Wednesday, 25 August 2010

"If you go down to 'Hythe Pier' tonight....."

......You'll be in for one hell of a ride.

Having taken some earlier pictures of Hythe Pier at night - on my 'bwand new twipod' - I ventured to the ferry boat end and tried my virgin hand at pier train spotting. This particular engine and carriages became the one and only entry into my 'Pier Trainspotters' record book. And remains so to this day.

Whilst composing this shot and chatting to the jolly and friendly train driver - Bill, I discovered that - in his other life - when not drag racing his train up and down Hythe Pier every day - he is a regular and much travelled pedal biking veteran of northern Spain, Southwest France and the Pyrenees Mountains. A pursuit that he found therapeutic and calming when not racing his train down the pier after dark.

What do I know! ?

Okay... Shortly after chatting to me happily about his exploits and adventures in far flung mountain ranges with his pet camel - the Hythe Pier train driver (Bill) checked his Diamond Platinum Tag Heuer wristwatch, donned his Kevlar train racer's cap, reversed it, pulled down his infra red night vision goggles and said - "Gotta Go. Be back in 15" - - - minutes? hours?? - then calmly climbed into his cockpit behind the engine - sealed the hatch shut and....WHOOSH!..... the train was gone. Just like that. Vanished.
Fortunately for me, my camera has a 1/10,000 second high speed setting (Wow!) which comes in very useful when you're continually trying to capture those - 'elusive high speed Pier Trains as they make the jump to Warp Speed' - shots.

Precisely 15 seconds later, as I was trying to pull myself up off the floor - WHOOSH - SCREECH - and he'd returned with a train load of dazed and baffled passengers who were clearly trying to work out how they'd come to be standing at the wet end of the pier, when just a moment before they'd been standing right down the other end, waiting for the train.

My friendly Pier Train pilot (still Bill) promptly emerged from his cockpit with a hiss of air as the access hatch slid open - casually ambled back over to me and said - "Do you know what the Spanish is for 'puncture repair kit' then?" - to which I just dumbly shook my head - "Thought not" - he said - "Its: Kit de Reparación de Pinchazos" - "Not many people seem to know that" he said.

I took a whole series of these pictures of a grey & misty Hythe pier, just after dawn one morning. I just love the semi specter type appearance of the pier structure, and all the grainyness these type of light and weather condition combine to help make this sort of shot possible.
What an amazing variety of fascinating and illuminating people you get to meet when photographing warp speed capable trains on piers at night. I must continue to escape from incarceration more.

Maybe I'll become a stowaway on the Hythe Ferry one night and see what far flung port I awaken to the following morning. What an adventure that might turn out to be. Make the kids so proud of me too. Might even get a mention in the Waterside Herald:- "Stowaway man discovered in bowels of Hythe Ferry - on the day it enters Hythe boatyard for winter repairs"....

P.s. - For the benefit of International visitors or even UK citizens who havn't the faintest notion of where 'Hythe Pier' is - well its in England!.

 Or more usefully....its about 90 miles left of LONDON and down a bit, next to a city called SOUTHAMPTON. For my French friends and visitors, its only about 60 miles due north of Cherbourg....which can normally be found in northern France. So its therefore quicker to get to Hythe from Cherbourg than it is from London. Especially on a friday afternoon! 

P.P.s. - If you look at the incy wincy little tower stacks on the hard left of this image, just above the pier structure - this is the precise spot (dock) that the 'Titanic' departed from on its ill fated maiden voyage to America. So now you know.


Anonymous said...

Hi Phil, love your post here. It's given me great idea for a story. Perhaps we can do some work together?
Give me a call soon as you can. Caio.

George Clooney. x

Bish Bosh Bash said...

Hi George. Thanks for dropping by again. Sorry it's taken me a while to respond to your comment here, been a bit busy in the garden this summer. Yeah okay cool GC, I'm up for a bit of shared, just mail my agent and she'll unravel my diary for you. Ciao for now.

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