Showing posts from February, 2022

Seaside Special - The Night Riviera: South West Cornwall

The Night Riviera. Sounds seductive doesn’t it? A gloriously titled sleeper service that evokes flashes of the golden era of rail travel. When block-art posters depicting speeding, streamlined express trains skirting palm-fringed bays promised a rendezvous with steamers docking from somewhere exotic. The reality? Well, this pre-Covid service did hang on to some semblance of adventure. But only if you booked a cabin. Travelling overnight in the seats is a mistake. As my trip to Perth later on in these missives will make abundantly clear. (Although that journey was earlier in actual time, these being clockwise rather than chronological chronicles. If you see what I mean.) Turning up in the First Class lounge adjacent to Platform 1 at Paddington gave me a brief moment of Imposter Syndrome. (‘Free coffee? Wow, thank you!’) The train arrived hauled by an olive green GWR loco and I betrayed the same First Class rookie keen-ness by jumping into the lounge car on the train with sidelong gl

Seaside Special - Mother Nature’s playground: South Devon

Ah, Devon. Here’s another excuse to dip a toe in the calming waters of nostalgia.  The English Riviera was our family holiday destination on repeat play during the early 80’s. Like Weymouth and the jumping-off point for the Channel Islands in the previous episode, Paignton represented full value for my Dad’s British Rail family pass. We would hop on a cross-country express at York and let the train take the strain for the next 320 miles, scoffing my Mum’s potted meat sarnies and playing endless games of travel Mastermind. Paignton seemed to suit us all with its understated blend of seaside attractions. I remember loving the aircraft museum, Dad was happy with the steam railway, Mum had a fair crack at winning a giant bear on the bingo and Bruv backed a horse at a Newton Abbot evening meeting that got stuck astride the final fence when clear in the lead. All the ingredients for a perfect Summer holiday. Over the years, South Devon has had a more permanent pull on some of our friends