Monday, August 08, 2005


On Saturday, I went on a train excursion put on by Hertford Rail Tours. We left Stevenage just after 7:00 in the morning. Our train for this trip was The Pride of the Nation.

This set of cars was used in the mid 1900s and has been refurbished for charter use. These charter excursions make good use of the first class luxury afforded by these cars.

These pictures show our tables set for dinner, but when we boarded in the morning, they were set up similarly for breakfast. Our menu for the morning was:
Fresh orange juice
A choice of fresh melon and natural yogurt drizzled with honey and toasted halved almonds, or fresh grapefruit, or a selection of cereals, or porridge oats and cream.
A choice of The Full English Grill Tray (with grilled back bacon, pork sausage, fried egg, sautéed mushrooms, tomato, baked beans, hash browns, and fried bread) or grilled kippers.
A bread basket with croissants, white or wholemeal toast, morning rolls, and pain au chocolat.
A selection of marmalades, fruit preserves, marmite, and honey.
Freshly brewed tea and coffee

We stopped first in Bath to allow people off there. Then we rode for another 15 minutes to Bristol Temple Meads station.

I spent some time just walking around and looking in some of the market stalls. I also found this church.

From a distance, I thought it looked rather odd, almost as if I could see through parts of it. Getting closer, I realized I could see through parts of it. From what I gathered from memorial plaques nearby, this church was bombed during World War II and left here as a memorial.

Walking around the church, I saw a large balloon in the air.

It turns out that this is a large, tethered hot air balloon that, for only £7.50, will take you up, let you look around, and then return you to earth. I decided to remain on earth, keep my £7.50, and continue walking.

I walked towards the quay.

Nearby was the cathedral, a science museum, some canal boats, and a few trendy bars.

I stopped in at the Industrial Museum.

(It’s the brick building with the cranes in front.)
It’s got a nice display of vintage vehicles, printing equipment, and displays showing Bristol’s role in the sea and air industries. And it’s free.

A bit further down the quay is the S.S. Great Britain , ‘The World’s First Great Ocean Liner.’ (I’m not sure where they keep ‘The World’s First Pretty Good Ocean Liner.’) In 1843, the ship was a luxury ocean liner until 1852, when it began to be used as an emigrant clipper, taking emigrants to Australia. Then, in 1882, it was used as a windjammer until it was damaged and abandoned in 1886 near the Falkland Islands.

In 1970, it was towed back to Bristol where it was slowly restored. In fact, it was only last month that the restoration was completed.

Wandering through the steerage compartments, one gets an idea how confining it must have been on the long voyages to Australia. The first class passengers, however, had actual (tiny) cabins.

And, judging by this woman, sometimes the sea was rather rough.
The first class passengers were also able to use this nice, bright promenade area…

…as well as this fancy dining area.

In addition, the first-class passengers were able to use washbasins like this one.

And, judging by the manufacturer’s mark on the basin, this company also made loos.

The really cool thing about the renovation is that they have placed the ship in a dry dock so you can see the parts normally below the waterline. Not only is the ship in dry dock, the area is sealed from the elements by a glass roof.

Below the surface, visitors can see the iron hull and the giant screw that propelled the steam-powered ship. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, in addition to having a rather posh name, also designed the ship and it was the first iron-hulled ship to be driven by a screw propeller.

Moored next to the S.S. Great Britain is the Matthew. (Really!)

According to the brochure, ‘the Matthew is Bristol’s replica of the explorer John Cabot’s 15th century caravel, built for the 500th anniversary of Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland.’

On my walk back to the station, I passed St. Mary Redcliffe…

…and this building.

I thought the building looked rather odd until I walked to the side of it.

It has a front, but not a side!

Then, I was back at platform 15…

…waiting for our train to come around the bend.

On the trip home, we had a lovely dinner. The menu included:
A choice of carrot and coriander soup or sweet chilli chicken kebabs presented on a bed of Thai style noodle salad.
Roast pork loin accompanied by a creamy apricot and walnut sauce.
Braised red cabbage with sultanas
Sugar snap peas sautéed with ginger
Lyonnaise potatoes
Minted new potatoes
Strawberry shortcake bavarois served with strawberry coulis and crème fraiche
A selection of three cheeses served with grapes, celery, and biscuits
Coffee, tea, and petit fours

After that meal, I was ready to settle back into my armchair and watch the countryside pass by!


Blogger Elaine Kay Janke said...

Matthew....the pictures are a VERY nice touch. They really add
a sense of "being there" to your narrative....lovely.

7:27 PM  

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