Sunday, 30 August 2009

Toot Toot

This pic credit to Bill Navari. Enjoying a just-laid egg with my bacon yesterday at breakfast in the peace and quiet of the staff kitchen at Diplo Hall, my senses received a jangle - the wireless was calmly delivering news of the Jacee Duggard kidnap, a house-front interview with an enthusiastic neighbour - "..well, can't say as we ever paid'em no mind ....". Oh lordy, a train whistle - just a feint mournful chord, the smallest hint - yes, there it is again, louder now ".. he was kind'a weird, spooked me out a coupla times ..." unmistakable now - a short blast followed by much longer trailing sigh. Back to the studio, unfortunately, before we could really get into full swing and possibly enjoy the magical Doppler pitch change that tugs at the weakened heart strings and could have us reaching for the 'phone number of the Virgin booking desk. American railroads still have the magic for me, much as I enjoy the big diesel-electrics and their moaning "whistles", I can't fail to think of the big old steamers that were being produced in the '40s. I go along with enthusiasts of the UP Big Boys, very commanding stance and they had some spectacular scenery to run through making them the photographer's choice - this may be why we often hear of them as the "biggest" steamers. Well, not so, less photogenic and much less glamorous are the Alleghenies produced at the Lima Loco Works in Ohio. Probably most famous for their association with The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad these 2-6-6-6 monsters where something else. They had a very grubby career hauling coal out of West Virginia, Eastwards over the Allegheny Mountains. Trains of 140 coal trucks with one header and a second loco pushing (just for the upgrade to a 2600 ft pass) plied this route from Hinton WV to Clifton Forge VA from '41 to '56 when diesel retired them. Lima built 60 (yes 60) of these for C&O, the first batch of ten in '41 for $270,000 each !!! They were specifically designed for the arduous climbing duties that were required of them - a massive boiler fed (at 260 psi) four cylinders of 22.5" bore, 33" stroke which drove twelve 67" drivers with a tractive effort of over 50 tons, the loco itself weighed 347 tons and at 40 mph was producing around 7,500 horsepower. The tender carried 25,000 gallons of water and 25 tonnes of coal. Can you imagine driving that ? MORE EFFORT !

Bubble & Squeak Part 3

Delivering the pigs for the chop last week got me thinking about bacon. I have previously blogged Mr Coales' fine product and I should perhaps remind you that the curing and maturing process takes 273 days.
As I sped down the 427 with the trailer clattering along behind, I realised that I wasn't going to be able wait that long. On the way home I diverted via Twywell and picked up some of the real stuff and present it here for your enjoyment. MORE MATURITY !

Friday, 28 August 2009

Fish, Beanz & Scaffolding

A few more shots from the recent adventure to "The North". Diplo Jnr was furiously snapping away from the luxury of the passenger seat of the Series. Still running on cart springs and hefty Avon Rangemasters the ride is not photographer friendly so I'm delighted he managed to synch the exposure button with the flat bits of road on a few occasions. I'm beginning to get concerned that we may never again see the FRB without scaffolding. In pre-health&safety days all this repair and maintenance work went on un-noticed with hearty Jocks and Geordies swinging from bits of hemp rope with tins of Red Oxide (massive lead content) clipped to their belts and brushes clenched between their teeth while they rolled up a quick smoke in a force 8 gale. Now all we get to see is a cheap Parisienne apartment block clamped to the side of the glorious ironwork. Just to prove we made the trip in the truck I include a shot of the Great North Road on the approach to Scotch Corner. The GNR is undergoing open heart surgery currently in an attempt to keep it from furring up, we've very few roundabouts left now and of course we only get to enjoy the full Scotch Corner experience if we turn off for the 66 - our trip was taking us on up to Darlington before heading in to the wilds of Northumberland on the 68, cross country to Edinburgh.
Otterburn seemed a good spot to camp, seeing as it mostly is Otterburn Camp, and not very much else. A splendid meadow by the river in the lee of a spur of the Kielder Forrest proved a great site. Fire lit upon arrival and snaggers straight on to cook. Standard Diplo outdoor fare when travelling light tends to be snaggers with a tin of Beanz !!! tipped into the pan at the last minute, quite delicious, garnished with a fried egg and washed down with a cup of Yorkshire Gold..The expedition North was all about getting to Strathconnan, 1/2 an hour North West of Inverness, where we would be hunting the elusive Salmon. We found one. This 5 pound fish is now in the freezer at Diplo Hall.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Chop Chop

Update on progress with the knife building operation. "Buffalo Bill" post a few weeks ago detailed the plan of attack and here, very neatly, is the finished product. Knife blank from Ray Mears with laminated handle comprising brass hilt, red deer antler, leather, ivory, leather, box wood, leather, box wood, buffalo horn. That's all I have to say about that. MORE FETTLING !

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Mission Accomplished

Just reporting in. General cruise at 50 to 55 mph, average fuel consumption a staggering 20 mpg, round trip 1042 miles. Sludgy fuel filter gave some grief when things got a bit hilly, whipped that out and ran filterless 'till a replacement was secured from a plant hire outfit in Muir of Ord (free of charge). Five minute job to refit and all's well. Expedition adventures and incidents to follow. MORE TRAVEL !

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Bubble & Squeak 2

Progress report on the Diplo livestock. 22 weeks of rummaging, rootling and lazing around in the mud and these two are piling on the weight, I estimate around 120 lbs live weight at the end of July. We're still planning on a finish date around October/November. From now on they really should be laying on some fat which is what we're after. This is a bit of Mr Coales famous bacon as blogged last year, salt cured for 13 weeks and left to mature for a further 6 months before being released from the vaults - absolutely heavenly ! I'm sure we'll not be able to get quite the fat content because the Tamworth/GOS is a leaner pig, but we're hoping to produce something similar. MORE TIME !