It's a big day for us. Today we set off to Montenegro to begin the works on the old mill. We had a final knees up last night. Here is a pic of the molten core of the Grove Squad at the do. Courtesy of Faceswap.
Tom n Chris are driving down with loadsa gear, meeting Sam n Pat there. On top of that we have a brilliant First Kru. Zoe, Ryan, Beth, Nick and Dan.
The Green Bus will be pootling through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. Unless it all goes tits up, the van breaks and we have to find alternative methods. Wish us luck!
Friday, 12 February 2016
They are renovating 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ at York National Railway Museum. In the workshop (where you can spectate) it is sitting dismantled, moustachioed engineers making sparks in his rusty undercarriage. It is a class A4 locomotive, like its more famous younger brother ‘Mallard’ (also at the museum).
I first met 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ at Newcastle Train Station. 6 am on a freezing November morning. The encroaching dawn twilight and the steam making it feel like a dream of the kind that happens in high school productions of Grease. I went back to bed afterwards, which cemented the feeling of meeting an apparition whilst loitering in semi-consciousness. Did it really happen??????
Yes. It did.
I then saw him/her/it a couple of years later, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Looking a little tired, but still awesome. Nothing makes me feel more proud of being human than seeing a great train. The design, the precision, the power. People cheer when a famous train arrives at a train station. Everyone does. They cheer an inanimate object. How bonkers is that. It’s totally justified though. Infinitely more so than cheering that annoyingly animate object, ‘David Cameron’.
I guess it is more understandable if you see it as applauding the work of the thousands and thousands of people and man/woman hours necessary to assemble these beasts and keep them running. The train lines themselves. The evolution of engineering through to the industrial revolution, and the creation of the technology/tools that made manufacturing high powered steam trains possible. They are cheering the fact that without trains, standardised time would not have been organised so soon. They are cheering how important they were in the wars. How they connected our nation. And how you can now get to London from Newcastle in 3 hours for just £350, whilst uploading a selfie on the free wifi of you nibbling a soggy tuna sandwich and supping an insipid cuppa, listening to Justin Beeper on your i-Telephone.
As i was gazing at the naked ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’, there was another locomotive behind it. An unassuming A3, sand blasted and being lovingly hand painted with Apple Green. There were a couple of youths larking about with an air dust gun around it, and one sitting on its wings, thumb scrolling twitter. The train had its number/name removed. So it was anonymous.
Sir Nigel Gresley, and the mysterious A3 behind.
We have bought a green bus-like vehicle. Grove Green. It has 15 seats. Don’t know what it’s called yet. Should we name all vehicles? Or only ones that achieve things? If the latter, then this vehicle is going to achieve a drive to Montenegro. To drop us all off. It will later be used as our Grove Mobile. To pick you lot up from the airport, or drop you off at the beach. Or go for a spot of lunch in Albania. If you have any names in mind, please let us know.
When we get there, we are going to begin the work. We will be chipping the external render off the building to expose the beautiful stone, and gutting the inside. We will begin landscaping and clearing out the property so we know where we stand with land (there is a lot of it with brambles on, so we currently don’t know how it lies or how much there really is).
The demolition squad is coming at the beginning of March. With their big loud machines that will annoy the neighbours and ruin the serenity. They are taking out all the concrete from the inside. We should have an empty shell by the middle of March. There is an internal skeleton being built after this, which will hold the new floors and add structural integrity to the stone skin. This will take us to summer.
We can’t wait to get stuck in. We all will be together for the first time on the 18th of Feb, in Newcastle. We leave on Feb the 21st, arriving in Stari Bar on the 25th. Give us a few days to sort accommodation, then whoever wishes to come and help will be welcomed with open arms, a bed (probably) and a cold beer.
For now we are planning, saving, celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans and writing blogs in train museums.
I like hostels and other alternative accommodations. I like the interaction that guests have with a building that they feel comfortable in. They shape the hostel, infuse it with character. I hope you will be able to feel the man hours that will have gone in to The Grove. The Blood, Sweat and Tears (they are my favourite band, so will be fuelling the renovation project with their jazz-rock). The personification that comes with humans giving their honest all to something. I hope you feel it so much so that you involuntarily cheer when you walk in.
It is a great feeling, seeing things dismantled. Similar to the feeling of seeing a big hole in a road. It removes the mystery. Allows you to understand how it functions and how it was put together. And how to fix it. Even just in theory. It relaxes and excites.
Whilst in the train workshop, day dreaming of The Grove, a man skulked up behind me. He saw me eyeing up the A3 that was getting the paint job. ‘That’s the Flying Scotsman, but don’t tell anyone i told you, i'm not supposed to tell anyone.’ And then he was gone.
The Flying Scotsman is the most famous train in the world. And it was just standing there. Inanimate. I clapped and whooped.