Is anyone out there watching the marvellous Dan Snow programme on BBC2 about the early days of the railway? The farmer and I are and it is fascinating - there is so much we didn't know about it all.
The fact that Great Britain was in the forefront of the development of railways for a start. The fact that Dickens in several of his books spoke of the way whole districts were felled to the ground to make way for the rail tracks to go through. The terrible loss of life - I did know of the loss of life by all the 'navvies' who helped to build the viaducts; one of my ancestors was involved in this.
And above all this terrible greed of people to make enormous sums of money by investing in the projects, only to lose millions and end up in debtors' prisons. (I thought about this and realised that when I was young you could still go to prison for being in debt!)
Driving a railroad across Canada was a British project which cost far more than intended and ruined a lot of people in the process.
After the programme was over for this week the farmer and I spoke of railways today. Now, correct me if I am wrong as I have little experience of British Rail over the last year or two, but what experience I have is not brilliant - trains that are late, trains that are sadly lacking in luggage space, trains that are standing room only and trains that are not really all that clean.
A couple of years ago we visited dear friends who live quite close to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. They gave us a wonderful time, taking us into Amsterdam to the Reichmuseum, the Van Gogh museum and a trip on the canals; taking us to The Hague to see the beautiful buildings. And the thing which struck us wherever we went was the cleanliness, the modernity and the punctuality of the trains.
Other friends have spoken about similar stories of the trains in various places on mainland Europe. If this is all so - then why have we lagged so far behind? In fact, have we lagged behind or is it just my interpretation of things?
On a different topic entirely - our bad weather continues and the number of birds at our feeders gets larger, particularly the blackbirds. Friends G and J, who came for coffee this morning, told me why it is that so many of our blackbirds here at the feeders do not have yellow bills. It is because they are visitors over from Europe. Our local blackbirds have gone South and the European visitors have come in to take their place. Our fields are always full of blackbirds - we have many blackbirds' nests in the Spring (probably our most common nests) - and we tend to think of them as 'our birds', but of course this is not so.
Wherever they are from, they are taking full advantage of the food I put out every morning and are sitting in the trees waiting for the tray of goodies to be put out at eight o'clock. They are brilliant time-keepers!