A Train Ride

Steam train

1940s Steam Train via Wikipedia

“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……”
Johnny Mercer (American lyricist, songwriter and singer. 1909-1976

Early in my blogging adventure I wrote a post entitled “I Took a Trip on a Train”.  In this post I talked about all the trains on which we had travelled over many years.   At that time I think I had only two or three followers and two of them were my sisters.  I note they were the only people to comment on the post.

Anyway, I thought about train travel again today for some reason.  And I remembered travelling between London and Glasgow on the train.  We always made a point of doing so with our children when we went ‘home’ on holiday.

The train was a highlight of the trip.  We would board early in the morning and then when breakfast was called we would make our way to the dining car.  I don’t remember whether you had to reserve a table but there was always one ready for us.

Coffee and tea were instantly provided, cereal and toast and then the piece de resistance, the waiters came round with extremely large silver salvers with bacon, eggs, sausages, hashed potatoes, mushrooms etc.  These people (in memory they were always men) were adept at balancing these salvers while the train was moving along at high-speed.  I don’t recall there ever being an accident with salver and food crashing to the floor.

Tablecloths were pristine, starched white linen as were the napkins.  Silver British Railways cutlery and crockery.  Tea never tasted as good when travelling by air.  There was an aura of quiet distinction and good taste when eating in a BR dining car,

We continued to do this until our children were well into their teens and I do know that they remember this as we have spoken of it to their children on occasion.

I have never been any distance on a train here in New Zealand.  I do know that when I worked and caught a train most mornings, one could have coffee and always at night one could have an alcoholic drink, but I am sure that no service ever existed to match the London to Glasgow British Railways breakfast.

Mcdonalds sign

And I suppose it no longer exists in Britain where everything now seems to have been taken down to the lowest common denominator.  It’s probably McDonald’s and coffee in a paper cup now.


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21 responses to “A Train Ride

  1. I’m sure there will be lots of other people travelling by train before I visit my sister in Cardiff again but when I do, I’ll think of you and visit the buffet car, if it’s still there, to take a picture for you. 🙂

  2. Lovely post. And as you say, it is probably fast food now. Being from Canada, I always dream about taking the train through the Rocky Mountains and experiencing just what you describe. But I doubt the service could ever be as good as in the past. Hope you get another trip in, wherever it may be.

    • But you can look forward to that train ride Sandy and the service may well be different but it could still be good. And the scenery from the windows of the train will outdo anything going on inside the carriages.
      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  3. Those train rides you took sound so romantic. I grew up in New York and there was nothing incredibly nostalgic or splendid about riding trains there. As a college student, I took many train rides between New York and Boston. I’ve seen plenty of films though, showing the better side of train rides and one of my favorites still is “Murder on the Orient Express.” Aside from the murder part, looked wonderful. 🙂

    • And there is nothing romantic or fantastic about train travel in NZ. But some of those other trips – ah! And the Orient Express was on our list of train rides to take but unfortunately, my husband died before we did it. I don’t think I shall be doing it now. 🙂

  4. Yes the past had such graceful train travel but I must tell you that when I was in Scotland a couple of years ago I traveled between Glascow and Edinburgh by train and that service was still head and shoulders above our Canadian trains.

    • I am so pleased to hear that Chris. When we lived in Scotland my husband took the train between Glasgow and Edinburgh every day in the winter and he had breakfast on the train. I really wondered if that service still exists, so thank Chris. 🙂

  5. I love all the details you included in this post about the train trips of your past. And isn’t it strange that we wrote about trains on the same day? I am convinced we are connected beyond the blogusphere.

  6. Jackie Cangro

    I love reading about the golden age of trains. In fact my novel centers around a train journey during the 1940s. It was fun to research the different streamliners and the stops they would make across America. It seemed like a very elegant way to travel.

    • Hi Jackie – I thought I responded to this comment but obviously not. Another blonde moment?
      I think a lot of the magic of the trains was also bound up in those magnificent train stations the Victorians built. When will the novel be published? I am waiting to read it. 🙂

      • Jackie Cangro

        Not for a while! I’m finishing with edits and then it’s off to an agent! Fingers crossed!

  7. With that kind of luxury in dining, the train ride would be the highlight of my trip, too! It’s sad, but you’re probably right about the demise of food/beverage served.

    • Chris from Bridges Burning commented that the service was still good a couple of years ago when she travelled between Glasgow and Edinburgh, so there is still hope.

  8. I have never experienced a train trip. Your description makes me want to. Perhaps I should plan a cross-country train ride. Something to add to my bucket list.

    • Did you read the earlier post about all the train trips we have taken. Each one was special in its own way.
      Yes do add a cross country train trip to your bucket list and then enjoy!

  9. Back in the seventies, I used to travel every couple of months from Geneva to Paris on the old SNCF train, where the dining car was much as you describe. We used to get a four-course lunch with wine, coffee and digestif, which took up a good part of the journey and put us in a good mood for the business awaiting us in Paris. Passengers had to cling onto the seats as they made their way down the aisles, but the waiters were like ballet dancers!

  10. We’ve taken a couple of steam engine excursions. Love it!

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