I have been up to friend Martin's a couple of times recently -
once with Mrs P and again on a whistle-stop visit with Sam, so he didn't get any
meaningful work out of me (as in pick and shovel type) but we did have a
steam-up on both occasions. Having had my six months of gloating whilst I was
ahead of him in the railway construction department, the tables are now well and
truly turned - he is powering ahead, with 100 yards of track down and ballasted
and a very fine slate-roofed engine shed.
Ten months after first cutting earth, the railway is rapidly looking as
if it has been there for years. It was a damp morning and that, combined
with one missing draincock and a leaking injector clack, account for the
clouds of steam.
Driving on the railway last week, it was difficult to imagine
that this time last year the whole thing was still in the planning stage. I went
up for a week in September last year after a man with a mini digger had taken
out the basic trench, Martin and I spent the time putting in gravel board
edgings and levelling the base - I haven't had so many blisters in years. After
I came home he made fast progress getting track panels made up and laid, using
aluminium rail fastened to wooden sleepers using the estimable Mr Norman's
excellent track clips.
Less than a year later, it's hard to imagine that the line
hasn't always been there. I'm looking forward to seeing it grow over the next
few years, he's got four acres to go at with plans to put in a thirty foot span
bridge over a river that runs through his woods.