It’s been a long time – and a lot has happened!
I won’t bore my friends with all the details, but a house move meant farewell to the ‘best view from a washing line’ in Somerset, bringing me to a new blog header and, amongst other things, a new life as a Travelling Ticket Inspector on the best steam railway in England!
Life certainly bowls some curved balls – and becoming a steam buff certainly didn’t feature on last year’s wish list – until summer saw me joining the team and working hard to learn all the rules. It’s been quite an adventure, with a huge amount to learn and all sorts of fun along the way.
Having helped Santa (at Snowcombe Station) in the run up to Christmas, I hung up my uniform for a while, but am now looking forward to giving it a good shake and brush, polishing my shoes and setting out for a new season of railway fun.
The railway winds along over 20 miles of track from Bishops Lydeard, just outside Taunton, first to the little port of Watchet, and then along the coast to Minehead. Leaving BL it runs alongside the beautiful Quantock hills, between fields, streams and woodland fringes. Sharp eyes can spot deer, rabbits, raptors and, if you are very lucky, the odd otter sliding into a trackside stream. I revel in the beauty as the seasons creep slowly across the landscape.
Watchet gives tantalising glimpses of the old harbour (sadly battered this winter) and then the railway turns its back on the sea, running inland to avoid high ground, creeping round to Washford, with its wonderful abbey ruins, and then downhill to Blue Anchor, by the sea once more. With windswept beaches to the right and the romantic Dunster Castle emerging from its woodland fastness, to the left, the train pulls us through history, landing us, at last, in Minehead station, nestling between North Hill and the sea.
Just out of sight, we can sense the romance of Lorna Doone, of smugglers, pirates (who used to hide in the channel, behind Steepholme Island) and a past era – long before the railway was built, linking this corner of Somerset to the wider world. And even then, rattling along at 25mph max was about as fast as anyone got!
Our passengers relax, yielding to the seductive rhythm of the train, lulled by the pace, the sights, the sounds and the smell of steam. Some nod off completely! Fortunately, I don’t… I’ve got half a train to look after and will be busy on my feet, dashing up and down while you lean back and have a rest. Mind you, I get to hang out of the window and, if I spot anything amiss, can blow my shiny steel whistle as loudly as any Guard 🙂
Bet you wish you could do that too!