fingers up at that god-awful bus.  Guess what kind of conundrum I had to wrestle with?  The age-old dilemma of getting cheap flights at ridiculous times, or selling your house to obtain reasonable flight times.

As we all know, the railway networks virtually shut down at around 1am – Something I first discovered when planning my route back to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam at the end of a 3-day stint there – and don’t resume service until 6am.  This is a necessary evil, as this allows ballast to be relaid, worn rails replaced, and for the railway network to be healthier and happier as a result.  But that is of scant comfort when you find yourself stuck in an airport terminal at 9pm trying to sleep like an exhausted marching soldier in wait for an ambush  a flight at 6am.

Given the content of this blog, you can probably guess how I responded to this dilemma.  I called upon the gods of the iron horse, of course!  Okay, I was still paying ridiculous money for such a simple trip to a European capital, and the time of the incoming journey still requires me to stay at a hostel the night before, but keep in mind, both endpoints of a rail journey are almost always next to or in the centre of the cities and towns they serve, there’s no need to site the station miles out of town to comply with noise regulations, or even just to find a plot of land big enough for the runways.

Now, I can appreciate that in one instance I am referring to a Hotel, and in another the inbound journey, but the point remains.  I’ve heard that in order to get the best deals on hotels, you should wait until a few weeks before you go to snag the best deals; I’ve never tested this successfully, but I expect that during peak tourist season it’s best to just snap up them tickets early before they evaporate.  Maybe I should’ve booked the travel tickets first…

In short, I wasn’t prepared to board the plane in a semi-lucid state to save a few tenners, and frankly I hate airports, so if I’m gonna pay close to £200 to travel to Berlin, I might as well do it the only way I truly love – scything through the land at ground level.

Targets of Opportunity

Calm down, I haven’t hired Lancaster Bombers to level the city, although I could probably enjoy a Lancaster Bomber Beer to steel my nerves before the epic train trip over (London St. Pancras – Brussels Zuid – Cologne – Berlin).  These are simply sites in the city I have in my sights:

Tempelhofer Feld

Do I really need to explain this?  It’s a massive airport, preserved since it’s closure in 2008 as a public park.  Pity I can’t pretend to be a DC-4 without attracting concerned looks…

Deutsches Technikmuseum

This one kills two birds with one stone, as it features both aviation and railway exhibits.  I never realized how hard it was to find aviation and railway museums abroad until I tried it, and only knowing basic German phrases does not help matters.

Another highlight is that the site resides next to a disused 19th Century Berlin train station known as Dresdener Bahnhof.

Computerspiele Museum

This is a museum about gaming, presumably on both console and PC.  Gaming made up such a big part of my childhood, it is impossible to give this one a miss.

All set?

I am, pretty much:  Travel and Hotel are done, all I really need is insurance.  Nothing to really do now except await the fun.

Until then, there’s always Boris:

Unearthing my childhood: Layout in the shed

A Garden Shed that once contained a Model Railway.

As is the custom in the United Kingdom, the slightest appearance of sunshine brings on a plethora of attempts to make the most of the good weather before it buggers off behind the clouds once more.  As such, my dad has taken to repairing and renovating the garden shed that once contained my childhood OO Gauge Model Railway, which he built.

I will admit that I probably didn’t appreciate this layout as much as I should’ve, being around 12 and all, as the track was eventually lifted and the shed spent the longest time under two jurisdictions; On the left there was the side for my brother, James, which was usually covered in car parts, and on the right was my side, where a lot of effort was expended wrecking the once-pristine surface with careless DIY.  Now that all of that is gone, imagine my elation when I came to discover that thanks to my dad’s decision to use double-sided tape to secure the track, the outline where trains once ran is still very-much traceable.  It’s not often that I get to play archaeologist.

So, without further ado, join me this week as I explore the relics of my forgotten start in railway modelling.

The ghosts of Hornby’s past

Coming into the shed, and observing the former trackbed for the first time in years, it is clear that the ravages of time, nature and UV light have not been kind to the shed.

