Workmen and another Passion

 

An old fashioned Underground station name sign near the pop up old fashioned cafe on the platform
An old fashioned Underground station name sign near the pop up old fashioned cafe on the platform

After our visitors we had some things to do at our house in the Forest of Dean so an afternoon ferry to Liverpool on the same day as Sarah & Harry left the Island and a drive down the long way (accident on the M6 again) arriving at about 10pm in Clearwell.

We had 7 visitors the following day, a representative of another holiday agency in case we wanted to change from our existing supplier, the plumber who was changing the boiler, our caretaker, the gardener, a BT fitter, a SKY TV fitter and a neighbour (who actually wanted to speak to the plumber) but who will be doing some floor work for us in the future.

Not sure if it was more tiring dealing with these than with all the visitors of the last two weeks but we now have SKY TV and the Internet at the house as well as a boiler the hopefully can be relied upon – the last one was a little unreliable.

The next day we only had one visitor – the chimney sweep – so after he had finished, we managed to get out for a visit to a shop for some essentials before we had to leave having only just managed to test the new central heating control.  As I write this, several visitors have been in the house and (touch wood) I have not heard of a problem with the heating or water – fingers crossed!

L150 at Watford
L150 at Watford

Off to Watford again, though this time for a ride on a steam train on the London Underground System – a rarity.

Having to forgo one passion of a football match (against Swansea) for this steam train ride was difficult but the tickets were bought some time ago before the football fixtures were published and the ride went to places I had not been to for over 40 years ago at a time when we lived at Croxley.

Our coach - No. 394 (115 years old)
Our coach – No. 394 (115 years old)

A long walk from Watford’s town centre – my fault, I didn’t think it was that long – but a sit down in the waiting room pre journey was very welcome for Sally. The train was a sell out and lived up to expectations on it’s ride to Chesham and then back down the line to Harrow-on-the-Hill.

We travelled in coach No. 394 which was built in 1900 by Ashbury for use in the early part of the 20th Century on the Metropolitan Line on it’s service to Chesham so it was on “home territory”. It was withdrawn from everyday service in 1960 and was lovingly restored to pristine condition at the Bluebell Railway, a preserved railway in the South of England.

The compartment comfortably held 10 people with air conditioning provided by using the strap on the door to haul down the window  – pure nostalgia – and lovely comfortable bouncy bench seats totally unlike modern trains.

Wonderful cartography from the Metropolitan Railway
Wonderful cartography from the Metropolitan Railway

As this was a closed compartment, there was no viewing other passengers in adjacent compartments which allowed for old maps as advertising material to adorn the walls.

Off a bit late (so we were told by a geek in the corner who works for South West Trains and was recording every milestone!) but it didn’t matter to us two nor the others in the compartment – a timetable compiler from Irish Rail and his girlfriend along with a local couple and two who worked at Euston, possibly on the HS2 project.

The one remaining place was taken by a London Underground employee who provided a little commentary as we progressed as she was a driver on the line as her day job, having given up a day’s holiday to help out.

Metropolitan No. 1 being watered at Watford
Metropolitan No. 1 being watered at Watford

Even though she had only been a driver for 8 years, she had a few tails to tell, of course, the most alarming of which was when in a storm, the train she was driving hit a tree that fell right in front of her. There were also tails of stray chickens from a chicken farm adjacent to the run down to Chesham but none sighted today.

Passing over the Grand Union Canal just outside Croxley
Passing over the Grand Union Canal just outside Croxley

Many people at the stations we passed through (Croxley, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood and Chalfont & Latimer) with cameras and video equipment and even more in various fields adjacent to the line, some with step ladders and one with a camera on a pole that must have been 20ft high.

A great article on the event appears in Heritage Railway magazine with a photo of the train taken, probably, by one of the four people on the bridge in the background and another passing Chorleywood.

We are in the 2nd coach and with great dry weather, the windows down and an incline most of the way from Rickmansworth to Chalfont & Latimer, the unique and evocative sound of a steam engine could be heard probably by the whole train but certainly by us. It certainly brought back memories of when I was young and travelled (occasionally) to school behind a steam loco.

Metropolitan Railway crest
Metropolitan Railway crest

A slowing down before Chalfont & Latimer before crossing to the single track down to Chesham – no loco noise now as we trundled into the station for a 20 minute stop whilst the steam engines at each end were watered.

Open all doors at a crowded Chesham
Open all doors at a crowded Chesham

The station there is somewhat small so very little room to take photographs with so many people on the train (probably about 300) and we were soon leaving Chesham back the way we came, this time at the back of the train so less in the way of noise from the engine at the front as we climbed the Chess Valley towards Chalfont & Latimer and the main line back through Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, Moor Park and down to Harrow-on-the-hill where sadly we had to leave our heritage journey.

L150 at Harrow-on-the-Hill
L150 at Harrow-on-the-Hill

As the coaches were over 100 years old, the journey speed was restricted to 25mph which in many ways suited us as we had more time to take in the ambience even though it took the “fast line” between Moor Park and Harrow-on-the-Hill.

Back on a normal “tube” to Watford, a taxi back to the centre of town and a drive to Reading to meet up with Flic & Gary.

Flic’s friend, Laura, was with Flic & Gary and was visibly upset as she had just been left by her long time boyfriend which is particularly galling as they had just rented a flat in Winchester on a year lease after Laura had secured her first teaching job after graduating. Dinner out was not on the cards as a result so we had an Indian Takeaway.  Poor Laura.

Poor showing by Holiday Inn Hemel Hempstead in providing us with a bath towel that was mouldy – the staff showed disinterest in my complaint although an on-line comment later secured a better response.

Leaving Liverpool
Leaving Liverpool

A drive the following day up to Liverpool for the ferry back  – weather still fantastic – and a well deserved rest.

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