Monday, August 31, 2009

Clippy's log - page 44

Good morning again readers, this is the last post I'll be making on Midga's blog. Thanks for reading, don't forget to comment!

BTW for any new readers, I realise Blogger is putting these up in the wrong order for you. The place to start is at the beginning.

30/8 8:10am. We've climbed above the cloud layer and the sun is bright!

8:21am. The Australian government warnings about quarantine etc go on for ages! If I was a first time visitor that would put me off.

11:38am. The captain has just made his landing announcement. Time to switch timezone at last. 9:38am it is! No land yet visible out the window.

9:43am. Land!!! Looks like Wilsons Prom.

9:54am. Just sighted Dandenong Road and Waverley Park - and then into cloud again.

10:01am. There's a six-car Siemens in Broady yard!

10:27am. Landed and waiting for luggage. Immigration have a new system using facial recognition software and the chip in the passport. Cool stuff.

10:58am. Boarded Skybus. Good to see the Volgren logo again.

11:10am. Skybus departs on time. And 10min to the next one - on Sunday.

11:30am. Hello Southern Cross! Hello Dudley Street depot and the As and Ps!

11:39am. Hello Comeng!

11:43am. Hello Flinders Street! Thanks Comeng, enjoy a spurt of 115km/h to Werribee.

11:49am. Yes, we're even happy to see you Siemens! You'll get us home - and you're one of us even if you're not a patch on a Hitachi.

11:56am. Sighs... they still haven't fixed the silly practice of using the centre tracks SYR-CFD on weekends.

12:10pm. Nearing Oakleigh, where the family will pick us up. The trip is over, we're home! This is Clippy signing off. It's been great, and it's even greater to be home. Thanks Midga for hosting my log of the trip, and for being my extra eyes and ears on occasion. Thanks for the music. And of course the gunzelling. Back to Ventura buses - until Smart Passengers sends us interstate next year.


Thank you ladies and gentlemen, a big hand for Clippy!

For those that came in late, this was Clippy's log of mine and Chris's trip to the USA and UK. Start at the beginning and skip over the bits you aren't interested in.

And now, back to normal programming.

Clippy's log - page 43

28/8 6:35pm. Last A320 ride. Ever, I hope. Not a bad connection at all really - we walked off one plane and stright onto another. And they were just issuing a last call... very nice of the crew to get us off early.

6:52pm. Pushback, two minutes down. Rather good considering they had to transfer our baggage from one plane to the other in half an hour. That's of course assuming they haven't done a Dublin on us... BTW it's Mountain time 5:52pm here, but it's not worth resetting as we'll be in LA soon enough.

7:01pm. Takeoff - a very short taxi time, nice. Airbuses still take ages to get into the air though. We're in row 1, which means Frontier don't do business class. We can hear the FAs chatting - apparently Southwest has had some embarrassing trouble from the FAA on a matter of some safety procedures, and due to airline industry politics these people are crowing about it to some extent.

9:07pm. Landed LA, early. The FA said "We're 20 minutes early, just remember that next time we're 20 minutes late"! Currently waiting for our luggage to arrive. Timezones again - it's 7:07pm. Come on bags, how long does it take?

7:15pm. We have walked past a large number of signs with airline names on them, trying to find Air NZ. But two terminals and about a kilometer later we have been successful. Now we're waiting for check-in.

8pm. Waiting for ticket check before x-ray. Rosuav reckons 45min before we get through and can relax; Midga says under half an hour.

8:18pm. We're here - Midga was right. Power, USB, all we need now is wifi.

9pm. Our gate has been announced and Midga wanders over. The nose of a 747-400 fills most of the visible space offered by a full height window. It really inspires awe - and that's going to be US in there very very soon!

10:04pm. Boarding. This bird is huge! The cabin doesn't curve away at the top like the others (even the other widebodies) which means the overhead luggage bins can easily fit even Rosuav's big backpack. Seating is 3+4+3 and we're in Row 65. And yes, they really do have a flight of stairs! The IFE looks the same as what the 777 had on the way out. This promises to be a good trip! It's great to hear NZ and Aussie accents again. Rosuav has found in-flight wifi!!!

10:33pm. Pushback. V Australia are next to us with a 777 - but I'd rather be here than there! Farewell America. Takeoff is about the same with 400t as the A320s with 70. Airbus sucks.

10:45pm. We've been throttled back and told laptops are allowed - that was quick. Where's that wifi... ARGH! It must have been on that V Oz bird beside us. :(

1:30am. Goldfinger is just as patently unrealistic as the modern Bond films. Give me Sherlock Holmes and Maxwell Smartt.

10:43am. Arrived Auckland. A very gentle landing indeed. We quite understand that someone who holds the magnificent position of 747 captain should have the skill to justify it. And another timezone change - it's now 5:43am. Queenie has been completely charming - this leg has been less tiring than any of the international legs we've taken before. And the staff are great too - there will be emails of commendation sent. One more puddle, and that the puddle Tasman, one more puddle, and that's the puddle to cross.

6:08am. We're through the x-rays and awaiting departure at the business centre we discovered last time. The staff are just as courteous as before, even acknowledging that procedures are different at every airport. A good face of NZ for any newcomers.

7:12am. Last leg. Waiting at the gate for boarding. Home very soon!

7:32am. On board - it's a 777-200ER. Practically everything is the same as before. Incidentally, it must now be the 30th - not sure when to put the day break...

7:52am. Pushback. I think we might have been timetabled for 8am, not sure though.

8:09am. Takeoff. It takes a while, we must be heavily loaded.

Clippy's log - page 42

27/8 7:15pm. Pushback, last leg for today, to San Antonio. We're on an E-175 Jungle Jet, in the first row behind business class. For some reason we have heaps of leg room - the boys can stretch their legs right out without kicking the seat in front! And the windows are quite a bit bigger than on most of the other planes too, nice touch. That AA article about these things was right.

7:36pm. Takeoff. It takes a while before we get to rotate, but considering we have the same engines as an A-10 or most big bizjets that's not bad. Composite fuselage does that, less weight to carry.

8:33pm. Might as well change to Central time - it's 7:33pm. No IFE on these short haul planes.

9:22pm. Landed. We went past or through several thunderstorms and approach was quite bumpy, but the landing was fine. Boeing and Cessna have buildings near the runway - Texas is the place to find them!

9:56pm. We have our baggage and Anthson has found us. He's arranged for us and his parents to go to a Tex-Mex restaurant and then go on a pub crawl.

11pm. After a few navigational difficulties due to back streets being insufficiently signposted, we're here. Anthson's parents are completely charming, and lots of fun to chat randomly with.

12:30am. We find an Irish pub and go in for a drink. Rosuav never drinks, but even Midga doesn't trust himself when he's been awake for over 24 hours and is in a poor state of digestive health. The atmosphere is fun, with an Irish singer and piano player who includes the audience in the act.

1:30am. Time to head off. Anthson's Mum had insisted on finding a hotel room for us, but had no luck. So Anthson takes us to find a motel nearer his place. First choice has no vacancy so we find another, the caretaker of which is asleep in one of the cabins instead of in the office. But we have a room. The boys both hit the sack pretty quickly.

28/8 7:30am. 5 hours and 22 minutes of sleep, that's your lot.

8am. Anthson comes and we're ready to go. In daylight the countryside looks very much like western Victoria! Apparently there's been a severe drought here too.

8:30am. Anthson takes us to his place and we meet his wife and two kids. The boys love being around toddlers again, playing with blocks and decoding baby talk.

1:30pm. Farewell! Must get to our plane. Anthson drives us to the airport. On the way they talk about ideas for a new MUD. It's mostly too technical for me, but there's obviously some good structured thinking going on here.

2:45pm. And here we are at the airport again. Farewell Anthson, great to meet you! The familiar routine of x-rays, check-in, boarding and finding power and wifi (not always in that order). Oh no, another Airbus! I thought we finished with them when we left Europe!

4:12pm. Pushback. The staff object to Traal being on a lap for takeoff, same as the Northwest people did yesterday. They're nicer about it though, maybe they're parents with laptops of their own. The PA annoucements and safety demo are played bored though, and one of the FAs is chewing gum! In the next door gate was a Southwest 737... pity they weren't cheaper.

4:25pm. The crew are serving refreshments. Soft drinks are free but bottled water, energy drinks and alcohol cost. Also unlocking the IFE costs!!! The plane is cashless, credit/debit cards only. I guess the fuss of making change and the complications of handling physical cash are more trouble than the merchant fee on a $3 transaction.

6:20pm. Arrived Denver. The staff ask everyone to give us (and other connecting pax) a chance to get off first.

Clippy's log - page 41

27/8 5:15pm. Snacks are brought round and Midga opts for a cookie - expecting something like the Coffee HQ ones at home. What he gets is almost exactly spekulaas - just without the cinnamon flavour. It's called a Biscoff, and has Delta's logo on it. Interesting.

5:50pm. A few random thoughts about England before we forget them all. They seem paranoid about fire - fire exits, fire extinguishers and fire plans are very prominent in most buildings. They love informality - almost all printed signs are written in a conversational tone instead of the stilted brevity we see at home. Smoking is a lot more widespread, but cigarette butts on the ground are rare. Badly behaved kids are everywhere, but the parents (even the ones covered with tattoos and surgically attached to their beer cans) don't swear at them but confine themselves to "If you don't sit down I'm going to lose my temper". That probably means anti-spanking laws (or at least sentiments) have been around longer. The trains (you knew I was going to get onto this) are not necessarily better run than ours, although the main intercity ones certainly are, but the average attitude of the staff is a lot nicer - they actually seem to care, almost all the time. Australian railway thinking is still predominantly British, but we have small pockets of progressiveness (eg Perth) and they don't, as far as I could see. Almost all the good things I saw on the rail system were nothing to do with good ideas we need to copy, but merely proof that if you spend real money you can give real service. Also that if you try to do things you shouldn't (eg two tiers on a single pair of tracks) you pay the consequences, no matter how well managed your system.

