Our first visit of the year came about do to going to Stafford Rangers ground to watch the Wolves old boys versus west brom old boys.
On the way home, we stopped off at Amerton and managed to have a couple of rides behind "Isabel" Bagnall 0.4.0st , which was the first time I had seen her in steam, having first seen her as a child , 30 plus years ago plinthed outside Stafford station.
Steeple Grange light railway was the next visit, where we became member's and have been back and visited a few times during the year.
A very friendly small group running to a unusual 18" gauge.
Our Andrew got the chance to drive 2 of the battery electric loco's in the station yard, which he really enjoyed.
Because the transit camper spent the year off the road , the Le Mans trip this year was a bit different , which meant sadly we did not get to visit the Baie De Somme again or any other railways in France .
We got a lift to Le Mans and came home on the plane from Nantes , the first time both of us had ever flown, we thought it was great !
On previous visit's to Apedale , the local 16mm group had their portable layout running and Andrew was really taken with this, helping out a little with the loco's and spending quite a bit of time watching.
Anyway, he asked if we /he could have a garden railway with a steam loco too and we deceided that we would get him a loco for christmas [see later].
we joined the association of 16mm narrow gauge modellers and of course , I had to have something myself !
A few loco's , railcar's and stock have been purchased through ebay , and a visit was made to the Butterley garden railway on their open weekend, where further purchases were made , some of which were put aside for christmas.
Due to our very small garden, I decided to join the Butterley group , as it then gave you the chance to run on a real garden line, less than 10 miles from our home.
I can very highly recommend both groups very highly, and I am so pleased that we joined both as we have found them to be very friendly towards both myself and Andrew despite his age.
Later in the year, we visited Wickstead park , for the steam in the park event and got treated to a number of rides behind various loco's including a triple header .
A brilliant day out, which we hope to repeat in 2011.
During the school summer holidays we set out in the Ford 100e for a weekend camping in Suffolk , arriving on saturday night.
Sunday we visited the East Anglian transport museum, where as well as having quite a few runs on the railway, we also rode on the tram's and trolleybuses that were running that day.
Early monday morning we packed up the tent and headed back home via a visit to Bressingham.
Now I have visited Bressingham a number of times over the year's, but sadly in my view it is no longer the place it once was for the steam fan.
Now after our first flight, we had got the bug and I checked on the Ryanair site for cheap flights and came across Berlin,
A hotel was found at our price, eg 20 euro's a night and this was good enough for what we needed, which was a safe and clean comfy bed for the night.
we arrived at Berlin airport late evening, knowing that we had to stay at the airport for the night, so prior to getting our heads down, we had a bite to eat and a quick run on the train for about 6 stations , then return.
Up early after a poor nights kip, we set off to our first visit, which was to the standard gauge tramway at Bahnhof Rahnsdorf for the Woltersdorfer Straßenbahn [ http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woltersdorfer_Stra%C3%9Fenbahn ].
After a enjoyable visit, we caught the train to Hermannstrasser to find our hotel.
After we had left our cases at the hotel, we again set off for a couple of hours of train travel and to get something to eat, returning to the hotel early evening , and by 9pm we were fast asleep.
Day 2 was a visit to Berliner Parkeisenbahn Wuhlheide , a excellently run park narrow gauge system which is mainly staffed by children.
I dont really know how things operate there, as sadly we only saw the one loco, which was in use and a walk to the shed area found it locked up and no one around.
We did manage to find a Mcdonalds on the way back though !
Day 3 and we visited the Schoneicher-Rudersdorfer Strassenbahn [ http://www.srs-tram.de/ ] , a metre gauge tramway, and we rode on all the trams that were running that day.
A visit to their depot and the purchase of a photographers permit , allowed us full access to the depot, plus a guided tour and a few small gift's ,pen ect for Andrew.
Well worth the visit for both tramway and narrow gauge enthusiasts alike , with very friendly staff, remembering we dont speak German.
