Thursday 30th April (Day 49 of 236)
Another precious half day off arrived and fortunately the sky was blue and the sun was shining, however, it was cold and their was a fair breeze blowing. The tide times for crossing the causeway to ‘Holy Island‘ (Lindisfarne) were not in our favour again ! We will get there eventually I am sure. The sea was far too rough to contemplate a boat trip to the ‘Farne Islands‘ from ‘Seahouses‘, so another one that will have to remain on our ‘To Do List’ for the time being.
After getting changed out of our ‘Elf and Elfette’ clothing we sat drinking our coffee and eating our sandwich lunch whilst mulling over what we were going to do with our afternoon. There was still ‘Bamburgh Castle’ but we were still a bit ‘Castled’ out so another one resigned to the ever-growing ‘To Do List’. Shazza had remembered seeing one of those brown tourist signs along the road on one of our previous forays, this one had a steam train symbol on it and as it wasn’t too far away we decided to go and take a look, it was a day for a nice steam train ride we thought.
Shazza drove us out of the campsite and we headed South on the A1, we hadn’t checked the route as Shazza assured me that she knew where she was going, no need for me to navigate then, I could just sit and admire the views. We drove, and we drove and I got a bit concerned when I saw that we were only a few miles away from ‘Alnwick’, surely it wasn’t this far down ? I checked the road map and sure enough we were heading a long way in the wrong direction !! I think we have been here before, fortunately this time it wouldn’t be three hundred miles in the wrong direction, although I wondered how far South she would have driven before deciding to do a route check !! I navigated us a route back in the general direction to where we wanted to be, after a pleasant scenic diversion we arrived at our destination, the vision of the steam train that I had in my mind wasn’t quite the same in reality…………
Okay, so it was a wee bit smaller than I had expected, understatement of the year or what !! This wee train, although named ‘Bunty’, was, I am sure, related to ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’ and its destination was a village called ‘Etal’, a journey time of just twenty-minutes, although I noted a footpath sign that stated that it was only a mere ten minute walk ! We entered the ‘hut’ that acted as the ‘ticket office’ and once again we became victims of ‘daylight Mugging’, £6.50 each for a return ticket, perhaps we should have just walked or driven !! Shazza looked at me, I looked at her, we shrugged our shoulders and, clutching our tickets in the strong breeze, we couldn’t afford to lose these, not producing valid tickets would have probably cost us a £50 fine, we squeezed ourselves into the tiniest of carriages, somebody should have told them that we were not real ‘Elf and Elfettes’ for goodness sake. The seats were wooden and hard, no cushions or any other such luxuries like a ‘Restaurant’ carriage, but then again, I guess we had only paid for a standard ticket, not that there was any choice in the matter !!
The trains whistle blew, the wee carriages gave a jolt and we were on our way, but not at breakneck speed, in fact it would have been quicker to walk, let alone cheaper. I had my camera at the ready and would have included some lovely scenic photographic images, had their been any that is. The narrow gauge rail line ran between rolling green fields and a river, the rolling green fields were crop after crop after crop and the views of the river, when we got a sight of it between the overgrown hedgerow and trees, was nothing very spectacular. So we could not miss an opportunity and took yet another ‘Selfie’.
We were relieved when the twenty-minute journey was over, when we exited our carriage at ‘Etal’ our cheeks were a little numb, no, actually they were a lot numb and I don’t mean the cheeks on our faces !! Anybody watching us passengers alight from our carriages would have been forgiven for thinking that some Secret Society had arrived on a day out in their little village as everyone got out, placed both hands on each bum cheek and rubbed vigorously, I guess it must have been an amusing sight to witness, even we chuckled. The village of ‘Etal’ was about a ten minute stroll from the little station but first we had to pass the ‘Castle’, well the notice board called it a castle, the tourist office outside called it a ‘Castle’, but actually it was a lot of grass and some boulders stacked up on top of each other to make it resemble the ruins of a ‘Castle’, and of course, they wanted to charge an entry fee to go in and look at said boulders, we had been mugged once already today, we didn’t fancy becoming victims again so we continued walking.
The village of ‘Etal’ was one of those that you may find on expensive tins of biscuits, extremely picturesque, there was only one street, one pub and a Tea-Room that also served as the Village Post Office and local General Store.
Just half an hour, and that was walking slowly, and that was it we had ‘done’ Etal, unfortunately we still had another hour to wait for the last train back, we did think about taking the ten minute stroll back to the car but having been mugged for a ‘return’ ticket, we were going to get our monies worth, even if it was going to be a bum numbingly laborious ride back !! So, it was a unanimous decision, we headed to the ‘Lavender Cafe’ for tea and cake, just to pass the time you understand !!
I couldn’t stand all the excitement so I went for a walk to find something interesting to photograph, I failed miserably !!
You won’t be surprised to hear that the return train journey was as uneventful as the outbound trip and we were pleased to get back to ‘Wuxly’. We took the much shorter route back, interpret that as travelling in the right direction this time !! So, it was good to get off the site for the afternoon and it didn’t rain but was it a day out to remember, perhaps for all the wrong reasons, yes it was !!
I didn’t want to ponder too much on what excitements Shazza will conjure up for our next mini Adventure, who knows, it may be a day where we don’t get mugged or perhaps we may go somewhere interesting, now whereabouts was that ‘Bamburgh Castle’ again ?