northernvicarwalks July and August 2022

Most of July was spent in Orkney, but we managed two train trips on return.

I turned 60 at the beginning of August and we had a family meet up at Harlow Carr Gardens.

At the end of the week we had booked a Fish and Chip special on the Welshpool and Llanfair line. It was a beautiful evening, I spent too much in the bookshop, Julie was well looked after (it is an excellent lift), and the fish and chips (served on the platform at Welshpool) were lovely. Like many things in my life, it also became a sermon illustration:

On Friday evening, as part of my continuing birthday celebrations, we went off to the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway for their fish and chip special. It is a lovely narrow gauge line and, like most narrow gauge lines, it has rather fiercesome gradients. It was a heavy train, six carriages, one more than they usually run, and “The Earl”, the original Great Western locomotive, is now 120 years old. I got chatting to the fireman, who told me it was his first solo outing as a passed fireman, and he was a bit worried about having enough fire to keep his train on the move. The driver told him not to worry, to have faith, he’d be fine. We did have a laugh because the last two carriages had been block booked by the local Conservative Association – the driver said that if we had any problems keeping the train on the move, we’d simply uncouple the back coaches and leave them behind.

I am glad to say the driver’s faith in his fireman was fully justified. There was one slightly longer station stop while we got up steam, but we made it. And the fireman was absolutely shattered – faith is justified, but hard work is involved.

We visited the new RHS gardens at Bridgewater on the hottest day of the summer. They are lovely gardens, but we will go back when it isn’t so warm. I would like to explore the canal history of this part of the world as well.

Another of my birthday treats was a trip to the Edinburgh Tattoo, and I went on the train from Tweedbank. Lots of celebration!

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