Some time ago, well earlier this year I was sorting through a number of family and personal pictures that had been in storage and only started going trough when I had got round to sorting through the boxes, however one of the items I came across was a photo from a holiday I took way back with a mate of mine where we inter-railed round Europe with a small budget, a big rucksack and a winning smile. That was one of holidays that you never forget and brought many happy memories back and I should really right something down at some point for future family members maybe.
Anyway this lead me on to an idea that kept coming back and from it’s initial inception in my usual fashion it ricocheted from the kernel of the idea to a galaxy consuming juggernaut. So to the meat of this post, next year I will turn 50 and that is something I never thought I would make it to when I was in my late teens and into my twenties due to a rather reckless attitude and a succession of ever increasingly powerful motorbikes. However here I am or soon to be 50 and I thought that I should really do something to commemorate this rather amazing achievement, well somewhat amazing, ok pretty mundane to most. Being a railway modeller and having a Life long interest in trains I thought what better way to celebrate than to visit railways in anyway shape or form a kind of pilgrimage. Not quite a bucket list but one that would be a dream list with a number of prototypes that I have wanted to see over the course of time. Where do you start with a project like this, well the obvious one is here in the UK as there is an abundance of heritage railways and many related subjects, however I wasn’t going to limit myself by this and I have a number of locations, things I want to see that are further afield.
This takes some considerable planning and not an insignificant amount of money. Well where do I start? So I am looking at doing things I haven’t done before but this is not a complete blanket rule and I am going to be realistic and have a plan B if my original intentions are unable to be carried out probably due to financial reasons. But 50 railways in a year equates to one every weekend, now this is just impossible obviously. However it is possible to do a number of activities at one go and this is where my starting point will be. So getting out the atlas and looking to stick pins in I thought of what are the prizes of this journey and for me they are the journey rather than the place and it is on the journey that one has the adventures. In fact the more I think about it the more it seems to be about the experience than purely ticking off a list of a bunch of things on a crumpled piece of paper that had been reworked and worn out by endless possibilities that came and went. Remembering back to the InterRail holiday it wasn’t the journey that was the important thing it was the experience around it and the people and places visited, the international football match in Innsbruck where no one spoke very much English, the night at Lake Constance(Bodensee) with a monster that my friend was shouting at and hitting with a shoe (no really) to try and give the rest of the dorm some sleep who in the morning awoke and greeted us with a cheery Guten Morgen oblivious to the previous nights interruptions, to the Machine Gun totting Italian border guards, to the most memorable couple of days in Strasbourg; 1ltr bottles of Kronenbourg, Philadelphia Phil, Bones Jones and Birgit the bouncy barmaid, the stories go on and I guess in some way it would nice to recreate some of these experiences some what later in life.
Moving along I have jotted down some of the ideas and places I want to visit and in no particular order they are or would be; Seven Valley Railway, Ravenglass & Eskdale, Great Central, WHR, Talyllyn, then on into Europe with Swiss Metre lines including RhB, BVB, WAB, MOB, ZB and many others also the rather unique 750mm Waldenburgbahn. In Germany the Harz Railway, travel the ICE would be on the list and then a rather longer hop to over the over side of the pond to visit the railways of New England and Canada. As I have never really been a fan of the desert railways but never say never. I would particularly like to see some short-line railroading and would love to ride the Amtrak somewhere for the experience. Now that the idea is out there I guess I need to actually do something about it!
I plan to do it during the year of my birthday so will be April to April to give me some time to organise, plan and try and finance! and progress will be posted here sporadically as there is some. Would love to hear any feedback..