Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Desperadoes Waitin' on a Train

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and she asked me what about England I missed most. I didn't have to think too long, oddly enough. If I'd had on my London Fog , it would have been instinctual to wrap it tightly around me, close my eyes and imagine myself there, at Beaconsfield Station. It's the trains I miss. You could go anywhere in that enchanted world on a train. It was the most wonderful sensation to stand on the platform and watch the train draw down out of the fog and pull up at your feet, the doors opening outward so you could climb aboard. I think that's why I love all the old English movies to this day, especially the Miss Marple stories. There's always a train ready to take you off into some romantic setting and there's always a mystery man just in the next car. It's the sound that invades the cocoon you share with others as the carriage clacks along the railroad tracks and the slight jostling that could put you into a light doze (or heavy sleep) if you're not careful. A train whistle announces a stop just up the line, the lovely scenery rushing by outside the train windows, slowing now, the train coming to a stop and people gathering their belongings together, ready to leap onto the station platform, shouts of "hallllooo" from friends gathered to greet them. There is something different about an English train. I can easily envision our trains being run down by deperadoes on horseback...Frank and Jessie James and their crew. I can not imagine any such indignity being visited upon an English train. The closest thing to a desparado waiting on a train would have been me and our two wild boys. I remember that my sons friends in the village were shocked that their mother could drive. I love to drive. It gives me a sense of freedom and control over my life unlike anything else. But while we lived there, we took advantage of the wonderful transportation system that is peculiar to Britain; Buses, trains ,bicycles, and of course planes ...but it was the train that I learned to love. I loved taking the train into London and getting off in Marylebone Station and looking up at the fretwork and glass overhead. I always fully expected to see Alfred Hitchcock or Cary Grant boarding another train , looking around to make certain they hadn't been seen, as we got off the train that had delivered us safely to our destination. A magical feeling would come over me each and every time. We have a saying, "you can't get there from here." But in Great Britain, there's a direct route to where ever you want to go. However you want to get there. But even yet , I'd take the train.


Mary said...

We have a great train service to the centre of Liverpool every 15 mins during the day! sarah goes to work on it As being over 60 I get free transport either on bus or train but only at non peak hour times and can get as far as Spouthport or Chester for nothing.Incentives for not using the car!!

Sandi McBride said...

I remember even in the late seventies and early eighties petrol was "dear" at over three dollars a gallon...while back at home we complained of the fifty and sixty cent prices...yes, we need public transport, that's for sure...

Mockingbird Hill said...

Never been on a train in England but have enjoyed a couple of trips here at home. Took an overnighter, with a sleeping car, from FL to Virginia and that was really fun! Then took day trips on the Alsakan Railroad while visiting there during summer and then following the same path in the winter. Amazing to see the countryside change...beautiful!


Jeni said...

Would you believe I have 63 years under my belt now and have never had the opportunity to ride on a train? Well, other than those little ones at amusement parks but I doubt they count, do they? Always thought it would be neat to do that some day and who knows, like loads of other things in my life, it may happen yet. Never say die or, keep on like you said in your profile about your physician dad, practicing till he gets it right! Great post and thanks for visiting my place. I do hope you'll return and read more -provided you have long periods of free time -I do tend to be a tad on the "long-winded" side when I plunk down at the keyboard.

Kari (GrannySkywalker) said...

I can still remember taking a train trip to Toyko (with my school class) back when we lived in Japan. At least, I THINK it was to Tokyo. lol I was in 1st grade. The memory has faded, but not of the train itself. It was super fast and we all thought it was a wonderful delight! Then I took a train from Burlington, Vermont down to Atlanta, Georgia with Nick back in 1984. Didn't really enjoy that, but it was probably more the circumstances than anything else. We had a layover in Washington D.C. I decided to go out and sight-see. We got as far as the outside of the train station. Racist graffiti was painted on every available surface, it was grungy looking and I did not feel welcome, to say the least. So we just stayed inside the train station for 8 hours until we could board our train to Atlanta. All in all, I think those U.K. trains sound FABULOUS by comparison to ours! (Although my blogging friend Carmen, took an awesome train trip this past summer from CA to points east).
Love ya,

San said...

Lovely, lovely post, Sandi. Makes me want to embark on a train trip!

Like Mockingbird Hill, my experience with train travel has been in the U.S. And that was in 1980--riding from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Philadelphia. Stopped there for a few days, then on to NYC. What I remember most is the way the the unfolding scenery changed gradually, as did the travelers getting on. We started out with quiet small-town southerners. Then in Atlanta, there were talkative energetic urban dwellers. By the time we got to NYC, well...you can imagine. A great way to see the country.