6:26pm. Touch down at Detroit, quite a good landing for an A320. We hear the usual message "Thanks for choosing us and we hope to see you again soon" - to which Rosuav responds "Thanks for being the cheapest and you'll see us next time you get us the best deal for where and when we want to fly!"

6:40pm. We're off the plane and have to transit from gate A8 to gate A54. Let's burn it up, we take off in half an hour. The travelators are nice and wide, and have a yellow line painted down the middle with "Stand" on the right and "Walk on the left". I like!!! Of course they drive on the wrong side of the road but we can bear that.

6:43pm. A sign says this way to the "express tram". Remembering Florida we're suspicious, but hey, if it gets us there faster it's all good. We go upstairs where it says and there's the familiar nose of a Citadis! Woohoo! It pulls out just as we approach, but the PIDS shows... 3min 31sec to the next service. Yes, accurate to the second. And it also shows exactly where the two trams are on the line, on a YT Control Centre like LED display. When it shows 35 seconds, the next tram pulls in. Automatic doors on the platform open in sync with the tram's own. We get aboard and it looks more like a Combino interior than a Citadis - weird. Right on the knocker it takes off, with a PA announcement about doors closing. Like the JFK shuttle it's completely driverless. There's no motor noise - it's effectively a cable powered monorail. There's only two vehicles on the system, with a single track and a passing look at the midpoint station. The cables are on opposite sides, so each tram has its own cable. Scaleable it ain't (except by coupling another vehicle behind - depending on the power available through the cable), but for what effectively does the job of a high speed, long distance travelator it's outstanding. Besides looking ubercool for all the visitors to the city.

Clippy's log - page 40

27/8 4:30am. Here's the bus. Bye bye Buxton.

5:40am. Funny, we've only been to Manchester Airport twice before, and that was two years ago in a time of great stress. But we can recognize it instantly! A sneak peek at the station for our last UK train sighting - 170303 in Dynamic Lights livery. Farewell! Try to get along OK without us!

5:55am. Check in is very slow. Part of the problem is that they need an address in the USA to put on our luggage. Just after Rosuav writes out the necessary information, Traal's battery dies! In the absence of wifi that means all the info which had been held in Firefox tabs is gone. Major problem.

6:40am. With nothing to do until boarding opens, the boys look for breakfast. A bacon roll? £3.35 is a lot, it better be good. It isn't. When talldad talks about airline food, he really means airport food.

7:20am. Our gate still hasn't been announced, and we're supposed to close boarding in 10min! Ah at last - Gate 9.

7:45am. We're on the plane, and it actually looks like we might be off on time. An amazing effort on the part of the crew.

7:59am. Push-back - 1min early. Wow. It takes 17min to get to the runway, but still.

8:52am. THUMP! Wheels on tarmac wakes Midga from slumber. He amuses me sometimes. Same as at Manchester we use airstairs, no bridge. Makes things faster as they can open both doors.

9:15am. A spot of bother as Midga's passport doesn't have a stamp to say he entered the UK. He explains what happened and gets through.

10:03am. US customs had a long queue, so just as we got through our flight was being called. Don't want it any closer than that.

10:13am. We're on the plane. Another Airbus - sighs. Last time, we hope.

10:39am. Push back, nine down.

5:01pm. The captain has just informed us that we're getting close to New York. We don't yet know which runway we're getting - if we get the far one we fly over two additional states we wouldn't fly over with a direct approach. And that would add FIVE minutes to our flight time!

5:30pm. Landed and taxiing. We remember this from the trip out. Next time we take this trip (ha ha!) we fly from Greenville, not New York. Change of time zones - it's now 12:30pm.

2pm. We have our luggage, got some internet time and know our flight details. Pressure off. Now find some food, they're not going to give you much on the two short domestic flights.

3pm. Our flight is now on the screens so we decide to get to our gate - it's as likely we'll find wifi there as here. Check in is upstairs, and we're the last to check in for our flight. Might have been worth going early maybe. The x-ray is a madhouse - several hundred people all wanting to go through.

3:45pm. We're at the departure gate - the flight is scheduled for half an hour from now! We go through and they herd us onto a bus to get to the plane. Quite a bus! The driver's cab is across the full width like a Citadis, but it takes up about 4m of the bus's length. And the body is about 2.7m wide... obviously a special job for airport work. We get to the plane... and it's an A320! I thought we were finished with European rubbish!

4:55pm. After a long boarding time and an even longer taxi, we're off at last. The captain reckons we'll be at Detroit early though - hope so as we have a connection to catch.

Clippy's log - page 39

25/8 3:59pm. A replica heritage car comes along - an open sided saloon. It IS summer, so they run the interesting trams for the tourists. Everything under the floor must be the same as the other trams, as the sound is identical. The horn seems louder with no body to muffle it though.

4:10pm. A little diversion to find the depot. It's a combined bus and tram depot, and there's lots of interesting stuff but security signs are all around so it's probably not worth trying to get permission to take photos.

4:36pm. Back to North Pier to spot stuff.

5:14pm. Time to head home. Blackpool North station actually looks really nice - clean and open. The facilities are Laburnum Plains (apart from the concourse) but somehow it has character.

5:20pm. We depart on time. This train is practically empty! There's a large yard just past the station throat, totally empty. Must be potentially useful.

6:20pm. We get off at Oxford Road and try to find a local to go back one stop to Deansgate. The 6:16 Liverpool looks good.

6:33pm. The 6:16 gets a green at last and departs. Moral of the story: don't try to cross four tracks in the middle of peak time, unless you carry your own portable flyover. DUH!

6:36pm. Deansgate at last. Photos required of the shops in the archway under the Metrolink viaduct.

6:47pm. Next train to Piccadilly? 6:51. NICE! Next train to Buxton from there? 6:52. Argh! Race it to Stockport maybe, since they make Buxton trains stop all stations now.

6:58pm. Nothing going to Stockport in the next 30 seconds - and the Buxton isn't still here running late. Oh well. Food, then a 323 to somewhere the expresses scream through at a good speed for videoing.

7:22pm. Still love those 323s! It's a Hazel Grove service, they actually do use those wires. Sometimes.

7:29pm. Heaton Chapel, this will do nicely. Hey, someone's put a nice new desto in 323235!

7:53pm. OK, bring on that Buxton train, its getting cold and the mozzies will be here any minute. Light's getting bad for photos anyway.

8:03pm. Train arrives, before the mozzies. The last three trains that came past were crosses, the sound on those videos will be great!

9pm. Home again. Farewell Buxton station. Farewell Sprinters. It's been great knowing you.

10:30pm. Nothing on tomorrow except packing. Mythbusters time!

2am. Might as well head for bed.

26/8 12:30pm. Better get up and think about things. The food has to be eaten, the rooms packed back into those two cases, the keys handed over... but first, chocolate and cartoons.

4pm. Better get active. One desk full of paperwork has to be compressed into a cloth bag. That means looking through it to some extent. BritRailPass... Buxton line timetable... spare camera cards... what a trip this has been.

5:30pm. Better pack up the kitchen too. That means eating the food. There's carrots left! What's up doc? And we should finish up the peanut butter, goblin soup and sugar. Last batch of toffee stuff!

11pm. The Last Minute list is written, the alarm is set. We really are leaving.

27/8 3:30am. THE DAY DOES NOT START THIS EARLY! Get up, execute the last minute list.

4:05am. Farewell Halls. It's been great. Midga has shoved me into a plastic bag so he can drag his case. We get to the bus stop in plenty of time so Midga goes to get a photo of Rosuav's favourite butcher.

Clippy's log - page 38

25/8 1:01pm. We terminated short at Cleveleys, and are waiting for the next service. There's hardly any parking at any of these shops, maybe that's why the tram is so popular. Other than that it's not a good urban service - slow, inconvenient to catch due to traffic. We get on another balloon car and sit on the lower deck. Still not much motor noise coming through. The arrangement is almost a classic drop centre, with wind barriers guarding the saloon on one side and a stairwell on the other. The doorways are about 1.2m wide, a lot more than most trams, and have a single bifolding door each. Manually operated, by the connie only. So there are two connies per car. Cost recovery on these services must be pretty bad. Ride quality on the lower deck is better - or else the track to Fleetwood is better than the city track.

1:21pm. We're now in Fleetwood itself, and there's one lane each way (plus on-street parking) for trams, buses and cars. Must be bad if anyone's trying to park.

1:30pm. Fleetwood Pier terminus is a balloon loop. I wonder why they bother, having double ended cars. The locals seem accustomed to flange squeal.

1:57pm. We get on a Centenary single decker car - it has its panto mounted on a sort of scaffold amidships. Seats are coloured patterned fabric like refurb trains, but with actual padding. The interior is very bus-like, including fixed coach layout seats, which is odd as it's a double ended vehicle. The front door is wide and bifolding like a MAN Mk.2. The middle exit door is even wider. The pax are obviously used to one-man crewing on these cars, the driver has to keep saying "Take a seat, show your tickets to the conductor". There's only one on this trip though. The motor sound is weird - about the same volume as an A/B (these things are the same vintage) but more variation in pitch. Almost like the hum-with-a-bit-of-a-buzz wave form of the A/B with the pitch-going-up-with-speed of a W. Wheel on rail sound is like a W.

2:05pm. Turning back onto the main drag of Fleetwood there's a bus on the corner. It's within the painted lines but the driver doesn't want to risk hitting it. We sit there for about 5min - nobody thinks of getting out and talking to the bus driver! At one point a bus overtakes us on the other side of the road, sweeps around at about 30km/h and stops for pax - nose just ahead of the bus blocking us, tail in the other lane blocking both sides of the road! It's like what thaitransit says about buses in Bangkok...

2:19pm. There's quite a few crossings on the interurban section, all totally unprotected. Depending how insistent the cars are, trams have to come almost to a halt. Bad. Even traffic lights would be something.

