In 1996, when our son, Stuart, was 11, I built a board on which to put his train set. It was about 8 feet by 4 feet and too big for any floor space in the house so it was suspended in the garage on a pulley system so that it could be raised and lowered, allowing the car still to go in the garage.
Like many people during lockdown, I decided to tidy the garage and in doing so, wondered if the train set still worked. I don’t think it had been down for at least fifteen years! So I lowered the board, cleaned the track and tried a train and, “Yes”, it worked. Stuart had three engines and several buildings, most of which were card kits that Sharon had made for him. We had also inherited a box of railway ‘stuff’ and in looking through it realised there were four engines, several trucks and coaches, some scenic materials and a large amount of track. Having helped Richard Kasher with his model railway over the last three or four years, I decided I could develop Stuart’s train set by designing a more complex layout and adding scenery.
In my study, I have two model “Venture” buses which, some of you may remember, ran in the Consett and Stanley area. I realised that they were the correct scale for the layout so decided to use them and to put other items on the layout reminiscent of my youth. For example, one of the buildings Stuart had was an Infants School, so I made a zebra crossing to go on the road outside, just as it was in Annfield Plain, outside of the Infants School I attended. An unmade kit in the box was a set of brewery buildings. Sharon made them up and I made an entrance based on the Cameron’s Brewery in Hartlepool, but I have named it The Mordue Brewery, as there is a brewery of that name in North Shields and also Mordue was my mother’s maiden name. Last year for Father’s Day Stuart and Sarah gave me some money to buy something for the layout so I bought some cars – a mini (my first car) and three Cortinas (Mks 1 ,2 and 3). My Dad had all three models, (not at the same time!) and I learned to drive and took my test in his Mk3.
I have really enjoyed employing the variety of skills needed – joinery: to extend the board and strengthen the pulley system; electrical work: soldering wires onto the point motors and then routing the wires to a bank of switches; craft work: making model buildings and painting scenery and, of course, lots of “thinking”: planning what is possible and deciding in what order the various tasks need to be done.
I have included in the photographs a picture of the dusty board as it was before I started and then a selection of pictures showing the various stages of development. There is still plenty to do and I look forward to the day when it is possible for other people to visit and see it for themselves. Hopefully, not too long now.
Best Wishes to all,
I am writing this on a very warm day in Harrogate (although in a few days we will be back to winter).
Best wishes to everyone as we start the cautious easing of the lockdown. I hope you are all well in mind & body. It has been a horrendous year so let us cross our fingers that things are gradually improving.
I should think many of us will have had our 1st jabs & hope that was ok for all.
It will still be a while before we can start singing but hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Happy Easter to everyone in The Argus Singers and I hope you are all doing well and enjoying this early Spring sunshine.
I am sending this greeting from our caravan while enjoying the sun and the scenery and before you think, 'How is that achieved when no caravan sites are open yet. Are they wild caravanning?' Well, as you may remember, last Spring I reported that Gordon had taken all the wall tiles from our kitchen in preparation for a new kitchen....... and during the year other parts of the kitchen furniture gradually and mysteriously disappeared too. This week, one year on, the new kitchen has begun and as our caravan is sited on the drive, I am spending my days, (not nights) enjoying a 'holiday' with views of the bins, piles of scrap metal, a full skip, and more importantly I'm keeping apart from the workmen. I have fridge, cooker, microwave, heating, water etc. etc. so 'I want for nowt!' People walking past the van are doing double takes!
This latest lockdown during the cold dark winter has been so difficult and has made me feel quite miserable and although with plenty of time to select any of the jobs on my list, I continually carry them forward from one week to the next. However, with Spring on the way, lighter nights and the exciting prospect of meeting friends in gardens I'm bouncing back and ready to go..... and there's a new kitchen to sort and tidy and a very dusty house to clean! I have many emails to answer and after giving myself a talking to I'm starting here with this one and I'm full of good intention.
I had my Pfizer vaccination in early February at Shotley Bridge Hospital and Gordon had his Pfizer jab at Stanley early March and apart from having a sore arm for a day we've both been fine. We seem to be on track with the vaccination rollout, but does anyone really know what will happen when the lockdown is gradually and eventually lifted?
We want to be able to sing together again!!
My shielding officially ends at midnight tonight, but yesterday after the latest easing of restrictions, I had a distanced coffee with Ian and Sharon in their garden and it was so delightful and wonderful to see them and to be able to sit and chat. I'm hoping you can all see friends and family soon and enjoy their company.
Enjoy the sunshine everyone before the cold weather hits us again this weekend and I hope and pray that The Argus Singers will be back in September and we can all be together again.
......perhaps not quite as close together as this ...
... ....meant to be the choir in case you're wondering!!
Love to all
Judith Cole x
Dear all, hoping you are staying well and enjoying the spring weather.
It seems incredible that it's over a year since we sang together, but I hope we can come together over the summer months and plan for concerts ahead. As with everyone, the past year has brought many changes for me - I'm no longer working at Durham Cathedral but am relishing getting to grips with archives and starting an archivist training course this May. I've been doing some online singing with Opera North's From Couch to Chorus and getting to know Ushaw Historic House and Gardens as a volunteer (along with Janet Arkle!). All the very best to all and here's to singing together over the coming months.
Our grandchildren: Oscar aged 3 and half, our eldest grandchild. Orla aged 2, such a character. Evie born August 2020, and at 7 months on, and 4 teeth later.
Sharon suggested I send some recent pictures if my Granddaughter Gaia to you for the newsletter. The first photo is home schooling early!
Our Granddaughter Jessica born in September and now in March. Don't they grow and change so quickly?!
Judith and I had a socially distanced coffee this morning and were discussing the Argus newsletter. I suggested she and I send you current pictures of our granddaughters and have emailed Janet Trewick, Val and Jane to ask if they want to send pictures of their babies too. You never know, somebody might be interested!
Here is Lorelei newborn and now.
Can't believe we have lost a year of singing, a year in which we were in lockdown till September to go back to work then back to lockdown in January to March the 8th and back to work again. Over the year I have taken photographs of walks, garden, Beamish, birthday celebrations. Here are some of that year.
Take care one day soon we will be back to singing and fellowshi.
I hope you are ok and looking forward to spring. Many thanks, Helen, for forwarding Ron's message and lovely photos.
I'm fine (touch wood). My Cathedral job has come to an end (so I'm free on Saturdays!!) but I'm still doing library work and exploring options in archives - also garden volunteering at Ushaw College where I'm enjoying seeing spring gradually come along.
I was reminded of Argus last week when I heard this arrangement of Seal Lullaby with the Kanye Mason family on YouTube - it brought back happy memories: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2on4IS8fIcc
All the best and greetings to all 'Argusians' (not sure if that's the right term!!)