For a variety of reasons the Plum Hollow layout project has had almost nothing done on it for some time. That was not a case of out of sight out of mind, simply a case of other workload intervening. The scenic side is the next step, hence today’s test kit build. The aim was to see if a printed paper/card kit scaled down from the originally intended HO (1:87) scale to US N scale (1:160) would either (be 1) too fiddly to construct or (2) not look good enough after completion. The test suggests both answers are negative, the outcome therefore is positive and therefore a run printed onto card-stock is worth trying. This simple build with unreinforced paper prints suggests constructing the kits will be manageable with card-stock backing.
As progress since the last update the polystyrene blocks have been bought as has the 4mm scale Dapol signal gantry kit I intend to use as lattice girder railway over river bridge.
There is a possibility that the existing base boxes may get re-purposed into another project and replaced for this one. If that happens an update will be posted. If it does it will be for a quick build project for the Warley (and onwards) shows; with this one it will be time that determines the outcome.
As a final point the scaling experiments for this exercise indicate that the ratio of printing the pdf plans at 54.4% is correct. Although they are not currently accessible to check when I’d made the buildings for Reindeer Landing (N Gauge side) they always looked too small; it is possible they had been printed at 25% (The area reduction) rather than 54.4% which gives the necessary shrinkage in each linear dimension.
This is one of the reasons for the delays mentioned above.Situations Vacant adverts are included in the current Journal going out to members in the hope of filling some of the vacancies. Once that gets delivered to members the adverts for those vacancies where open recruitment will be possible will also be circulated to non-members. In the meantime several officers are doubling up, even tripling up, on roles to keep us going. The trouble with being a volunteer – you tend to volunteer whenever crisis looms.
Another really classic example of outright stupidity from the last few days. On checking my Nectar account I discovered I had not updated it when my last email address was deleted. After updating the link to the current one I discovered the change could only be stored by entering a validation code. Fair enough, except it gets sent to the obsolete email with no option offered for an alternative. Duh. What numpty did the systems check on that as a process.
Hopefully April will see two updates
I have content to write, so hopefully April will see two updates.
I ended last month’s blog expressing hopefully “What would have been the January content will therefore appear during February when I get back home and resume normality.” Well that hoped for return to normality during February went well, or not! What it ended up as was a month of solid editing to get my second SLS Journal and Newsletter out on time. My problem; not the page layout et al, but all the catch up reading of back submissions to find the content ready to drop in. It is easing, the third edition will be a bit easier again from the experience gained from editing the first two. I am already planning content for the issues through to December.
Is there a lesson to be learnt by other Societies – yes – succession planning. That said, we did try, but no other suitably experienced member volunteered. My lesson learnt, if you know at the back of your mind that reality is you are going to get roped in regardless, give in early and take the longest lead in period you can get.
The earlier editing job
As mentioned in the November blog post I was also Production Editor for the SLS in producing the first two volumes of material from The Stephenson Locomotive Society Archives.(Cover images above)
Narrow Gauge & Miniature (From The Stephenson Locomotive Society Archives Vol 1)
Eclectic Electrics (From The Stephenson Locomotive Society Archives Vol 2)
Sales went live on the Society stand at the NEC and copies will also be available from us at the London Festival of Railway Modelling at Alexandra Palace and over the following Easter weekend at York Model Railway. They can also be ordered from me direct by post. The SLS Board has approved electronic selling but I have yet to get the system into place on the Society website.
PayPal and other computer gremlins
The most recent editing nightmare, a fault with the way the Google app on i-phones and i-pads interacts with the code we got from PayPal to sell tickets on the York Model Railway Show website. (I am Website Manager) The culprit is not Google Chrome, that is fine, but their search app. The app ignores the shopping cart it is supposed to open and tries to log directly into the customer’s PayPal account. This system has worked properly for eighteen months, why does the mighty Google feel the need to make changes that then b*****s up other systems that were working properly. Not good customer care by them, although I like to think our own response was better than the other customer care issue discovered recently – Apple repair fault logging and repair protocols (See next item).
Apple’s appalling customer care protocol
This final item is a bit of a rant and gives me another Victor Meldrew feeling about the sanity of some modern ways of doing things. Have organisations learnt nothing about customer care?
