Sunday 17 August 2014

Trains & World Leading Women

Today was such a fun day.  So here we are at Congerstone just north of Stoke Golding.  Its a sweet little village with many beautiful period cottages and modern homes all together in a healthy mix.
Today was a bike riding day.  Off we went taking the most lovely scenic route through several villages going northwards.  Past a field making hay or silage, irresistible to retired farmers…. 

David checking out these two machines and their progress. Reader you will be pleased to hear he approved of what he saw.

No traffic on any of the roads and we ended up at Shakerstone.  This is a sweet place, many of the old farm buildings have been converted into homes and done rather nicely too, although far too small for me, I get twitchy if I am in a village, unusual for a farmers wife I know, but true.
Eighteen months ago when we were last here we went on the Battlefield Railway, they have steam engines here but on the day we visited they only had a diesel engine running, but I enjoyed it all the same.
Today when we cycled in the long driveway for cars it became apparent that they were not busy.  We had already agreed that we would only go on the train again if indeed it was the Steam engine running.  The five aged volunteer gentlemen all gleeful to see us approaching was heart warming.  I just couldn’t say no, so “Darling lets go on”  
“But….” says David who is not quite such a big fan as me.  But off he goes to get the tickets, I pop to the wonderfully restored Ladies dating from Victorian times and when we return the lovely group of elderly volunteer gentlemen had loaded our bikes into the Guards Van, Reader do you Guards Vans???
I was sat smiling, David returned coughing and spluttering at the price of the tickets, especially as we had agreed not to go on!  
But oh what joy, oh what heaven, Reader let me tell you, THE DRIVER WAS A WOMAN.  Marvellously wonderful I say.   There are not many of them about I can tell you.  The ride was bouncy and faltering, I am so glad that even though I love these engines I did not have to travel long distances on them!

As we went along some other volunteer gentlemen struck up conversation with us, we were the only ones on the train.  One of these gentlemen was a real live working boatman, HURRAH.  
Now its such a pity that the trip only lasted 15 minutes, and we only got talking to him after about 8mins.  But, he had two boats in 1967 a motor boat and a butty, he took 50 tonnes of coal to London, 20 tonnes on the motor and 30 on the butty.  He was paid 14/- (Shillings) a ton, which David worked out as £35 a load.  That took him him five days down and four days to return empty.  He did this for three years with another “Lad”.  It was brilliant to meet and chat to him I only wish it could have been for longer, but we arrived at the terminus and the whole group alighted to do maintenance work.  
Now the lady driver came and chatted to us at half time, she said she was only permitted to train as a driver at the age of 42, this was because the Unions had blocked the training of women up till then…. She said that the old British Rail didn’t have any steam drivers, and that when she had trained she had indeed been the only woman.  A world leader maybe? She is still working herself although she declined to give her age, and today she had taken a day off to come and drive our train.  She said that she drives for the Battlefield Railway a couple of times a month and  that she was driving a Steam engine for another railway the following week.  She has a website too HERE  

Guards van with rather fetching bicycles therein.

Driver cab

Very bouncy seats

All in all a fantastic trip on the Railway meeting fantastic people and so easily the opportunity could have been lost by not buying a ticket….

Beautiful beautiful Victorian station building

Lovely chap selling tickets.

Victorain café on the platform, 

Served really the most delicious cake.

We took the scenic route back, got caught in a short sharp shower and sheltered in a bus shelter like a pair of OAP’s.  At a village called Barton-in-the-Beans a rat ran out into the road in front of me, stuck its tongue out and ran back into someones garden! Marvellous.
I ended the ride at Market Bosworth where the car was, folded the bike bush bash bosh and I drove the car back to Congerstone while Darling rode. I would have beaten him to the boat too however there was a gripping play on the radio, so I and to sit and listen to the end.

Home for tea, shower and putting on best boating clothes available to go and meet new friends George and Sue from NB Caxton.  We were meeting them at the great pub at Dadlington called The Dog and Hedgehog.  We were lucky to get there as when we got in the car neither the village where we were nor our destination were on the car road map.  I really don’t think there are villages in the south east that are not on the map anymore.

Winner of the prettiest cottage today.

Splendid supper and splendid company thank you both.  Enjoy your holiday next week and if you see them out Reader call out a cheery Hello!

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