Not train-spotting in Rawtenstall

Just happened to be there for numerous reasons, car boot sale, pub lunch and a walk by the river.

But there were all these trains, including steam trains, in and out of Rawtenstall station every few minutes it seemed.P1030858P1030857

The first one was a steam train, then I saw one with the name Onslaught on the side. It seemed an aggressive name for a train so I did a search on the internet.

It was a so-called “warship class” 832 diesel-hydraulic which were named after naval vessels. It was introduced in February 1961 and withdrawn from service in December 1972 but obviously well-preserved.


P1030861The original ones were powered by German Maybach designed engines made under licence at Bristol-Siddley. I came across Maybach engineering at the Zeppelin museum in Friedrichshafen a few years ago where there was a beautiful preserved top-of-the-line Maybach car.

As I said we’d been for a walk by the River Orwell, which was in full spate.



On the way back i tried to catch the trains as they crossed the river. Not an easy task with such a short window and judging the timing by the sound of the train.

I’m not a train-spotter by any means but it was an interesting afternoon and I learned a bit about our railway history.


Congratulations Ukraine on 25 years of Independence

Mike the Psych's Blog

UnknownToday marks the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.

After a failed coup in Moscow Ukraine declared its independence from the USSR on this day in 1991. 90% of the population voted for it on December 1 1991.

Google has marked the occasion with a blue and yellow logo – the colours of the national flag – and sunflowers, the ubiquitous national flower.ukraine-independence-day-2016-6196143744614400-hp2xCNV00009_5

I have happy memories of my three visits to Ukraine, twice to Kiev and once to Ivano-Frankivsk for a 3-day wedding! I’ve also been there for the Independence Day celebrations in the square ending in a firework display then a mad dash for the mini-buses as the street cleaners moved in to start the clean-up.

Here are a few photographs from Kiev showing the beautiful cathedrals in particular.CNV00006

St Andrew overlooking the river in Kiev


With Ukrainian friends. Lots of good food and vodka With Ukrainian friends. Lots of good food and vodka (or harilka as they call it)

And BBC staff – could…

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Skipton……….gateway to the Yorkshire Dales (and a cracking farm shop)

Excellent post & photographs

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

The route of the Leeds – Liverpool Canal


As it was such a lovely day last Monday I set off to visit Skipton with the primary aim of taking a walk along the Leeds – Liverpool canal as well as photographing all the narrow boats that converge in the basin virtually in the town centre.


A wrong turning on the outskirts of the town meant I ended up driving towards the town via a circuitous route. Whilst at first this was a bit of a bind it tuned out to be a very fortuitous “wrong turning” as I came across the “Keelham Kitchen”, an out-of-town farm shop (a very big one) selling meat, fruit / vegetables and a particularly wonderful selection of Yorkshire beers.

DSC_0026.jpg Canal basin at Skipton

If you are a “foodie” this is like an Aladdin’s cave with a wonderful choice of meats, green groceries, preserves and beer /…

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The Knotted Gun

S6000450I’d seen, and photographed this bronze sculpture of a Colt Magnum revolver with a knot in the barrel a couple of times on my business trips to Sweden.

But I didn’t know what it was about – although I thought it was probably an anti-gun ownership protest, perhaps typical of a country noted for its neutrality.

It turns out that it was designed by Carl Fredrik Bengt Wilhelm Reuterswärd in response to the murder of John Lennon. Called The Knotted Gun or Non-violence it was seen as a political piece in the manner of Picasso’s Guernica.

Reuterswärd had met Lennon and Ono in Switzerland in 1969 and had discussed creating a piece that depicted the concept of peace. After Lennon’s death Ono asked him to continue.

He said “I was filled with bitterness and anger and immediately began to create a symbol for John Lennon and everyone else who had been a victim of such assassins

The work originally sat in the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park, New York across from Lennon’s apartment.

In 1988 the government of Luxembourg donated the statue to the United Nations.

More than a dozen variations exist in different locations around the world including one with two knots in the barrel in the Swedish town of Landskrona, where the sculptor latterly lived.

I only know this because of a recent obituary in the Times which described his career during which he was influenced by pop art and worked with lasers and holograms. He was a student at the Royal Art Academy in Stockholm where he later became a professor.

When he lost the use of his right hand due to a stroke he learned to use his left hand and staged an exhibition called “On the other hand“.

After his death in May this year aged 81 the Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström tweeted “His sculpture outside the UNHQ reminds us that peace is the only way”

A quick trip to Hebden Bridge

P1030556A few weekends ago we visited Hebden Bridge, a small market town not far from Halifax and Rochdale in the Upper Calder Valley.

An old industrial mill town more famous of late for its bohemian character due to people with arts and crafts skills settling there and also for being the lesbian capital of England.

We travelled by train from Burnley, a mere 18 minute journey, and at times we were high above the houses at ground level.P1030544


As we walked into the town centre we crossed the Rochdale canal, a 32 mile stretch which runs from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge and which was re-opened in 2002.P1030550 P1030546 P1030545

Seeing the railway and the canal makes you realise what feats of engineering our  forefathers carried out at the start of the Napoleonic Wars as the canal also passes high over the Pennine Moors rather than having tunnels (92 locks instead which were cheaper).

