The Anonymous Widower

Memories Of Althorpe

On The way to Cleethorpes, I passed through Althorpe station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The River Trent flowing South to North.
  2. Keadby power station at the top of the map.
  3. Althorpe station close to the bridge over the river.
  4. The village of Althorpe is at the South of the map by the river.

C and myself had friends, who farmed much of the land in the curve of river, South of the railway.

These are a few tales, some might enjoy.

Althorpe And Princess Diana’s Grave

I was once told, that regularly tourists would appear looking for the last resting place of Princess Diana.

Sat-navs may be a wonderful gadget for some, but they do lead those with a certain lack of common sense on wild goose chases.

C And The Tug-Boats

C once spent a night in their farmhouse, which was by the River Trent.

She didn’t sleep well, as tug-boats pulling barges were constantly going past and sounding their sirens. The river was actually above the house, due to the embankments to stop flooding.

Princess Anne And The Centrefold

Our friends’ daughter was a very good rider in eventing and used to supplement her variable income in the sport with modelling. At one point, I used her for some promotional shots for one of my companies.

Some years ago, she was competing at an event in Yorkshire. Coincidentally, this was just after she had appeared as the centrefold in a well-known men’s magazine.

The event was a bit of a nightmare for her, as paparazzi were following her with open copies of the magazine.

At one point, it all got a bit much, so she decided to sneak back to the calm of her horsebox, by a circuitous route.

As she walked back, she encountered Princess Anne, who was also competing and using the same route to avoid the paparazzi.

They talked about the pressures of the paparazzi, who were being a nuisance, with the Princess saying, she approved of my friends’ daughter’s modelling and hoped it continued, as it had taken the pressure off herself.

Flixborough

My friends’ farm was not far from Flixborough, which is infamous for the Flixborough Disaster in 1974, when a chemical plant exploded and killed 28 people and seriously injured a further 36.

My friends also lost several thousand pigs because of the explosion.

Wikipedia says this about the cause of the explosion.

The disaster involved (and may well have been caused by) a hasty modification. There was no on-site senior manager with mechanical engineering expertise (virtually all the plant management had chemical engineering qualifications); mechanical engineering issues with the modification were overlooked by the managers who approved it, nor was the severity of the potential consequences of its failure appreciated.

At the time, I had just left ICI and I was still in contact with my former colleagues.

One told me, that he had met a Senior ICI Engineer, who had been involved with the enquiry into the disaster.

The plant had been a copy of a Dutch plant, that had been built to metric units, which were converted to Imperial to build the Flixborough plant.

As ICI had used metric units since the mid-1950s, there was considerable alarm in the mind of the Senior Engineer, that when the hasty modification was made, someone got mixed up.

Would the Flixborough disaster have happened, if the plant had been built as a copy of the Dutch plant using metric units?

 

September 26, 2020 Posted by | Design, Sport, Transport, World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smartphone-Based Testing Device Cuts Time And Cost Of Diagnostics

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on The Engineer.

This is the sub-title of the article.

An inexpensive and sensitive smartphone-based testing device for viral and bacterial pathogens could reduce the pressure on testing laboratories during a pandemic.

These are a few important points from the article.

  • The device has been developed by researchers and engineers at the University of Illinois.
  • They are aiming for a $50 price.
  • They started looking for a solution to look for viral and biological pathogens in horses.
  • Tests work with a nasal or blood sample.
  • Tests take about half-an-hour.

If this device can be productionised, so that millions can be turned out for their target price, this will be a major weapon in the fight against COVID-19.

Apparently, there is a great advantage of using horses in the trials of the device. The horse pathogens are harmless to humans, so it lowers the risk to researchers.

 

April 28, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Sleigh Ride

We went for a ride on a sleigh pulled by two horses.

The more I look at the horses, the more I think that they have a lot of Suffolk Horse in them.

I also took a video.

I’d like the opinion on the horses, of someone, who knows their Suffolks.

The railway bridge is one of many in the area and was probably built by the Germans as part of the Prussian Eastern Railway, that used to connect Koningsberg and East Prussia to Poland and Greater Germany.

January 20, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Kelpies

The Kelpies are best described by these pictures.

I liked them and their setting in the sun was excellent. This Google Map shows their location to the West of the M9 Motorway and South of the River Carron.

The Kelpies And The Helix

The Kelpies And The Helix

The  area to the South has been converted into a park called The Helix. I came on a bus called The Loop from Falkirk Grahamstown station.

September 6, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Two Solutions To Make Crossing A Railway Safe

On the way to football tonight in Ipswich, I went to have a drink with a friend, who lives near Thurston station on the Ipswich to Ely Line, where there is a good real ale and cyder pub. Crossing the tracks at Thurston is via a simple walk across controlled by traffic lights between the two platforms.

