Sunday, 3 August 2008

Steam Dreams

I always seem to find it very difficult to buy gifts for men (probably because the ones I know are not interested in anything "crafty" or a handmade bag!)  I have found quite a good option is to buy an "experience" as this tends to be something people often don't think to buy for themselves.  (It also can mean you get to share in the present!)  As I have said previously, my other half is an avid steam railway fan and the last hectic few days saw another day trip as a result of a search for a present for (yet another) of the men in my life who also has everything...

In June, I bought Andy tickets for a trip organised by "Steam Dreams", destination Chichester.  Last Friday was the day of our trip.  The train was  hauled by the steam engine Tangmere, a "Bulleid Pacific" built in 1947, named after an air station which played a prominent role in the Battle of Britain.  Mighty fine she is too.  

We boarded the train at London Victoria.  

Travelling Pullman class is something I could definitely get used to.  If only all rail travel was like this!  We had fantastically wide and comfy seats somewhat like armchairs at a table laid for two with crisp white linen, set with proper glasses, china and cutlery and the best bit -  a bottle of champagne.  We enjoyed brunch as we sped through the countryside to Chichester.  The staff were very good. The weather was pretty fine too.


We stopped en route to take on water which allowed us all a chance to stretch our legs and watch the coal being shovelled forward in the tender.  Rather them than me!  We had a look at what was going on on the flootplate.  It certainly involves a lot of hard work to run a steam engine.  However, all involved seemed passionate about their craft.

Upon arrival in Chichester, we headed for a look round the town and a spot of shopping.  It was a busy day as the races were taking place at nearby "Glorious Goodwood".   I confess to being a little disappointed by the shops at Chichester which were mainly the type of stores you see on high streets everywhere in the UK, with the exception of several very good cookshops.  I can only conclude the people of Chichester love cooking and/or eating.  However, they really do need a good shop stocking Greengate, Rice and the like, along with some vintage goodies!  I have to say, I am very pleased with the strawberry huller I bought...

Having whiled away the afternoon, we re-boarded the train to be served a very good four course dinner.  It was almost sad to pull back into Victoria as it was a very enjoyable and special day.  That said, we were cleverly given a booklet listing the trips scheduled for the rest of the year.  Though it seems ridiculous to even contemplate Christmas and December, I really do have my eye on that trip to the Christmas market in Norwich;  then again, maybe the carol concert at Ely Cathedral;  decisions, decisions...

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