Archive for June, 2018

Originally posted in July 2013

Sometimes it is difficult to see how a nebula or other body got its name but I really think these photos look like a swan



Photos taken using the Bradford Robotic Telescope

The Swan nebula (M17/NGC6618) is also known by a number of other names such as the Omega Nebula, the Horseshoe Nebula or the Lobster Nebula. It is 5000 to 6000 light years from Earth and has a diameter of 15 to 20 light years. it is one of the brightest and most massive star-forming regions seen from Earth and is visible with binoculars in the constellation Sagittarius.

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Originally posted in July 2013

Was great to be back at Didcot Railway Centre to see 6023 King Edward II in steam.


6023 was a king-class heavy express steam locomotive specifically designed for taking express trains over the steep gradients found on Great Western routes in south-west England. 6023 came into service in June 1930 and spent most which working life based at depots in the South West before transferring to Old Oak Common in London in August of 1956, where it worked on the London – Wolverhampton route. In September of 1960 it transferred to Canton depot in Cardiff and until its withdrawal in June 1962 working trains between London and Cardiff.

Most of the King class locos disappeared quickly after they were withdrawn from service. However, 6023 together with 6024 were kept to perform deadweight testing on bridges and subsequently sent to Woodhams in Barry, where, like many locomotives they were left to decay. In fact, 6023 stayed at Barry until 1982 when it was purchased and moved first to Brighton and then to Bristol for restoration. Unfortunately before this work could be completed the funds ran out in 1988. The locomotive was then purchased by the Great Western Society, and arrived at Didcot in March 1990, where restoration recommenced. The locomotive was finally first steamed in public at Didcot in April 2011.

Brilliant to see her in full steam, although I have to say I’m not a great fan of the blue livery, although I’m told this is authentic BR livery from the 1950s. Call me traditional but I’d much rather see her in GWR green or BR green or black. perhaps blue engines remind me too much of Thomas the Tank Engine (Not that I have anything against Thomas, you understand)

originally posted in July 2013

I think one of the most amazing things is the way that things have survived the eruption and which give us a great insight to the lives of everyday Romans








originally posted in July 2013



It was amazing to walk down the streets just as those Romans did in AD 70 and look into the shops and houses and try to experience how it would have been just before the eruption





Originally posted in July 2013

Went to see the British Museum Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition over the weekend. It was very good but we both agreed that it lacked a little something for us. This is most likely because we visited both sites a few years ago and saw the artifacts in situ which really adds to the sense of just how caught out the people were by the eruption – literally life stopped in an instant.

So I thought I would post some of my pictures from the two sites.

The villain of the piece - Mount Vesuvius from Herculaneum

The villain of the piece – Mount Vesuvius from Herculaneum

These shots of Herculaneum really give you an idea of how much higher the modern town level is compared to the Roman town and hence how much deposit rained down on the town in the hours following the eruption.




Was videoing the feeder at Bough Beech and managed to extract this set of stills of a Blue Tit landing on the feeder




Some more pictures of 4464 Bittern at the Mid-Hants Railway spring gala







It was fitting that 4464 Bittern should return to Mid-Hants railway since she was restored to mainline order at Ropley works.

4464 Bittern at Alton

4464 Bittern at Alton

4464 was built at Doncaster works in 1937, a sister to engine to the famous ‘Mallard’. In all 35 A4 pacific’s were built and of these 6 remain in preservation. Bittern now carries a plaque commemorating her part in the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s steam speed record.


4464 was initially based at Newcastle and was responsible for hauling the Flying Scotsman express between London and Newcastle. After the second world war she pulled the Talisman express from Kings Cross to Edinburgh. The A4s were replaced on these services by diesel locomotives in 1963 and 4464 went to Aberdeen to pull express services between there and Edinburgh or Glasgow. However 3 years later they were withdrawn from service.


4464 was purchased by a private owner and ran railtours but she quickly developed a cracked frame and had to be withdrawn from service and it was not until 2000 that work began at Ropley works to bring her back to running specification.She returned to service in 2007 and in 2013 she undertook 3 90mph runs as part of the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Mallard’s record of 126mph in 1938 (as commemorated on her new plaque). Bittern made a top speed of 93mph.

HMS Warrior had a crew of 705 which comprised three groups – the engineering staff (98), the Royal Marines who responsible for the gunnery (115) and the Royal Navy crew. The conditions under which the crew lived were very similar to those of their counterparts 100 years earlier. They shared their mess deck with the main battery of guns and slept in hammocks strung from the superstructure of the ship


in the middle of the mess deck is the galley where all the food was prepared for the crew and the officers. The main meal of the day would be taken at noon and each seaman took it in turn to do a week’s duty as a mess Cook. This meant that he had to collect and prepare the days food for his mess and take it to the galley where it would be cooked by the seaman who worked there.


The galley also provided the food for the captain’s cabin, which was at the rear of the mess deck and the officers quarters and wardroom which were immediately below it.

Captains day room

Captains day room

Captains dining room

Captains dining room


HMS Warrior is an unique ship within the history of the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1860, having been built as a response to recent developments in the French Navy. As the first ship built of iron, rather than using metal cladding she represented a major step forward in the evolution of fighting ships. When she was launched she attracted much more attention than any other preceding ship had ever had.

She was a hybrid between the first modern battleships and the classical ships of the line from the preceding Napoleonic period. She had the capability both sailing under her engines and under sail. Her unique features include retractable steam funnels, so that when she was under sail power the profile of the funnels did not interfere with the flow of the wind. Her gun layout and her facilities were still very reminiscent of ships of the Napoleonic era.

HMS Warrior remained in active naval service for 22 years during which time her guns never fired in anger. By the time he was retired from service ship design had already moved on and the turn-of-the-century would see the dispensing with the gun arrangements of the previous era and the introduction of deck based pivot guns as on modern battleships. Indeed even in 1860 Warrior has a very early prototype of these guns in the arrangements of her bow and stern chases, the direction of file which could be changed through 100° arc home side to side by mechanical means.

The trackway on the deck enabled quick change of direction of fire

The trackway on the deck enabled quick change of direction of fire

After active service, HMS Warrior used by the Navy in a number of different roles with in ports. Because of her construction, the hull lasted very well and eventually she was sold by the Navy for use as a floating jetty. She ended her working life as a floating oil jetty in Milford Haven in south-west Wales. In 1979, recognising the importance that the ship had played in the development of warships she was purchased, towed to Hartlepool and underwent restoration to her original 1860s condition. She is now on permanent display at the Portsmouth historic dockyard not far from that other great Royal Naval vessel HMS Victory.