Crossing the town centre by the river we met a couple of the local residents by a fine stone bridge before making our way to our rendezvous in a local pub.P1030549 P1030548

Hebden Bridge suffered badly from the floods earlier in the year as my colleague kindadukish has blogged. There are still signs of the flood damage with several shops displaying notices thanking customers for their loyalty and patience and asserting that they will be back!

On our way back to the railway station via the park and play area it was noticeable just how the town is surrounded by hills providing a wonderful backdrop.P1030552 P1030551


We finally arrived back at the railway station, originally built in 1893 and renovated in 1997, from which people were travelling to Manchester for a night on the town judging by their attire.P1030557

It was always the case. When the station opened in the mid 19c there were regular trains from Manchester to Leeds every day.

But we were heading back to East Lancashire vowing we would be returning in the very near future.


Buzz Aldrin lands in Lancashire

SCAN0209I couldn’t believe it when I read in the Lancashire Telegraph that Buzz Aldrin, the second man to land on the moon on July 20 1969, had actually been in Lancashire giving a talk and signing books.

Aldrin was the first man to perform a space walk in 1966 on a Gemini 12 mission before his historic Apollo 11 mission with Neil Armstrong when they became the first humans to stand on another world (as far as we know!)

Aldrin was a key part of the space programme developing underwater training techniques to simulate weightlessness and designing docking and rendezvous techniques. All this on computers that had less power than commonplace domestic items today.

So why was this great man in Lancashire?

He spent 4 hours at Westholme School’s Croston theatre talking to an audience of 700 people from all over the UK about his career as a US fighter pilot and his time at NASA.

There were models of Apollo 11 on stage made by the former chief waxworks artist at Madame Tussauds.

51r+YzcM1CL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_He then signed 750 copies of his new book “No dream is too high. Life lessons from the man who walked on the moon” until late in the evening. He’s 86 years old and still has the energy to do this.

He even found time to don a jester’s hat in Burnley FC colours. This man is truly a legend!

This is just one of three events arranged by his publisher the others being a similar talk in Bath and  a book-signing in London.

Photo appeared in Lancashire Telegraph but looks like a smartphone shot and uncredited.

D Day, 6 June 1944……..let us remember

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)


Just a gentle reminder to all of us of the sacrifice by the combined forces on D Day 6 June 1944. To the many who eventually came home, and to those whose bodies were laid to rest in France after giving their lives to defend us.

Having visited one of the war grave cemeteries in Norther France I have to say that it is one of the most moving sights I have ever seen. Row upon row of white crosses bearing the names of those who fell in battle.

Suggest you spend just a quiet minute today remembering all of those involved in D Day, without them we would not have the freedom we have today.

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1940s weekend……in Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

IMGP9510.jpg Entrance to Rossendorf Station (Rawtenstall)

 For the past 18 years East Lancs Railway has put on a 1940s weekend and each year the event has grown so that now thousands of visitors don silk stockings, Fedora hats and gas masks to step back in time for Ramsbottom’s 1940s weekend.

IMGP9420.JPG Defences outside the station

You are also certain to see people in traditional garb including Allied Forces uniforms, two-piece dress suits, fox furs and red lipstick to celebrate the event over the Bank Holiday weekend.

IMGP9425.JPG Inspection parade on the station

The nostalgic event is organised by the East Lancs Railway and Manchester Military Vehicle Trust to celebrate the spirit of the glamorous decade.

IMGP9454.JPG The train arrives……..

Visitors enjoy wartime re-enactments, vintage and military stalls and a full military parade as well as tunes from 1940s singers and musicians.

IMGP9448.jpg The local “spiv”

The award-winning event draws re-enactors to Ramsbottom, Rawtenstall, Summerseat…

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Dolphins join the Russian Navy, again

CNV00005_14In 2012 the US Navy it was reporters that it had decided to end its marine mammal warfare programme in which dolphins and sea lions were trained to detect mines and enemy divers (although the latest story about military dolphins suggest it might still be ongoing)..

The Russians had been training dolphins at Sevastapol in the Crimea since 1973 using them like the Americans, patrolling open waters but also carrying explosive devices. The Ukrainians were also in the game – although their dolphins went AWOL in the mating season!

Now it’s been announced that the Russian Ministry of Defence has ordered 5 dolphins raising speculation that it is reviving its soviet era programme. It’s prepared to pay 1.75m roubles (about£18,000) for two male and three female bottle-nose dolphins up to 2.7 metres long.

So it looks like the Russians want to pick up where they left off now they are back in Crimea. The tender documents specify that the dolphins must be good looking (well actually it says symmetrical with no broken teeth and undamaged eyes and skin).

After the Russians invaded and seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 (do you remember that bit of piracy?) they announced that the combat dolphin programme, which they claimed to date back to the 1960s,  would be “redirected to the needs of the Russian navy“. The Russians claim that their experts developed new devices which converted the dolphins’ sonar signals to a signal on an operator’s monitor but the Ukrainians lacked the funds to develop such expertise.

The Ukrainians also used their dolphins to help disabled children in a programme run by the military at the Sevastapol State Aquarium.

Only the Russians appear to have trained dolphins to attack humans or vessels. The Americans say “Since dolphins cannot discern the difference between enemy and friendly vessels or enemy and friendly divers and swimmers, it would not be wise to give that kind of decision authority to an animal

Of course the Russians might not want the dolphins for military purposes at all. Perhaps Mr Putin has built an aquarium in his back garden and wants some good-looking performing mammals!

See more on the use of marine mammals here