2:25pm. Thornton Gate has a passing loop, several small departmental-looking buildings, and a siding in which there's a lot of construction work going on. I wonder what it all is. One of the buildings calls itself a substation but there's no wires going in and out. Current working theory is that it's a former tram depot under demolition.

2:40pm. We get another Centenary tram. There are a total of TWO next stop buttons, one at each centre door.

3:02pm. At North Pier the tram lines merge with the road again - crossing over the traffic to do it! The northbound track is shared with road traffic, then there's the southbound track, then the ordinary road. Must be bad in peak time.

3:14pm. We board an open boat car for Pleasure Beach! It has wooden slatted seats and a whistle like a steamboat. The air compressor is like the other types. Motor, brake and wheel/rail noise also. The connie is great - "No charge for the kid, he can wash the windows for us. Oh, we haven't got any!"; "Take a seat, I'll be along to rob you in a minute".

3:20pm. There's a spur line near Foxhall Square - maybe the depot?

3:46pm. Starr Gate - another balloon stop terminus. There's two intermediate ones too, but short working trams sometimes change ends. Totally weird. Maybe it dates from the days of swinging the pole to change ends???

Clippy's log - page 37

24/8 8:20pm. We're cruising along at about 40km/h on the last leg of the Trans Pennine to Manchester. Must be behind a spark.

8:29pm. And now we're waiting for a path to the station itself. Good thing the connection isn't going to be tight.

8:38pm. And here we are. 14 minutes to the Buxton train. Worth looking for a backpack repair kit? Probably not.

9:04pm. Stockport - and 66605 goes past with a container train.

9:42pm. The conductor announces Dove Holes and I could swear he said Dubbo!

10:15pm. Home, unload, eat, rehydrate. I don't know why humans get tired from travelling, I'm fine for another 48 hours or more! Rosuav has completed the first stage of a project which will make a MIDI file respond to a conductor's stick and it's lots of fun to play with tempos. Then we watch The Princess Bride, since it's finished torrenting.

1:30am. Midga jumps onto Traal briefly, to check on some things that work better on a fill size screen. Then bed - tomorrow, Blackpool!

1:45am. On consideration, it's probably not necessary to tahe the 6:50am train. Blackpool isn't far. Say 8:45 alarm for a 9:27 train? Fine.

25/8 8:45am. I didn't prompt him. Nor did my pal the phone. Nor did Rosuav or Traal. He just woke, spot on the dot of 8:45. He always used to do that when he was going gunzelling in the old days before he had a job. Uncanny.

9:22am. And here we are at the station, just in time for the train. It sure pays to be a gunzel.

10:28am. Piccadilly. Next Blackpool train is at 10:46. I rather like these train frequencies. In the meantime, any chance of a roll of black duct tape for backpack repairs? Grumble.

10:46am. A TP Class 185 - nice. It's packed so we stand. Not bad by home standards though.

10:50am. Another crowd gets on at Manchester Oxford Road. The driver and the PIDS woman both get on the PA to tell people to take luggage off seats to let people sit. People here actually care!

11:07am. We leave Bolton on time - not bad for a loaded train. Midga is able to highly amuse some fellow passengers (and the connie, for that matter) by telling stories of the Dandenong line after a cancellation. See that floor there? You wouldn't see that in Australia. There'd be 40 people in this doorway alone.

11:28am. Preston, quite a big station. The connie comes over the PA and says "Anyone with not much luggage who wants a slightly faster trip to Blackpool, there's another train coming in to Platform 2 right now". Very nice of him. It turns out to be a Northern Class 158, and it goes ahead of the TPE. A seat at last. As we leave we see a Class 57 loco, a bunch of derelict carriages and a few track machines in the yard. This place must have been a major centre in days gone by.

12:06pm. Blackpool North is much smaller than the other major stations, and less modernised. Facilities are more like Spencer Street pre-Southern Cross, although the exterior is way less dated. Just as we leave the TPE comes in - the connie was right, a slightly faster journey.

12:20pm. We stop at a place called Wilkinsons, which is a sort of Wal-Mart with everything from hardware to fresh food. They have a roll of black cloth tape, hooray! The poor backpack won't have to survive the embarrassment of a gaping hole in the side done up with yellow double-sided tape.

12:25pm. The beach looks harsh - a dark grey with lots of white caps. And a strong smell of dead fish. The wind is cold too - and this is the middle of summer!

12:33pm. We board a tram - one of the "balloon" double deckers. It's all classic 1930s inside, with tip-over seating and timber/leather/melamine panelling. Some of the timber is showing its age like the Ws do, and some of the window perspex is going white. Ride quality on the top deck is fine for photography but not for writing. There's hardly any noticeable sway, it feels more like bounce, but when we go down to the bottom deck it disappears so it must be either sway or pitch. The horn is a single tone air horn, not a bell but still cheerful. North of Talbot Road it's mostly reserve track, with the road crossing at close intervals. The air compressor runs at high speed like a Comeng's, that's not the sound I came all this way for! But the motor sound is classic. There's only one door per side, and average speed is very slow despite the reserve track. But still the tram is more popular than the parallel bus. Weird.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Clippy's log - page 36

24/8 3:48pm. Coming into Jesmond a single line heads off somewhere. Google Earth will tell all. It looks like these underground stations have been built with the idea of running triple coupled sets at some point in the future.

3:51pm. There's a lot of sloppy driving going on! These things should respond immediately to the controls (unlike a six-car Comeng which has air brakes), so it should be possible to organize gentle pull-ups. If you need to do it by the numbers (eg "if you're at 50, cut off and hit the brakes when you pass that tree") go for it, but put a bit of care into driving!

3:58pm. Howarth - the reservation now has two Metro tracks and two Network Rail - we've just crossed a Sprinter and a freight.

4:37pm. Departing South Hylton. It's a single platform but that's OK as they never have more than 5tph running here. It looks like a new line - new poles, concrete sleepers, clean ballast. Earthworks look like they've been here a while, maybe it was converted from a BR line.

4:40pm. Pallion station - looks very new. Has a very long stairway like Jolimont.

4:47pm. Sunderland - another ex BR station converted to Metro. For some reason approach is dead slow. There's a Railbus in the other platform - obviously the conversion wasn't exclusive. We go out through a tunnel with skylights in it! Probably from the days of steam. I wonder what the natives think of their city being treated as an annexe of Newcastle - hopefully they appreciate a 5tph Metro even if the desto says "Airport" when they only want to cross town.

4:54pm. We're out of the Sunderland area and it's interurban. Pity about the 80km/h speed limit. At least the level crossings have booms and no speed restriction.

5:08pm. Pelaw - over on the Network Rail side is 66703 with a coalie and a Class 43/Mk.3 set in black with Grand Central on the side. A new livery on me, I wonder who they are.

5:10pm. Pelaw Junction is quite complicated - it has to take two shared Metro/country tracks from Sunderland with one Metro and one country line from South Shields (both bi-directional) and merge or split them into two country lines and two initially bi-di Metro lines. As far as we can see from four trips over it, it looks fairly efficient.

5:17pm. Back at Central. It's raining, it's starting to get dark, and we'll be up early again tomorrow. Let's just go home. There's a nice touch screen Journey Planner on the main platform, which says the 5:32 London Kings Cross will get us to York in time for a quick connection with a train to Manchester. Good stuff. Bye Tyne & Wear Metro, it was nice meeting you.

5:39pm. National Express running seven minutes late? It's been a lot worse... We're on a Mk.4 set with a Class 91 loco behind us. Can't hear anything though.

5:53pm. Let's sum up the Tyne & Wear Metro. The vehicles seem a bit feeble in capacity to us who are used to a 1000-passenger train, but seem to be up to the patronage they get. Station spacing is a mix, most of it is about right for a Metro but the Sunderland section is too sparse. Having country trains go there too is good - it means the two towns effectively have separate Metros that happen to work through. Having hardly any level crossings is good. 5tph off peak including Saturdays is great. GoZoning the two lines through the busiest part of the city is VERY good. Trip time is reasonable - counting North Shields as a watershed (ie people pick the shortest trip from there to Newcastle instead of going right round) and Sunderland as the destination of choice rather than Newcastle, all trips are under half an hour. Through ticketing with the buses is good (of course). The amount of elevated track is NOT A PROBLEM (as we keep saying). Overall, it's a good metro system for a city the size of Newcastle.

6:42pm. We arrive York 11 minutes down. The 6:40 Manchester is just leaving as we arrive. Grumble, thanks a lot NX. Oh well, the next one's in half an hour. Woohoo, thanks Trans Pennine!

6:50pm. We might as well get aboard - a Class 185 is a lot more comfortable to wait on than a windswept platform.

Clippy's log - page 35

24/8 1:47pm. The driver announces that we're stopping all stations to St James via The Coast - three destinations (including Newcastle) on one service. That's correct because the service runs from suburb, through city, to suburb, to city. According to Wiki it's one of the only lines in the world to go through the same station twice.

1:55pm. Midga shifts the position of his posterior. Half an hour or so on these seats is about the limit for comfort. Just after Benton is another junction - I wonder what's there.

2:03pm. Monkseaton is obviously an ex-BR station, built big. Also has what looks like an old freight yard. Tynemouth is the same, but a bit run down.

2:11pm. North Shields has a dock platform. It's wired and the stick is lit, but it looks like it hasn't been used for a long time.

2:16pm. Howden station has the first level crossing we've seen! No booms, no pedestrian gates, just flashing lights and an audible alarm. The train gives a reasonable length toot which sounds like one of ours (no two-tone). Straight after the crossing is a bridge with no ballast. The houses underneath must love the noise...

2:23pm. Driver gets on the PA and says "Unfortunately for the young man with the bicycle, bicycles are not allowed on the Metro system". Whose idea was that and have they been sacked for it yet???