In the evening we visited the main Berlin station and booked our tickets for the following day, followed by a frankfurter supper.
day 4 was a very early start on the underground ect, to reach the main station and board the train to Dresden, where we changed trains for the short distance to Radebeul ost for the Lößnitzgrundbahn. [ http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%B6%C3%9Fnitzgrundbahn ]
Without doubt, this was the visit of the holiday, , a problem free visit to the loco depot and yard area and as many journeys as possible behind the massive to us , 2.10.2. tank loco.
Finally we met a couple of enthusiast's that we could talk to , one from another preserved railway in Germany who was the owner of a similar loco to the one pulling us and the other visiting from Poland.
At just after 6pm, we watched the last train of the day leave before making our way back to Berlin, tired but very happy.
Day 5 and we checked out of the hotel and set off to visit the Deutsches technikmuseum, [ http://www.sdtb.de/Startseite.63.0.html ] a fantastic museum in Berlin which contains many railway loco's , both standard and narrow gauge, plus many other items of interest including some brilliant planes.
After a bite to eat, we set off for the airport arriving early and spending a hour or so on the station watching the many trains passing through.
Not including spending money, the flights and hotel for 4 nights was less than £120, brilliant value.
A visit to the leicester museum , was a nice local day out, this was the first time in a while that i had been and Andrew's first visit and we had a few rides up and down the line.
Also we were kindly shown inside the store area which contained the other loco's on site.
Chasewater was next to be visited where as well as the standard gauge railway, we were allowed to see the collection of narrow gauge loco's and stock which are being acquired for a future railway.
In september the Lincoln coast celebrated its 50th birthday, and we visited for the first time since it has been moved to Skegness.
It was brilliant to see all the loco's again and they have made a great job on rebuilding the LCLR in its new location , and £3 for a all day pass which included the shed area where all the stock was outside on display , great value, here's to the next 50 year's !
Apedales open day was next and they have now got permission to run passenger trains , with the 3 loco's in steam all taking a turn in service , as well as joining some of the diesel fleet working freight trains.
I am really pleased for them now as they can open more often, which will in turn lead to more money to further the restoration of this fantastic collection.
As with the German visit , i checked Ryanairs site prior to the october school holiday , flights and hotel booked for again less than £120 and off we trekked to Wroclaw.
We arrived sunday evening and caught the bus from the airport to Wroclaw station, when we tried to pay on the bus, the driver just waved us past , so we rode for free.
The hotel was just across from the station , so we checked in and left our cases , returning to the station for our first ever look at Polish railways, staying for about a hour before returning to bed.
Trams were everywhere and various routes passed at the crossroads outside the hotel, we purchased 2 x 5 day tickets and jumped on a tram, taking note of the route number, as nowhere could we find a route map.
We spent the first day looking around Wroclaw and riding on trams, plus meals at Mcdonalds and Kentucky fried chicken, just like home !
Late afternoon and evening were spent on the station watching the trains come and go, which included their class 83 clones, one of which is painted in early BR electric blue livery.
Day 2 and we set off to catch a early train to Wolsztyn to visit a real steam roundhouse still owned by the PKP, which still operates services , both passenger and freight .
On arrival we could not believe the what we saw, as we passed the roundhouse and saw the line of loco's in the sidings.
Before we started, we did a bit of food shopping, and ate as we walked down the long line of loco's across from the depot, some looked as if they had not been run for a while, while others looked like they were still serviceable.
On arrival at the depot, we paid our entry fee. including the photo permit and set off around the shed area.
I am not old enough to remember the end of steam on BR as i was only 5 at the time, but I think that Wolsztyn must be very close to this.
The first thing that hits you is that this is no museum, it is a working shed and the loco's are not prime and polished, but are all workhorses, awaiting repair, or their next turn in service , it is a visit and sight I will never forget in my life, truly magic !
We were allowed to walk up to a further line of loco,s just across from the station and from the side of the line watched the fantastic site of the 2 coach train departing from the station, the one big regret, is that we did not catch it.
Although not in steam, other loco's were also seen elsewhere on the PKP at Leszno.
Day 3 was another early start for a visit to Jaworzynie , to visit the steam museum/roundhouse there.
If you take a look at the photo's, this place was cat city and they all took to our Andrew !
Now this place was the opposite of Wolsztyn, with most locos needing full restoration, although some were in great condition , but what a fantastic collection.
