Gloomy Ealing

One of the ‘benefits’ of being told to get more active is – going trainspotting 🙂 I had originally intended to be doing a lot of my old hobby when I retired but a number of other things got in the way, including games and personal things. It actually feels good to get back out on the rails again!

On Friday last week I left home in freezing fog to walk down to the station and make my way to Ealing Broadway. It’s been at least 3 years since I last travelled out that way and there have been a lot of changes – hopefully I can talk about some of them with the photos in this post. Lets start with an unusual working and an amusing brief chat with a fellow enthusiast. It’s a fact of life that modern enthusiasts have it made when it comes to knowing what is coming through due to apps like Real Time Trains on their mobile phones. Maybe I should treat myself to a new phone so I can access that info while I’m out and about? But, there’s a part of me that still loves the thrill of something unexpected turning up when I go out spotting. So my fellow enthusiast with a camera says “The twenties should be through soon, they’ve just got the road from Plassers – an hour late!” To which my only possible response was “OK” My spotter speak is still pretty current so, to translate for those not in the loop, there’s a pair of class 20 locomotives that have been waiting in the Plasser & Theurer works sidings at West Ealing and are now cleared to enter the running lines and proceed east. And a couple of minutes later, here they are……working as the 0Z20 and running back to Leicester (almost 1 hour behind schedule). My colleague had made the trip to Ealing purely to catch these locomotives and having got his photo was off elsewhere. I was staying for as long as my fingers could handle the cold!

Ealing Broadway is served by Great Western Railway (GWR) and Transport for London (TfL) – the latter operate the London Underground services on the District and Central lines that clatter in and out in a sporadic fashion (compared with Barking which I visited a couple of weeks ago where the trains seem to to operate on a regular pattern). Here’s an arriving District Line service made up of S7 stock…

Since my last visit to the Great Western, electrification of the route has progressed to the point where almost all services are in the hands of class 387 electric units – ousting all but a few of the class 165 diesel units for service elsewhere. I’ll eschew showing a photo of one of the 387 electrostar’s as we’ll probably be looking at them or one of their cousin’s in another post. Instead, here’s a class 360 unit, 360204……and an example of a change of operator. This unit is running on the Heathrow – Paddington stopping service. The service was called Heathrow Connect and jointly operated by Heathrow express and GWR. Last year it was absorbed into TfL as part of the preparations for the opening of the crossrail link as the Elizabeth Line. That was supposed to happen this Autumn… Ahem! Originally planned for 2018, 2021 now looks to be the likely completion date! However, the units destined to run the services along the route have been coming on line. Designated Class 345, a pair of them pass at Ealing working services between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington……There are also members of the class operating suburban services in and out of Liverpool Street as they wait for the tunnel through the middle of London to open.

Another change and a slightly sad one has been the demise of the HST units that have served on the Western since 1976. These have been replaced by a fleet of Hitachi built electric and bi-mode (diesel and electric) units. Known on GWR as IET’s they are also taking over services on the routes operated by LNER out of Kings Cross where they are known as Azuma’s. Here’s one of the GWR’s Class 800 units – 800035 – running through on the fast lines…

There’s always a steady flow of freight through Ealing Broadway, making for Acton TC or continuing over the North London Line to destinations to the north, south or east of the capital. Here is Freightliner 66502 heading the 4M58 Southampton – Garston intermodal service……Container and Stone traffic form the bulk of freight operations through Ealing Broadway. Here’s 59104 ‘Village of Great Elm’ with a load of graded stone from the Mendip Hills……That’s the 7A09 from Merehead Quarry running nearly an hour late – next stop Acton TC where it will terminate.

Maintenance of the railway is important and usually happens overnight but some engineers services run during the day. Here is a stone-blower running from Woking to West Ealing……presumably it’s due some maintenance.

After around 2 hours at Ealing Broadway, my fingers were feeling the cold – time to head home…

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Blue

Discarded Blue……A baby’s cot left to decay along with the autumn leaves.

Blue Cheatlines and trailer……Once owned by Culina, now possibly an ‘owner-driver’ rig, DN15TWA is a Volvo FH4 with 500HP engine. Was advertised for sale by FleetEx in June this year.

All Blue……Volvo FH 500HP operated by D.R. & F.A.Ford – based in Wem, Shropshire with another base in Chirk.

Screenshot Blue……Finished in the traditional Ford colors, an 8240 Tractor in Farming Simulator 19.

Photos taken this morning for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. Catch up with the challenge Here.

The Rule of Three

Things come in three’s or so superstition tells us. Invariably, it’s usually the bad things too. This started back in March with a tooth that needed patching up after an ancient filling fell out. The Dentist asked that I be taken off one of my blood-pressure meds as it was causing my gums to swell and that was the start of it all. Incidentally, the same tooth finally broke in July and I had to have a crown fitted.

In June we started the process of seeking a new hypertension regime. Here we are in November, having taken a few wrong turns along the way, with three pills that finally seem to be doing the trick. All that remains is to tweak the dosage of one of them to get the pressure to the intended target. Naturally, during the course of changing meds, there were lots of blood tests.

On a visit to the Nurse on October 10th, I was informed that my blood-sugar level was ‘raised’. Apparently, I’m pre-diabetic. That was a little bit of a shock but perhaps not. What that means in real world terms is – I need to increase my exercise, reduce my food intake and cut out the sweet things. Now, I don’t eat a lot of sweets – I might have a chocolate bar twice a month and it’s rare that we have a dessert with dinner in our house. No – the sugar intake is almost entirely down to beer and that is something that I need to reduce.

So, much of October has been about adjusting to a new regime. I’m making a point of getting out for a brisk walk every day. As for the beer – ironically, I was already working on reducing my alcohol consumption and had made good progress over a 3-year period. In many ways this news has been the catalyst to ‘finish the job’ and I’m pushing on towards being alcohol free at home (apart from the very occasional single shot of whisky). One thing that has been helping this is the availability of alcohol free ales. You see, my ‘alcohol’ problem is not about getting drunk – I don’t drink to get drunk and forget bad things. I just love the flavour of beer – getting drunk is an unfortunate side effect!

Changing over to alcohol free beers has issues though. In the majority of cases, the brewers either use a yeast that stops fermenting before it creates alcohol or they actively remove their normal yeast before the alcohol is made. This has the effect of leaving significant levels of sugar in the beer. To give an example from one beer I tried – there were 18g of sugar in a 500ml bottle. However, all is not gloom and doom! There is an alcohol free beer that only has 0.7g of sugar in a bottle and… It’s actually a version of one of my favourite ales – Adnams Ghost Ship. How has the brewer achieved this? They have used a process called reverse osmosis after the normal fermenting stage has completed to remove the alcohol from the finished ale. The equipment required to do that is not cheap, so hats off to Adnams for being prepared to invest money up front for a small but growing market. I hope other brewers will see the trend and follow suit. Here’s the Adnams Ghost Ship 0.5 page.

So that my friends is why October saw very little in the way of blog posts – there’s been a bit of mental angst and a lot of life rearranging to do. Three things – Broken tooth, blood-pressure meds and pre-diabetes – can turn everything upside down. Now we move forwards and hopefully restore normality to this blog 🙂