It’s well over a week later than I had intended, but here’s part 2 of my take on Mr and Mrs Chuffinghog’s trip to the north.
In part 1 I got as far as Sunday morning when we set out to visit the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. This line seems to have formed the kind of relationship with the “real” railway that most of the other heritage lines can only dream about. Their regular through services to Whitby and occasional forays in the other direction on the main line are evidence of the line’s staff and volunteers’ drive and enthusiasm.
Even in the dog-days between Christmas and New Year, they had two train running with standard four and black five locos in steam as well as a diesel in action – not counting the gronk (Class 08 shunter, for the purists) serving as station pilot at their Grosmont terminus. We travelled on the standard 4 hauled 11:00 departure from Pickering, having just made it there and found a car parking space in time to buy a ticket and board the train.
As working volunteers at Peak Rail, Sue and I are the proud subscribers to the Inter-rail pass scheme run by the Heritage Railway Association. This excellent concept gives working volunteers the chance to travel on almost every other heritage railway in the country for free, or at a very reduced rate. In fact, most railways, including Peak rail, allow free travel for HRA pass holders except during gala and special event weekends. I was a little surprised that the North Yorkshire Moors Railway only allowed us a 50% discount. The experience that we subsequently enjoyed on the railway justified this pricing policy.
So, with our privilege tickets in hand, we joined the train which was well patronised, but not crowded. On a fairly cold day, the steam heating was well in evidence all along the train and our carriage was warm and comfortable. Again, this is more than can be said for many other heritage railways at the start of a day’s service.
I was also impressed that the train provided a trolley service for drinks and refreshments and I enjoyed my hot chocolate and bag of crisps.
When we arrived at Grosmont I fully expected that I would hop off the train, watch the loco run round and re-take my same seat for the return trip. However, this was not to be. The railway was running a dining train which departed from the far platform and we were to travel back on this. I was most surprised that the railway was running a THIRD train, although this was in place of the set that had brought us from Pickering.
Their dining Set comprised a number of Pullman coaches (including a Mark 1 coach painted to look like a Pullman coach, although only an anorak like me would have spotted this). They also had a Gresley teak coach in the dining set. As we were not booked for dinner, we were relegated to one of the three ordinary Mark 1 coaches towards the rear of the train which proved to be quite full.
For our return trip, the Standard 4 steam locomotive was double headed with (I think) a Class 25 diesel.
The railway runs through some spectacular scenery across the moors and the journey even saw some blue appearing in the overcast sky.
When we arrived back at Pickering, I went to fetch the camera that we had (again) left in the car and we decided to wait for the arrival of the next train, due some 20 minutes or so later. It arrived some 15 minutes late, giving us plenty of time to visit the excellent model shop across the road from the station where Sue actually spent some money, not on a new loco for the layout that I am going to build one day, but on a birthday card.
However, one of the culinary highlights of our weekend away was in the refreshment room on Pickering station. They serve home-made soup, which on that day, was pea and ham soup. This was absolutely delicious and was almost worth the trip to the railway in itself.
After grabbing a few photographs of the train and of Pickering station, it was time for us to leave to return to York and our hotel. I’ll put a picture here as soon as I get round to downloading them from the camera.
On our return to York, Sue and I caught up on some more sleep before waking mid-evening and deciding that we ought to go out and explore a little of the city and find something to eat. We discovered that a Sunday evening may not be the best time to find anywhere other than York’s many pubs open for business. For some reason that I no longer remember, I said that I fancied a pizza, so we tried one Italian restaurant where we were told that we might have an hour’s wait for a table, so we walked deeper into the city of York where Sue spotted a Pizza Hut sign in the distance. With mounting excitement, we reached the door, only to find it firmly locked.
We retraced our steps to discover that we had taken a different road back. This fortunate accident brought us to the restaurant, Il Bertorelli *. The service here was outstanding, the food was excellent and the music was great. What more could we have wanted? It was also not at all crowded, with just one other group of people in the place. In fact, we were the last ones in the place, but never felt hurried or under any pressure to leave. I would certainly want to eat there again.
Monday morning came as something of a disappointment, not only because we had to leave the hotel (after another sumptuous breakfast), but because we had originally planned to go to Scarborough. Unfortunately, we had to get back home to keep an appointment with someone from Virgin media who was coming to restore our cable TV service that had been out of action since Boxing Day.
We were not happy when, some three hours after the promised arrival time, Sue phoned them to be told that they were not coming. An aggrieved Sue is not a pretty sight, nor, I would imagine is she the kind of customer that Virgin’s call centre most like to get. The phrase “firm but fair” almost applies to the conversation that I overheard and the engineer turned up five minute early on the following day.
The very reasonable basis for Sue’s complaint was that we had come back from holiday early and had missed the opportunity for a trip to Scarborough on that last day. Having extracted some financial recompense from the company, honour was considered to be satisfied and life goes on.
In my next exciting post on here, I’ll reveal a bit about the missing week since my last online sojourn here.
* This link is to the website of the London Bertorelli restaurants because I can’t find a site for the York one. I believe that they are now a national chain and may formerly have been Cafe Uno. Anyway, the food was wonderful.