December 1961

Saturday 9 December
I went down to Reading General  for about 1 hours today.  The most unusual thing was a King 4-6-0, I think it was 6019, going light down platform 8.  It has been fitted with a modified type of cab so that the forward lookout, instead of being square with the side plating, is sloping at an angle to it.  (a remainder of the pre-war streamlining experiment?)  One of the signals on the down main failed and fell into the off position although it was nearly vertical.  I have never seen this happen before.

Thursday 14 December
I packed my case first thing after breakfast and said goog bye to everyone for Christmas.  I caught the 1028 from Reading South which arrived at waterloo at 1200. I just missed a train to Orpington and had to wait 30 minutes,  Got into conversation with a driver on the train. He drives the big diesel hauled expresses to Carlisle and Manchester.

Saturday 16 December
Played my first game of rugger since April.  Of course, I wasn't fit and found it a bit tiring.  Unfortunately my spine hurts a great deal where I hurt it in the summer although I didn't knock it.  I played for ,Combe Colts against sevenoaks Colts.  We lost 6-3 having been 3-0 up.  Unfortunately we only fielded 13 and this told in the end.  I had a lift back from Sevenoaks to Goddington and ran into Dave Tyler who came back and stayed the evening.

Thursday 21 December
I started work at the greengrocers this morning.  It is not really hard and requires very little initiative but is quite boring.  I have been trimming cauliflowers and celery and seem to spend most of my time opening crates and putting them out in the bins.  

Friday 22 December
Working in the shop today.  I did more serving.  It was much busier, particularly in the afternoon and this evening I am quite tired.

Saturday 23 December
Bitterly cold today has made working in the shop quite cold.  Not quite so busy today as yesterday - surprising.

Thursday 28 December
I caught the train to Charing Cross and met Dave Waywell.  We then tok the tube to Stanmore.  We started hitching and soon got a lift up the M1 to the Blue Star cafe near Newport Pagnell.  This is the first time I have been on the motorway.  I found it quite boring after a while.  We were then taken by a lorry driver all the way through to Bolton. We went up the M1 and M45, round the Coventry by-pass, Coleshill, Litchfield, Rudgeley, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Knutsford and the manchester motorway.  We didn't go very fast and didn't make Bolton until about18.00.  It was very cold. We hitched on an OPEN lorry to Chorley and from there we were given a lift to Kendal, arriving at the hostel at about 20.15.  It had started to snow about the timewe came to the Lancaster by-pass.

Friday 29 December
It had been snowing in the night and there is about an inch of snow - the first I have seen for sme time.  We walked along the Windermere road, were given a lift to Ambleside.  From there we walked along the Rydal road and climbed up Loughrigg Fell.  At the top we turned off the path, walked north westwards and climbed to the summit.  There was a strong wind at the top but it was wrth it because of the good view over Windermere, Rydal Water and Grassmere.   We made our way down and then walked around the west side of grassmere to the village. We had intended to stay at Grassmere hostel but it was ful so we caught the bus to Troutbeck Bridge and walked to Troutbeck hostel.  Very cold.  Started to snow again.

Saturday 30 December
It snowed a reasonable amount in the night and was still snowing when we left the hostel.  The wind was very strong and gusty.  We walked down to Troutbeck Bridge and along the road to Ambleside. There was about four inches of snow but it was drifting - the snow wasn't sticking.  We did some shopping and spent a pleasant hour by a big fire in a pub in Ambleside.  The weather was bad when we set out to walk to Coniston and this made our progress slow.  We crossed the Skelwith Bridge from Westmoreland into Lancashire and soon stopped to have a brew of hot Oxo.  The weather seemed to improve as we moved south, the wind dropped and we saw a little sun although it was still very cold. Only about two inches of snow here.  Stayed at Coniston Far End hostel where there is a very warm Common Room.

Sunday 31 December
Left the hostel at about 09.15 and walked through Coniston village and up the track to the mines.  There was still a large amount of snow and ice although the sky has been a wonderful blue all day.  This made a wonderful contrast with the white hills.  We scrambled up to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston (2633 feet)
and celebrated with a miniature bottle of Drambuie.  The climb was quite a stiff one, even more so because we had to carry our packs with us.  There was a wonderful view from the top.  We could see all the snow covered peaks of the Lake District and the Pennine chain stretching all the way along the eastern horizon.  To the south and south west we could see the coast and across Morecambe Bay towards the industrial part of Lancashire.  In the foreground Coniston Water stretched along to the east but Windermere was obscured by the Grizedale Forest.  We descended by the easier shoulder (ice caused some difficulty) and walked to Hawkeshead via Coniston.  The hostel's water supply was frozen.  Went down to the pub but came back to see the new year in after a sing song in the Common Room.  Snowing again.

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