Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Demise of the Washing Up Fairy

J.M. Barrie, the well known author of 'Peter Pan gave the following line to his lead character: "Every time a child says, 'I don't believe in fairies,' there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead."  Well it appears to be true according to a notice that has appeared in the mess coach by the sink:
This is grave news indeed.  If the situation regarding the demise of fairies continues at this rate, then it will only be a matter of time before the ash pan fairy and the smoke box fairy succumb.

Last weekend was the 'Diesel Railcar Weekend'.  You might well be forgiven for thinking that a consequence of that would be that we'd have no steam locos running.  Not so, Foremarke Hall was deemed to be an honourary DMU for the occasion and was allowed out anyway.  As she was the only steam loco out, it was a bit quiet first thing on Sunday morning as only her crew were present, all the DMU crews not needing to turn up until five minutes before they were due off shed. 
Foremarke Hall, long before sunrise and even longer before any DMU crews would arrive
Foremarke Hall all revved up and ready to go
Foremarke Hall is something of a Prima Donna and decided to upstage the DMU's by concealing them and herself in clouds of steam as she made her way towards her stock:
The bubble car tries to peek around the steam screen generated by Foremarke Hall
Once again my spy in the 35006 camp has proved to be an invaluable source of information. He sent the message that some work had been undertaken in the cab and that a couple of instruments now adorn the backhead:
Steam heat gauge
Steam chest pressure gauge
The rest of the day was spent in the company of Ade and Tina on the footplate of Foremarke Hall.  Much of the day seemed to involve animals one way or another.  To start off with, Greet tunnel was full with a badling of ducks at the Cheltenham end which all took flight upon our approach. I'll confess to having Googled for the collective noun for ducks to discover that there are a dozen different ones to choose from, though some depend on whether they are in flight or on water. No photos at the time I'm afraid as I was in firing rather than blogging mode, but here are a couple of photos at the same location later in the day:
The next run through, but the ducks were long gone by then
Coming back the other way
I'm now wandering what sort of recipes I could find for roasting road kill rail kill duck in the smoke box of a steam loco.  Continuing with the animal theme, a herd (didn't bother to look that one up) of cows in a field near Gotherington took it into their heads to race the train.  They were no match for Foremarke Hall of course, even though she was limited to speeds defined in the GWSR's Light Rail Order. The cows had no notion of speed limits though so they simply raced on as fast as their legs would carry them until they reached the edge of the field. 
Beef on the hoof
Meanwhile the very next field contained a hurtle (one of the eleven possible collective nouns) of sheep which seemed to be entirely oblivious of any other possible meanings of the word 'hurtle' and just milled about eating grass as usual:
Non-hurtling sheep
 I mentioned last week that Chris had made firing look easy.  Tina not only made it look easy but managed to casually drink a cup of tea at the same time:
Tea for Tina
In what I believe was a first, I had made her tea the correct colour and with the right amount of sugar. I even put the milk in last.  It looks like I've mastered domestic sized kettles, much more work required on the four foot eight and a half inch gauge ones though.

Considering that it was in theory a DMU weekend, we didn't seem to see much of them as we went about.  We crossed the 117 at Winchcombe:
Neil prepares to collect the token as the 117 arrives at Winchcombe
As for the bubble car, we occasionally caught sight of it at Toddington, but I think it was hiding from us.  It was probably scared that Foremarke Hall would put up another smoke screen like she had earlier:
The bubble car hides on platform 2 at Toddington
It seems that the ash pan fairy and the smoke box fairy were both away at the funeral of the washing up fairy, so we wound up doing them ourselves.  Emptying out a hot smoke box on a breezy day can be a daunting task, but Tina was ready to deal with any airborne particles of ash:
Tina looking like she's preparing to rob a bank...
...but only finds ash instead of cash
And finally, I bumped into Chris Bristow at Toddington between trips.  It was nice to catch up as our paths hadn't crossed for a while.  He was keen to know what I thought of the 'Bridges to Broadway' share offer that he had put a great deal of time into organising over the summer.  If you are interested in supporting the GWSR financially, then please do consider purchasing shares in the scheme.

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