Vee said...

That was a magical post; t'was a very enjoyable read.

I don't think our trains are as romantic as England's either. We've taken the Down'easter to Boston and, while there's some lovely scenery, there's also plenty that is unlovely. And why do I always manage to seat myself going backwards? Not a good feeling!

Organized? Not by nature, but by necessity. LOL! I actually saw a science program once about your method; apparently, it's not so ineffective as one might suppose.

Have a lovely day, Sandi!

smilnsigh said...

Re: your comment on my blog entry of today.


LOL! I told my husband, that's the closest people in 'Pretty Blog Land' get, to saying "I've got a hit out on you! Grrrrrrrr"

But see ~ You are officially one of the Brave Ones! ,-)

smilnsigh said...

Re: your comment on my blog entry of today.


LOL! I told my husband, that's the closest people in 'Pretty Blog Land' get, to saying "I've got a hit out on you! Grrrrrrrr"

But see ~ You are officially one of the Brave Ones! ,-)


smilnsigh said...

Oh I would love to ride a real UK train! From the 'Miss Marple' films, to 'Murder On The Orient Express," to 'Harry Potter's' train... Oh yummy...

I guess I'm so new here that I didn't know you were from the UK. Please don't tell me it's right in your Profile. I'll feel even more klutzy than I usually do. ,-)))))

Btw, I have been on trains here, but I'm sure it is NOT the same!


bj said...

When I was a little girl, I used to travel from West Texas to Dallas, Texas to spend a few weeks with my dad. I would mostly go by train and it is a memory that lives strong to this day. It was back when there was always a lady in the rest room, ready to help you with clean, CLOTH towels, a free spray of perfume and a dash of hand lotion....the dining car had CLOTH, crisp, white tablecloths on the tables and you were waited on my a sweet man and served like royalty. The sleeping cars were fabulous but my trip was never long enuf to "get to sleep" in one of them. I have and always will, love trains and the sound of their whistle still stirs deep, loving memories for me.
Thanks for your post...I so enjoyed it.
hugs, bj

smilnsigh said...

Yish, I left off saying that all those things {UK trains in film} sound yummmmmy.

The way I wrote it, it sounds odd. And I meant to hit 'Preview' but of course... I didn't.

OK, "go away now Mari-Nanci." ,-)


Christine Boles said...

How romantic!~

david mcmahon said...

There's SO much to love about England. However, every year I visited as a sportswriter, it was summer, so that was an added bonus.

Mary Isabella and Kiley too! said...

I really enjoyed reading your post. My Father worked for the L&N railroad company. When I was a child I would get to ride the trains. My sister's and I just loved it...Smiles

Unknown said...

My sister lived in England for a time. I don't think she was as enchanted with it as you are. She is a beach bunny...lol!
It does sound like an interesting place to visit but I love my good ol' USA and living here.

I would like to make a tour of the UK one day...I want to see it all...Scotland, Ireland, England and especially a stop at my Princesses grave. I always loved Princess Diana!! My sister did go to her grave site while she lived there but could not get very close. But I still would like to go pay my respects, may she rest in peace.

I've been bitten by the British bug I guess, I'm loving the BBC comedies of "As Time Goes By" (love Judi Dentch) and That Bucket Woman "Keeping Up Appearances". There will be a Bucket Bowl this Sunday during the Super bowl...back to back Keeping Up Appearances...I can't wait!

Kari (GrannySkywalker) said...

Hey - go check out this post on this blog...http://athomewiththefarmerswife.blogspot.com/2008/01/butter-making.html

I thought it was cool...she talks of making butter with heavy whipping cream and a mixer. The bonus (for Uncle Wally anyway) is you end up with a cup of buttermilk, too. lol


Anonymous said...

You have a little award at my place.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

My husband grew up in upstate NY. He rode trains from NY to PA all the time. He always talks about it. Someday, I think we will be taking a little train trip.....
p.s. thanks for the invite for tea or coffee!! wish I could take you up on it.

Theresa said...

My husband being a New York City boy loves trains, and always wants to take them any chance we get.

Me a country girl - never grew up with the fun of the trains.

Someday we plan to take a luxury train across the US and stop at just small towns along the way.

Mima said...

Hi, I have come visiting from David's blog, and am from the UK, I really miss the old trains with lots of doors to get on where you sat back to back in little sets of six, the new ones just have a door at either end of the carriage, so if you are carrying luggage and the rack is full you have to carry it a long way! To be fair though the new trains do have the advantage of tables!

