Day out IOW: Steam Train

14 Jun

Not a very romantic name for the train with which I fell in love.  And make no mistake: I love this train.  I finally had a glimmer of the obsession some people have with classic steam trains.

In the good old days (I’m not sure when that was, but for every place there is assuredly a Good Old Time) you could travel the Isle of Wight entirely by train, on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.  For an island of only 148 square miles, there was an impressive 52 miles of track.  The glory days of the IOW steam train as a viable means of island transportation may be over,  but the Steam Railway still runs a short 10 mile journey back and forth across the middle of the island.  (Sort of north-middle-east.  What’s the technical term for that?  This is why I get lost everywhere.)

And I’ve got to tell you, their signage is awesome.  Dartmouth green and a gorgeous sans serif font — I’m in love.  We arrived in time for the first train of the day and had our pick of cars.

There’s a good bit to do at Havenstreet, the main station.

But we were in a hurry to catch the train.

First class, of course.  If this is your only opportunity to ever ride a beautifully restored Victorian and Edwardian steam train, you might as well enjoy it to the fullest.  Look at the beautiful detailing on the door.

The heat regulator.

Chain for the alarm.  (What do you want to bet the penalty for improper use would be more than 5 pounds?)

Lovely plush seats, lace headrests, pretty windows.

Wood panelling all around, mirrors, old advertisements, lots of headroom.  I fell in love with this carriage.  I want to be taken around by steam train everywhere.  There’s me with my pink camera, in a photo I’m submitting to awesome-blogger Sarah‘s self-portrait project.

The view out of the train was pretty cool, too.  Here the engine is moving from one end to the other.

Our first stop was here at Wootton — one end of the line.  The station is like a playhouse, isn’t it?

Cows and steam from the train.  We saw cows, horses, rabbits, chickens, pheasants, and horse riders — but not the elusive red squirrel.

Smallbrook is the other end of the line.  Oh, that green!  Oh, that font!  Love love love.

The same cows, on the return trip.  They’re tired out from watching the train go by.

So crowded on the standard cars!  We walked around Havenstreet and checked out their woodland walk —

Full of whimsical creatures (but still no red squirrels).

The book shop runs on the honor system, which the cynic in me found hard to process.

Love the logo!

There’s an amazing facility in place for restoring old carriages — even old engines — even rebuilding old boilers!  It’s big, clean, accessible to the public, and looks incredibly well funded.  Impressive.

The main gift shop (not the book shop) has an interesting assortment of old war posters an early train advertisements.  Looking through all the old posters, I left feeling like the people of a bygone era in London dreamed about the Isle of Wight in the same way the people of Dark City dreamed about Shell Beach.  Lucky us, we got to take a ride for real.

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6 Responses to “Day out IOW: Steam Train”

  1. Rebecca Forbes June 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Monique, I love you. I mean, I don’t know you, but I love you. How do you know all that you know? How do you notice and know about every detail: the colour, the font? How do you make cupcakes so beautiful? Why are you in England in the first place? Oh, just tell me all, there is my e mail. I think I have always wanted to be that way, to be so aware and articulate about it.Rebecca Forbes, Sarah Christmas’ mom.

    • Monique June 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

      Your note makes me very happy! And thank you for giving the world your awesome daughter. We corresponded once before about muffins — thank you for your email!

  2. Zazzy June 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Yay for the train ride – and double yay for the self portrait! Another thing I want to do before I die (that makes 2 things for my list!) is to take the train across Canada, at Christmas. I’ve never ridden a real train so maybe I should take a shorter trip first. That one looks lovely! Great photos! (too many !!!?)

    • Monique June 15, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

      Too many photos? I wonder about finding a balance between words and photos. I get so caught up in the interesting visual details, it’s hard to edit edit edit. You’ve never ridden a real train?! Such a fun experience, at least I think so, even the modern ones. A Christmas train through Canada sounds like something out of a movie, how cool that would be.

  3. Tesni June 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Really enjoyed this post. I liked how you noticed all the little things, like the font! Shame you didn’t see a red squirrel. I’ve never seen one in the UK, as in the places I’ve lived the grey has taken over. Wootton station is so cute! Definitely like a Wendy house. I like the honour system but I am cynical about it too. I think most people would honour it, but I think there would definitely be a fair few who’d simply take advantage with no guilt.

    I’m sure I’ve been on that train, when I was about six years old. I love riding steam trains. I think I get it from my dad who helps restore them most weekends at the East Somerset Railway. I don’t find them as fascinating as my dad (he’s a true train anorak!) but there is definitely a beauty to them, and the noise they make is divine 🙂

    • Monique June 16, 2012 at 7:37 am #

      I’m so glad I know what a Wendy house is (father christmas told us) and I can agree with confidence — that station totally looks like a Wendy House! But I hadn’t heard the term ‘train anorak’ so I’ve had a fun morning with google — learning something new every day. We were disappointed not to see any red squirrels, my reading says the Isle of Wight is one of their last habitats — the grey squirrel hasn’t made it across the Solent. I certainly haven’t seen them anywhere here on the mainland. My youngest is 5 now, I hope she’ll remember riding the train, just as you do — especially the gorgeous chug-chug and blowing whistle!

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