Sunday, 3 August 2008

A grand day out

Bob suggested that we should have a day out somewhere, just us. It's not something we do very often. We go out - but it usually involves other people, going with or going to see others. The weather forecast was reasonable and we decided that we would make a fairly early start. So when I got up in the morning and saw that it was raining I was a bit disappointed. But I am a bit of a "rain before 7, clear by 11" sort of person so wasn't too downhearted. When we finally set off it was very overcast but not wet.

We had decided on a trip on the West Somerset Railway (again Bob's suggestion) so drove to Bishops Lydeard, on the 'A' and 'B' roads, and it was quite leisurely (I do hate being on the motorway race track these days) and sang along to a 50's and 60's CD (Johnnie Ray - Walking in the Rain, Anthony Newley - Why, Rosemary Clooney - This Old House etc) and had the pleasure of wonderful views across the Quantocks and back to the coast. It took about 50 minutes, then we parked the car and walked to the railway station to find out train times. There was about 30 minutes to wait for the 11.30 to Minehead, so we bought our rover tickets (concessionary of course, costing £11 each) had a browse around the station shop and picked up leaflets detailing future events, the Santa Steam Special and the Candlelight Evening at Dunster being the ones we were most interested in although the Carol Train is appealing and I could be tempted to take a trip on the Murder Mystery evening. The train time-table gives a brief description about each stop on the journey, detailing how far from the station and what can be found there of interest. We decided on Minehead simply because it was the end of the line but could just as easily got off at any of the stations along the way.

The train was delayed - apparently a problem on the line - and we finally left on the diesel train at about 11.50, arriving in Minehead at 1 pm. There are eight stops along the way, all of the stations are very well kept with lovely flowers in borders and pots and each station has a shop or museum. The staff too are friendly and helpful, greeting one another from the train or platform. A couple of times we had to wait at a station for another train to come in and hellos were shouted from the passing trains! And naturally there were waves from children and adults from the roadsides.

The countryside was beautiful, herds of cows gently grazing and plenty of sheep too. On either side of the track there were banks of wild flowers. I believe some of these may have been planted in various parts (in some cases by local children) and of course some will have self seeded, either way it was lovely.

When we got to Minehead the sun was out, in fact the weather had been improving all the while and it was a beautiful summer's day and from the sea front we could see across to our home town on one side and to Wales on the other. We strolled around and found somewhere for a snack lunch and then wandered up through the main part of the town. Although I have lived in this area for nearly 40 years I have only visited this town once before and then I think only along the sea front, so was quite interested to see it and was impressed by the lovely displays of flowers through the main street.

But the main purpose of our day out was the train ride, and we had decided to catch the 3 pm train back to Bishops Lydeard. This was a steam train - a great thrill! So there we were, rocking, rolling and riding with the train whistle blowing at every opportunity and occasionally smoke blowing in through the open window.

The first stop on the return journey was Dunster and here the train was boarded by a group of Morris Men, in full regalia, another delight for me - and they jangled their way through the train, though sadly there was no dancing. As we steamed our way through the countryside the cows were unperturbed but the sheep didn't seem so keen and hurried away from the edge of the field nearest to the track.

We got back to our starting point at 4.30 and made our way home - singing along once again. We were back indoors by 6pm and both agreed it had been a 'grand day out'.


Retiredandcrazy said...

What a lovely day. OG and I used to go on days out and have visited most parts of this country over the years. When he gets well we plan to go to York to visit the Minster. That's one we a haven't done et.

just Gai said...

I bet you're glad you took a risk with the weather. I love steam trains. I have never travelled on this one but I have been on the Watercress Line, the Paignton and Dartmouth railway and the one at Blaenau Ffstiniog in Wales. We spent Saturday afternoon listening to music at the Bristol Harbour Festival.

cheshire wife said...

Sounds like a lovely day out.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

RAC, Gai and CW - there are so many parts of the UK that we would love to visit - hopefully we will do a lot of them during our retirement. We have a list of other countries that we would like to see, I suppose we shall have to start another list for in-between visits abroad. I think it has been our starter for 10!
Never been to York either and where is the Watercress Line. A x

Lindsay said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Read your earlier post about insomnia - know how you feel!

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Good to meet you Lindsay. A

Lindsay said...

boyfromoz has posted a special photo just for you! See the link to him on my blog list.