The Foxfield Light Railway

Yesterday Amy and myself drove over to Caverswall, Stoke-on-Trent, to take a trip on the Foxfield Light Railway.

Although the journey is just a five mile round trip it goes through some lovely Staffordshire countryside, leaving Caverswall Road and winding its way through the moors to Dilhorne Park. Here the loco runs around before heading back to Caverswall.

The railway doesn’t stop at Dilhorne, however. There is a long right bend that leads down to Foxfield Colliery, the original point of the railway. There is quite an embankment down to this and the sight of the engines working hard (look up the Foxfield Flickr group) is quite something.

All in all, it was an enjoyable morning out. At just £8 it easily justifies the fayre and I would recommend it to anyone, particularly those with young families.

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Music that’s out of this world…

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Today, as part of ‘major work’ Wednesday, I listened to the above CD on my commute to and from university.

Wow.

If I’m totally honest, having arrived at uni, after a half hour drive, I’d have rather sat in the car and listened to the last two performances on the disc than headed into the lecture – although, having torn myself away from the music, I found today’s session to be incredibly engaging in all honesty – having been blown away by the playing of both Harrison’s Dream and Tristan Encounters.

The way home didn’t let me down. I’m well aware of the aura that surrounds Wilfred Heaton and his writing for brass, with ‘Contest Music’ being considered his magnum opus by many. However, I’m not a huge fan of his writing. That said, even to me it was an extremely listenable and (here’s that word again) engaging performance. Yet it was, for me, purely the starter ahead of what I consider the main course of the CD; the title track, Music of the Spheres from the sensational musical pen of Philip Sparke.

For me, Sparke is up there with Eric Ball. Two very types of composers but lock me in a room with some pasta, cold Estrella’s and CD’s full of both men’s compositions and I’d be a happy Chris. Music of the Spheres, to me, is his best work. It is possible to consider this work the benchmark as, commissioned for the own choice European Championships of 2004, it has a style that was previously unheard and is now one that composers strive to emulate when coming up with their own blockbuster. It’s a stunning piece of music and it’s quite stunningly played.

In short, there’s only really one issue with this CD. You can’t actually get it anymore. It’s out of print. It is available for download and, if you’ve not got it, it’s one I’d recommend without doubt.

End of the line…?

My micro-brewery layout is beginning to wane. Once again my enthusiasm has completely gone. Perhaps the brewery has gone bust? 

Regardless, I’m going to leave it for a while and see if enthusiasm returns or not, before deciding my next steps. 

Cobbling along…

The first a4 sheet has been done and I’m now just cutting to fit before applying the wash and then weathering. Overall I’m pretty happy with it so far! It’s gives the look, and that’s what I’m after. 

Ashes to ashes?

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In the 10 days or so since England announced their Ashes squad for the winters trip to Australia a lot has either been said, or taken place. Jonathan Agnew has referred to it as one of the weakest squads that’s ever left these shores whereas, in total contrast, Andrew Flintoff has described it as the ‘best team we’ve ever had.’ It’s probably worth looking into that claim. Compare these two sides:

England 2005 Ashes Series

England 2017/2018 Ashes Series

Marcus Trescothick Alistair Cook
Andrew Strauss Mark Stoneman
Michael Vaughan James Vince
Ian Bell Joe Root
Kevin Pietersen Dawid Malan
Andrew Flintoff Ben Stokes
Geraint Jones Jonny Bairstow
Ashley Giles Moeen Ali
Matthew Hoggard Chris Woakes
Steve Harmison Stuart Broad
Simon Jones James Anderson

Hmm… I know which team I’d back if they were to face each other. Part of the issue with the 2017/18 team is that we don’t actually know if some of those names will play. Is Vince – as rumoured – actually going to bat at 3? Will Malan get the nod ahead of Ballance (Ballance being a guy Root seems to really rate)? Will it be Woakes (incidentally, someone I rate highly) or will Overton or Ball get a go? Will Stoneman make enough runs?

Don’t get me wrong, there are players in our current group that I’d include in a composite XI (Cook for Trescothick, Root for Bell, Stokes for Flintoff, Bairstow for Jones and Anderson for Hoggard) but overall, the current team can’t hold a candle to the crop of ’05. Why is that? Well, for me it’s purely down to consistency. The ’05 team was setlled; everyone knew their place, their role and what they brought to the XI in ’05. We don’t even know what the XI will be this winter. How can we claim it to be our best ever, when we can probably only put 7 names on the team sheet for certain, particularly as one of them might not even be going to Australia?

I hope England prove me wrong. I hope Stoneman has a great tour. I hope Vince shows he belongs at this level and I hope that Ballance, in his rightful spot of 5, makes the runs he made when he first got in the team. However, I’m not sure I see it. We are so reliant on Cook, Root, Stokes, Anderson and Broad it’s a little scary. Where are the up and coming youngsters – the Anderson and Broad’s of ten years ago – to replace them? Crane, Overton, Ball? Where will our next Alistair Cook come from? We’ve not replaced Andrew Strauss yet – in 12 attempts – so how will we replace both?

There are some very good cricketers in England, some of which – like Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke – haven’t made this squad. Their time will come. I just feel that, after this winter, their time might come a little sooner that we all thought. Yet, this might be a good thing.

Will England retain the Ashes? I hope so but, realistically, I can’t see it.

Prove me wrong boys. Please.

More cobble(r)s…

So, a trial with the fab foam. Using a small offcut I had a go at pressing the cobble set shapes using the head of an old paint brush. This piece will be trial painted too, using a thin black wash to bring out the relief, before dry brushing differing shades of ‘cobble!’

The next step was to make a start on the cobble sets for the layout. This afternoon I’ve managed to cobble the front of the layout, 40x3cm. However, it’s not a speedy process. Whilst I was doing this Amy managed to watch the season finale to Tin Star. 

Time consuming, but I’m pretty happy with how it looks. 

Thoughts?

(O) CD?

Regular blog readers (both of you) will know I’m a huge music fan. This means that my daily commute to work (60 minute round trip) gives me ample time to listen to lots of it. 

Recently, as different days mean different drives, I’ve decided to organise my listening a bit more. I’ve come up with the following list;

Cory Monday (working my way through my vast collection of Cory Band CDs)

Euro Tuesday (European Championship CDs)

Major Work Wednesday (test pieces/Regionals CDs etc)

Foden’s Thursday (as with Cory Monday)

Fun Friday (whatever tickles my fancy)

OCD? Probably!