On Saturday 26 November I awoke at the ungodly hour of 4.30 in the morning. I am not usually given to masochism, however on this occasion there was a good reason for me being the early bird that gets the worm or in this case the A1 Tornado steam locomotive.
Several weeks ago a friend asked whether I would like to accompany him and his partner on a steam trip to Ludlow in Shropshire. I took very little persuading and my friend duly booked a trip, on the Cathedrals Express.
I met my friends at London Waterloo and after a quick cup of coffee we took the underground to Paddington station arriving in plenty of time to catch our steam train.
The Tornado was, I understand built in Germany due to the original locomotives all having (sadly) gone to that great scrap yard in the sky and the UK lacking the skills to construct such a locomotive.
Travelling was comfortable and it was great to get a powerful whiff of the smoke from the engine particularly as the Tornado passed through tunnels. The sound of the whistle brought to mind the great days of steam when locomotives of this kind would be seen traversing the country.
The Tornado is able to reach speeds of at least 100 miles per hour, however due to railway regulations we did not exceed 75 miles per hour. Nevertheless it was exciting to feel the train moving at considerable speed.
We reached Ludlow at about 2 PM and found a convivial pub, the Charlton where we enjoyed a couple of drinks and some excellent food. The streets seemed extremely quiet compared to the hussle and bussle of dear old London town and the freshness of the air hit us as we left Ludlow station. Ludlow certainly seems to be a dog friendly place and my guide dog, Trigger would (if I had let him) made several new four-legged friends during our visit!
We arrived back in London a little later than intended, however the problems stemmed from Network Rail not having changed a set of points when they should have done rather than from any error on the part of Steam Dreams the company with whom we where travelling. Steam Dreams kept us appraised of the situation throughout and did their level best to ensure that no passengers experienced inconvenience as a result of the delays.
I finally put the key in my front door at around 1.30 on Sunday morning, crawled into bed and slept like the proverbial log.
For details of Steam Dreams and the Tornado please visit http://steamdreams.co.uk/Executables/GT436TourCalendar.exe?WebBookno=2640178&ActionCode=TC&Hotel=6231&SS=SDSVR01\SQLExpress&DB=SteamDreams&Division=A