Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Now that is what I call Newport.

Now that's what I call Newport.

Just about to be released, had some copies today, this was a fun book to write. I had forgotten for a time exactly what the 70s and 80s were about, Different to the 60s which were just one whirlwind of working away from home, playing away from home and doing things some of which are most cringworthy !!!
Like Beatle Jackets with no collars and blue jeans that were painted on. These were the days of the Engineers Arms, the Ken Club, and the roller coaster years of Newport County. Written from  my personal memories and images, which is scary. Me thinks the hang over is about to return.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Remembering the First War

Remembering the First War.

This is my tribute to the RAF, 100 years Old. This diorama has been built for  good friend in Cornwall and will be on display in her Cornish Candy Shoppe in Fore Street St Ives. It shows a 1918 BI Plane swooping over the cliffs in St Ives Bay I like this one, it has a good feeling about it.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Barry the Wet Island.

Barry The Wet Island.
Barry Island, so beautifully kiss me quick, but still showing the trappings of a rich Victorian port on the edge of the South Wales coal field. Only the dog walkers test the fine sand today, empty cafes and windy arcades of the glittering kind wont tempt the hibernating day tripper. Wet upon wet, stinging rain blowing in the blisteringly cold wind, 
Barry has had a huge transformation since the heady days of the 50s and 60. Rail enthusiasts will know all about Barry, Dai Woodhams , sidings full of rusting childhhood memories, and the Dock, vibrant and noisy. The sandy beach - not another soul will fit even in the smallest of corners, its the annual holiday for the pit men. Train after train arriving form the Valleys, children wide eyed, where do I look first, the sea or the Fairground.? The distant tannoy, "Can Mr and Mrs lost child please collect their child from the lost child office next to the promenade toilets."
The massive scenic railway  towering above all else , its brown cladding wearing away slowly over the decades, until it was no more. seen the moment you enter the town or crawl slowly over the causeway. crammed into an antique railway coach with no toilets.
It was a natural progression, the beach, fish and chips, watch the shipping as it waits patiently in Barry roads for the pilot men, to escort them into Cardiff Bristol or Newport. And then the fairground. No matter how full the stomach the sweet decadent aroma of candy floss, burgers and hot dogs, drenched in American  mustard and onions charred and unctuous, awaited the child , who clutched their copper coins.
Gosh, should it be the miniature roundabout? No that's for babies so what about the Ghost Train. So scary the spider webs brushing over the cheek bones and the skeletons and vampires. The screams and the low moaning of the spirits, do I really want to go into that dark place that without my big brother or sister. It must be scary , look at those courting couples their faces are very red.!
The slow trek began back to the B&B, to Butlins on the hill and to the station. The Western Welsh omnibuses and coaches warmed their engines, while thirst men broke out the brown ale for the trip home. The smell of steam crossed over the promenade and freshly prepared locomotives backed down off Barry sheds. To Ebbw Vale, to Tredegar to all points north of the flat lands. The heavier locos took the trippers back to the midlands, while we, sun touched and nauseous crammed in another candy cane donated from the corner shop for our annual street outing to Barry Island, 

Today the trippers sup tea from their thermos flasks wrapped safely in heated saloon automobiles, only the brave and dog walkers brace the freezing rain.

This year I shall make models that reflect the seasons, the summer rain, the autumnal frosts and the heat of high summer.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Jan's Travel Blog Newport to Truro / Lelant/ St Ives/ Zennor CORNWALL.

An early morning dash to God's own Country, amidst beautifully thick frosty fog, and fine mists that spread across the windscreen , throwing shattering shafts of watery light, permeating the road salt and screen wash into a perfectly textured canvas of camera ready opportunity. The signature of January , en route to Truro for some much needed reference images, then to Lelant Saltings- rude not to as the tide was covering the sea grass and sending a heady fragrance of salty things in all directions. To St Ives for luncheon, then on to twilight look at Zennor and the delightful Tinners Arms. Thanks to one and only son Jan and to Cookie who's behavior was exemplary . (And she pulled with a spectacular Pyranean Mountain Dog) - so romantic!

As any model maker will tell you, books will only show so much, that special piece of information is always the bit not shown. So it was Truro here I come. I took the Panasonic digi, The Lumix is a brilliant little machine and as a back up I carried my Olympus SLR. The lens on the lumix is great but there is a tendency to show the blues on a cold day so correction was needed. Each trip I make  I record the journey through the window of the car. The days when I could do this through an open train window are sadly gone and i dont drive long distance any longer. MY brilliant son is alway happy to accommodate and this allows me to do what I love and that is to record the journey throughout. The car window can be , if used properly, a brilliant viewpoint. I use my camera hand held, I know there are devices to mount on the dashboard, but speed is the essence and one must not be afraid to snatch at an image , rather than miss it. There are of course things to avail and that is heavily tinted window screens. Not worth the bother of all that correction.
The winter is a grand time for photography, the open hills and rolling roads can produce magnificent diorama. So many ideas and inspiration for the artist and model maker. However on this occasion it was Truro railway station. I refuse to use the Americanism TRAIN STATION, it is horrid slang.
I have a forthcoming model to make of the station and I needed reference images as a comparison to how it is now and as it was in steam days. Happily in that delightful part of the world there is still working semaphore signals. Seeing that come off on the Falmouth Branch bay was a joy.