We also saw the first Polish narrow gauge loco there [which in the end turned out to be the only one seen], PX48 1754 , one of the 0.8.0 tender engines.
As we were the only visitor's for the first few hour's , the place was very silent and still, and you could really have been somewhere that had not been seen by anyone for a long time,only photo's on the walls reminding you that the place was often a hive of people, with loco's in steam around the turntable.
It would be great to visit again on one of these steam days.
Day 4 , well despite checking all the times ect, this day was a bit of a non event.
Another early start to visit the narrow gauge railway at Stare Bojanowo , we were looking forward to riding on the railcar there and seeing another PX48 loco, but this was not to be.
The timetable I had downloaded from the internet said we should alight at Koscian and catch a stopping train to Stare Bojanowo, however I did not know we had to double back from there, so we tried catching a train forward, only to be told no.
After a while of getting nowhere, we did go back to Leszno , to try again and spent hours on the station there waiting for a train that stopped at Stare Bojanowo.
We finally got a train and arrived to see the railcar in the platform at the side of the mainline station, now the problem is, I am not that fast at walking and as we made our way to the railcar, just as we reached the narrow gauge platform it pulled out and away from the station !
Now this was what we thought was the last return journey, so we set off to walk to the first station on the line at Robaczyn, following the line.
There was no sign of a station there at all, so I presume, it stopped by the roadside.
After waiting around for around 10 minutes after the railcar should have returned, a young lad came past and he told us there were no more trains on the line that day , so we had to walk all the way back to Stare Bojanowo !
We caught the first train back to Wroclaw, totally naffed off.
Thankfully, this was not our first day, because if it had have been, I would have given up on travelling by train in Poland, and spent everyday in Wroclaw.
We returned to the hotel, dumped the bag and had a walk out to find something to eat.
We found a shopping centre open just up the road, with a hot dog stall inside, and sat in the centre eating our supper before returning to the hotel for the last time.
As our flight was early afternoon, we checked out and went back to the shopping centre for a hot dog breakfast , yes they were that good, then took a steady walk back to the bus stop to catch the bus to the airport.
The driver was nowhere to be seen[he was in a cafe across the road] and as there were other people already on the bus, we got on and sat down.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time and had a pleasant flight back home.
My view's and thoughts on Poland , remembering that we do not speak a word of Polish, other than knowing how to say thank you!
From a travellers point of view, I did not find it as easy to get around, as per day 4, we really needed a rail map, which was not available, or any form of pocket timetable. which would have helped greatly.
Can you buy return rail tickets there, as all I could ever seem to get was singles ?
Prior to our visit , I had read up on a few things and it was said to visit the desk inside Wroclaw station for information , as there was usually a member of staff that spoke English, but the trouble was at the time of our visit Wroclaw station was being rebuilt, so there was nowhere to ask anything and we never met a railway man that spoke english,.
The railway system [PKP] itself seems rather run down, and outdated, but the service seem's fine and all the trains we caught were fast, warm and comfortable.
From an enthusiast's point of view, PKP is great , with loads of loco hauled trains, interesting stations and of course STEAM , fares seem to be quite cheap and unless you are going to Stare Bojanowo [ ! ] there seems to be plenty of trains.
Despite our lack of Polish, we managed perfectly in all the shop's and were treated with respect, and I am sure we pleased some of the shop keepers by saying thank you in Both English and Polish.
Most of the things we purchased, including food seemed well priced, to cheap and if you are a smoker like myself, you will realy enjoy Poland.
Anyone reading this , just think now as I do, people holidaying in England, may speak little or no English, but if you can just take a moment to see if you can help them that would be great.
Would we ever go back to Poland ? , you bet , as and when we can afford to !
And so to a 16MM christmas
Well we got our Andrew his loco, he is now the proud owner of "Stephanie" a Accucraft Edrig 040 tank loco , he also got two battery powered steam loco's "Andrew" and "Cyril" , which were built for us by a friend Bill Bramley.
On top of this he also got a number of comic style wagon's and coaches which I bought off ebay and his own coal wagon which was a present from Bill.