2:28pm. Last leg into Newcastle is over a huge concrete bridge. From the train it looks horrible, but from ground level it's slightly plain but certainly not ugly. Have we made this point yet?

2:30pm. Monument again - Platform 4 this time. It really must be at right angles like the map shows. Perfectly dark tunnel again.

2:40pm. Inside St James' Park!!! It's a fairly typical 2-platform terminating station, just underground. It's a split layout instead of island, which is ridiculous. At the down end the tunnel continues we know not where. Stabling for special events maybe? As we're waiting for the next train Midga gets another question from a local. We've been here three hours but still we can answer the question. Hooray for maps! And the ability to understand and remember them.

2:53pm. Monument PL03/04 are above PL01/02! No doubt it made sense to somebody at some point.

2:59pm. Dammit these Metro vehicles are photogenic! There's so many in special liveries that even a pair of vanilla vehicles is worth a photo.

3:08pm. Fawdon - another level crossing. Same setup plus a 15km/h speed limit for no other reason we could find evidence of. The horn on this train sounds like a car horn! Kingston Park has another crossing the same. As the driver cuts off power to stay under 15 we hear the motors flash over. It is 1500V DC after all!

3:13pm. Bank Foot, same again making three in a row. We're out in the country now, nearly at the airport. A pedestrian crossing has no protection at all and doesn't even merit a toot. Do I need to say Casterton Parkway has a crossing too?

3:18pm. Airport is an island station with a full length shelter but otherwise unremarkable. There's a covered walkway to the airport itself. It seems to be mainly used by airline passengers, they all have luggage. I guess it would be different at shift change time. 20min from Central to the airport would be OK for Melbourne but probably not Newcastle unless the roads are really terrible.

3:38pm. I do believe the crossing alarm and consequent green stick are triggered by the driver closing the doors!!! Top notch, someone had their brain switched on.

3:43pm. South Gosforth, as well as being the northern junction of the two lines, has the main stabling and train maintenance yard.

Clippy's log - page 34

24/8 11am. Darlington - another fine old English station. Brickwork with artistic bits, wrought iron, space for a lot of infrastructure that isn't here now, the usual. There was a time when these companies made a profit! As we take off we get a bit of traction motor grind, but it doesn't last long. The doors grind too, but that's a bad thing.

11:39am. Newcastle - the Metro! A Day Rover is £3.90, about right considering the size of the network. Central station is like Flagstaff in appearance but not as clean. Two platforms, one each direction. Platforms fairly short, about 3-4 cars long in our terms. PIDS shows destination and time to arrival only. Big clear text. Marketed as TUAG on PIDS but there is a printed timetable. Clockfaced between peaks, irregular in peak time and at night. Frequency is 10tph off peak (8tph on Sundays) up to 19 trains between 7 and 8am. Off peak half go to each line, in peak time lots more on St James-South Shields line (Airport-South Hylton line still gets minimum 5tph though).

11:52am. We board a train for South Shields. It pops above ground almost immediately then goes under again. Definite light metro stock - articulated like a B2 but coupled in a double set; very rapid acceleration and braking; a low squat body outline; 2+2 seats and lots of standing room (although padding is quite good, would be fine for a half hour journey or more). There is some evidence of vandalism or neglect - not as bad as home though. Infrastructure is rail grade not tram grade - although there's a number of bumpy sections. Looks like there's no sections shared with the main line so far, which is good.

12:03pm. Pelaw-Hebburn is quite a long section. Speed isn't as high as at home but for a guess it's probably about 2.5mi. Midga's ears are better than mine but the track isn't talking to either of us. There's plenty of sound coming through including a few different rhythms, but making sense of it will take time.

12:10pm. Most of the above ground stations have offset platforms like the St Kilda and Port Melbourne lines - must be a metro thing.

12:18pm. South Shields has only a single platform, long enough for its two artic cars and no more. Must be interesting in the morning when they run trains 3min apart. Stabling sidings at the down end might be the answer, which would mean they can only run that frequency during ramp-up. At the moment there's a ballast train in there - advantage of being heavy rail is that heavy rail works stock can be used. Not sure where the interface with Network Rail is though. The station is elevated (although ground level rises to meet it at some places) and has the same problems we saw at Manchester.

1:03pm. Midga decided to see what Maccas is like over here. All the same apparently, except that the soft drinks are full of artificial sweetener. Back to Central we go. These cars have a half width cab so there's a front window like Adelaide trains have!! Pity they have rules against taking photos. The service is announced as "all stations towards Newcastle". The speed limit signs are in km/h!

1:18pm. Points, which are the most talkative bits of track, are starting to talk to me. Midga reckons the bogies are talking to him too. So many aspects of this system as just like home! It's really difficult to leave the camera in the bag. :(

1:24pm. After we split off from the other line at Pelaw there's a section of single track with a non-electrified track beside, then a section of two bi-di signalled tracks with the non-spark beside. The other track runs parallel and goes behind a couple of stations and then merges with the down line. I guess that's the interface with Network Rail.

1:37pm. Haymarket station looks new - white panels, good light level, raises the average significantly. From Central to Haymarket the tunnel is completely dark except for train headlights and signals. Signals are often hidden by curves...

1:44pm. South Gosforth is the junction. Lines diverge at a simple set of points with a flat diamond - and they manage to merge 5tph + 14tph on this!

Clippy's log - page 33

23/8 8:62pm. Our Sprinter departs. We're stopping all stations - they must leave the inner tier off on Sundays.

9:32pm. They still haven't welded that section just on the up side of Whaley Bridge!

9:50pm. We're between Dove Holes and Buxton, travelling at about 25km/h - presumably there's a freight ahead of us.

10:05pm. Home again. Midga's legs must be out of condition, he hasn't done that many kilometers but he's lying flat on the floor with his eyes shut - discussing Java MIDI libraries on Android.

2am. Emails, RSS and quite a bit of BOFH later, Midga decides to turn in. Newcastle tomorrow!

24/8 7:47am. The door alarm on these Sprinters is almost Comeng-like. Hey, we're running express today! The route to Newcastle at this hour of the morning is via York, we can say hi to those preserved locos again.

8:25am. We've just passed Hazel Grove and we're riding the yellows at 40km/h. This is what it means to run express on two tracks in the middle of morning peak. It must be one of those psychological expresses, no faster than a stopper.

8:30am. We run express through Stockport! There's a 323 on the stopping track, probably the one we were stuck behind. It flashes by us just after Heaton Chapel (it can accelerate out of speed restricted junctions better than we do) but after it has to stop at Levenshulme just as we hit a decent speed we don't see it again.

8:37am. Piccadilly - here we are once more etc etc. Where's the York train? All we know is that it's an 8:55. Middlesborough, that could be it, platform 4. A Class 323 showing Crewe on its desto? Don't like this...

8:51am. Phew, a Class 185 comes in on top of the spark. All is explained. Ah, the 185! First we've had since 2007! They're still as nice inside as ever.

8:55am. Four minutes to turn around and depart on time. RTBU take note.

9:08am. Staleybridge - we pass 66605 with a block container train. The wagons are all screw coupled with buffers! They have high speed freight trains here, but they still haven't gone auto...

9:17am. Another Mactard in the seat opposite. Not only can this one not type with more than two fingers (resulting in a typing speed of about 25wpm) but his ability with the touchpad is similarly slow. A mac with a single button mouse should be a no-brainer for thumb on the button and finger on the touchpad. But I guess no brain is exactly what it takes to operate a mac.

9:22am. I'd forgotten how quiet the 185s are! It's not hot out and with a long run without the doors opening the air con can switch off. It's like a Tait or Doggie sitting at a station - dead silent! I thought it might have been just this car taken offline, but it would be more logical to do that with the first class jobbie at the back. Besides, when we go through a tunnel the engine noise comes in. It's just Siemens soundproofing.

9:57am. Through Leeds, with a padded timetable. There's a Class 91 and Mk.4 set there, and it looks like GNER have lost the franchise for the east coast run to National Express. Or rebranded themselves or something.

10:29am. York. As we wait for a Newcastle train 66601 cones through with a bulk freight. Right through the platform road. The pax hardly even bother to step back.

10:46am. A chance comment from Midga to a north countryman elicits the reply "I can't work out your American accent sorry, you'll have to learn to speak English like the rest of us"! He doesn't bother to go there. The track or bogies are in poor condition by UK standards - ride quality is approximately like RFR or Laburnum. Traction motor sonud is not really present - we get a bit of Cummins beat, a helping of aerodynamic sound and a lot of bogie jolt. I don't remember that from 2007 - since Virgin became Cross Country things must have gone downhill. Poor old Voyagers. Still, it's an ill wind... nah that would never work. Even Cross Country to Countrylink is a drastic step down. Pity, they'd be great as an XPT replacement...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Clippy's log - page 32

23/8 3pm. Liverpool Lime Street is another Piccadilly! There's no artificial light and it's quite presentable inside. Southern Cross, take note. It's obviously been extended at some point - the Virgin section (PL07-09) is under a separate roof. The older section has all its approach tracks lowered, with stone retaining walls reaching probably 100ft above rail level - and quite a few stone bridges going over too. The way railway engineers spent money back in those days! Incidentally the local accent is quite different to any others we've heard. The Metro platforms are quite a distance from the intercity. The escalators are incredibly long - but not having an echo altimeter or a very long piece of string I can't compare it to Parliament. It sure looks about as long though. Interestingly, there's no restriction on walking up and down... Flinders Street, take note. We grab a spark to Hooton. Inside you'd never know it's 1970s era! It's as modern as an Xtrap - a better refurb job than our Comengs. Or that might be just due to nothing being vandalised. Unfortunately the sound doesn't come through too well. The Worrell line has a kind of City Loop, which runs unidirectional. The exit point is opposite Lime Street so it's more like a balloon loop than our City Loop. The desto and PIDS change as soon as we pass the last bidirectional station, but we can't tell if the driver does it or if it's automatic.

