Tuesday, November 08, 2016

First frosts

The autumn colours have been spectacular this year. These trees were near Saughtrees.

Interested locals on my walk.

Competition time. Spot the odd one out!

Back at Skip, my maple has been stunning this year.

Makes for colourful leaf litter!

The first frosts have taken out the dahlias and the begonias, but this splash of colour seems to be defying the onset of winter. A little strawflower has been my garden find of the year. I've mentioned it before back in June, see here, and it has delighted me all summer and autumn.

I planted up a couple of containers to overwinter, and I thought I was all finished. But the various bulb offers at the garden centre were just too tempting, so it was more compost to be purchased, and more containers looked out. November and December are not my favourite months, but usually by January, there are signs of new growth to herald in 2017. And before we know it will be daffodil time again!

Pix © Skip Cottage

Monday, October 24, 2016

Autumn 2016

Something tells me that autumn is here!

There's good colour on the beech trees this year. The big storms are yet to arrive, so the leaves are staying on the branches, for the moment at least!

Looking east towards the West Coast Main Line. Skip has yet to see the first frost of the autumn but it must be imminent.

Parts of the garden still look colourful. My bed of dahlias has done OK this year.

I just love the vibrant red of this one.

New this year. I love the colour.

This Michaelmas Daisy was a random purchase at the garden centre a couple of months ago, and is absolutely delightful!

Containers have done well this year. I cut back this tub of snapdragons last month ready for the compost heap, but they've had another growth spurt in recent weeks, and seem to be determined to flower into November!

I've planted up some containers with bulbs for spring. But this polyanthus, a leftover from last year, has decided to give me an autumn smile!

Cotoneasters are just so easy to grow, and this C. horizontalis, with its red berries against the white wall, stands out this year. Grown from a cutting too.

My New Year's resolution might be to do more with the garden next year. In June this year, the weather wasn't the best, so it got a bit neglected early on, and I never really got on top of it later. Roll on 2017! I wonder what sort of winter it's going to be?

Pix © Skip Cottage

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Visiting Elvis in Burtersett

I always look forward to visiting the Yorkshire Dales. Last week took me once again to Hawes, where my old friend Brian Alderman currently has his first solo art exhibition, 'Above the Snowline', in Calvert's restaurant at the Wensleydale Creamery.

 
Here's Brian with my favourite of the paintings on show, 'Footsteps in the snow'. The others can be viewed here.

Wooden sculptures in the garden of the Wensleydale Creamery.

And the real thing!

Brian's studio and gallery are in the village of Burtersett, not far from Hawes.

Brian's home used to be at the centre of village life!


The gallery is open Thursdays - Sundays, and visitors are always warmly welcomed.

Lots to see in the gallery.

Meet Elvis, who rules the back garden with his 'ladies'!

Feeding time at Burtersett!

Brian's website is here if you want to make contact with him. Perhaps you might have a commission for him?

Photos © Skip Cottage

Friday, October 14, 2016

Buses everywhere

I have to confess that I don't find old buses quite as exciting as trams, trolleybuses and steam locomotives. Nevertheless, the opportunity to visit the Bridgeton Bus Garage, the home of the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust, on their Open Weekend recently, was not to be missed.

Colourful scenes inside ...

... especially the iconic Glasgow Corporation colours of years past.

My earliest bus memories are of travelling on a single decker, along Mosspark Drive, in the early 1950s. The terminus was at the shops at the Cardonald end of Mosspark Drive, just beside where I lived, and the bus ran into the city centre, stopping beside Inglis' shop, at the junction of Hope Street and Argyle Street, near to the Hielanman's Umbrella. For the life of me, I cannot remember the route number, although I want to say it was 45, but that service number had been applied to a different route by 1963, see here. The service along Mosspark Drive must have been stopped later in the 1950s.

I thought when I saw this in the distance that it was the single decker that I remember from my childhood. But all is not what it seems, from this front view. The vehicle is a cut down double decker, latterly used as a recovery vehicle. Read its history here.

This 45 route I do remember well enough. The history of SGD 500 is here.

At the Open Weekend there were lots of stalls to browse, whatever one's interest.

I remember the 'red buses' (as I used to call them) which ran from the characterful Waterloo Street bus station along Paisley Road West to Paisley.

This one though provided sevice with Central SMT, and is a Leyland Titan PD2/10 dating from 1954, details here.

I remember her well!

I have to include a photo of an Alexander bus. It's a Leyland Lion LT5B dating from 1934, history here. Notice the starting handle!

The collection includes an iconic London bus - this AEC Routemaster 5RM from 1965, see here.

Although the collection is heavily focussed on buses, there are other vehicles to be admired. I rather liked this Dennis F8 fire engine from 1958, see here.

There was opportunity to ride on some of the vehicles around the city!

The GVVT was established in 2002. Its website is here.

