Travel

A Very British Day Out

That was it. I’d had enough. I’d lost my momentum. Time for a day out. On my own.

I searched the internet for events, most that come up now are festivals of some sort – I’m not a festival goer, not yet anyway, I have my first mini festival that’s local called Buckfest in July which is a day event and I have to say I’m really looking forward to it😃

On this particular search one stood out for me and it was a 1940’s weekend in Loughborough, easily drivable there and back in a day and looked like lots of fun. It was a Friday to Sunday event but I went on the Sunday.

The day dawned nice and sunny, jeans, t shirt and walking boots (love my walking boots, I’ve missed them) the order of the day – no coat 😊

Vinnie was ready for a day trip too. He’d had 3 new tyres and front and back brakes in the past month!! But he has done 81,000 miles!!

Finding it was pretty easy, the event was alongside a railway and the main bit was at Quorn and Woodhouse station, along the line from Loughborough to Leicester. Parking was in a huge field so I was thankful, and I’m sure the organisers were, that there had been no rain. The sun however, was beating down relentlessly and I didn’t have a hat! I knew I’d end up with a headache without one so had a look on the stalls as I made my way to the station. Everything being sold was from the era, I love it all, I was tempted to buy a dress but instead bought a beautiful parasol, although not a frilly one! It was an oiled Chinese hand painted one. It was to be my saviour.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. There were two types of tickets on the website, one for just the main section at Quorn and one that would allow unlimited train travel to and from the stations.

I opted for the one with the train travel and I was so pleased I did.

I saw the train approach slowly, the funnel puffing away coughing out smoke, it went under the bridge and stopped at the station. I went down the steps onto the platform. Well. It was like I had stepped back in time. It was the Great Central Railway, the UK’s only mainline heritage railway and you could see everywhere that it had been lovingly kept.

There was hustle and bustle everywhere you looked, ladies in period dress (which I would love to wear) with hats and gloves on, seamed stockings, heels and beautiful ‘up do’ hair and red lipstick. Gentlemen in their double breasted suits, polished shoes, hats, some with handlebar moustaches. Soldiers with guns, nurses, Germans, train conductors. It was all just fantastic.

I quickly bought the ticket from the ticket ‘booth’ and the chap very kindly shouted to the conductor to hold the door for me and he moved the barrier and let me through. I rushed up to the door and the guy holding it said ‘just the one?’ Yes, just the one! Jeez!! Even getting on a train!🙄😆

Well I jumped aboard and I just couldn’t believe it. It was a proper train, with the corridor down one side and on the other the compartments (Agatha Christie immediately sprung to mind – 4.50 from Paddington😃, love a good murder😆) I walked down the corridor a bit and found a compartment with only 3 people in it. A couple dressed up beautifully and elegant and a German in his uniform. I sat down with a Huge grin on my face opposite the German and next to the door, i loved it all😊 I had a good look around and felt the wood and wondered what it had seen and absorbed, so much history, happiness and grief over the years gone by.

The whistle blew and it chugged off, with that fab chuffing sound. I think I may have found something that has a great noise like a jet does or a fast car.

The journey was a fairly short one to the next station, Rothley, going past fields and over a reservoir. The train came to a stop, I asked my fellow passengers if it was worth getting off here, they assured me it was so I did!

It was another wonderful station that had been preserved, just fabulous. There were more colourful people dressed up, milling around, having tea and cake at the station cafe, waiting for a return train.

This station was dressed up to be German with swastika bunting and flags. Once the train had tooted and chuffed it’s way from the platform it became more apparent. The piece of land next the station had been taken over by German, artillery, tanks, jeeps, motorcycles and soldiers. They all looked amazing. I had a slow wander around, watched doctors working on the wounded (very realistic dummies that brought it all home, what they had been through when inured-horrific)

As I wandered around I noticed an older gentleman trying to take a photo, so I moved out of the way, he motioned to me to stand still and then came and asked me if he could take my photo with my parasol! I said of course!

I went back across the tracks to the platform and had a nose around there, there was a ladies toilet in the waiting room, with a cistern high on the wall, a lovely chain pull, wooden seat, wooden baby change table attached to the wall and a picture advertising pears soap. The waiting room had an open fire (without fire!) in the corner and benches around the walls with a lovely high wooden table in the middle with flowers on.

