There is lots of things I am looking forward to this year, many things and places I want to do or visit. Sometimes, when I am feeling down it helps to keep a focus on the future and the things that are ahead. This year or at least the coming months are particularly busy. Most of all I am looking forward to the holiday with friends in May. We're not going that far (at least not for me) taking a canal boat holiday for a week on the Grand Union Canal. We're starting out from Leighton Buzzard and I believe the plan is to head north, back through Milton Keynes and up through Northamptonshire and into Warwickshire and maybe even as far as Birmingham. The only limit really is time because we have to be back to return the boat early on the following Saturday morning. I am really looking forward to it though, it should be a lot of fun.
This will be the second holiday that I've done the friends, the first in May 2005 saw us staying at a lovely cottage in Derbyshire. The countryside was quite stunning and although the weather didn't quite match that everyday, it was nevertheless a very enjoyable break.
Before the canal holiday in May I am taking a mid-week break in April to Newcastle for a few days. I've long wanted to visit the North East of England. Plans at present are to do a round robin train trip from Newcastle via Hexham to Carlisle and then over the Settle line down to Leeds before heading back to Newcastle via York. I am really excited about this trip because doing the Settle-Carlisle Line has been an ambition of mine since I read about it as a kid. It always seemed such a far away place but of course as an adult nowhere is really that far, its only money and time that limits your ambitions! I am also planning to do a visit to Durham and of course seeing the sights of Newcastle and Gateshead. Whether I'll get to do much else depends on what I can fit in. Whatever, its going to be a busy few days.
Staying with the theme of trains, I am doing a rail tour in June, which much like the Settle-Carlisle trip fills another ambition for me. This tour is from London Victoria to Folkestone Harbour and back via the Kent Coast, stopping off in Canterbury on the return leg for a few hours. The really exciting part about this tour is that it will be steam hauled with recently restored Southern Railway loco 'Lord Nelson' booked to haul the train.
In July there is another rail tour that I would consider if not for the early start and the fact that it runs on a Sunday. Getting to London for the 9.30am start is just not feasible although I do intend to 'chase' the train down to Eastleigh and Bournemouth. This one is also a steam hauled excursion from Waterloo with Merchant Navy Pacific 'Clan Line' providing the power, another ex-Southern Railway loco. I hope to meet the train at Eastleigh where it will call for a water stop and head on down to Bournemouth to get some photographs of the train.
The reason for these two steam hauled excursions is that July 2007 is the fortieth anniversary of the end of steam on British Rail as the last steam locomotives were withdrawn from the Southern Region (as it was then).
Also in July I am going to Star Wars Celebration Europe in London. This should be a memorable weekend and perhaps one of the highlights of the year. It's appropriate that this should be happening this year as of course 2007 also marks the thirtieth anniversary of Star Wars. I have my fingers crossed that I could be really lucky and shake hands or at least come close to Mr Lucas himself, now that would really top everything else this year, no question!
I've got a feeling 2007 could be a really good year!