3:30pm. Hooton is a kind of Ringwood - two lines each with a half hour frequency meet there and provide a 15 minute frequency from there to the city. It's quite a nice looking station too.

4pm. Back to Lime St. Must get a timetable so we can get back before the last Buxton train. Now what's the best way to get to Edge Hill? There's a nice stabling depot there. City Line is nowhere in evidence - let's grab this Manchester Oxford Road stopper.

4:40pm. Hey you didn't stop! Oh well, Mossley Hill then. Argh it's raining. Phew, here's a Railbus to take us back to Lime St.

5pm. What will we do now... explore the station of course. Examination of the Metro map suggests there's actually no City Line - but Metro tickets apply to certain bits of the Intercity network.

6:34pm. We get on a London Midland Class 350 EMU, just to get to South Parkway of course. It's a Siemens and looks like one, with an intercity interior of course. It's very smooth - as we go through a tunnel it feels like we've stopped until we suddenly burst into daylight at 40km/h.

6:55pm. South Parkway is a nice looking station, probably fairly new. Six platforms in a Caulfield layout, with an overpass with glass sides - perfect for taking photos from.

7:06pm. The 7:03 Nottingham arrives and we get aboard. Liverpool has ceased to fascinate, and it's getting dark and cold. Just as we pull out a Class 507 goes past! Are there sparks on the City Line after all? There doesn't appear to be a third rail so we're Frankly Baffled. Maybe it was loco hauled, or maybe it wasn't a Class 507 at all. Closing speed was fairly high so it's possible.

7:22pm. Warrington Central has a huge bus bay - all angle parking (must be hell to get in and out of in peak time) but it must have a capacity of 20 buses or more. Also there's a four track electric railway going under us at right angles just before the station. I wonder where it goes.

7:31pm. We pass a MASSIVE pallet depot! They're blue so they might well be ours. Huge stacks of them, parked like containers. My pal's GPS speedo says we're doing 83mph so we don't see much.

8:02pm. Back to familiar territory - Manchester Piccadilly (or, as Northern's web site says, MAN). And we've just missed a Buxton train. What to do? Why take photos of course.

8:30pm. Some thoughts about the Liverpool system. The idea of calling country trains "City Line" is a bad one - it doesn't fit with the rest of the country. Ideally intercity trains shouldn't be doing the Metro task anyway. They have good frequencies (if Sunday is 15min, weekday must be pretty good) and vehicles that are suitable for today's passengers. No idea how they are under the floor of course. The way destos are handled in the loop area is great. The lines (Wirral, Northern and City) are more like our groups, they branch out a lot. I guess it's just as logical as our way, you don't have to worry about Box Hill being on two lines. Underground stations are boring to look at (although VERY functional) but above ground can be just as bad when a solid barrier of trees blocks the view on both sides.

Clippy's log - page 31

22/8 7:20pm. The screen is blank but suddenly the speakers start feeding applause! 10 minutes early too! The screen comes up to show Andrew Nicklin telling us to sing from the gallery! We need to bring this charming custom home. A few choruses and then Hail Poetry. Midga gets his note and sings; Rosuav and Traal record.

7:30pm. The show opens with a bit tacked onto the beginning of the standard overture. Good idea, I've always thought it opened too tame. The opening scene is fairly standard, until the PK's song which has a full size backdrop pirate flag flown in! The MG's entrance falls slightly flat because he acts the way Stacey thinks she does - millisecond by millisecond actions with no actual characterisation behind it. Similarly Mabel is an operatic sop concentrating on pumping volume rather than adoring Freddy. But the chorus make up for it. Until now conventional wisdom has stated (and inductive reasoning has confirmed it beyond reasonable doubt) that it's physically impossible to get a chorus to act in perfect unison, no matter how simple the action. This applies particularly to men. Well - conventional wisdom has just been turned on its head! Both choruses are millisecond perfect, on moves which most choruses we've seen before would find practically impossible to even contemplate!

9pm. Midga takes advantage of the interval to dash over to the portacabin and sign up to have the DVD posted. £5.50 for international postage isn't bad at all.

9:15pm. Act 2 here we come! Mabel and Edith do their stuff in the double chorus number. The police are a scream with their precise choreography - and having a better Sergeant than the last two I saw makes a big difference. The fight scene in the finale looks a bit crude but I'm fairly sure that was due to the video link quality. For the same reason we don't get the full effect of the pairing up either. Oh well.

10pm. Last Festival Club! Another pot-luck Trial, and this time Midga's in good voice. By the time it finishes the camera card is more than half full... Then Ian and Neil get up and do a cabaret of their own - which is brilliant. To cap it off our Defendant (Ralph from last night, expat Sydneysider) accompanies himself on the piano and sings The Carnival is Over. And invites us to sing along. Grand finale is of course Hail Poetry.

12:10am. It's time to say goodbyes. Hugs from some lovely Savoynetters, nice comments from the Smiths (they know us by sight now, and ask us to send regards to Deebee) and of course nice comments back from us. IT WAS A GREAT DAMPER BAKE!

12:30am. Home. Heave several sighs. Diary. Hot chocolate. Skype with Jodi.

2:30am. Midga heads for bed. Rosuav doesn't.

23/8 9am. Ding ding cuckoo. Midga drinks a bottle of water and goes back to sleep.

9:30am. Rosuav comes back from an expedition to the portacabin (which is being packed up - so he got some discarded stuff which will make very good souveniers) and it's time for a Google Chat with the family.

10:15am. Time to get ready for church. Bye for now, see you in one week!

11am. The Metho church is a lot less full than last week, and the service is ultra traditional. The readings are read by a lady with a very shaky voice, the organ is played slow, and all that sort of appearance stuff is perfect material for irreverent parody. The preacher is female, but the sermon is firmly Bible based and even challenges things like when religion (or religious tradition) becomes an idol. Hopefully that means some people at least are ready to give up on 19th century services - if only someone can make it happen. More importantly, the impression we got last week of a church that's serious about its faith seems to be correct.

12:23pm. Home again. Four minutes to a train - can't make it.

1:15pm. Lunch over, now off for a gunzel!!! Liverpool today, the old Merseyrail EMUs.

2:38pm. Boarded a Class 158 intercity Sprinter for Liverpool. Quite nice inside, although packed.

Clippy's log - page 30

30 pages! No wonder I'm feeling less overweight than I have since Steamy started bringing things to meetings printed on blank paper.

20/8 10pm. Midga runs off early as usual, making the excuse that it feels wrong giving a projector screen a curtain call. The short way is closed so he has to go right around the opera house to get to the club next door!

10:30pm. The Irish are here in force. Don Alhambra gets up to MC the cabaret, they applaud loudly. A lead sop sings a song, they yell, scream and give a standing ovation. They're good though - most of the songs are funny, and those that aren't are well delivered and usually have an Irish connection. Helen K-L and our 2007 cabaret, take note. (Actually can I get rid of that word between "and" and "2007"? Gasvic's.) Adrian and the song "We ain't got rain" was the worthwhile bit.

12:30am. They're done. No violin unfortunately. Totally worth seeing though - but Midga has the beginning of a headache from their mutual applause. Those Irish look after each other! We go home and it looks like they've booked out The Railway (the pub next to the Halls we're livin in, presumably named after the railway bridge) and are having a cast party. Glad to know at least one company at the festival knows how to close off a show. I should like to take post under that company.

21/8 5am. Midga wakes up for no reason and the Irish are still at it! No doubt they need to bolster up the economy of the Irish Whiskey industry.

9:30am. Midga gets up, all ready for a rehearsal for the pot-luck Pinafore tonight. Grab apple, grab water bottle, come let's be gone!

10am. The Paxton is still closed up - rehearsal is at 10:30! Time for a hot chocolate.

10:30am. We start with stuff the ladies are in. Most of it is fairly simple - with a good conductor (John Howells), a loaned score and a piano even Midga can learn this. Sullivan - you rock.

12:30pm. Rehearsal over, homework time. Home for lunch, emails and a brief snooze first though.

10pm. ACK! That was the longest brief snooze ever! Grab an apple for medicinal purposes and get over there!

10:20pm. Midga and I are just settling into one of the cast tables when the thing starts. Just made it... Anyway, it goes well. The conducting is clear, the voices are good (even Midga's), and some of the prinnies even act. Rosuav is manning the camera and gets a large number of good shots, including video. Memories of pot lucks to preserve for the future.

11:50pm. A rousing Hail Poetry to finish, in honour of the G&S Opera Company's Pirates in the Opera House. One of the very pretty young ladies of the chorus comes up and asks for our blog addresses. Nice! Anyway, time to head home. Only one more day of festival!

22/8 11:30am. What's on today? AGM of the G&S Association, skip it. Pirates matinee - won't be piped through. Awards ceremony - definitely one to see! We made a deal with Stuart of Savoynet to cross-check each other's notes of who won what, and get them out onto the list within 10min of the end of the ceremony! Limber up those fingers boys.

5pm. It costs £3 to get in, which we think is a bit steep, but hey, it's worth it. The stage is almost covered with trophies and bunches of flowers. The flowers go first, to people who have spent large amounts of time assisting. Some of them aren't here, so the award really is a surprise. Then the prizes - the boys have to suspend applause at times in order to take notes. The WA Trial got just one nomination, no prize. Savoynet got three prizes and one nomination; the winners were the Irish Gondoliers. When it was announced they went wild! There must have been about 20 of them, in an impregnable phalanx in Row E or F.

6:45pm. That was quite an awards ceremony! Now we don't have time to cook so it's a case of Subway or go hungry. Midga caves in.

7:10pm. We get to the Paxton and there's nobody there but a few techs! Nobody charging money, no other audience, what's going on? We ask about the video feed and they say "Well after a lot of blood sweat and tears, yes it's going to happen". Of course we offer to help but they've just finished. We accidentally earn some brownie points by sympathising with the lot of the tech - solve problems, even if someone else caused them.

