Sunday, 31 January 2010

Model Rail Scotland

Its that time of year again. Get excited, because Model Rail is coming to town! The 26th to 28th February at the SECC, Glasgow, must be in your diaries (although if you live too far away we'll give you a dispensation, if you ask nicely on the correct forms). This is the highlight of the Scottish model railway year. You just can't miss it. Its too much fun, even during Lent.

Talking of diaries, one of the parishioners gave me a railway calendar and matching diary after the Vigil Mass last night. Its nice to be remembered by parishioners.

[Update: Please note that this is not a cheap attempt to solicit donations. All of the members have all the stuff they need!]

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Welsh Railways & Giraldus Cambrensis

One of our colleagues in seminary - now a priest in the far flung islands - had a saying that certain people had "minds like Welsh railways - one track and dirty!"

Apparently though, Welsh railways have in fact much improved. A recent-ish issue of RAIL had an article on a new locomotive-hauled service from North Wales to Cardiff sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government. This Holyhead to Cardiff and vice versa service, hauled by 57/3s, offers a smart new way for businessmen and commuters to travel down for business or indeed shopping. A first-class ticket (£193 return, although bought in advance it could be as little as £152)* brings with it a full breakfast on the way down, leaving Holyhead at 0532, and a three course evening meal on return, leaving Cardiff at 1617. More details and menus on the Arriva Trains Wales website.

The website advertises it simply as the North South Premier Service but the Rail article additionally mentions that the service has a name - Yr Geralt Gymro/Gerald of Wales - named after a 12th Century Archdeacon of Brecon and Bishop-Elect of St Davids, although that election was later annulled. Even 12th c. priests get involved in trains!

* Second class from just £71 return

Friday, 15 January 2010

Michael Portillo's Railway Journeys

Michael Portillo was an MP who many loved to hate, especially at the time of the 1997 General Election. He has now reinvented himself as a TV presenter and currently has an interesting programme on the BBC - great British railway journeys. In the Daily Mail he has written about his pride in having, as Minister for Transport, saved the Settle and Carlisle Line when BR wanted it closed. In this instance he managed to persuade Baroness Thatcher that heritage was more important than economics, and, regardless of the other good and bad things they did in politics, we should be thankful to him and her for this generous act.

The series can be watched on BBC iPlayer

[I don't know what religion Mr Portillo is but on Wikipedia (which is never wrong) it says that eh took the name 'Xavier' at Confirmation and his father was Spanish, albeit a Republican, so it is possible he is a Catholic]