Carol said...

Lovely post Sandi,
I love trains too. Sadly our trains are so not romantic anymore.
Do you know of the Bluebell Railway?
now that is a 'real' train.... steam, compartments and the rattle of the wheels! men in old uniforms......emmmm... romance.
Big hugs,
Carol x

Pam said...

We just fell in love with England when we were there. I thought the train system was tremendous and wish it was more prevelant in my neck of the woods as a form of travel.

Unknown said...

Oh sweet friend ~ you took me back - to some sweet memories of my time in England as well. We were 30 minutes north of Cambridge and would drive to the station and take the train into London.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane!!

Sandy :)

Sandi McBride said...

There's something to be said for progress, I guess...but do we have to put everything quaint and memorable behind us? I see the word VINTAGE everywhere these days, so I guess I am not alone in the love of the past...thank you all for visiting...

Celebration of Life said...

Hi Sandi! Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I can remember my one and only train ride. I was in Los Angeles at a conference with a friend and we decided to go visit her brother in Santa Barbara for the weekend. The train station was very confusing to me but finally we got to the platform where we were to board. When it was my turn to embark on the train, I turned to the porter and said, "I am from Wyoming and this is the first time I have ridden a train; will you say that again?" He smiled at me and yelled, "ALLLLL ABOOOOARD!" lol

Have a good day!

PAT said...

I've not been to England, but your memories of the trains evoked memories of those great old black and white movies and of course, Agatha Christie. I've read almost all her books. Your post makes me want to revisit them. I have a stack of her books. I think I'll go look through them.

Wonderful post, Sandi!

LivingTheLife said...

Loved this post...there is something so romantic when you think about it...just stepping onto a train can take you back to a time when things were much more slowly paced and details were of the utmost importance. I love trains, too...not that I have had the honor of riding on a train in the lovely UK...but I have taken a few rides on the good ole' USofA railways. One of my most memorable train rides was when I was a young girl. My girl scout troop took a train ride from the small town north of where I lived to Dallas, Texas...I remember going from car to car and having to step out into the wind...making sure I didn't trip and fall while pulling the door open to the next car. To me that was so exciting...I know "sad" huh? But, I can remember the porter coming around to punch our tickets...I just thought I was such a grown up. When the girls and I went to Alaska...we toured it by train...and it was fabulous...we took the Princess Denali and we were treated like royalty...we were in a glassed encased upper level...and we could see for miles...the dining car was below us...complete with REAL tableclothes, REAL silver, Denali Princess china and our very own waiter! We felt like...well...Princess'...it was fab.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of your train travels...I think we need to get a group together...head over to England and catch a train...you can be our tour guide...now that would be HEAVEN!


Susie Q said...

Oh have I loved this post. I was only in England for a week but I left a piece of my heart there and yes. I felt at home there from the moment I stepped off the airplane. I long to go back. Oh, and I too love fog and riding on trains here. We went from London to Southampton. Loved watching the little villages and rugby fields roll by.

We rode the train from Amsterdam into Germany a couple of years ago and that was sheer Heaven as well.
The trains of Europe are wonderful aren't they?

We used to ride them from our place in upstate NY into NYC during our years there. No other way to go!

My first train trip was from Dayton to NYC when I was 9. I went with my Mother and Grandmother and loved every second of it.

Thank you for this post!


Sandi McBride said...

I'm all for the group trip...and still remember how to drive on the wrong side of the road if anyone's up for an adventure!
it's pouring down rain...thank You God!!!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

It's interesting hearing everyone's comments about trains over here.

A lot of English people would tell you the following about them:
1. They're dirty
2. Never on time
3. Not enough of them
4. Commuting on them - awful...overpiced and crowded...
Shall I stop now? If you use them during the day and you are not a commuter they are great. Like many things in the UK, England, Great Britain (call it what you will) the English/British love moaning!! I try not to...I've lived abroad - in a few different places so I now I'm back I really enjoy British things. There was a guy (a so- called politician) named Dr. Richard Beeching (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/beeching_prog1.shtml)
who was brought in to almost destroy the British railways. He did a very good job of it as we used to have railways absolutely everywhere. It's a shame they don't exist now...because they would do an excellent job in combatting climate change!!! Plus they are good fun and the views are pretty darn fine too! :)

Hadriana's Treasures said...


should read "overpriced"

If anyone gets the chance try to do the train journey between:

Carlisle - Newcastle (very beautiful...especially the Carlisle end)

Sandi, you lived in a fantastic part of England. I bet going into Cambridge (from time to time) was very special too...