The left side of the old OO Gauge layout.
The baseboards are of Medium-Density Fibreboard, which isn’t a great material as far as pinning the track down is concerned, so it’s no wonder my dad chose double-sided tape instead. Sagging and what I assume to be mould are in abundance.
The middle of the old OO Gauge layout.
Not much going on in the middle, apart from the spur to the turntable.
The right side of the old OO Gauge layout.
Probably the main action area of the layout. Once the home of a turntable and locomotive shed, this turned into my main area for DIY once the track was lifted, hence the spray paint and holes.  To be honest I don’t know what I was thinking putting that sticker of a city on the hillside of the faded Peco backscene; this would be like improving a Picasso artwork by sticking an airfix model of a tank to it.

So maybe time for a refurb…

A BRM-style review of the trackplan

For anyone making a start in model railways, I would seriously recommend getting the three volumes of the BRM Guide to Trackplans & Layout Design.  These are superbly laid-out guides on how to design and build an effective model railway layout, and they contain colour plans and descriptions of many successful layouts of all sizes, as well as beginner-friendly bullet point lists of the good and bad points.

Another reason to get them is that they also contain articles clearing up some of the lingo in the hobby, such as what code 100 and code 75 mean with regards to OO Gauge track.  The three volumes contain content which is progressively more advanced, with Volume One containing articles geared towards the basics like layout location and baseboard construction; Volume Two goes more in-depth with modelling locations, track design and maximising the space you have available; Volume Three has articles almost entirely focused on modelling real-world locations, so you can see how your skills are expected to develop over time.  If you are just starting out, and you have to pick one, get Volume One.

So, for the sake of brevity, and because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (wink, wink!), let’s break out Anyrail 6, retrace the trackplan as best we can, and assess these remains in closer detail.

Plan of Old Train Shed OO Gauge Layout in Anyrail 6.
An approximate reconstruction of the original layout, done in Anyrail 6. This layout was constructed in a space of approx. 2894mm x 1689mm, or 9ft 6in x 5ft 6.5in. 57XX Pannier Tank and two BR Mk1 Carriages for scale.  N.B:  The light-grey rectangle beside the right flank of the layout is a proposed extension to the baseboard, it is not currently fitted.

Starting from where the Pannier Tank and Mk1 Carriages are located, we move off into what can be considered the main run of the layout, negotiating the outer loop, we cross the diamond crossing and turn right on the points (the left heads into a rudimentary two siding goods yard) to enter the inner loop.  After crossing the diamond crossing again, we cross the middle section into the right flank, rounding the curve passing the engine shed with it’s turntable, and we cross the spur leading to it to come back where we started.

As we can gather from that description, it was clear that dad intended to buy mostly tank engines as the motive power for the railway, and as it happened, these made up the majority of the fleet.  That said, I did treasure a couple of tender locomotives in my fleet; a Midland 2P and the A4 Pacific Mallard as I recall.  Many of my operating days on this layout were pockmarked by derailments of the tender engines as they tried to negotiate curves they were never suited for.  The light-grey extension to the baseboard, which brings it up to the door frame just like on the other side, would’ve permitted 2nd radius curves to be used, saving a lot of frustration.  Of course, this would also mean some kind of bypass on the left flank, before the diamond crossing.

While I can appreciate what dad did for me nowadays, given that he likely knew less about model railways then compared to what I know now (which, as I’m discovering with every problem I run into with my layout, is not a lot), back then, I clearly didn’t give this layout the love it deserved either.  Granted, I was twelve, but I still think that if I had made a bit of effort to make the layout my own, i.e:  added scenery and detail, it may never have been mothballed, but become a treasured surviving part of my childhood.

For
  • Use of the diamond crossing allows for two loops where only one might exist otherwise, extending the run.
  • Turntable and engine shed provide a perfect place for showcasing the fleet.
Against
  • First Radius curves used too often on the main run, causing tender engines to derail.
  • Not much room for a substantial station.
  • Goods yard could easily be turned into something more substantial, such as a shunting puzzle.
  • Rudimentary scenic detail with no landscape leaves viewers in the dark as to the theme.