There is still much of the old railway to be seen here, the locos have gone and any storage, sheds etc, but its good and it is Cornwall !!!.

We had an early start, it could have been earlier but I couldn't leave until Charlie was in. This is Charlie, handsome beast isn't he. He does a little picture management for me and he is also a guard cat.

We had it all in the bag by 11.30 so set off again on the A30 heading towards St, Ives. Anyone who knows the St Ives branch line will be aware of Lelant, both the Saltings and Lelant halt. It is an absolute delight  at any time of the year and in any weather. The tide was in, though not terribly high. Enough however to cover the landscape with a clean salty freshness which was heady. I am determined to model this setting, on track and the most heavenly scenics ever to be seen. Something about an estuary that just keeps giving.

lelant saltings

I have been a regular visitor to St Ives for over 40 years and the reason I love it so much is that it has hardly changed. I suppose there is little scope for change, other that individual shops galleries and restaurants. I still have friends since those heady days of the 60s and now I have new friends and acquaintances  all of which are lovely people. The harbour is quite empty at presents, many of the smaller boats are out of the water other than the few working boats, that still land fishy things of the very tasty kind.
St Ives on a cool January Day. The watchers sit in knitted gloves, a street singer performs the works of Andrew Loyd Webber and baby sea birds learn to strut their stuff for pasty crumbs. Dog walkers promenade with poo bags and expensive pampered pooches . This years fashion accessory. 

Few boats in the harbour at this time. Waiting for he sun to arrive.

Feasted and rested, the dog Cookie soaked herself in the oncoming waves, I bought the pasties for the home freezer and with an hours light still availible we headed back, but not before taking a short detour along the coast rd to Zennor to see the Tinners Arms. NO booze when driving but worth a look at the beauty of it all. I will write the rest in pictures. Thanks for looking.

And to home .......

Near Zennor Cornwall


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Is there no end to It ?

Is There no End to it!

What a depressing day, yet another election. More sloppy chinned verbiage  from megalomaniac control freaks , who’s only interest is their own  inflated egos and nightmarish ambitions, and at the expense of everyone else. So today I have decided, I will watch no more news, read no more newspapers, relinquish all interest in politics. I will vote as it’s my duty, but only for a candidate who can provide absolute proof that he or she is on the run from a secure institution.

I intend to watch every known episode of Countryfile, read the complete written works of Avril the Aunt. Listen to as much music as humanly possible, drink copious quantities of anything which is reassuringly expensive, and create “stuff” with paint glue branches stone card and fish.

And finally, if I awake one morning to see a bright orange mushroom cloud on the horizon, I shall sing hippy songs and perhaps re-evaluate my situation.

If any of my dear friends wish to join me it will be known as  The Old Fallopian Movement. Membership is free and is for life xxx

Monday, 18 July 2016

Hot Stuff from Asda

Asda's Hot Stuff

Leaving things a bit late, I ordered my online from Asda as opposed to my preferred Morrisons. I have always loved the wild interpretation and innovative approach to grocery logistics of the Asda back room numpties, so having a glee induced pirouette around the kitchen, I was itching to see my hamper of delights. Would I be scraping yoghurt off my bog roll, or maybe attempting to retrieve the fish fingers , half of which would be still in the depot.
No, this was good, all intact, but sadly not all was present. Yes I could get a refund for the missing sardines, and didn't really know what salad cheese was but I thought I would take a chance and keep them. But , then it came to citrus fruit time, my large oranges were substituted. WIth what I wondered, nice easy peel satsumas or maybe a blood orange with that distinctive flesh colouring. Instead of my loose oranges, I am now the proud owner of RED PEPPERS !!!! I am so happy I could urinate.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Wynn's Fowler

The Glebelands Newport c1967

In the 1960s there was an Engineering Exhibition staged  I think, by the Newport Model Engineering Society which today still has a narrow gauge railway track operating on club days. The venue was the Glebelands, a large playing and recreational area to be found off the Caerleon Road.
At this time 1967, I was employed by Robert Wynn Heavy Haulage Contractors and used to travel with the Fowler steam locomotive when I could to various  venues and steam rallies on the weekends. It was a delight to be allowed to polish and clean the pride of the Wynns fleet. On a number of occasion I was allowed to start the fire in the firebox to quietly raise steam for the event. Another privilege .On this day  I was with the Driver Arthur Matthews, his son Harvey, my foreman at the time and head of the "Trailer Gang" and the senior director of the firm Mr H.P. Wynn
Here were three wonderful human beings who's combined knowledge of Steam and the Heavy Haulage industry knew no bounds. Now, nearly 50 years on, I would give the earth to just listen once again and take in the ever flowing river of knowledge and experience they were always happy to  share .