FolkestoneJack's Tracks

A winter election

Posted in Croydon, England by folkestonejack on December 12, 2019

This has been a strange election, one of more importance than usual, but also one where all the normal conventions seem to have been tossed in the air. If I am honest, none of the choices thrill me. However, far worse in my mind is the casual discarding of truth and respect. This election will set the course of the country far into the distance, so a solid foundation of facts has never been more necessary. Instead, we have a terrifying mixture of lies, half truths and disinformation. It’s scary to think where that will lead.

Croydon Central

In some ways I am in the lucky position of having a vote that can make a difference. My constituency, Croydon Central, has form as a seat that has swung between the Conservatives and Labour with some very small majorities (75 for the Conservatives in 2005, 165 for the Conservatives in 2015 and 164 for the Conservatives in October 1974). It’s a constituency nestled between a safe Labour seat (Croydon North) and a Conservative stronghold (Croydon South).

The polls initially suggested that the vote in the constituency would be tight again. This probably explains the deluge of election pamphlets that have come through our letterbox, been delivered by door-to-door canvassers or handed out in the street. So far we have received ten from Labour, two from the Conservatives, one from the Brexit Party and one from the Liberal Democrats. I also received one Green Party flyer, but for the wrong constituency. The dedication of the volunteers has to be admired – one of the Labour party leaflets was pushed through our letterbox between 1am and 6am on the day of the election.

I placed my vote in the darkness of the early morning, at my local polling station in a Scout Hut, then headed in to work as the sun rose. I wonder what the view will look like in 24 hours time.

Banksy in Croydon

Posted in Croydon, England by folkestonejack on October 3, 2019

The overnight appearance of a Banksy ‘shop’ generated a lot of attention in the media. It’s not often that Croydon gets in the news for the right reasons, so it made a nice change. It’s also not often that you get to go out for your weekly shop and admire some Banksy artworks along the way!

The pop-up-shop, named Gross Domestic Product, has been set up by Banksy as part of a legal action with a greetings card company over the use of his trademark. The result is an extraordinary shop that never opens its doors and never switches off the lights. It will only be with us for a couple of weeks but in the meantime it was great to have the opportunity to take a look at the products on display and the accompanying descriptions.

Banksy in Croydon

I thought the cot continually observed from above by a set of moving surveillance cameras was particularly accurate and chilling. The label next to it described it as a Baby Mobile, stating: Banksy has created the Ultimate ceiling mounted stimulus toy to prepare your little one for the journey ahead – a lifetime of constant scrutiny both state sanctioned and self imposed. Other favourites included the three wall display drones (instead of the more familiar ducks) and a toilet duck leading a series of yellow ducks.


Lavender blue

Posted in Croydon, England by folkestonejack on July 26, 2014

Our wanders this weekend took us to Mayfield Lavender, a 25 acre lavender farm just a short bus ride away from Croydon. It is virtually on my doorstep and yet I had never heard of it until last week (courtesy of a fascinating post from Diamond Geezer).

The field makes a striking sight from the first moment that you enter – a sea of blueish-indigo flowers in which visitors can be seen bobbing about. It is certainly a popular attraction at this time of year, with almost the entire bus emptying on our arrival.

Mayfield Lavender

Mayfield Lavender

In the nineteenth century this part of Surrey (encompassing Mitcham, Carshalton, Wallington and Banstead) was at the centre of a lavender growing industry, supplying companies such as Yardley for use in their perfume and toiletries. Hundreds of acres were planted with lavender, swathing the area in blue during the summer months. Today, there are relatively few farms in operation in the UK.

Mayfield Lavender was established in 2002 on the exact site of one of the nineteenth century lavender farms. Within its opening hours you can walk up and down the rows, admiring two varieties of english lavender (Folgate and Maillette) and a hybrid (Grosso).

A sea of indigo-blue

A sea of indigo-blue flowers

It was interesting to note the differences between the varieties, particularly the sheer volume of bees buzzing around the Grosso and the amazing sound that this created (assuming that you haven’t got Marillion’s Lavender involuntarily running through your head!).

After our short walk we rewarded ourselves with some of the farm shop’s homemade lavender ice cream before heading home. Many thanks to Diamond Geezer for highlighting such a surprising local attraction!


Tagged with:

Bluebell explorers

Posted in Bletchley, Croydon, England by folkestonejack on November 9, 2013

One of the delightful side-effects of the Bluebell Railway’s re-connection to the mainline has been the emergence of Sheffield Park as a destination for charter trains. In the year to date there have been three steam-hauled charters, starting with Tornado’s visit on 10th September 2013. I missed that occasion but managed to catch the next two charters en-route to the Bluebell Railway.

The next charter to the Bluebell Railway was hauled by BR Britannia Class no. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, which blasted through Bletchley rather magnificently at 11:01am on 2nd November 2013. The tour was pretty neat in design, as it ran from one preserved railway to another (having started at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway). Unfortunately, the weather was rather dreadful by the time it arrived at the Bluebell Railway.

Oliver Cromwell hauls the Bluebell Explorer through Bletchley on 2nd November 2013

Oliver Cromwell hauls the Bluebell Explorer through Bletchley on 2nd November 2013

The third charter stuck to southern metals, running from London Victoria to Sheffield Park, followed by a run to Uckfield and then back to London Victoria. Unusually, this charter was topped and tailed by steam locomotives – BR rebuilt Light Pacific 4-6-2 no. 34046 ‘Braunton’ on the front and LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 no. 44932 on the back.

Braunton hauls the Bluebell Explorer through South Croydon on 9th November 2013

Braunton hauls the Bluebell Explorer through South Croydon on 9th November 2013 around 9.21am

Typically, the light was beautiful in the lead up but the clouds had crept in by the time the railtour passed through my chosen spot at South Croydon. Nevertheless, this was still better than conditions on the Bluebell Railway itself which was once again quite wet.

A Southern class 455 electric multiple unit passes through South Croydon about 40 minutes earlier

A Southern class 455 electric multiple unit passes through South Croydon about 40 minutes earlier, with significantly better light

It will be good fun catching other railtours as they pass through the area in the coming years. It’s a great stretch of line with some interesting places to watch and photograph a steam locomotive working.

Tagged with:

The thaw

Posted in Croydon, England by folkestonejack on December 4, 2010

It was a relief to hear the sound of dripping around town today that indicated the thaw was well under way, even if it still isn’t exactly tropical!

In the morning there was still plenty of snow on the ground when I made a detour from my christmas shopping to see what was happening on the rails south of East Croydon. I was surprised to see a couple of diesels (one class 73 and one class 37) running light engine – I don’t know whether they were helping to clear the lines, heading out to rescue a train or on some other mission but interesting to see nevetheless…

Electro-diesel 73202 at East Croydon on the morning of 4th December 2010

Electro-diesel 73202 at East Croydon on the morning of 4th December 2010