Pics © Skip Cottage. Thanks go to Robin Shand who let me know about the GVVT Open Weekend. The dates went into my diary and the result was an interesting 'away day', with lots of nostalgia!

Monday, October 03, 2016

Tracklesses and frogs at Sandtoft

This photo may well bring back some memories for those who grew up in Glasgow in the 1950s and 60s! A Glasgow trolleybus in action  - yesterday, at the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft.

I recall Glasgow trolleybuses as being called the 'silent death', as those more used to rattling trams and growling motor buses were inclined just to step into the road without looking, if they didn't hear anything coming!

A visit to the Trolleybus Museum has been at the top of my 'to do' list for more than a year. It is only open on certain weekends, and it is a longish drive from Skip, situated as it is in Lincolnshire, just off the M180 between Doncaster and Scunthorpe. The weather forecast yesterday was set fair, so I made an early start, to enjoy the drive over the A66 to Scotch Corner and down the new, almost completed A1(M), in light traffic.

It turned into one of my best ever 'away days'!

Three 'tracklesses' (as trolleybuses were called in some places) were in action round the loop within the museum grounds. This is Nottingham 493, built in 1943, and retired from service in 1965.

London 1348, is one of two London trolleybuses in the collection, survivors of a total of 1891 vehicles that were used in the city between 1931 to 1962. This K2, with Leyland body and chassis, was new to the fleet in 1939, and was withdrawn from service in 1961. It has six wheels, ie, three axles.

I was really pleased to see a Glasgow vehicle, in the colours I remember so well from my younger days. TB78 dates from 1958, and is a British United Traction 9613T vehicle with Crossley bodywork. The last day of trolleybus operation in Glasgow was May 27, 1967, and went largely ignored, in contrast to the day in September 1962 when some quarter of a million people turned out to see the end of the trams! Trolleybuses never captured the affection of the Glasgow public, as much as the trams had done. But, looking back, they kindle many good memories for me.

It's my platform, but 'Welcome Aboard'!

My day ticket to the museum allowed multiple rides, and it was great fun taking advantage of this. This time I'm on the upper deck, this happily in 2016 smoke free, compared with back in the 1960s.

Glasgow's coat of arms on the bus side.

 
ERL Fitzpayne was general manager from 1943 until 1969. He's mentioned in this article as 'a man of vision and radical ideas, not all of which were acceptable to his political masters'. The article has lots of fascinating information about Glasgow's buses and trolleybuses.


The museum has more than 50 trolleybuses in its collection, in a variety of states of preservation. It was great to be able to explore the storage sheds and find examples from all round the country! Peaking out is Bradford 746.

Three deep in places!

There is a cinema too, and I spent an hour, or more, watching footage of trolleybuses being driven around various cities.

 
The collection contains trolleybus examples from further afield. This is Aachen 22, from Germany. It was built in 1956. It has a Henschel 562E chassis, a Ludewig body and Siemens electrical equipment (as I learned!) 

Also on the site is this wonderful post-war prefab. In my early teens I had a friend who stayed in a prefab in Fleurs Avenue in Glasgow. Back then I was completely naive about the deficiences of these buildings, I was just impressed he lived in a detached house!

I felt right at home in this 1950s living room!

This was in the bathroom. I am pretty sure that 'Izal Medicated Toilet Tissue' was a government April fool's joke that ran and ran. In the days before labrador puppies, life was not always 'comfortable'!

Throughout the day, I kept hearing references to 'frogs'.

Turns out that a 'frog' is trackless speak for the 'points' on the overhead wires, as here. The things you learn!

It is the job of the conductor to change the frog, here on the turning circle, and signal to the driver that all is in order to proceed.

This shop window contained photographic equipment from days past. Remembering most of what was on display, made me appreciate my new digital camera!

Included in the museum ticket was a 30 minute bus tour of the local area, with commentary from guide Andy. Fascinating. And I learned that No 1357, a regular motor bus, is 'a Leyland Atlantean PDR 1/1 with a 9.8 litre Leyland 0.600 engine driving through a four-speed semi-automatic epicyclic gearbox and 77-seat Weymann bodywork'. (Yes, I bought the Museum Fleet Handbook, but there's a lot of information about all the vehicles in the collection on the museum's website here.)

This is Nottingham 802, a tower wagon, converted from a double decker bus.

Now, this is a wonderful story. It is what remains of a Hastings trolleybus from the 1920s, converted into a home by a former POW after WW2. Hopefully one day it will be restored to its former glory, and its past life remembered.

What really makes visits to places like the Trolleybus Museum so much fun is the friendliness and enthusiasm of the volunteers. Richard, a driver, and Mike, on conductor duties, went out of their way to ensure I had a good time.

Later in the day, when it was quieter, they insisted I sit in the cab of Glasgow TB78. Made my day! No, I wasn't driving it, except in my mind's eye. But what a great experience. Full marks, Sandtoft!

Photos © Skip Cottage