Clippy's log - page 29

19/8 7pm. It's time to go to the show already! How time flies when one is thoroughly enjoying oneself. We have tickets but Charlotte doesn't, so Elise joins her in the Paxton. They've managed to get a live video feed in there, which allows people who otherwise would have missed out (due to the show being completely sold out) to at least see something of the show.

7:30pm. That Yeomen overture, so familiar to us from a few months back. Several Savoynetters are in the show, and Ian Henderson is directing. It's a lot more traditional than ours - until the end, where Jack Point is stabbed by a hired assassin instead of keeling over of a cardiac affection. Someone (Elsie?) turns around and screams just as the curtain falls, making it seem like Phantom of the Opera instead of G&S. Interesting idea, didn't really work. Unfortunately Phoebe was fairly unremarkable - no ecstatic rapture beloved boy stuff for either the real Leonard or the substitute one.

10pm. Same as last night. This is too easy.

10:30pm. Elise and Charlotte join us and again there's the ratio of positive comments to negative. The usual community singing (cut short because Yeomen is not all that well known and quite complex) and then the usual cabaret.

11:30pm. Time to bail. The girls are both leaving tomorrow and need to pack. They give us all the leftover food and we settle down to finish the conversation. It eventually turns to gorillas and chimpanzees (don't ask how), which Elise knows plenty about because she works with them.

2am. Time to go. Hugs all round, see you when Mark Ward decides to pay me what I'm worth... Meanwhile, Savoynet and Facebook.

2:15am. Home. Heave several sighs. It feels like the Festival is just about over already...

20/8 10:30am. Midga wakes up and it's raining. Nothing particular to do today so he goes back to sleep.

11am. Traal is idle so Midga grabs him for some blogging. Then Stephen jumps onto Google Chat. Midga has a bright idea - maybe he (after his various electronic experiments with speakers etc) can set up a voice call with more success than Gabrielle did. A few minutes later David comes to help.

11:35am. Woohoo, success! We have a headset microphone (which everyone can talk into if they try) and big speakers at that end, and a laptop mike and speakers here. Rosuav, wake up!

11:50am. It's people's bed times over there (Thea was brought back from having already been put to bed) so we ring off. The boys fill their time reading web news articles, programming, eating chocolate and watching cartoons, to try to fool themselves it's an evening at home. It's still too wet to go out anywhere - hey isn't it nice that it wasn't like this yesterday for our picnic lunch?

3:30pm. Rosuav wakes up for the nth time today and decides to cook some lunch. Apparently he's now quite well known at the butcher - when he last went in for a consignment of snags he was asked "Do you live on anything else?" A piglet is a piglet is a piglet!

6:30pm. Time to get going. Irish Gondoliers tonight, who knows, they might have brought their violin player!

7:20pm. We're in the Paxton, watching the video feed for £5, as the opera house is sold out. Like most live video feeds based on 80s technology it has moving bars across the screen and an imperfect representation of colour. But it's better than missing out on the show. By next year there'll be a much better connection, live over the internet - so we'll be able to see the shows from home (if we can afford the bandwidth).

7:30pm. The opening is eye popping - so much chorus movement, and so precise! Even the men are pretty well in time. As the show progresses the novelty starts to fade, and we realise that choreography isn't the same as acting. The chorus don't seem to have an opinion about the plot, only about their next moves. And again the lighting is a bit disappointing - there's a lower level for the finale, but no big build for "Then away we go to a balmy isle".

9pm. Act 2 opens with the two kings in costumes much like the Canadian production done by Australian Opera. Lots of the staging is similarly inspired by that version, including the ending of the cachuca. We figure if they were going to imitate, there are better ones around. What really kills the show though is the entrance of Inez - not only did they copy AO's ridiculous torture-chamber-in-a-throne-room setup, but Inez was a man and didn't do a very good impression of a woman either. Sorry Irish, we love your violinist but this is one we won't be getting the DVD of.

Clippy's log - page 28

18/8 7:10pm. We might as well go in, no point hanging around. As we start moving, a Savoynetter introduces himself to the boys and says "I didn't realise who you were, I've been reading your blog with great interest". Actually that's happened quite a lot this festival.

7:30pm. Ah that Iolanthe overture, we love it. When the curtain rises we look for people we know - and there's a lot tonight. Both Celia and Leila are people we've spoken to at least once, and they're doing a great job of acting the part of five year olds. Charlotte warned us to watch her dancing and acting, and we are by no means disappointed - she is throwing herself into the part with some gusto, and obviously having a whale of a time doing so. She'd be a credit to any chorus! The peers' march is quite something too. There's so many of them they can hardly fit across the stage! Quite a few tenors too, unless they're just basses singing down the octave. Actually there's quite a number here at the festival - Midga hasn't cracked his "collective noun" joke since Trial by Jury. Anyway, Rosuav is reviewing the show so I don't have to. It's an Iolanthe comparable to ours in 2006. Enough said.

10pm. I'm on duty with Rosuav again. David Turner waffles a bit, and often diverges into anecdotes from his own career, which Rosuav never bothers to note, so it's not onerous. Nothing like gunzelling a full length SRHC Blue Train consist at 80km/h between Centre Road and Westall. Not even like getting the numbers and liveries of a triple NR lash-up on PW4 at Laverton. Shut up Clippy, you'll get some gunzelling days soon enough.

10:30pm. We and Elise join Midga in the club. Elise has plenty to say about the singing (some positive and some negative), and the boys echo bits about the tech and crew side of things. Not that it's easy to talk tech when Elise has some music to talk about.

10:45pm. Community singing - including the peers' march up on the stage, for the third time this festival! Midga leaves the camera ready for action but Elise doesn't take the hint. Surprisingly, some of the cast are here already and join us for the march - fairies as well as peers! Charlotte, who has been telling us how she has joined it often enough in theory (I mean in rehearsal), is right in it of course - which reminds all of us (or at least all who were around at the time - Traal is too young to remember) of Jessica from our own show. Happy times.

11pm. Usual cabaret. We don't know many of the songs and it seems Elise doesn't either. We decide to bail early. Charlotte is nowhere to be found.

11:40pm. Elise has twisted the boys' arms and forced them to help her finish the spag. Charlotte is chilling out with a cup of tea - poor thing, she's had a stressful show. She's still too uptight to eat anything much, so Elise tells her own horror story about how to (potentially) give yourself diabetes. I have never had a lingering disease like that - although I have had a broken board and a varicose rivet, each of which put me in hospital for major transplant surgery. Not fun.

1:30am. We leave in order to let the girls get some sleep. It still feels weird for a show to be over with no cast party, but getting to bed before it gets light outside is probably a reasonable alternative. The spag is still not finished so we are invited over for a picnic lunch tomorrow!

19/8 11:30am. The boys gradually become conscious of the fact that they've missed out on Singing from the Bandstand - bits of G&S in the park with everyone joining in. Oh well.

1pm. Have lunch making gear, will travel. Charlotte has only just got up - which is the right thing to do after a show.

2:30pm. After eating and a lot of talking, we go for a walk around the gardens. It's a beaut day out, worthy of any late autumn day at home, and the camera gets a good work-out. We get to see all over the Pavilion Gardens, including a ride on the miniature train (it sure feels good to have wheels on steel rails rumbling under us again), and eat lunch on The Slopes, near the weather station where the birds assemble to have bits of apple fed to them in front of the camera. Midga quite rightly introduces Australian railway philosophy to the English and the American, simply by throwing his apple core into a garden bed. He explained to them that, as most of my faithful readers will know, it was the great Sir Harold Clapp who said "PLANT MORE FRUIT"! It goes over well. At the gardens there's what looks like a jumping castle. Charlotte was almost ready to have a go (she didn't get a chance at one while on stage, and all five year olds should have an outlet for excess energy) but it turns out to be just a bunch of trampolines tied together.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Clippy's log - page 27

16/8 4pm. Elise walks out - she has a lower threshold of pain than we do. Even though she teaches music.

5:20pm. The show finishes. We were supposed to be at dinner at 5pm!

5:35pm. We turn up at last and Elise is wondering where we are. And whether we survived the concert. So we just tell her - this is what happens when an appreciation society tries to turn into a performing society, by degrees.

6:45pm. We don't make the same mistage twice! The boys aren't going to the show tonight but Charlotte is. We head down there and the boys and I hang around in the club.

7:35pm. Elise joins us to help leech wifi. She still doesn't have a steady supply of email. It's not going too well and a few words between Rosuav and their resident geek show why - it's not public yet! It's only a trial system. In between ping packets we continue to converse. As always.

10pm. Chris, Sarah-Jane and Robert Hall come in and everyone makes a fuss as is obligatory. Robert blogs you see, and any failure to oblige would be recorded for posterity. We move to a proper table, and Elise uses my pal to read Savoynet while the packets continue to time out.

10:30pm. The Club opens as usual with community singing of chorus numbers from the show. Time Gasvic did Sorcerer obviously, none of us know it very well.

10:45pm. University Challenge for under-50s (and honorary under-50s). Midga is within an inch of being on one of the teams but escapes just in time. After a while Ian runs out of questions and - the game is a draw!

11:55pm. Home. Via Elise's as usual. That bag needs to be dragged uphill, not carried.

17/8 11:30am. Midga gets up and wonders what to do. Rosuav is still asleep so he grabs Traal and the Rollingstock book and prepares trip plans for the days off.

4pm. Time for lunch. Two eggs and "a few" sausages each. Luckily Midga keeps working over the food.

4:30pm. The days are filled, so Midga and Traal work on the Smartpax 2020 document. At this rate the thing will be done by the time we get home!

7pm. Time to go - Ruddigore tonight! Hope it's good, we have high standards.

7:35pm. The curtain opens and we are transported back two years - the same Paul Lazell set the Festival production used in 2007. The bridesmaids enter - and we're in 2007 still! A glance at the program shows - director Andrew Nicklin. All is explained. The cast aren't as good though, a mixed bag. What strikes me and Midga in our professionally amateur capacity is the lighting - too much fill and practically no highlight, which makes everyone on stage look like a cardboard cut-out - ehee!

