27 June 2012

Little Travelling Dreams: Steam Trip to Canterbury

Roll up all you anoraks!! Get your train spotter's notebooks out! Yesterday, my parents and I got up hideously early to spend Mama's birthday on a steam trip. We'd been preparing well in advance: new dresses had been bought and the picnic box(es!) were stuffed. We went to Canterbury; Dad's university town, although it felt like we were walking all the way there, as our carriage -the 13th back -was well off the end of the platform so we had to file on through the rest of the train. Standard class or no, it was impossible not to feel glamorous, or, in the case of the over-65 majority, nostalgic, as we settled aboard. Personally, I think steam is the way to travel: you get tables with covers and cushy chairs with headrests, all as standard. We started off the day with a gorgeous breakfast of almond croissants, which Mum had picked up from my favorite bakery, and complementary tea and coffee.

We spent the journey sat next to the most charming man -a fairly archetypal ''railway enthusiast'' (train spotter to you and me) in his mid sixties. His hobby was to essentially check off as many stations as he could whilst traveling by steam, so at any unusual stops, he would nip up the coaches in order to step onto the platform and check off another location. Unsurprisingly, his wife (not present) wasn't quite so taken by his interest as he.


We arrived at Canterbury in the middle of a beautiful day; perfect for wandering after a long journey. Canterbury is unspoilt and pretty, surrounded by city walls, and full of clustered, peak beamed buildings. At the Butter Market by the cathedral, we stopped for a pistachio ice cream, and listened to a teenage busking group, playing Mumford and Sons songs (in order to pay off a train fine!). The city was full of French children on a school trip, which gave me a little bit of French revision some 5 or 6 weeks after my exams.
After a couple of hours wandering we made our way back to the station, in plenty of time for another six hours or so of traveling. We circled around the south-east coast, passing the misty Dover cliffs. We finished off the afternoon with champagne and a ginger birthday cake I had ordered in from Betty's. A pretty perfect end to a perfect day.

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