What the future holds…

This area is indeed ripe for development, and the timing is great, too.  Product-wise, these are exciting times for the Railway Modelling hobby, and not just in terms of locomotives and rolling stock – even if those are a little expensive – but the scratch/kit building end of the hobby is being revolutionized by the emergence of 3D printing; from obscure classes of stock, scenic objects and people, to spares for out-of-production locomotives.  Even if you are on a strict budget, companies like 3dk are allowing people to take advantage of the widespread abundance of decent photo printers to provide designs that can be printed in perpetuity, saving a lot of money especially when recycling waste card.

Needless to say, the N Gauge layout is giving me enough trouble, so maybe a project for next year.  In the meantime, there’s always Anyrail 😉

Move Report

So I return.  Back to square one, as they say.  I am back to essentially living in shared accommodation – albeit without so much trust issues – with my parents, in my boyhood home, no less.

This has required a little creativity on my part to get all the stuff into my former bedroom.  No longer does my model railway have pride-of-place on the living room table, for example, but currently rests against a sealed fireplace chocked by all the gear I plan to install on it!  It’s just as well that I didn’t turn the baseboard into a table after all.

Of course, once you get a taste of the true independence of your own flat, you go through a kind of culture-shock of relearning how to live with other people.  Noise in particular has to be tightly regulated, especially during the evenings; no more forgetting to switch to headphones when gaming past 9pm.  On that note, you also lose a lot of control over the noise levels in the place, as there are now many people who’d like to interject.

On the plus side, here are some boons that I, and the projects I do, can look forward to:

  1. A lack of responsibilities with regards to utility bills, taxes and household supplies means a burgeoning kitty; I remember telling myself that I would save up for driving lessons, or that I’d buy welding equipment to start building bicycles.  I suppose discipline may have been lacking (I may have loved my sweeties a little too much!), but equally there was always some fire to put out, some annoyance to kill.  I put this first because, frankly, I’d by lying if I wasn’t that significant.
  2. That same lack of tasks leads to more free time, arguably more valuable than the money especially when DIY is on the cards.
  3. A greatly simplified commute.  Each change of train adds a point of failure, and to go from Bracknell to Guildford requires two, sometimes three trains, any of which can turn up late.  Now it is but a single journey from Farnborough with much shorter stretches on foot.  Hell, I don’t even need no stinking trains, taking the ‘lectric bike only requires an hour of my precious time, with about the same door-to-door time as the train!
  4. Gorgeous George ❤

George (22)

 

So, Money, Time, Less Stress and Das Porge; really, there isn’t much to report beyond that.

Well, it’s been fun, but I gotta move out…

This is a post whose title almost makes any subsequent text redundant. Essentially, my tenancy in my flat has come to an end, and I move back in with my parents by the end of the month.

How will this affect the blog?

As much as it satisfies me to produce them, don’t expect any long, in-depth posts for at least a month. Boxing up all my books, transporting my four bicycles back one-by-one and then finally taking all my gear back over by my dad’s car, then unboxing at the other end, is basically a part-time job for no pay.

I’ve got a good mind to schedule a number of posts over the coming weeks to keep the blog ticking over. These posts will be simple, much the same length as this one. Perhaps I could introduce you to some YouTube channels I have been enjoying?

Any good news?

There is, actually. For one, the lack of bills such as Council Tax, Utilities, Internet, Food Shops and, most of all, Train Commute Fares, means that my projects ought to get a funding boost. This boon is compounded by the fact that I have learned from my past and as such, I am sticking to only one major project, the N Gauge dual-scene Layout.

Then again, I don’t think I’ll appreciate that quite as much as coming home to my fluffy boy George.

Ciao for now 🙂

New Year’s Resolution 2017

So how does one decide on a good New Year’s Resolution?

If you ask me, the question above is a bit off the mark.  Expanding it out to “How does one decide upon a New Year’s Resolution that one is motivated to accomplish, and provides meaningful rewards?” helps, but let’s face it, the real question is “How does one ensure that they actually follow through this time?”

