Manual 365/80 Chuff Chuff!

Weekend tend to be a bit of a challenge, most of the week I’m tearing around the country and the moments can just pop into existence (I refer you too my earlier blog) which is great. The thing is when the weekend arrives the last thing I want to do is clock up any more mileage. If you look back across my blog you’ll notice that all of the close to home shots tend to be at weekends. Yesterday was ok because I could exploit my sons situation but today was going to be difficult… Or so I thought.

I’d left home on an errant and was taking a very slight detour to try and get some quarry shots but as I was driving I noticed over the fields on the right was a column of smoke, white smoke… And it was moving… And suddenly… I remembered! The East Somerset Railway!

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I had to chase the bugger but eventually found myself at Cranmore station with The Mendip Belle swapping ends and preparing to pull carriages full of paying passengers busily tucking into their Sunday lunches back down the 2 mile length of track.

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Just after I got this shot The Driver and Fireman (I think I’ve got this right, I’m a camera nerd and only have a very basic knowledge of steam trains)  Stepped down and prepared to connect the engine to the rest of the train. Both with friendly smiles and obviously loving what they are doing. And I thought, bugger it, I’ll probably be told that due to Health and Safety I couldn’t but if I don’t ask I’ll never know.

“Could I get up there?” Nodding towards the drivers cab.

“Of course.” Came the reply

Well, that was refreshing I thought to myself not caring if my coat became covered in soot or grease as I pulled myself up onto the platform and was confronted by a blast of heat from the firebox and a multitude of levers, gauges and pipes.

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And after snagging what looked like a very important lever on my way up I took a moment to ensure that I wasn’t about to disappear into the distance with a train load of bemused passengers… No, we’re not moving but the feeling of pent up power is quite intimidating and I did keep glancing out the side to make sure that nobody had any looks of concern on their faces but all was well, even when a pressure release valve opened and the amount of hiss and steam levelled up somewhat.

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The Driver and Fireman both got back into the cab (one snagging himself on the same lever that I did so that made me feel slightly better!) and we had a little chat about the railway and their other engines. I didn’t ask but I would guess that both these guys are volunteers and I have nothing but admiration for them, to give their time up maintaining something they both clearly care about and I bet the train driving is just a very small part of maintaining this little bit of history!

Thank you Chris and Graham, it was only for a couple of minutes but it completely made my day.

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Choo Choo Peeps!

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