10:30pm. Neil Smith asked us as a personal favour to oblige the theatre staff in not using Traal, so I'm back on duty with Rosuav jotting down the adjudication.

10:45pm. We rejoin Midga in the Festival Club. Elise comes in too and Midga opens with the leading question "Did you recognize any of the direction of that show?" All of it maybe?

12 midnight or so. Standard finish. Goodnight!

18/8 11:30am. Better get up soon - Elise is coming for lunch!

1pm. Elise and Charlotte turn up - Charlotte has been let out of rehearsal on good behaviour but isn't eating. Tech/Sitz/DR is apparently going quite well, but that huge opera house is as much of a shock as expected!

1:50pm. Charlotte has to go - chookas! Oops, that has to be translated.

5pm. Lunch has merged with dinner so we all move to Elise's to finish off the spaghetti.

7pm. And off to the theatre. A surprise awaits - not only is Elise Cripps's peppermint drop cart broken off at the handle (by person or persons unknown) but all the stuff is sold already! So she doesn't have to get into that "eye-catching" costume and sing the same song to every passer-by any more.

Clippy's log - page 26

Yes I'm way behind, I know. Traal is always busy and the phone can't always get an internet connection. I don't have a USB port of my own, which I sometimes regret.

15/8 11:45pm. Elise is ready to bail and usually wants a gallant young man to carry her bag up the steel hill to Upper Buxton. And the boys always respond to that sort of thing. Dinner again tomorrow? Yay! We'll bring some supplies.

11:55pm. Home and it's not yet midnight. Diary time, this time with the right timezone on the Google Calendar. Several good gunzelling days coming right up!

16/8 9am. Midga gets up and gets ready for church. It's the Sullivan service at the Methodist church, should be good. Mum has emailed, just for an update.

9:45am. Time to think about going. We concluded that the service is at 11am, after being confused by one part of the festival program saying 11 and another saying 10:30. The church's own web site is considered an authoritative source.

10:15am. We walk out. Have Bible, will travel. If Bibles aren't in fashion at this church Midga will be un the unusual position of having started a new fashion.

10:45am. We arrive. The church is packed and the choir is rehearsing. It turns out 10:30 was for the choir to be assembled (it's Festival people as well as church members) and 11 is for the service. We manage to find two seats and I sit on the floor.

11am. The service starts with a Fred Wagstaff style "Good morning!" which, like Gary Slavin's "Do you know where we're going from?" is said in the expectation of a reply. A browse of the news sheet/order of service gives the impression of a fairly traditional church which is trying to unbend a bit - sort of like ours. There's plenty of reference to sin, repentance, forgiveness and Jesus' supremacy so it looks like a good Bible-believing church. A reading from 2 Chronicles too, that's a good start. We open with Ps 95 sung to one of Sullivan's hymn tunes, and the organ plus congregation fills that little church with music! Responsive prayers are not what we're used to, but hey, this is why we visit other churches. Another hymn - Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken, sung to Sullivan's "Lux Eoi" (which we sing another hymn to, can't think which) - which is misspelled Eloi, and the minister says "Some of you can probably guess why", which could be another indication that this is a serious congregation. Then a responsive psalm - we went from Ps 147 at home just before we left, to Ps 98 here. And the downward trend will continue when we get back, so I'm told. The sermon is on John 2, the miracle of water into wine at Cana. It's preached by a high up minister (former Vice President of the Methodist Conference - a sort of Moderator of the GA I guess) who happens to also be the president of a local G&S society. Unfortunately he seems a bit liberal - I can accept straying from the passage to do a thematic sermon, but to say "however you explain the actual event of water turning into wine" and then describe a whole lot of God's common graces as "water into wine moments" is going too far. The boys decide to go again next week to see if the regular Sunday service is better. After the sermon (which seems ridiculously short), our good friend Ian Henderson (Grosvenor in 2007, Prince of Monte Carlo this year) gets up and sings the Lost Chord. Apparently it's a tradition to do it at this service... even though it's hardly worship music. We all join in the last verse and it does sound pretty grand. Just at the end Midga notices there are two pairs of hands on the organ - wish it had been recorded. Then some more prayers (after the sermon!) including the Lord's Prayer, which they considered unnecessary to print in the news sheet. And we finish with Onward Christian Soldiers. A key change for the last verse and a good organist give us a musical high. Love it.

12:30pm. It's probably too late for a family chat session, but it's a good excuse to get out of having to socialise with people who know we're here for the festival and want to talk about it rather than church. It does get tiring saying the same thing over and over. And of course the eternal refrain "Oh Australia, I'd love to go there one day"... at least the guy at Jodi's church who asked "Which side of the Mississippi is that?" gave it variety.

12:45pm. We try to step Gae and David through setting up a voice call in Google Chat, but it seems none of the microphones work. It's getting late anyway so we give up.

3pm. Emerald Isle in the Paxton! We get in and they're all over the stage already, it's a concert version not fully staged. I guess we could have expected that. Elise comes in and sits behind us - she was going to Parsons Pirates at the opera house at 2:30 but she got the times mixed up! The show opens with a bit of narration - which is a good thing because the singers' diction isn't up to the task of telling us the plot. The orchestra are all over the place too, and Elise has a few things to say about the singers' technique. Still, it's an introduction to the piece, and the MIDIs will do the rest until someone produces it properly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Clippy's log - page 25

The quarter century, and we're not even half way though August!

Incidentally, have you noticed how the day always seems to end just after a page break? Must be something to do with the amount of daylight at these high lattitudes, our A4 paper is used to Australian days.

13/8 11:30pm. Midga decides to go home as he has a headache. A few xkcds and then bed.

14/8 6:53am. Midga wakes up with a migrane. System analysis reveals dehydration as the most probable cause. Three litres of water and a cup of tea later, he's well enough to read emails, El Reg, RSS and Facebook. Then the phone needs recharging. Rosuav is still asleep, but Midga quietly puts Traal's USB port onto the task.

9:30am. Might be worth getting up.

11am. Might be worth going to bed again. Come on Midga, I want to go gunzelling!

1pm. Rosuav comes back from shopping. At last Midga can access the phone which is his only timepiece. Phew, haven't missed Mis(s)-trial by Jury!

3pm. We're here for Mis(s)-trial, and hey, half the cast of Grand Duke are in it! Rosuav is blogging about it in full so I'll just say that it's an amazing reproduction of the audition process, followed by a gender-bent TbJ which works surprisingly well. Another to get the DVD of.

5:20pm. Back home, for dinner and a rest before the Club - pot luck Ruddigore!

10pm. We arrive early and still there's no tables! Then Elise drags us over to her cast table. That means we have to sing! And she introduces us to a charming young lady by the name of Charlotte, who's doing the Festival Iolanthe.

11:45pm. Elise wants a "slave" to carry her bag home so Rosuav obliges. And just as we're saying goodnight she invites us over for dinner tomorrow! Yay!

12:10am. Nothing on tomorrow until late arvo/evening, so the boys do some mixed Android development/Looney Tunes/random research until Jodi signs on to Skype.

2:20am. Jodi signs off and the boys head for bed.

15/8 11am. It's a Saturday morning, there's nothing on. Midga gets out his Locos and Coaching Stock book and notices there's a lot of Hitachi era EMUs still in service, some captive on branch lines for easier gunzelling. A bit of wikiresearch and then a journey planner please - ah thank you Northern Rail. Hey, it CAN be done in a single day from Buxton. Several marathon gunzelling days coming right up!

4pm. Time to get going - Elise wants us over by 5 because she's on duty at 7. The question is, is she the kind of hostess that wants us to bring stuff? No idea. Play it safe and bring a box of Celebrations (as in, give a gift that will last a lunchtime).

5:05pm. We've found the place but Elise is out! So we chat with Charlotte for a bit. When Elise comes in it turns out she's the very best type of hostess - the type that takes you into the kitchen and everyone helps with both the cooking and the chatting. It turns out she's second oldest of seven and knows what it is - which may be one (more) reason she gets on so well with the boys.

7pm. ACK! Time to be gone! Elise gets her stuff ready and we get moving. Ida tonight, should be Rather Good.

7:15pm. Elise starts work and the boys get tickets - or rather, they try. Sold out! They don't want standing room tickets for a three act show, so they decide to hang around in the Pavilion until the club opens.

7:35pm. Might be a good idea to buy tickets for all the rest of the shows, before they go. Three out of six (seven if you count the matinee of Pirates). Good for the festival but a pity not to see the rest of the shows.

8pm. Might visit the portacabin too, and get the first installment of DVDs. £200 or so goes onto Midga's Visa card... all these shows are so good!

10:30pm. The crowds pour in, full of comments about the show! It's one not to miss, but we didn't have a choice... Elise has so much to say about it she has to write it down to avoid interrupting the cabaret. Incidentally the songs are a cut above average, though Midga still doesn't bother videoing it. Poor camera, it hasn't had a good run since the DR of Grand Duke!

Clippy's log - page 24

12/8 7:20pm. Can we just get on with the show? Doing nothing is stressful. Neither of the boys have anything to do apart from changing the set at interval, so Rosuav procures a couple of seats. In the stalls, no less. For free. Midga decides to stay backstage just in case.

7:30pm. We're starting, thank goodness. The audience seems a bit flat, hope it picks up a bit.

8:45pm. Set change - and it goes very smoothly. This positive factor seems completely lost on certain member(s) of the crew, who, as Rosuav puts it in the very most charitable possible way, don't handle stress very well. I'm not as nice, I think if he can't handle the heat he should get out of the kitchen. Midga is worse, he doesn't want to see or work with this person ever again. OK, not certain members of the crew, one member in particular. That slipped out.

