Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 4 March 2016

Hurrah for NAH!

NAH poses beside Sentinel steam loco 'Joyce'
NAH standing next to Joyce - just before he realised I'd arrived at Midsomer Norton station. 

I'm taking a break from my usual content to celebrate the amazing achievements of my husband aka NAH (Non-Allotmenteering Husband).

For the past 5+ years he's spent most weekends at Midsomer Norton station tending to the restoration of his '28 ton mistress' aka 'Joyce' aka Sentinel Steam Loco 7109. NAH is joint owner of this engine.

NAH reverses Joyce back to Midsomer Norton station
NAH drives by - he rescued me later. That cab is much warmer than it was trackside last weekend!

Joyce is a unique engine in the UK, quite unlike most steam locos, who started her working life at Croydon gasworks in the 1920s. There is a gardening connection along her road to restoration, as she spent some time as part of Alan Bloom's collection at Bressingham in the late 1960s.

I was surprised when NAH suggested we visit Bressingham; it wasn't until we arrived I realised he had an ulterior motive. He went off to research Joyce's history (and see if any of her missing parts were there), and I happily pottered around Dell Garden and Foggy Bottom, bumping into Adrian Bloom for a chat along the way.

Then there's all the time he's spent in the garage making parts to fit the engine, learning how to weld, other visits around the country to see similar engines (which often meant scrambling around beneath them to take photos of how they were put together so he could figure out what needed to be done), plus lots of research time spent in various archives.

I wouldn't have the patience, but that's why he's an engineer and I'm not.

Joyce races the Jinty
Joyce (left) races Great Central Railway's Jinty loco. This engine is currently a guest at Midsomer Norton station

After what seemed to me like forever, the final stages of restoration went very quickly. Two weeks ago Joyce was in steam for the first time in 48+ years; last week she obtained her boiler certificate (which means she can officially run on heritage railways for the next year); and last Saturday and Sunday she was a star attraction at Midsomer Norton's steam weekend.

This coming weekend (5th and 6th March 2016) is a significant one as it's 50 years since the much-loved Somerset and Dorset railway closed. Midsomer Norton was a station on that line and Joyce is once again poised to star alongside Great Central Railway's guest Jinty for the weekend.

Needless to say I'm incredibly proud of NAH, but even I hadn't truly grasped the scale of his achievement, until someone commented on Midsomer Norton's Facebook page Joyce is the first engine to be restored at the station.

Fingers crossed she becomes a TV star soon, as Michael Portillo and a film crew were filming at Midsomer Norton station when she took her first steamy breaths.

In the meantime you can catch up with her via NAH's blog or his Facebook Page. I still giggle over how disparaging he was about Veg Plotting in the early days, but as soon as he had something to say (and record as a diary), he also found blogging is the perfect way of doing so.

NAH and Joyce drive off into the sunset at Midsomer Norton

22 comments:

  1. Oh well done to NAH! What an achievement. It sounds as if the end of the restoration project is just the beginning of another journey. I don't think that you are going to see him beavering away at the allotment soon VP. We try to watch all the Michael Portillo programmes so will be looking out for the lovely Joyce in the future.

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    1. That's most perceptive Anna - we've already discussed that the blog may have to change going forward as it's no longer just about Joyce's restoration. His talk will have to change too!

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  2. That is a true labour of love. Well done NAH!

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    1. I don't think NAH will ever give up being an engineer - it's in his DNA :)

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  3. Martyn is always dragging - sorry taking me to photograph steam locos she is im[pressed maybe one day we will come across Joyce.

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    1. Same here - but it's on the understanding that there's an equivalent amount of time where I drag him around a garden ;)

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    2. Martyn arranges a couple of days around a gala - one for garden/wildlife/countryside and the other steam.

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    3. Sounds like we have very similar arrangements Sue - I think it works well :)

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  4. What an interesting post, and well done to NAH. Flighty xx

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  5. Yeah🚂 well done. Does this mean you might see a bit more of NAH?

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    1. I'm not sure! I'm anticipating Joyce will get all kinds of invitations to guest at other heritage railways, plus I'm sure the Somerset & Dorset people will want regular appearances from her too...

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  6. This is a very cool thing, and a great NAHchievement. But I must take exception with one of your statements. Let me do it in the form of an edit:

    "Then there's all the time she's spent in the allotment making seedlings to fit the garden, learning how to propagate, other visits around the country to see similar gardens (which often meant scrambling around them to take photos of how they were put together so she could figure out what needed to be done), plus lots of research time spent in various archives (blogs, garden books, &c.).

    I wouldn't have the patience, but that's why she's a gardener and I'm not."

    See what I did there? Love you both. Cheers!

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    1. Oh bless you Helen, that's a wonderful rewrite. Thank you :)

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  7. Well done, Andy! What an exciting adventure this has been and sounds like it will continue to be! When he's a star, we Garden Bloggers can say we knew him when!

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    1. Thanks Cindy - it has been quite an adventure and who knows where it might lead...

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  8. Well done, what an achievement! And good for you both to put up with each other’s obsessions, I would be pottering in the garden above anything else, but I can perfectly well understand how much your husband get out of the restauration work too.

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    1. Luckily we have always had separate and joint obsessions from the word go. We celebrate 32 of married life soon, so something's working :)

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  9. Well what a truly wonderful thing. Congrats to Andy on bringing Joyce back to life and you for introducing him to blogging x

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    1. Thanks Judith - he didn't tell me for quite a while he'd started!

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  10. I'm so impressed, what an achievement, look forward to seeing his other love on screen.

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    1. Rest assured I'll be announcing it Janet :)

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