Monday, 22 August 2011

Steam Trains & Charity Shops

We had the most perfect day out at the weekend, which covered both of our hobbies! For me, playing around with the camera and searching relentlessly through charity shops for items worthy of a new home or a new role, and for the other half – train spotting.

Yep, that’s right folks, I am admitting that I am in love with a bona fide train spotter. Luckily not the notepad and numbers kind, but certainly the model building variety, which is a little strange still considering the money he spends on model railway magazines for a model railway he has yet to build. He hides his geeky dark side well with youthful good looks and no anorak to speak of.

Anyway, the day started in Tenterden, Kent, which is littered with high end charity shops (I think the States call them thrift shops). I call them high end because a lot of posh people live in this area and so their donations are always more exciting than somewhere without posh people shall we say?
After charity shop shopping (I actually like the term thrifting better though!) and unloading my saddles full of treasured finds back at the car, we grabbed the picnic basket and headed out to do a little train spotting by the track, which can be very relaxing if armed with food and magazines. After getting to grips with the spiders sharing our dining spot, and devouring our packed lunch after a busy morning, we walked up the line to Rolvenden, the next station up, in order to catch the train.

I should have known something was not right as soon as the other half said ‘I used to walk this way when I was a kid…’ because sadly the footpaths were no longer clear and possibly legal. But the other half’s determination has only grown since he was a boy, so off we go. The main thing I remember and regularly flashback to since that day, was the Evil Stile...

This particular stile had been kept intact apart from the actual posts to climb on and the top bar had been replaced with a rather sinister round of barbed wire. Now I am happy to clamber whenever the occasion calls for it, however on this particular day I was wearing a 1950’s style A-line dress, so as I precariously balanced above the menacing spikes below, all I could think about was losing my footing, which kind of takes over all other practical thoughts of physically getting down. Thankfully I managed to jump off the other side to safety otherwise this post may not have started in the same way.

Our adventure did not end there however and as usual more was in store for us. As we approached the last field, our childish run through the meadow ended abruptly as there appeared to be no way through. We were stuck in a private field surrounded by barbed wire fencing (ok, ok, I realise now that they probably didn’t want us walking through their fields) with a river in front without any way across and more sinister fencing up the bank to the train line.

The other half offered ‘Well, that never used to be there’ as some kind of solace to our predicament. We could hear the train near the station only a few yards away and it seemed a little ridiculous to give up now. So he searched left and I searched right. All I found was a fallen tree precariously balancing above the waters edge. As I stood trying to figure out if it was worth the trouble, the other half called out to say he had found us a route.

So I skipped down to meet him and quickly discovered that his route was certainly interesting. First it involved ducking under a loose part of the barbed wire fence. Then, whilst teetering on the edge of the bank, negotiating an older rusted fence, with a short sharp drop to the dried part of the river bed. And then a dangerous scramble up the bank the other side through hedges and tufts of razor grass with only a few branches and loose gravel to cling onto.

Did we plough on through? Of course – because we are intrepid explorers!  And arrived just in time to catch the next train. The sun came out, the cardigan came off and the sunglasses went on. We leaned out the window the whole time enjoying the wind in our hair (as well as a few soot smuts) and finished the day nicely with a drive home with the roof out.

I couldn’t resist posting a little picture of some of my finds as well (this little lot came to just over £5 including the real leather belt!) – the green headscarf has become our outdoor tablecloth which billows beautifully in the breeze. The glass bowl will become a sugar bowl for guests, the lace mat fits in perfectly with the caravan decor and the little glass bottle…well, I have an interesting use for that which you will find out about soon…

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