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Saturday 29th February saw the "The Cotton Mill Express" Railtour running through the region, and two of the stations it would be passing through were within reach of my location. The tour was operated by the 'Railway Touring Company', and the loco used was Galatea 45699, but this time it was renamed and renumbered as 'Alberta' 45562.

The first location I went to was Accrington, where it was due to pass through at around 12:47, but as I would be seeing it again later that day I decided not to do the usual 'safe' shot from the platform, but instead try and get a shot from the new bus station where I would see it crossing the viaduct, a shot that has been on my 'to do' list for a long time now. When I got there conditions were perfect, with the viaduct in full Sun and a lot of colourful buses parked in the bays, and it was just like that when a service train crossed just 10 minutes before the steamer was due (you can see what shot I was after HERE: Alas, it certainly wasn't like that when the tour arrived some 10 minutes later, and the Sun had gone behind a cloud and most of the buses departed. Clearly Mr. Murphy was extracting the urine, and who could blame him, after all, aren't I the guy who is always praying for rain and crap weather? :-)

Oh well, at least I'd have a second chance when the loco passed through Rochdale at 17:30 that evening, if it was still daylight by then that is. On arriving at Rochdale conditions were doable if not great, and there was still just about enough daylight left to get my shot done. Or so I thought. Mr Murphy had other ideas though, and as Storm Jorge rolled in it suddenly got very dark, wet and windy, but I thought if I waited under the station lights and used a fast prime lens that I keep for Landscape Photography I might still get away with it. The railtour, which had been about 25 minutes down for much of the afternoon, had now made up lost time and was now just 8 minutes down and going like stink as it roared through Platform 3. So, did I get my shot then, er, well no, but I should have done, but thanks to an error I made I wasn't able to get anything at all. My camera and most of my lenses are weatherproof, but the prime lens was not, and with the tour having made up time I had no chance of changing it again, and with the rain now driving in as Jorge let us have it, I had no option but to put the rain cover over it. Now had the service train that should have preceded it not been cancelled I would have had chance for a test shot and I'd have realised that the rain cover was impeding the auto focus from working properly, but by the time I discovered why it wasn't focusing it was too late. Oh dear or words to that effect were passed, but I wasn't too unhappy as it probably wouldn't have been a great shot in that poor light anyway and at least I had two earlier shots of it. Needless to say I won't be making that mistake again in a hurry. Oh the indignity! :-)

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