I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with this one myself.  My resolution for 2017 was “Make 2017 the year I truly fly the nest“, and it would’ve worked out if it weren’t for those meddling mortgage lenders, who seem to have been turned inside out since 2008; rather than lend carelessly to every Tom, Dick and Harry coming along, even if they knew they were unreliable (I guess commissions were pretty tasty for the staff back then), the lenders shy away from giving out mortgages even though the borrowers have been used to paying almost twice as much in rent for over a year (such as le moi).  Anyone else in this boat?  Feel free to post your tales in the comments 😉

And so we come to our first lesson:  Try to minimize the impact of external circumstances, or to word it another way, try to depend as little as possible on things outside of your control.  As much as it is panned by both peers and comedians alike, the “go on a diet” or “lose weight” type resolutions are at least based upon taking control of what you eat and your activity levels.  It’s just a pity that the only ones who grin at the prospect of these resolutions being uttered are gym owners and those who work for the Health-Industrial-Complex.

Needless to say, you’re going to want something to push your envelope.  Nothing along the lines of “I will live like Father Jack Hackett” if you’re an alcoholic.

Pushing your boundaries cannot be understated here.  You’ve got a year to do this, so why not take on a giant stumbling block in your life?  If you have just started a small business for the first time, try making 2018 the calender year where you turn a profit for the first time (I know tax years begin on April 6th in the UK, but come on, when the year ends you’ll want to know how you did).  If you have renewed your interest in a subject you flunked in school, tackle it.  Perhaps you could go for rewards which are more intrinsic and personal, such as learning to read Shakespeare; I’m sure you think you can grasp it already, such as when you were being led by the hand by the teacher at school, but trust me, all those words, idioms and other linguistic conventions forgotten by history begin to mount up, and make you feel like you’re hacking your way through some kind of phraseological jungle.

On a final note, make sure you can actually fucking do it.  As crass as that sounds, and as much as modern Positive Thinking makes of taking on “Big Goals”, there’s no sense in trying to take on a pack of wolves with a knife, or attempting to train your lungs to do without oxygen by climbing the Andes and pushing yourself to progressively higher altitudes without an oxygen tank.  Know your limits.

To help you grasp these lessons, and just for fun, here’s some of mine that failed to make the cut:

  1. Become entirely self-employed by 2018 – Sounds good in theory, but when it comes to business and money it pays to stop thinking in terms of your extrinsic rewards and focus on rewarding the customer.  It takes time to find that kind of groove anyway, plus taking your time allows you to resist the “get-rich-quick” mindset.
  2. Resolve to never again try to migrate 5000+ photos from one platform to another – Moving from Facebook to Flickr made my photos accessible to all, and in full resolution, but it’s been two years and counting.  I think this one can take care of itself as far as motivation is concerned.
  3. Make my first model railway layout good enough to run at an exhibition – Really?  I can appreciate that with a little creativity, a lot can be done in a space of 3ft x 2ft 3in, but I only really need somewhere to run my trains.

With this in mind, my New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is this:  Complete my first Model Railway Layout

As I said before, this is my first layout, so I’d better cut me some slack and focus on refining my skills.  With a good base of skills, I can do a good job of the little touches that make a layout truly special.  Below is an image from the relevant Flickr album, showing my current progress:

Laying Cork Trackbed (3)

Be sure to hold me to my word.

Happy 2018.

The State of the Blog going forward

Isfield Station on the Lavender Line from the far platform

After a 1 year and 4 month haitus, I have decided to condense my social media presence, centring around the Girder Gibbon blog.

So what does this actually entail?  Well, to answer that, we need to tot-up all the online presences I actually have:

As you can gather, that’s a lot of maintenance for one little guy!  A lot has happened in my personal life since I first began to blog, despite what little appearances were made on all of these portals into my work and life.  I went through several jobs, I attempted to start a small business, and I even moved into my first flat!

In case you think I just ground my youth up into money, I also had several adventures along the way, such as visiting Scotland for the first time, going on a few forays into Germany seeking relics from the war, and even taking my first holiday outside of Europe to the Phillippines; all is evidenced by my Flickr account.

