Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Chuff Chuff

[Good grief, I hear you mutter, she's done another blog post. Three blogs in three days? I admire her enthusiasm, you admit charitably, but after all, you can have too much of a good thing, can't you? It's a valid viewpoint, I reply, and I can only apologise for my wildly erratic flow of posts. It appears to be feast or famine on this blog...]

A few months ago, Mr Kitsch announced that he'd never been on a steam train and thought he'd like to try it. Oh God, I thought, this is a sign of being really middle-aged. I was also gripped by a flashback to my childhood, when my train-spotting older brothers inflicted endless trips to steam railways on my scarred infant psyche.

'OK,' I said, smiling bravely, 'we'll go on one.' There are a couple of steam railways in South Devon, and I offered to go on one while we were away. We even went and looked at a steam engine. 'I think that's enough,' said Mr Kitsch. 'We don't need to go on one now.' I breathed a little easier, I can tell you.

On the way back from Devon, we stayed a night at Mr Kitsch's parents in Somerset. I must have had a moment of weakness, because the next morning we somehow found ourselves heading for the West Somerset Railway at Bishops Lydeard. We got to the station to find a train about to leave. Tickets were bought in a rush, and before I knew it, we were going to Minehead on a steam train.

Except it wasn't a steam train. As we started away from the station, we looked out of the window expectantly and discovered we were being pulled by a diesel. A 50 year old diesel, the ticket collector explained helpfully, trying to sell us on the history of the thing.

But. Not. A Steam Train. Oh, we laughed about it, but there was an edge of hysteria to it. When we calmed down, we decided to get off at Watchet and get the next train (a steam one, definitely) an hour later. In fact, it was a perfect solution - an hour to wander about and look at Watchet harbour in the sunshine, and a steam train for Mr Kitsch.

But even before we got on the steam train, a funny thing happened. I started to enjoy myself. Chugging leisurely through the English countryside on a beautiful summer's day was pure joy. Gorgeous scenes floated past; fields full of plump contented sheep or ripening corn, the stations with their floral displays and old tin advertising signs- even trolleys with old suitcases and trunks, and best of all, huge banks of wild flowers - rosebay willow herb, ox-eye daisies, cow parsley and teasels. If it sounds idyllic, it was.

The old carriages were nostalgic too. Like big kids, we stuck our heads out of the windows to get more of it all - the small of the grass, the sound of the train, and the soot in our hair. Wonderful!

I'm still not that interested in steam engines but sometimes, on a nice day you can really enjoy the journey.


hens teeth said...

It is an actual experience of going back in time, I suppose, that is so pleasurable. I really enjoyed this post. x

Camilla said...

Every Sunday morning, and again in the evening, a steam train goes right past my house. It terrifies the cats, but I have been known to stand out on the back steps and wave at people.

Elaine Prunty said...

sounds like a proper enid blyton adventure , and i love your description of enjoying yourself as " a funny thing happened " lol

BusyLizzie said...

I think I saw the Diesel train go past on Wednesday! Ha ha. I work in Bishops Lydeard! Glad you had a nice time, it is still one of my favourite things to do when I can.....Lizzie x

Joshy and belle said...

my grandparents used to live in Watchet, we used to spend summers playing in the flowery country side or down by the little harbour its very pretty, fliss xx

Unknown said...

What a lovely post, and I really love your picture of the window fastener! Have just discovered your blog, so I'm really pleased. I also am very envious of your Moominmamma.

Cowboys and Custard Mercantile said...

I think there is something deepyly romatic about steam trains. We often hear the whistle of the steam train coming in to Bath Spa station and I always rush out in to the garden to see the plumes of steam rise above the trees on the opposite hill to us..
Love them!