10:30pm. The show is over. Thunderous applause and lots of laughter - it picked up straight after interval. Adjudication is positive and it's clean up time. Midga washes yellow jelly out of plastic champagne glasses. This, of course, will feature in Rosuav's saga. Rosuav starts taking down the set. As usual there's lots of time spent waiting for something to happen, lots of contradiction about whether secondhand screws are to be saved, and lots of work where being of equal height and able to communicate in ultra brief are valuable. The boys fit the bill perfectly.

11:15pm. Festival club! Our cabaret has already started, not sure what happened to the idea of having everyone help clean up the theatre. Still, more bodies would probably have only got in the way. Unlike two years ago, Midga decides to drink. This is the only cast party we get, and people tend to unwind and talk a lot more in these conditions. Leading actresses with heaps of experience, telling all the amusing show stories they can think of. Fun.

1am. The club closes up and we have to go home. Rosuav is nowhere to be seen, so Midga assumes he went home already. Woohoo, we get to walk home with Jackie! She's living in the halls too.

1:20am. Home to hot chocolate and emails.

1:45am. Rosuav comes home! He apparently had gone with Elise and didn't see Midga and me standing near the bar. He's heading for bed, but he leaves Traal and the remaining theatre lollies out. Looney Tunes!

3:30am. Jodi comes online! Time for a mixed serious-fun chat. There's no Skybe rendition of pillow fighting but talking about what's on the stove is a good substitute.

5:05am. Jodi tells Midga to go to bed.

13/8 1pm. What am I doing in the kitchen? Where are the boys? They must be still asleep.

1:45pm. Midga walks in and eats some cornflakes. This is as bad as the early days of jet-lag.

3:30pm. Emails, lollies, forums, Pirates, Goons - this is a de-stressing day. Suddenly in comes a blowfly - the first I've seen since arriving in England. The hunt lasts about five minutes. SLAP. That's 1000 summer flies killed - hey wait, this IS summer! There just aren't many flies around!

4:27pm. Time to go gunzelling. Let's find out where the limestone trains come from.

5:40pm. Limestone trains come from a long way away. Maybe next time it would be a good idea to do some research on Google Earth first. Anyway, we found some more bridges to photograph, and a path beside the railway from which to photograph Sprinters from a new angle. Home for dinner and then the Gondoliers!

7:20pm. No seats left? NONE? Wow. Just as we're deciding not to bother a couple of ladies come up with tickets they no longer need - so we get to sit in the Upper Circle (just below our usual place in the Gallery) and Rosuav is in the Stalls.

7:35pm. Ian Smith comes out and announces there's been a hold-up (as in bushrangers - although he pronounces it "Dick Turpin") on the main road from Derby. The audience, accustomed to his opening speeches, laugh uproariously, but apparently it's true. So he waffles for a while to give the Derbyites time to arrive.

10:45pm. Festival Club. Rosuav has worked out he can type with Traal's lid nearly closed to avoid incurring the wrath of the FOH staff so I go with Midga to reserve a table near a powerpoint. Too late, taken already.

11pm. Rosuav comes in. He's (predictably) not happy we couldn't get his powerpoint. Nothing we can do.

11:15pm. Community singing, fun but not easy. Gondoliers has lots of chorus work in four part harmony and counterpoint.

Clippy's log - page 23

11/8 8am. Last day of rehearsals. Let's be early in case there's some planning of bump-in etc.

9am. Here we all are again. No "former triumphs" joke please, it's been done to death. Rehearsals are getting a bit more stressed but not to Patience 2007 levels by any means. A few last minute t-shirt and raffle sales keep us busy. The run is stopped every now and then and it's highly amusing to hear people drop out of character and back into their own accents to speak to the director and MD. Most obvious is Julia from German to American, but some of the English to English ones are interesting too. A few people have bugs of various kinds, hopefully they clear up before tomorrow evening.

4:10pm. Announcements about tomorrow. I take careful notes. Savoynet shows are amazing - so many people that do the work! Even a few people helping with makeup (which is provided by the company)!

4:55pm. 45 minutes of notes and announcements! Now let's clean the place up. Angie has prepared slips of paper each with a job written on it. First the eight top prinnies (the ones in the front row of the wedding procession at the end) are told to clean the toilets, then everyone else gets handed a "normal" job.

5:25pm. And the clean up is done! All furniture returned to its place, all props packed into crates and stacked in one place, carpet "hoovered", all belongings packed and the kitchen tidied up. Amazing.

5:40pm. Home again. What's the show tonight? Youth production of Patience. Probably worth seeing, and certainly something to encourage, but between an intensive rehearsal season and Hell Day (ie Hell Week compressed into one day) it's probably not a good idea. Some Looney Tunes and then an early night.

12/8 8am. Here we go! Pack useful stuff and fun stuff (eg camera) and get over there.

9:05am. The truck is already being unloaded as we arrive, so the boys jump right in. I get shoved into Rosuav's backpack but I know I'll be called if any notes need to be taken. I can observe everything happening anyway.

9:30am. Everything is unloaded and the crew are assembling the set. They're canvas flats not ply, and narrower than the ones we use at home, so they can be manhandled by one person. The boys don't know this technique and have to learn it. Luckily they soon get allocated to putting down a floor - screwing sheets of masonite (with a painted cobblestone pattern) to the stage. Screw guns work the same everywhere, and the boys soon show the SM they've been good crew members before.

11am. Act 1 is up, now it's time for a crew tea break - this one is as unionised as the orchestra. A few of them are fairly offensive about it too. The boys decide to steer clear of one or two of the crew members in particular and deal only with Keith the SM and the various Savoynetters in the crew who were at rehearsals. While the crew have their lunch break the cast can use the stage to check their entrances and exits.

11:40am. By stretching the crew's break slightly Gary has managed to get all of Act 1 walked through. The crew take down one set of flats and put up another - it looks like being an intensive interval.

1pm. Act 2 is up so everyone goes for lunch. The cast have to be back by 2pm to get into costume, ready for a 2:30 run. The run is a combination of sitz, tech and all the DRs - if I hadn't known it had been done many, many times before I would have said it's impossible.

2pm. Here we are once more on the... oops I didn't want to say that one. The boys and I spend most of the time in the auditorium watching the show. Midga completely fills the second 2GB camera memory card, leaving a 512MB and a 32MB. Contrary to predictions the set change goes just fine, not too long at all.

5:30pm. Just time for some dinner. Midga has sugar deprivation and goes to Aldi for some provisions, while Rosuav takes his first turn at cooking for both boys since leaving Australia.

6:20pm. Eat up, time to go soon! Why does shopping take so long? It's all the protocol baggage of crossing the road, waiting in queue, climbing two sets of stairs etc.

6:40pm. All ready, let's go!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clippy's log - page 22

8/8 6:20pm. Can't be bothered with a pro Pinafore and Trial. Home for dinner and further Looney Tunes database work.

10:30pm. Festival Club, for a pot luck Mikado. It is announced that it will be sans dialogue, which is received with thunderous acclaim. We're looking for a table and Elise comes up and invites us to sit with her at a cast table. She's a festival official, what can we do but follow her instructions?

12:30am. Home. Thank goodness for a later start tomorrow.

9/8 11:30am. Whoopsy, what happened to getting up for church? When is it anyway? No idea.

1pm. Midga heads Steamy off a crazy idea involving trams and standard gauge freight, via Facebook chat.

1:40pm. Rehearsal time soon - get going.

5pm. The stress is starting to mount but Gary is still pretty easy to get along with. Home for dinner, Utopia Ltd tonight!

7pm. Off to the theatre. Quite a gathering of Savoynetters - they obviously don't get to see Utopia often. It turns out to be quite a good show on balance - although like our recent Mikado marred by soggy lighting design and a few diction problems. Still, a fairly traditional Utopia, with some brilliant ideas that had the boys just about rolling in the aisles - well worth getting a DVD of.

10pm. Midga leaves to reserve a table for us at the Club, while Rosuav and I stay behind to hear the adjudication. He can't use Traal because the theatre staff don't like it. I can't tell the difference, but hey, I don't mind doing something useful. The adjudicator didn't like the show apparently; some of the problems are things I agree with, others I hadn't noticed. Ah well, all goes to show it's only one person's opinion.

10:30pm. We rejoin Midga in the Club and he's sitting with the Learned Judge from the WA show. Rosuav is a bit miffed because the table's not close to a power point to charge Traal, so he doesn't join them. But I do. First up is a community singing of Eagle High. The boys just listen - and it does sound good. Next a University Challenge, two teams of S'netters answering G&S trivia questions sent by Deebee. Most are to do with D'Oyly Carte performers and even Sam Silvers doesn't get them. So everyone (including the Smiths who are officiating) just hams the whole thing up and a good time is had by all.

12:25am. The Oxford people have done their cabaret - the usual selection of songs we don't know, some amusing and some done rather well. Home time. Rehearsals are going to get busy from now on.

10/8 8am. The alarm is on this time. Normal start to a day.

9:05am. We arrive at rehearsal slightly damp - it's raining! Costume run today, and hey, there's fresh batteries in the camera. Between taking photos and the occasional t-shirt or raffle sale there isn't much to do, except that Midga gets to go round the shops looking for a cheap watch to use as a prop.

5:20pm. Shopping, washing and cooking - the three essentials. Pity they take up so much time.

7:15pm. Time to go to the show! Bournemouth society's Sorcerer. A traditional production thank goodness. Not a bad show on balance, could do with a bit more alto in the chorus and some acting in the dialogue. But the pyrotechnics made up for everything, and more! Probably the best is JW Wells' death scene - a curtain closes over him, big bang, curtain opens before we can react and he's gone. Brilliant.

10:15pm. Early finish, off to the club. Community singing of some bits of Sorcerer and the usual selection of cabaret. We share a table with Ross Bryant (the Judge) and Laurie Marks from Savoynet. Laurie entertains us with his Cambridge modified lines for some G&S songs. Fun.

11:29pm. Early night. Thank goodness.