All these factors combined have served to ensure that my online presence suffered through constant procrastination, with the only account really receiving much attention being Flickr, and even that didn’t escape at times.  What I am shooting for is a situation not unlike this:

Two things you’ll notice; Tawe TMD is no longer a separate entity, but will be combined into the Girder Gibbon repertoire.  The Tawe TMD Blog, Facebook Page, and Twitter Feed will remain in an archived state for any future references I’ll need from them.  I’ll probably drop Pinterest due to it only being a timewaster, with no serious content really making it there.

Alongside the amalgamation of my accounts, will also come a little housekeeping with regards to the format and grammar of this blog.  It’s only when you read blog posts from a few years ago that you realize just how strangely your mind worked back then, never mind any proofreading you inevitably did.

With any luck, the move will go smoothly and efficiently, and the Girder Gibbon blog will take on a new lease of life for at least the coming year.

Ciao for now (Red Dwarf is back to form, in case you needed a heads up!)

I’m going to Germany, it’s about time :)

Given the header of this blog as well as this post category, virtually no-one ought to be surprised that I like to make impromptu adventures from the British Railway System.  Our network has it’s problems, we cannot deny that when there’s a train on our tracks that’s been consistently late for over a year, but the sense of trepidation crossed with anticipation, often combined with the view out of the window, simply cannot be matched.  Extra points are awarded when your tickets were bought on the day, so you can take a different route back down again 🙂

Not to be outdone, my Dad has organised an almost week-long trip across Germany with a leg in Poland; This holiday features much in the way of World War 2, with visits to Colditz Castle and Stalag Luft III being major attractions.  The Itinerary, detailed by day:

  1. Fly to Berlin, take the ICE to Leipzig, sleep.
  2. Take local trains to Grimma, hop on the bus to Colditz Castle, sleep in the German Guard Quarters 🙂
  3. Bus on back to Grimma, Hop on train to Leipzig, then Forst, then on to Żagań in Poland, sleep again.
  4. Mill around Stalag Luft III, after which we catch trains to Forst, then Cottbus, Berlin, finally reaching Hamburg where we’ll kip in the Station Hotel 😀
  5. Swan off to Miniatur Wunderland, take a gargantuan amount of photos, watch in regret as my camera runs out of battery, fly home.
  6. After the sleep to end all sleeps, gaze at how many photographs I’ve garnered, cry softly into my next sleep…

Incidentally, these trips are pre-booked, which doesn’t quite fit into the spirit of train tripping by my definition – If I had the money I would be taking aimless stabs at which routes to travel on, sailing into the first hotel I saw that evening, and returning home only when my bank went into the red!  But he’s done a good job meshing these trains together, and he’s taking me on trains with mandatory reservations anyway, so huge props to him.

On a counter-cultural note, Package Holidays always seemed so retarded to me:  Why would anyone escape their daily grind in hotels and flights specced down to a price, neatly sequestered from the real culture of the place, and following a strict itinerary?  In other words, another grind!

Let’s pack the ranting in, now, for it threatens the good spirit of the holiday.  I don’t expect to be able to write posts neither here nor Tawe TMD for at least 2 weeks, mostly because of the photos.

God help me…

Train Trip Rehab

Train Trip Withdrawal…  The very last trio of words I ever envisaged coming from my mouth.

On the runup to Christmas, I got made redundant by text (and I thought being dumped by text was a raw deal), whilst taking a boat ride through London, no less!  Shock and horror aside, I still managed a good 8 month run on a contract that was angelic enough to pay weekly; enough, it turns out, to make a near-weekly habit of Train Tripping.

As I sit here, with J2O bottles supplanting my water intake, I thought I’d go through some of the amazing places I wound up in, I say “wound up in” since I never really research my ride beyond a quick perusal of Google Maps and TheTrainLine.  In no order in particular, here we go:


Swanage Diesel Gala 2014

Being in love with the Metropolitan doesn't mean you do daft things to trains...
Being in love with the Metropolitan doesn’t mean you do daft things to trains…

A splendid day, not only were there many thrashing diesels but I fondly remembered the rattlebox tin cans that were the 4-CIGs running from Waterloo, courtesy of the hilariously faux-wood painted 4TC above.  My only regret was to fail to ride the Deltic and the Class 47, though the latter charged through Harman’s Cross with a thunderous determination I shall carry to my grave.

