Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Robert Louis Stevenson Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. 1850-1894
Nostalgia is running rife this week in my blogs. I don’t know what brought this about but I am loving every minute of it.
I recently took a trip on a train but it was not like the trains of my youth. No fiery dragon pulling an engine was this but a sedate electric engine quietly pulling the carriages to their destination.
Travelling by train so many years ago was an adventure. The smell of the coke that fed the boiler was quite acrid and the sounds that were all around you made travel exciting. I can hear still the clacking of the tracks as the train ran over them, the loud hooter and the hissing steam. These are all part of my childhood memories although we didn’t travel far or very often in those days. Try reciting the poem “Faster than Fairies” aloud and listen to the rhythm of the train. Listen to it here. See what I mean?
Since that time I have been in trains in several parts of the world including:
- The Gahn – Adelaide to Alice Springs and Darwin, Australia
- London to Paris on Eurostar
- The Rocky Mountaineer, Vancouver to Calgary, Canada.
- The Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto, Japan – None of which were steam trains and
- The Royal Scot between London and Glasgow
- Nice to Paris, France on the train the locals used.
- The Golden Arrow, London to Paris – each of these were steam trains.
We spent a day in Karanda a village in the rain-forest north of Cairns, Queensland, Australia. We went by steam train and returned by the Skyrail. When traveling in Vancouver we went on a train to an Indian Village and returned by boat, but all these years later, I have forgotten the name of the village and the train. If anybody reading this can fill in my memory blanks I would be very pleased.
And here is another who writes about traveling by train in the 1940s and 1950s . Read all about it here. Obviously Professor Cryer is very interested in this aspect of life when she was growing up.
We have a railway heritage and preservation society some 40 kilometers north of Wellington. Here steam enthusiasts have preserved and continue to maintain several engines from earlier times. On special days they run these engines and the public are invited to ride. Click here to see a video of such an excursion a couple of years ago. What an excitement when two of my grandsons, being very young, took their first ride on a train pulled by a steam locomotive. Sorry, nobody thought to take photos of that occasion.
“I took a trip on a train and I thought about you.
I passed a shadowy lane and I thought about you.
Two or three cars parked under the stars a winding stream.
Moon shining down on some little town
And with each beam the same old dream……
And then I peaked through the crack and I looked at that track,
The one going back to you, and what did I do…
I thought about you.”
Johnny Mercer (American lyricist, songwriter and singer. 1909-1976
- China’s Last Steam – by TrainBuffsEU (worldsteamsite.wordpress.com)