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Well, been back up North this weekend... playing steam trains on sunday.... was at a bit of short notice... my dad figured he was down to do two days, 12 hours a time, shovelling, like, 2 tons of coal each day, and then going to london today on the 6:45 train.... so I got a turn :-)

It's been a *while*... and things didn't go too good... I'm aware enough of what I'm doing to know that I wasn't on top of everything 100%... nothing dangerous, but i could feel things starting to get away from me...

For anyone who knows anything about them, the boiler was empty when I got there, so had to be filled before I could start making a fire.. that took a *long* time... I *did* get it in steam in 90 minutes though... but I could've done with another 15 minutes just to sort it properly, build my fire so it's a decent wedge.... and figure out the injectors... that took a while.....

Had a decent few hours, but then in the late afternoon, both the driver and fireman's injectors failed... which means there was no way to get water into the boiler (since it's at 120PSI on average, you can't just open a lid and fill it with a hosepipe....)

So we had to throw the fire, eventually, after trying and trying... so I had a crisis of convidence... big-time... the guy that tests ppl for becoming passeed-cleaners, firemen and drivers, John Wilkinson, was around, and had been on board on and off, looking at a few things on the loco... so i asked him, well.. something like this:

me- "i'd have failed my test today, wouldn't I?"
jw- "you've put it quite bluntly, but yes."
me- "do you think i'm up to acting as fireman on the strength of today"
jw- "you're at about passed cleaner level" [which *is* my grade, btw]
me- "I'm not sure I'm gonna do this, but is there a way to drop down a grade, 
     back to cleaner"
jw- "If you feel you need turns with another fireman, then roster as a cleaner,
     there's nothing to say you can't. All you need really is practice. We as
     a railway have to recognise that some people live a long way away, and 
     that turns for those members aren't going to happen too often. I don't
     want you to drop a grade."

So my crisis sort of faded a bit... It's been atleast 6 months since my last turn, and I was on an engine I didn't know, with a driver who also didn't know it. And all the people who are supposed to know what they're doing (John wilkinson included) couldn't get those injectors working, so I have to remember that.. it wasn't *just* me who couldn't use them...

Still, I think if.. no, *WHEN* I have a job, I'm gonna start driving up and doing turns a little more regularly if I'm still living in Bristol.. if I move back to Leeds, well, that's easy... I need to practice, and I need to think about the different firing processes on a slightly more regular basis than on the day of *doing* it....

The rest of the weekend was pretty dull... didn't do much, didn't even go to the pub :-( Still, I'm used to that, I don't normally have cash for drinks... :-(

OK, I gotta go... got some chores and some computery-stuff to do... and i gotta go out for a couple of hours in about 2 1/4 hours time.....

<waves> bye-bye

PS: Ellie, it was nice to hear from you >hugs<