Scenario – I drop my Apple laptop it needs a fix as the display becomes intermittent. Oh yes I think to myself there is an Apple dealer in Bournemouth, I’m in Bournemouth tomorrow, I will drop it off for repair. Off I duly tootle to the said Apple shop (Solutions inc) who I have used before. To paraphrase –
“I’d like to drop this off for repair please.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“No I just want to drop it off for repair.”
You can’t without an appointment.” (Duh thinks I – a shop that doesn’t want you to buy the service!!!)
“So I have to waste time and money driving home today, ring you, and then come back again? That’s madness and unacceptable!”
“But it is Apple’s policy Sir, no appointment, no drop off, no fix! (Shades of Jobsworth, or worse, me thinks)
At this point I got very firm and eventually a techie deigned to appear from the bowels of the shop, discuss my issue and take the lap-top in.
Dear Apple – Either the staff at your dealership are a complete bunch of numpties or your accredited repair logging system, they claim they have to use it, is the most ridiculous state of BAD customer care I have ever come across. How about this – It’s a shop and authorised repair dealer, you walk in with a repair job, they take the order and any due examination/inspection fee money and then a techie looks at the job later in the queue (customers are not stupid – we understand queues and waiting lists), it then gets fixed/can’t be fixed and the customer is rung and advised either it is ready or is bust beyond economic repair. How difficult is that?
Finally – Dippy the dinosaur in Dorchester
Despite the horrendous monsoon like half-term weather on the day over half term we had booked, and the car failing to start, we visited Dippy with the family. The outcome was two awed grand-children and four very impressed adults.
PS A final note
It’s not that February was a hectic month or anything but this update for the month got posted almost at the deadline of midnight on the 28th. Final editing took place today, Thursday 1st March!
Two connected, but disparate, sections to this blog post describing my literary month. The first a completed task and introduction to a new role as Editor of The Stephenson Locomotive Society Journal; the second related to local theatre productions.
Stella, my wife, stage managed Me and My Girl so a lot of work in the household went into that both in the months leading up to the show and in show week itself. To add to that drama connection the local Royal Manor Theatre here on Portland recently ran a production of Old actors never Die and as a consequence we got that title at Weymouth Writing Matters as one of our a prompts. Given it will soon be time to assist as a volunteer with the Weymouth Pavilion Panto prep’ time it seemed appropriate to also add my own small tribute to the thespian’s craft below.
A teaching day
The other generator of workload was an invitation to give a talk on the history of railways to a group of Polish exchange students staying over at Clevedon in Somerset. The students had come over to the UK to get experience of a range of topics and issues prior to selecting a career: one of those careers being the option of working on the railway back in Poland, hence this talk. Initially envisioning the usual hour to an hour and half of talking (as for a local club/society evening) it eventually turned out to be a four hour, full day. My recent BACOM experience and training at Bournemouth in presentation skills certainly came to the fore; it went well. A day’s teaching, a first for me, and an experience I found surprisingly satisfying.
Since coming back from summer holiday life has been hectic with book editing for The Stephenson Locomotive Society. A deep end start to the role I’ve also just taken on of Editor for the bi-monthly Journal; first edition will be January/February. But back to the books – launching at the Warley Model Railway Show at the NEC on 25/26 November the first two volumes of material from the SLS Archives.
Narrow Gauge & Miniature (From The Stephenson Locomotive Society Archives Vol 1)
Eclectic Electrics (From The Stephenson Locomotive Society Archives Vol 2)
On launch weekend they will be available on our stand (Hall 5, Stand D44) at £9.50 each (£7.50 to Society members). Postal sales will be available post-Show once the P&P situation is finalised. (When available generally it will be announced on my Twitter and Facebook feeds, the SLS Twitter feed and the SLS Publications page)
Old actors never die
They say old actors never die; like the ancient pagan gods they remain alive as long as they are adored, worshiped, remembered. Their old posters and fading photographs line the walls of musty corridors and theatre bars, slowly fading as the plays they starred in pass from living memory.
The ephemera of a craft, the passing of time, each show a snapshot, unlike cinema, where time remains frozen. The youthful face of the craggy old star shambling from Hollywood café to occasional TV studio appearance, their old movies endlessly repeating on obscure channels; a cruel reminder of past glories. The long legs dancing the kick line, the piercing smile of the male lead, forever captured, reality the decline, the baton passed to the new replacement.
