It’s been a busy couple of days at Apedale. The main task has been preparing for the Great Man to visit over the next few weekends – no photos of that, as we don’t want to spoil the surprise for our visitors. Elsewhere on site, we were priveliged to host a working visit from a mainline railway organisation on Friday – both us and them got a lot from it, with their people able to get hands-on with track maintenance away from the many (and very necessary) safety requirements of the mainline railway system. They gained experience and aching muscles, and our mainline track is probably now in the best shape it’s been since it was first laid (“fit for 115mph” said someone). In the workshops, something of a milestone was passed with the last of the radiator tubes for Motor Rail 1320 being assembled, a mere 44,000 radiator fins later. “Stanhope” was steamed on Saturday; this loco will work all the Santa Special trains. This will be last time Stanhope will work for a while, as it is due a major overhaul which will see it out of traffic for most of 2018. We’ll miss this loco very much, as it’s undoubtedly the railway flagship and the firm favourite of the crews. We are heavily booked for the Santas, but we may be able to accomodate a few wanting a last ride behind the centenarian – next Sarturday 9th December is currently lightest on bookings. The headboards we use are fairly inoffensive, so if photography is your interest, it shouldn’t cause too much upset!