I spent a very hot and sunny morning down at Yarwell in Cambridgeshire in order to film some steam trains on The Nene Valley Railway. It’s a lovely isolated location; formerly a quarry but now converted into a nature reserve with fishing lakes and countryside walks. It’s quiet too – accessible only on foot or by the railway itself allows the area to maintain a degree of isolation from the noise and bustle of everyday life.
Having arrived by train, I’d taken the short but sweaty uphill hike to the top of the tunnel in order to get a classic train-entering-the-tunnel piece of filming done. As there is an interval of two hours between trains at Yarwell, I’d brought along some essentials to keep me occupied. Along with Jelly Babies and sausage rolls, I’d also packed a Jeffrey Archer novel plus some revision for a forthcoming Railway Trackside exam. With the best of intentions, I decided to start with studying while I was still, by my standards, fresh. I’d got as far as ‘Stopping a Train in an Emergency’, and checked to make sure that I wearing red boxer shorts should a landslide occur and find that Jenny Agutter wasn’t around. I was, and she wasn’t.
It was lucky that Bobbi hadn't worn her black G-string that day...
Of course, shortly after that I fell asleep in the hot sun, but thankfully was saved from turning into an orange WAG by virtue of a loud droning noise in the sky. This turned out to be a light aircraft from nearby Sibson Airfield that deposited nine parachutists directly above me; a great photo opportunity. Grabbing the camera I tried to follow them as they gracefully soared in downward loops and spirals – they were using directionally controlled canopy parachutes, not the nuns-in-WW2 type circular chutes I’ve seen in films. Finding the parachutes to photograph them wasn’t easy, even though they were clearly visible to the naked eye. There’s only one sky, but there’s a lot of it. However, I got a few shots off as they descended and landed around ½ a mile away.
I can see your house from here .. who's that with your wife, Bill?
If you catch me, you can have me ...
Although not as much fun as watching Jenny Agutter whip her knickers off to surprise the driver on the locomotive, it was a pleasant diversion from the waiting around, and the timely alarm call did mean that I don’t look as though I’ve spent a week poolside in Benidorm. For that I’m truly grateful.