Late last night I spent some time attempting to identify a high pitched whistle. Being late, cold and dark I wondered what sort of bird would be hanging around at that late hour. Imagine my surprise when I realised it was no bird, it was my wheezing chest! Therefore this morning I restarted the failing exercise regime, the last one having failed after a few days you will recall. So bright and early, well just after eight, I was found creaking my way up the old railway heading for Rayne Station. It is several months since I got that distance, a whole two miles, and my knees let me know about it as we reached the top of the slope. How those old engines steamed their way up here I do not know! The sun shone brightly, the fields were white with the first real frost of winter and the scenery was wonderful! Smiling dogs led their well wrapped owners a merry dance as they raced about their favourite haunts. A jogger or two passed in ridiculously loud clothing seemingly under the impression this made them either faster or more 'with it.' In both cases they are clearly mistaken.
At the station the Rangers (not that kind) who run the line (now called the 'Flitch Way) have installed an old railway coach. It appears the plan is to use it as a museum or an enlarged tearoom, thus enabling the station itself to be a better museum. I hope whatever they decide works for them. This is the first time since the late 70's that rails have been seen on this line. Oh to see a proper train, one with steam at the front and compartment coaches once again! How romantic and atmospheric a steam train can be, something the more efficient diesel and electric machines cannot match. These may well be better in every way but in spite of this they have less romance about them.
This coach never saw a steam engine pulling it that is for sure, and it is far from the aged wooden coaches used until 1952, the date the last passenger train ran on this line. The charabancs that abounded after the Great War, plus the vast number of ex-army lorries that came available at the time led to a drop in numbers both of people and goods. It was only the presence of the huge sugar beet factory half way along that kept the line working and even they turned to lorries by the 70's. Soon after it had all gone. Our station survives and many commute to the pleasure dome that is London for a means of earning their high wages. Most of which goes on the fares to get them to work. I came home that way one night and feel sure the crowded train would do my head in if I used it five nights a week. One derailment, accident, jammed door, body on line and the hour and five minute journey could take a week! Interestingly the Transport Minister is based in Chelmsford, just down the road. He was caught out using his chauffeured car to drive him to work rather than the train. So for a short while he was made to rise in time for the 6:00 and he was not pleased! He may well be back in the car but he has announced he will not stand at the next election, retiring to a directorship or two I suspect, probably concerning railways!
Naturally I decided to get up on the platform, in spite of my weakened hulk having strained its way up here, and so I placed my toe in that little step used by railway men to onto the platform. I did this, got almost up, my knees gave way and I went splat on my face. No-one amongst the handful in the vicinity around appeared either to notice or be surprised. The coach had been used as a
money making idea Santa Claus den just before Christmas and the windows were decorated appropriately, well according to them anyway. Nothing exciting was seen bar this angel, possibly this is the one that enabled me to get down without falling flat on my face twice! You may well be bored of this coach by Summertime.
Home Jeeves, down that slope, and don't spare the