Times change, tastes change, the star of yesterday’s western unnoticed in Wallmart, the silent queens of the silver screen, glorious in mono, passed over in colour. No more repeats of the Keystone Cops to entertain the kids at the Saturday flicks: 633 Squadron flies to face the deadly Hun no longer, the Eagles Dared but the Empire Struck back.
The house lights dim, the curtain rises, the new crop take the stage; from the wings the old look on, coaching, training, remembering. The words they spoke last the ages; for some their memory will be immortal, names spoken in reverent tones, their routines rehashed and recast, even perhaps immortalised as a new sweet desert, fruity, tangy, was Dame Nellie like that in life?
As they say in showbiz, another opening of another show. As the door closes for one for another it opens. For some, the very best, it will stay revolving, but sadly, for most, like a child’s spinning top the hum and buzz will gently fade away.
Copyright on all the above remains with the author – not released into the public domain.
For my wife and I the spring and summer has been an eclectic mix that seems to have involved much traveling for us to and from Yorkshire, our knowledge of motorway snarl-ups increased several times. The trips have been for both business and pleasure/family reasons, and to this we also fitted in a brief visit to London and a holiday in Norfolk! Stella even managed a trip with the Quangle Wangle choir to Brittany. Although railways, large and small, have been the subject of several visits our summer has included many other activities; a veritable smorgasbord of activities.
A season of contrasting weather
One of the drawbacks to event photography, in my case photographing rail tours, is that the event happens when it does; you get no choice in what the weather on the day brings. Rain or shine the event happens and you take what you get. This outdoor season has brought with it both extreme rains and days of sunshine so hot the tarmac was melting.
Add into that mix a day when the wind gusts at the Downs School Railway 90th anniversary gala were so strong and sudden we had to decamp the stand for safety reasons as the marquee in which our Stephenson Locomotive Society promotions stand was located took off and it has clearly been a memorable season weather wise . At least that was on the last day of the event creating the bonus of getting home about an hour and a half earlier than expected as we had to decamp the marquee for safety reasons!
The 50th Anniversary celebration of Southern steam
Back in July 1967 the Southern Region of British Railways, as it then was, finally called the day on steam traction in its’ operational area. The newly completed electrification of the Waterloo to Bournemouth route took over with diesel traction elsewhere. Although steam traction lasted elsewhere in pockets until 1968; the last fully steam worked mainline in Britain went cold. Back then I lived near Shawford and watching the Bournemouth Belle had been part of my childhood. The growth of the modern steam hauled rail tour industry was unforeseeable back then, watching the reincarnation of the Bournemouth Belle run to mark that 50th anniversary run had to be done by traveling back to Shawford. That was the day the tar melted, very glad I wasn’t the fireman on Clan Line!
More to come next month
This month’s post is a shorter than usual for several workload reasons. Hopefully I will soon have time to make further posts.
Images – Copyright
These images remain copyright the author and ARE NOT released into the public domain.
A general status update as it has been a while since I posted anything here so time to get back onto the blogging trail. It has been busy summer including helping both my daughters make family house moves, two brief holiday breaks, one in the Lake District and a second in Scotland together with presenting and writing a conference paper. In Scotland we saw the amazing, award winning, Kelpie statues at Falkirk.
Early Railways Conference 6
The conference was an excellent event held in Newcastle, with the cradle of early railways being Tyneside and adjacent areas a most appropriate venue. My own paper was on Why Replace the Horse? The subsequent write up stretching over the summer; now awaiting the peer review, and hopefully, acceptance for the ultimately published proceedings book.
Working full-time at home this week on web updates and management committee reports in my role as PRO for the Stephenson Locomotive Society (SLS) but definitely missing the anticipation of a further year at Uni. After several short courses on IT and Graphics at Kingston Maurward College, and then three years at Bournemouth University, it seems very strange not to be getting new books etc., and anticipating the new modules. I have plenty of on-going research in hand, to say nothing of the website rebuilding and writing to be done, plus attacking the Autumn tasks of the garden, so I won’t be short of tasks, that is for sure.
Corrupted software issues
As for today a fight with the blog software; this would have been posted yesterday if the part of the package needed for adding new posts hadn’t been corrupted. I still have to fix the Instagram links and plug ins as isolating that has fixed the editing and updating processes. Why can’t IT stuff just work?!