Posted in Events

World Sauntering Day

Grand Hotel Mackinac IslandWorld Sauntering Day occurs annually on June 19. Sauntering is a verb to describe a style of walking, slowly preferably with a joyful disposition. World Sauntering Day was proposed order to encourage people to slow down once in a while and take it easy, occasionally, smell the roses, enjoy life.and appreciate the world around them instead of rushing through life. The exact year of its origin is unclear, but it is credited to have begun at the Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island) in Michigan during the 1970s. The Grand Hotel has the worlds’ longest porch at 660′ in length, and it was built by W.T. Rabe as a response towards the growing movement of recreational jogging. Sauntering has been spoken of most notably by many of the naturalist writers in history including Henry David Thoreau and John Burroughs who wrote:

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”
― John Burroughs, Leaf and Tendril

Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

The Time Warrior

imageI have recently watched this classic Doctor Who episode starring Jon Pertwee and Elizabeth Sladen. It begins In the Middle Ages, when the Cruel Warlord Irongron and his Master-at-Arms Bloodaxe, together with their rabble of criminals, discover the crashed spaceship of a Sontaran warrior named Commander Linx, who strikes a bargain with Irongron and offers him high tech weapons which will allow him to conquer his neighbours and become king, in exchange for materials and help with which to repair his ship and return home.

Meanwhile back in the present day scientists are mysteriously vanishing from a top secret research complex and The Doctor and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) of U.N.I.T. are called in to investigate. The Doctor discovers that a Sontaren Commander is at large and has kidnapped the scientists by means of an Osmic Projector which has allowed him to project himself 800 years into the future, from the Middle Ages to the present day and kidnap and brain wash the scientists into helping him rebuild his damaged spaceship. While investigating The Doctor meets an eccentric scientist called Rubeish and a inquisitive young journalist called Sarah Jane Smith, (Elizabeth Sladen), who has infiltrated the complex by masquerading as a Scientist. Later that evening Rubeish also disappears and the Doctor follows the trail back to the Middle Ages, unaware that Sarah-Jane has also stowed away on board the TARDIS.

Irongron comes up with a devious plan to attack and  take Wessex Castle from Lord Edward of Wessex using the high-tech weapons supplied by Linx, so Lord Edward sends an archer Named Hal on a mission to Assassinate Irongron. Meanwhile Sarah Jane is captured and brought before Irongron. Linx constructs a Robot Knight which is dispatched to deal with Hal, but is prevented by timely intervention by The Doctor. In The ensuing confusion both Hal and Sarah flee to Weesex Castle. The next morning irongron and his troops attack the castle using the high-tech weapons supplied by Linx.

Later The Doctor and Sarah-Jane infiltrate the Castle disguised as monks and find Rubeish and the other scientists in a state of extreme exhaustion. Sadly Linx also catches them in the Laboratory however an intervention by Rubeish renders Linx temporarily immobile after he strikes his Probic Vent – a Sontaran refuelling point on the back of their necks which is also their main weakness. The Doctor then uses the Osmic Projector to send the scientists back to the twentieth century. Meanwhile Sarah-Jane comes up with a plan to incapacitate Irongron and his men. Upon recovery Linx decides to depart from the castle in his Shuttle, The Doctor and Hal however have other ideas and try to prevent his leaving with explosive results….

Posted in locomotives, steam locomotives, Trains

Sir Nigel Gresley DSC

LNER 4468 Mallard
                LNER 4468 Mallard

Famous for being the Cheif Mechanical Engineer for the London North East Railway, Sir Nigel Gresley was, Born 19 June 1876 he became one of Britain’s most famous steam locomotive engineers. He designed some of the most iconic and damous steam locomotives in Britain, including the LNER Class A1 and LNER Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific engines. An A1, Flying Scotsman, was the first steam locomotive officially recorded over 100 mph in passenger service, and an A4, number 4468 Mallard, still holds the record for being the fastest steam locomotive in the world (126 mph). Gresley’s engines were considered elegant, both aesthetically and mechanically. His invention of a three-cylinder design with only two sets of Walschaerts valve gear, theGresley conjugated valve gear, produced smooth running and power at lower cost than would have been achieved with a more conventional three sets of Walschaerts gear.

Gresley was born in Edinburgh, but was raised in Netherseal, Derbyshire, a member of the cadet branch of a family long seated at Gresley, Derbyshire. After attending school in Sussex and at Marlborough College, Gresley served his apprenticeship at the Crewe works of the London and North Western Railway, afterwards becoming a pupil under John Aspinall at Horwich of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR). After several minor appointments with the L&YR he was made Outdoor Assistant in the Carriage and Wagon Department in 1901; in 1902 he was appointed Assistant Works Manager at Newton Heath depot, and Works Manager the following year.

This rapid rise in his career was maintained and, in 1904, he became Assistant Superintendent of the Carriage and Wagon Department of the L&YR. A year later, he moved to the Great Northern Railway (GNR) as Carriage and Wagon Superintendent. He succeeded Henry A. Ivatt as CME of the GNR on 1 October 1911. At the 1923 Grouping, he was appointed CME of the newly formed LNER (the post had originally been offered to the ageing John G. Robinson; Robinson declined and suggested the much younger Gresley). In 1936, Gresley was awarded an honorary DSc by Manchester University and a knighthood by King Edward VIII; also in that year he presided over the IMechE.During the 1930s, Sir Nigel Gresley lived at Salisbury Hall, near St. Albans in Hertfordshire. Gresley developed an interest in breeding wild birds and ducks in the moat; intriguingly, among the species were Mallard ducks. The Hall still exists today as a private residence and is adjacent to the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, with its links to the design of the famous Mosquito aircraft during World War II.In 1936, Gresley designed the 1,500V DC locomotives for the proposed electrification of theWoodhead Line between Manchester and Sheffield. The Second World War forced the postponement of the project, which was completed in the early 1950s.Gresley died after a short illness on 5 April 1941 and was buried in Netherseal, Derbyshire.He was succeeded as the LNER CME by Edward Thompson.