I carried on exploring, I was stopped by some Germans, I tried to sidestep them but they stepped with me! I have to say I had little flutter of panic, one was speaking German! It wasn’t until he motioned to my parasol that I realised he was after some shade!! For goodness sake man!! Had me worried!! But I laughed – as you do – and carried on my way, to the end of the platform where there was a display of parcels wrapped in brown paper. A man in costume asked me if I could understand the addresses, I couldn’t, so he began to explain the system that was and still is used. Each division had a number, a code, so that no one would know where the parcel or post was destined. We have BFPO numbers, you just put a number and you wouldn’t necessarily know the destination. The gentleman worked for the post office so imparted a few stories for me. I love the passion that people have for something that you can obviously see they love. I said thank you to him and walked back along the platform.

Walking along the platform I stopped to watch the signalman in the signal box, which was painted a beautiful green. He pulled some levers and I saw the signals moving further down the track and noticed a train approaching. It pulled into the station, the station master shouting for everyone to stand back – oh my goodness it was so lovely, it all had such a happy feel about it. The train came to a stop and I got on and went into an empty compartment. I was joined by two couples and a dog – who promptly laid across my feet😃 It wasn’t long before we started chatting, I asked them which was the best station to get off at, they said Quorn where I’d got the ticket as there was quite a bit going on there. One couple had been there for the whole weekend and the other couple loved the steam trains and talked about other train journeys they’d been on. I’d never thought about doing that before, there is certainly something special about the steam trains!

I bid them farewell at my stop, exited the carriage and made my way off the very busy platform.

I went over the bridge and down into the yard where there were displays of steam rollers, tractors, cars, jeeps, more classic cars, a spitfire that you could sit in and stages with dancing and singing. There was a tent for having your done in an ‘up do’, sadly my hair isn’t long enough for that otherwise I would have. There was a cafe, guns on display, a Ferris wheel and ice creams. Utterly Fabulous!! Just wandering around, people watching and taking it all in.

I eventually perched my bum on a hay bale in front of the stage. There was some music playing that got my toes tapping and my shoulders swaying – don’t care what people think.

They were obviously preparing for something to happen – there was to be a ‘poppy drop’, red heart shaped paper was to be blown out of a cannon in remembrance.

More people began to mill around and sit on the hay bales, we eventually heard some bagpipes getting nearer and eventually some flag bearers walked in front of the stage. Lady Jayne Darling started to sing and the flag bearers lowered the flags and the ‘poppies’ began to fly out of the cannon. It was really quite moving, the poppies were floating in the sky and some were dropping on the heads of the flag bearers and ultimately onto the flags – so fitting.

When the speeches were over, thanking people for turning out and thanking everyone for keeping the past alive, it’s so important that we don’t forget, the entertainers, singers, all came on stage and did a medley of songs from Tipperary to My Old Mans a Dustman, it was absolutely brilliant!!! They had so much fun and it was infectious!😆😃

They eventually ended and said their thank you’s, telling us there was to be a flyover by a Dakota and the a little later the Red Arrows. I knew I wouldn’t be there for the red arrows, I was planning on leaving, I have seen them many times before and I hope to see them next week at an air show – my first one of the year, love them – but as I was walking out of the yard the Dakota did it’s fly over and I was in the right place at the right time😍

I made my way back to Vinnie and headed home – but not straight home!! I never do! I took a detour I know not where and found a very tranquil spot, on a brick bridge, over a river and sat and listened to the birds singing and the leaves whispering in the trees. So beautiful. So peaceful. I felt quite at peace.

I think about all of the places I have driven around and through in the winter and I wonder what it would be like to go back now and see it all lush and green, the fields, the trees – some special ones I’ve found, the flowers that would have been sleeping but now blooming. I may have to do that but I wouldn’t know where to start!

Anyway, this day had been pretty perfect. I was so glad I’d found it and decided to go, it felt great to get out for the day – it’s been too long. I need to find my next trip now – I have the wanderlust back😃❤️

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