Of all the stations I use regularly, this is the only place where such a system is in use. Unless of course you count the trams at Ampere Road by the Croydon Ikea. A few hundred metres to the west of the station a bridle way and cycle path crosses the railway and Network Rail have built this bridge.

There have been reports like this one in the East Anglian Daily Times, which has a headline of Poll: £1.5m ‘monster’ railway bridge at Thurston is dubbed a ‘total waste of money’

This bridge is an interesting case of what to do where there are gated crossings of railway lines.

I think before being too critical of Network Rail we should bare these points in mind.

1. Suicide

This article on the BBC web site talks of a death at a crossing in the Thurston area.  Network Rail get far too many deaths on the railway and it is a sad fact, that stepping in front of a train, is a common method of suicide.

2. The East-West Rail Link

The East-West Rail Link will use this line to get from Ipswich and Felixstowe to Cambridge and Ely. This link will be an electrified 100 mph railway that will run trains between East Anglia and the Midlands and the West. So although the line carries perhaps a couple of trains every hour each way, in perhaps ten years time, this will probably be a few times more. And as the line is pretty straight as the pictures show, the operating speed could be a lot higher.

3, Horses

If you read all the comments about the bridge no-one mentions taking a horse over the railway.

Horses are flight animals and if spooked will run fast away from the perceived danger.

Many horses too, don’t like going under high-voltage cables. Whether it is because they can sense the magnetic field generated by the electricity or they don’t like the whistling sound,I don’t know. But if the crossing is going to be used by horses, it will have to be of the size it has been built.

I’m not sure, but I think this is the only way to get a horse from one side of the railway to the other, unless you go all the way and go under the bridge by Thurston station.

4. Getting The Design Right

This bridge illustrates that getting the design right and satisfying all users and critics who never use the bridge is an almost impossible task.

Aesthetically, I don’t like the bridge, but unless they dig a subway under the railway, there is nothing else that can be done to satisfy all users and critics of the design.

Note that when the railway is upgraded to be part of the East-West Rail Link, Thurston station will have to be rebuilt and I suspect it will have a bridge over the railway, probably with lifts and a price tag well upwards of £2million.

There will be some serious discussions.

August 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our New Police Patrol

I heard the unmistakable clip-clop and by the time I’d got my camera, they were walking sedately into the distance.

Our New Police Patrol

Our New Police Patrol

I’ve not seen them patrolling here before, but an ex-policeman I used to know years ago, said that horses are not a bad way to show yourself and have a look into residential areas. I know myself, that the view from a horse as you walk around, is times better than the one you get from a car.

I suspect though today, as it was a Sunday morning, it was more about giving the horses a stretch and some exercise.

As I didn’t take a good look, I got to wondering where the horses came from. I found this article from Spitalfields Life, describing the stables of the City of London Police at Wood Street, just South of the Barbican. I would suspect, that they could have come from there, as the distance would be a very suitable walk for a working horse.

December 14, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Would I Go Back To Iceland?

I think I will go again, as Iceland is a country that appeals to my mind.

But if I do go again, it will be with someone else, as my trip would have been so much better with a companion!

I still want to go over a geothermal power station!

And it would be wonderful to ride one of the sturdy Icelandic horses in some of the amazing countryside.

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

There Are Icelandic Horses Everywhere

It surprised me how many horses were to be seen on Iceland.

There Are Icelandic Horses Everywhere

There Are Icelandic Horses Everywhere

Icelandic horses are always horses, no matter what size they are. One reason could be that in Icelandic, there is no word for pony.

In one town we passed through, the guide said that horses outnumbered people by three to one.

July 13, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Bannockburn Riding for the Disabled

I was alerted to the plight of this organisation by Melanie Reid in her Saturday column in The Times.

Riding for the Disabled was one of the charities C and myself supported, so she would be totally behind my donation to help the Bannockburn RDA in their fight against a difficult landlord.

If you would like to donate, you can use Just Giving.

June 7, 2014 Posted by | News, World | , | Leave a comment

Cats For Protection

The BBC is showing a video of a cat saving a young boy from a dog. It’s here on the Daily Mail.

But cats are strange animals and often behave in ways to get what they want.

Years ago, I often used to walk round the stables by the house to check the horses. One night, I shone a torch into the stable and saw that the horse was sitting curled up by the back wall. But the torch picked out two eyes just under his shoulder and I could see one of our ginger cats snuggled in the warmth. It wasn’t the only time I saw this and one day mentioned it to an old horse-coper, who explained it like this.

Horses don’t like mice and rats scrambling through the straw, as being flight animals small noises may make them want to flee and of course they can’t. So the horse had encouraged the cat in, to protect him from the savage rodents. He said that over the years, he’d seen several strong friendships between horses or ponies and cats.

May 15, 2014 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments