Becca Jane St Clair

Personal Blog


We haven’t had any snow all Winter, despite the massive warnings in mid-October that it was going to be a “hard winter” with “snow as early as November”. Granted, it has snowed in other areas of the UK, particularly Scotland, but this weekend was the first time it snowed over pretty much the entire country. When I woke up on Saturday to see the light dusting of snow, I laughed as I thought that was all we were going to get. The hard frost on Saturday morning was thicker than the snow. However, we received more Saturday night into Sunday. As far as I can tell, it started around 8PM or so, it was still snowing when we went to bed, but it had stopped when I woke up around 4AM and looked outside. There wasn’t much by my standards – only about 5cm total in our garden – but it was enough to grind the county to a halt.

As a Northeastern US girl, I’m used to snow. It’s not Winter unless we’ve been dumped on with a foot or more of snow, so it always amuses me how badly most of the UK handles the slightest amount of snow. Busses get cancelled (good thing it was Sunday), local shops are shut, and people can’t seem to understand the idea of shovelling their driveway and clearing the snow off the roof before trying to move their cars. My first Winter here as a visitor, it snowed. It was November 2008 and it was something like the first time parts of the UK had seen snow in over 20 years. I decided to walk down to the Co-op in the next village over, and I was amazed at the state of some of the vehicles on the road. People had barely cleared off their windscreens of snow, let alone the rest of the car. Since then, it has snowed pretty regularly each Winter, with at least one snow “storm”. You would think people would have learned and remembered how to handle it from one year to the next.

If Tim has off work, snow for us is just a reason to get out the snow plow for the garden railway. Fortunately, this was Tim’s scheduled Sunday off. We invited our friends Helen and Mark over to help — well, Mark was outside with Tim, and Helen and I stayed warm inside and chatted over a cup of tea. Our snow plow seems to be allergic to the camera though, because every time I aimed a camera at it, it decided to derail, but I still managed to pull off one nice image:

It took Tim 4 tanks of gas to get the lower circuit done (one tank is good for a 20-30 minute run). Our upper circuit goes into a cutting about 4 inches deep, and the cutting was completely full of snow so we decided to only open the lower circuit. We might have gotten the plow around, but it would have made the cutting unstable and probably would have caused an “avalanche” (at 16mm to the foot that’s what it would have looked like). Plus, the upper circuit has two level crossings across our front walkway, and most of that snow had been compacted down by our boots so it would have been a struggle to move!

Mark used an end of train marker from Austria as a temporary stop sign to indicate that the line off to the left (what line?) was currently closed.

The platform at Horncastle. We actually have 5 tracks here, but only cleared the one for use.

Running the first train completely around the service.

While stating “England doesn’t get snow” might have been an accurate statement 5, 10 years ago, I think these photos prove that is no longer true*!

[This post has been cross-posted to my LJ as my entry for this week’s The Real LJ Idol topic: Current Events.]

*Not something I say, but something a friend said she was told by a friend.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on, my facebook page, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Building a Railway

We have a garden railway. Or, I should say, my husband has a garden railway. For many years he had a short lower circuit that went around the perimeter of the garden below the driveway, but he had always wanted to expand, and he set a goal of getting it done by his 40th…and he did! He, along with Ben (his brother), Mark, and a few other people managed to build the upper circuit in what boils down to about 7 days – just all spread out over the course of several months. I helped too, though my main “job” was supplying cups of tea and making lunch. Still, it helped!

We celebrated Tim’s 40th and my 31st by having a party on the 29th of August, and we also used this date as the official opening date of our completed railway, though we still have a few platforms to put in this coming Summer.

I don’t have much else to say about it, so I’ll just post a whole slew of photos:

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A Trip ‘Round the Garden

We had a steam-up a few weeks back, and a friend had a video camera mount on one of his wagons and he was nice enough to film a trip around our garden for us – as if you were a passenger on the 16mm railway! This is especially special as this was the first steam-up where people could go the entire way around the garden!


Our next steam-up is on the 29th to celebrate our birthdays! Hope to see you there!

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Camping in Our Garden

A few weeks ago, Tim and I went camping in our garden. One of his co-workers alerted him to a great deal at Halford’sa 4-man tent, 4 sleeping bags, 2 air mattresses, & 2 lanterns for £90 online marked down from over £200. We also tacked on to the purchase a cooking kit which has a burner, 4 pots/pans, 4 plastic containers, utensils, and a carrying case for £25, and then we picked up a kettle at Tesco for £6. We thought we ought to try to put together the tent – a) to make sure we knew how it went together before we book a pitch somewhere, b) to make sure there aren’t any defects with the tent or gear, and c) because it’s been on the warm side and last week I told Tim I wanted to sleep outside.

It was….

-Chilly. We unzipped two of the sleeping bags and used one as a pad for the air mattress and the other as a cover. But unzipped it isn’t quite big enough to cover both of us if we aren’t cuddled up, so I wound up covering myself with the spare blanket I grabbed last night (my Penn State stadium blanket) But it was also…

-Hot. Tim and I always are warm at night because both of us are human furnaces. It was difficult trying to sleep in it because if our bodies were touching, I felt sticky from the combined body sweat. But then when we weren’t touching/cuddled up, it was chilly!

-Small. The mattress, despite claims of being a double, is smaller than our bed upstairs. I wound up moving practically off the mattress close to the “bedroom” wall in order to try to put some space between us, and Tim rolled (in his sleep) towards the other wall. Another word to use might be…

-Cozy. Even though we have a huge 4-man tent, the side “bedrooms” are only large enough to hold the air mattress. It was nice when Tim and I were cuddling before bed, but once I zipped shut the door to the “bedroom”, it felt really small.

-Hard. The air mattress lost air overnight, but I think that’s fairly typical when using an air mattress. I’m wondering if we should get a bedroll/mat type thing for underneath it, since my back started to get cold from feeling it seep through the mattress. I think Tim has one already, but it might just be for a single mattress. Alternatively, since we have 4 sleeping bags, we could always line the floor with a sleeping bag, then put the mattress on top or even just get a tarp to add a layer between the mattress and groundsheet. I’ll talk it over with Tim and see what he thinks. (also, how did I manage to sleep on an air mattress at Mom’s for years*?)

-Noisy. Lots of wind that kept waking me up. I know at least twice I woke Tim up, too. Actually, I’m awake now at 5:30AM because I needed the loo around 4 and figured I might as well stay in here until I’m tired enough to go back to sleep.

Fortunately, the tent is a “two bedroom” tent. Our plans are/were to use the second “bedroom” to store gear, but I might suggest we take along the second mattress and set it up for moments like this. If I’m going to be awake well before Tim, I’ll need somewhere to go/something to do. I could keep a book in there and just move my pillows and a blanket if I couldn’t sleep, that way I wouldn’t disturb Tim trying to read until I felt tired again.

We still need to get a folding table (for dining/food prep), and some kind of cooler and then we might have everything we need to go camping. Our first big trip is scheduled for this September, when we’ll be camping in Germany & Austria! I’m really excited. Originally, we were going to take the train the whole way and stay in B&Bs and things, but even with adding in the cost of petrol, camping will save us money. The average campsite cost is €6/night, and with making our own food, we’ll even have money leftover for a few nights out at nice restaurants or for some souvenirs!

I practised cooking with the gas stove, and while I completely trashed the pan (fortunately, I was able to clean it!), I still managed to cook breakfast 2 mornings – the first morning I did scrambled eggs and sausage, and the second bacon & fried eggs. Tim even bought a device for making toast on the stove that works pretty well!

The tent we purchased IS kind of big for just two people, but the hope is that this will be a long-term investment even after we have kids. If we can keep the tent in good condition, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be able to use it in the years to come.

….now to find a place to store it! I’m hoping it will fit in the loft after we get the flooring laid in there, but for now I guess we’ll have to store it in one of the bedrooms, since the workshop and shed are a bit full of workshop/shed stuff!

There also is a video, but youtube is taking too long to upload it, so I will have to post it later, as I’ve had this window open for THREE weeks…..

*Long story short – when I moved to Michigan in 2006, I told Mom to sell my bedroom suite because it was a four-poster twin sized bed and I knew I wouldn’t want it in the future. I had an air mattress (with bedframe) to use in my house in MI. After I broke my foot and had to move back to PA, my old bed was gone, so I set up the air mattress. The plan was to eventually buy a new bed, but I just never had the money for it, so I lived on the air mattress until the bedframe finally broke and then I yanked the mattress off the sofabed and used that on the floor.

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Cheating a little

There might still be an update for today, but for now I wanted to share a YouTube video Tim sent me. For those who don’t know, Walt Disney was a HUGE train fanatic, and even had a narrow gauge ride-on model railway in his back yard (which inspired the railways at Disneyland/Disney World, but more about that in a later post). Tim said this cartoon is proof that Walt truly was “one of us”:

Direct link:

Ladies and Gentlemen….this is about to become my life 😉

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Kitten on the Tracks

[This entry refers to an event from March 2009. As requested, I will be going back and blogging events from January – April.]

Tim’s cat, Prudence, likes to be outside when there are people around. She also likes to walk around on the garden rail tracks:


Watch out for the that train!


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Frostbite 2008 – Seven Layers of Clothing

Tim’s 16mm Garden Railway  group holds an annual get together on the Sunday after Christmas, and I was invited to tag along…after being warned that this was an outdoor event and I’d want lots of layers!

By the end of the day, I was wearing seven layers including two pairs of leg warmers, 2 pairs of pants, and a big blanket wrapped around my body….but it was loads of fun!  I posted the videos shortly after we got back, but I haven’t had a chance to share my photos other than on facebook.

We went with M, a young boy who got into garden railways after helping Tim work on his, and M’s mum, H.  It was a tight squeeze to get everyone plus trains into her car, but we managed!  The drive over to D’s house took about a half an hour, but we were still the first to arrive.  Tim actually had his train up and running and his was the first train to make a circuit (and also the last!).  D’s wife always cooks soup for Lunch, so we got to warm up for a little bit inside partway through the day. D told me if I felt cold, I could go inside, but I enjoyed watching all the trains, and I just added on a layer if I started to feel the chill.

Tim even let me “drive” his train towards the end of the day, after most people had packed up!  (Tim’s corrected me that he asked me if I wanted to earlier on in the day, but I passed the controls back as I was afraid of bumping other people’s trains.)

We had loads of fun, and I want to play with Tim’s railway in the yard 😉

Tim’s train, Dark Horse

This locomotive was hand-built by Rae Grive and won the 2007 model of the year trophy at the 16mm AGM Convention!

For more pictures:

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Frostbite Videos!

Today was Frostbite, the December get together for Tim’s 16mm Garden Railway group. Here’s a few videos I took of the trains (mostly Tim’s). A write-up and photos will be coming after I play catch up with my other posts!

Tim’s engine, Dark Horse steaming up:

Dark Horse:

Dark Horse pulls a long load:

Lady Jane:

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