Zedex 2014, Didcot

That sugar cube on the left taunts me - I have no idea how to Google it!
That sugar cube on the left taunts me – I have no idea how to Google it!

A miniature event, in both subject and size!  It only occupied a room the size of a school lunch hall, which wouldn’t be so significant if this wasn’t a National Exhibition!  Pettiness aside, this is the event that enshrined Z gauge in my heart, by that I mean I *must* build a Z gauge layout before I die, or I lose honour and must be cast out to sea with no proper burial.

Holyhead, where Portsmouth Harbour meets London Marylbone

This is my phone background currently :P
This is my phone background currently 😛

This station is a genuine curiosity – it’s split between two sets of platforms by a dock and some kind of commercial building, has a port adjoined taking people to the Emerald Isle, and seems mostly empty; that last bit reminds me of Hull Paragon.  The North Wales Coast Line is easily the most spectacular I’ve ridden to date, with sandy beaches (as opposed to the painfully awkward shingle we usually have) punctuated with sheer cliffs along which the line zips with carefree abandon.

After this, I'll hear no arguments whether or not Wales is an amazing place to be.
After this, I’ll hear no arguments whether or not Wales is an amazing place to be.

I don’t even need to comment on this one, I lost track of time in this place, and spend the journey back catching the last trains of the night!  House prices are goddamn cheap here, too; £500/month gets you a 2 Bed Terraced House!  Here in Camberley you can’t even get a place with your own kitchen for that!  A place for once I’ve made it, perhaps?

Bluewater Shopping Centre, Christmas Shopping from Greenhithe

This is how you spend 45 mins hiking to get to the shops...
This is how you spend 45 mins hiking to get to the shops…

This one was a bizarre one, I somehow believed there might be an overbridge from the cliffs above this place, in spite of Google Maps suggesting otherwise, the result was hoofing around some residential areas and motorways for almost an hour – a great way to break in new shoes!  I almost feel feminine talking about Christmas shopping, but overall this was an awesome run where I even made it back before rush hour.  Glorious 🙂

The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway

Once my breakfast-carrying model railway is built, all goods trains sport this look by law.
Once my breakfast-carrying model railway is built, all goods locomotives sport this look by law 😀

Dr. Syn, standing proud in all his malevolent glory, made this trip alone.  Don’t get me wrong, Samson is still on my loco hit list, but the good doctor has displaced him as my favourite.  Miniature seaside towns worthy of the Isle of Wight connected by an equally dinky railway, makes for a good goddamn treat indeed…

As a parting gift, Sandling Station gave me this decrepit NSE Relic :)
As a parting gift, Sandling Station gave me a photo of this decrepit NSE Relic 🙂

Horwich Parkway, gateway to Scan Computers

A surprisingly rural place to end up for a computer store...
A surprisingly rural place to end up for a computer store…

I’m a major fan of Scan Computers, while they offer the basics on a platinum platter such as fast delivery, low prices and Scansure insurance (protects your shiny bits from accidental installation damage), I’m mostly into their Saved Baskets feature – I’m aware that I’m 12, thank you.

I went here to settle an internal debate of 4K vs 1080p Eyefinity, which I conclusively failed to do here, and I still haven’t settled it.  What is settled is that I freaking love trips that give two options to reach somewhere with the same ticket!

On the way up I went from Farnborough Main to London Waterloo, then Euston to Manchester Piccadilly to Horwich Parkway; back down I went from eating pizza on the platform at Horwich Parkway to changing at Preston to get back to Euston, followed by an eternity lost in exploring London on foot, to return via Paddington and Reading to Farnborough North.  I think this paragraph just handily summed up my love of Train Trips.

Farewell, Train Trips, you will be sorely missed as I “grow into a man” and take on “proper” responsibilities like saving money.