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Blog: A Very Busy Weekend

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You find me today STILL exhausted from a weekend of frankly EPIC proportions - though not quite the same KIND of epic proportions one might have become involved in 15 years ago. This epic involved STEAM TRAINS!

Before that, though, myself and The Listing On My Buildings headed to the charming Lincolnshire town of Stamford, in Lincolnshire. I was BORN in Stamford and have been there to the FAIR and also the railway station many many times, but have never really had a good old nosey around. It was a) ACE b) STRANGE to be on foot in a town I'd been driven through my entire life. We met my Mum at the station, went for a cup of tea, and then went HIKING round the town, poking around at areas and houses and, eventually, inevitably, THE PUB.

Next day we went with The Parents to the Nene Valley Railway - this is something we've BOTH been keen on doing for YEARS, and the combined facts of it being The Coal In My Engine's BIRTHDAY weekend and there being a STEAM GALA going on meant we WENT for it. It was VERY exciting - there were steam trains EVERYWHERE, also EXCITED people. We got a train out to Yarwell then back through to Peterborough, where we got off and had a look at the Eco-Village that's being built near the Posh ground. Again, this was something we'd been reading about for a while, so it was GRATE to actually go and LOOK at it, before heading back on the train to Wansford. We GAZED at some model railways, more trains, and a TRACTION engine, then headed back to Peterborough AGANE and so to London... where, as a special Birthday Treat, we got the JAVELIN back to Stratford and thence to Tap East, which is rapidly becoming our LOCAL.

While all this was going on it was Open House Weekend, and so on Sunday we headed out to have a LOOK at some stuff. We went first to Abbey Mills Pumping Station. We weren't sure we'd even get in, but a very friendly chap on the gate said it was fine, and we wandered in via , I think, probably the WRONG door. Once inside another friendly chap found us and took us outside, where the tour was just beginning, and we thus embarked on TWO HOURS of MIND BLOWING exploration of this incredible building. It was astoundingly beautiful - apparently they made buildings this way in Olden Time to reassure people that they were getting good value for their taxes... which is pretty much the opposite of nowadays. It was gorgeous, like being in a huge steampunk Victorian SPACE SHIP, led round by a VERY enthusiastic archivist. If you get a chance to go next year, GO!

We trudged round the corner in the tipping rain to our next stop, the amazingly restored House Mill. It is/was, apparently, the largest mill of its kind in Europe, once used to make grain for GIN, and as we strolled around it felt like it had JUST finished work for the weekend. It TOO was ACE, though my abiding memory is of the tour group, which featured four Nice Couples of varying age grades. One pair were about ten years younger than us, just starting out on the JOY that is Wandering Around Old Buildings, but the others looked about ten and twenty years OLDER than us, so that was OK.

To get to our final stop we went to Bromley-by-Bow underground station, which was WEIRD. As everyone and his commentator dog will tell you, East London Has Had Huge Amounts Of Money Spent On It, so it was odd to go somewhere that totally HADN'T. The area around it featured derelict buildings, filthy pavements, and general DECAY. Perhaps this was the one place where Olympic Officials were guaranteed NOT to travel through?

Anyway, we ended our travels at Leyton Town Hall, a building I've walked past MANY times during my years in London, but never been inside. It was GORGEOUS - the old council chamber had been beautifully restored ready for use as a wedding venue (testament to this was the strange NIGHT CLUB toilets which hid behind old fashioned Municipal Doors). There were displays around the sides, including a brilliant one about Leyton Orient, which basically said "Something good happened, but not for long, and then everything was DREADFUL." I find this description of a club's past much more likeable and REAL than the Own Trumpet Blowing you more often get.

Whilst looking at the back of the stage area I had an ACCIDENT, slipping on the steps on landing HARD on my BUM, which rather winded me. I was Terribly Brave about it... but it really hurt!

I'd also taken the day off on Monday, when we had other plans for ACTION, but come the day itself we were UTTERLY KNACKERED - more even, I think, than if we'd embarked on a BOOZE/DANCING epic weekend of the historical kind. We DID have enough energy for the actual BIRTHDAY TEA (cooked by The Landlady) and Presentation Of Presents later, but we didn't half sleep well that night. ACTION is TIRING!

posted 25/9/2012 by MJ Hibbett

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Sounds busy! I hope there was lots of birthday cake. The last time I was in Stamford was to see the parents of a friend Morris Dancing. I thought you meant the Abbey Pumping Station in Leicester, which, although interesting, would be a long way to go for the day and probably less interesting than the place you did go to. On the subject of the Midlands - Chez Lester is back for a new series!
posted 25/9/2012 by Jon Pennycook

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