Hi, I'm a supporter of my local non-league football team, Wingate & Finchley. I enjoy photography and specifically transport photography. I'm also a licensed HAM - Amateur Radio Enthusiast. I used to be a Pilot, but I've retired from that hobby.

Mid-winter, January and the days are very short. I’ve been filling in with work on neighbouring farms which has given the opportunity to try out some larger vehicles for cultivating jobs. This John Deere 8RX giving the chance to try an all-tracked vehicle…

20220516152706_1

And this Deutz-Fahr 8280 finished in a special edition black livery…

20220511221250_1

I’ve also started work on my new field – using the cultivator to mow down the weeds and prepare the soil…

20220515185855_1

…and subsequently applying Lime.

With only cultivation jobs on offer, I started to get itchy feet (or fingers in the case of a computer game). I added a new building to my farm and then I went to the farm shop to buy some essentials…

20220516143417_1

…I think that gives the game away as to what my new addiction is 🤣 Here’s the new Chicken Barn next morning…

20220516145934_1

…which I have stocked with Chickens…

20220516150210_1

I had always intended to start Egg production at some stage, and I guess now is as good a time as any 👍

Now for the disappointing news… While playing the game on Monday evening the pc decided to have a fit and crashed the game – I believe this was due to the ongoing issue with the memory leak in Windows that I have been living with. Today, I have been unable to start the game and I am currently trying a number of ideas to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, even if I do get the game working, the Ferme du Vieux Chêne game save will almost certainly be gone. Then I’ll have to make a decision whether to restart on the same game map or to use one of the other maps instead. Ultimately, I will be having to buy a new pc soon anyway, which will probably mean restarting all my saves in all my games.

Time to catch up with last Friday’s trip. Like Thursday last week, I was looking to get some last shots of the Southern’s Class 455 units and visiting a couple of locations for my Freedom Pass Project.

I targeted Sutton as my initial destination. It’s actually one of the simplest of termini to get to for me. I take the Northern Line down to Kentish Town and get a Thameslink train to Sutton from there. The service is operated by 8-coach Class 700 units which route to their destination either via Wimbledon or Mitcham Junction. They’re actually working around a loop in south London with Sutton as a nominal terminating point. Some start from Luton or St Albans and others from Blackfriars (more on this later). When they arrive in Sutton the service terminates on the through platform where it arrives. It then immediately becomes the next departure going outbound in the same direction of travel to the other end of its route. So, if it came down via Mitcham Junction, it will return via Wimbledon and vice versa. Here’s a Map showing the Sutton loop…

Sutton Loop

Sutton is quite an interesting station with, in addition to the Thameslink services, Southern trains going through to Epsom and to Epsom Downs from Victoria. There’s a continuous stream of trains and passengers throughout the day, justifying quite a large station building…

Sutton Station

Back on the platforms, while waiting for the next train to Epsom Downs, I was treated to a light engine movement – 73961 ‘Alison’ came off the line from West Croydon heading towards Epsom…

73961 at Sutton

…It’s a handy shot to illustrate the state of the platform canopies – there is currently a major rebuild of the station going on.

The Epsom Downs services are why I went to Sutton – they were one of the routes operated by the Southern Class 455’s and I wanted Epsom Downs as a terminus. Here’s 455804 arriving at Sutton from Victoria on its way to Epsom Downs…

455804 at Sutton

… and here’s 455818 at the Epsom Downs terminus…

455818 at Epsom Downs

…There’s very little to show at Epsom Downs, just this narrow platform 🙄

Back to Sutton and a shot of ‘818 in the ‘Downs branch platforms…

455818 at Sutton

Sutton has one interesting photographic opportunity – trains arriving from Mitcham Junction approach up quite a steep incline…

377609 at Sutton

…The lines on the right go to Wallington and West Croydon. Class 377 units like the ones in this photo will be taking over the 455’s duties – something made possible by the reduction in passenger numbers following the COVID pandemic. No new stock – just a redistribution of the existing units and keeping to a slightly reduced service.

Speaking of timetables, Thameslink have probably changed theirs more often than any other operator during the pandemic. When I was setting up my Freedom Pass Project I thought I had captured all the existing Thameslink termini within my area. But I was in for a surprise – My train home from Sutton was terminating at Kentish Town! Some services used to terminate here, then they didn’t, now it seems they do again – duly added to my spreadsheet and ticked off on the same day 😂👍 Here’s 700035 terminated at Kentish Town…

700035 at Kentish Town

That was my last farewell to the 455’s trip – I didn’t go hunting for them on Saturday because there would be too many others pursuing that same objective. Instead, I went to photograph the Duchess at Alexandra Palace. I will post a final Southern 455 farewell sometime soon to share some shots that didn’t make these Freedom Pass posts.

Meanwhile, back on South Western Railway, the other 455’s remain in service…😉

Well, it’s the middle of May and that means it’s time to Share my Desktop for Clare 😎

I’m, once more, using a screenshot from a Truck Simulator game but this time it’s American Truck Simulator. The makers of the Truck Simulator Games, SCS Software, have taken many big steps forward over the last couple of years. They have upgraded the sounds and the lighting of the game while going back to older parts of the map system and improving the level of detail. Every change takes both games forward in terms of realism 😎

In some ways this was driven by the original release of American Truck Simulator in 2016. As the new kid on the block, it had to show it was up to what Euro Truck Simulator 2 was offering – it failed… SCS Software released ATS at a smaller map scale than ETS2 – a disappointing option that didn’t go down well with the fans of the original series.

Now it’s time to give credit where credit is due – they went back and resized the maps to the same scale as a free upgrade. I don’t know of many software development companies that would even consider that, let alone, carry it out! We got some beautifully scenic maps with some great details. But, ETS2 was now looking a little tired as a result. Cue an upgrade and remaking of the maps in Europe. These improvements are ongoing – Austria has just been updated and released as a free update last Thursday. Not to mention the free upgrades to the US maps – California is being rebuilt currently too! That has been the story throughout and explains why most of us who play these games take pride in supporting SCS when they are releasing new maps and other DLC’s.

So, back to the lighting. Last year, SCS updated this to show much more realistic sky effects. Now we get some beautiful sunsets and sunrises as a direct result and in general the days and nights look much more true to life. I think my Desktop this month illustrates that pretty well…

20220425195345_1

…It’s dawn and the sky is threatening rain as I turn Smoky Bennett’s nose northwards on our way to Boise (ID) with Hay from Riverton (WY). We’ve just passed through the DoT station at Echo and we’re climbing away from the I84/I80 intersection heading towards Ogden. It’s a long grind ahead but we’re up to the job👍 And, yes, I can recognise this location on the real-world map 😀

You can catch Clare’s Share Your Desktop Challenge here. I know she’d love you to take part 😎👍