Several trips around Britain
Once we had settled in Otford we began to make weekend trips by car and train around the UK. After so long away from Britain it felt almost like we were visiting a new country. I hadn’t been to many of the places we visited before. I soon realised that I had probably been to more places in Japan than I had in the UK.
We developed a pattern for the road trips. I would leave work early on Friday afternoons and then drive out to a station on a train line out of London. I would sit there in the station car park and wait for my wife. She would then leave work and get a fast train out to meet me. This meant we had a head start to the weekend and could normally get a decent distance from home on the first evening.
Where exactly we met depended on where we were heading to. We used Micheldever (out of Waterloo) if we were going to the south west, Harlington (out of St Pancras) or Huntingdon (Kings Cross) when heading to the north and Marks Tey (Liverpool St) if we were travelling to Norfolk.
We normally stayed away for at least two nights, but sometimes bank holidays and taking extra days off work meant this could be extended to three or four nights.
During this time I rekindled my interest in steam railways. Our road trips often included visits to the various heritage steam railways around the country and trips on the preserved trains themselves.
My railway enthusiasm settled down to where it is now; reading 3 railway magazines a month and buying the occasional book on specialist railway subjects. I didn’t normally go out of my way to ride on trains or take photographs of them, but I usually made sure trips we were making including something on rails that would be of interest to me.
These trips lasted until about 2003. In the last few years we began to favour two or three places and returned to them a few times. Aldeburgh in Suffolk and Lyme Regis in Dorset became our most regular haunts. When the novelty of driving wore off we also started to travel a little further afield by train.
After 2004 my mother and father’s ailing health meant that we needed to spend our spare weekends travelling to Blackpool so the trips pretty much stopped.
I have some wonderful memories of these journeys. I especially remember sitting in the car outside a station on a sunny Friday night waiting for my wife to appear. It was always great just sitting there knowing that I had a whole weekend of discovering new places ahead of me.
Here is a simple list of the major trips we made and some photographs of them. This list excludes trips where we simply returned to Blackpool and did nothing else besides.
The first two trips on the list were actually holidays to the UK we made from Japan in 1992 and 1993.
1992 (Home from Japan)
Oxford / Telford / Bets-w-coed / Bleanau Ffestiniog / Festiniog Railway / Slate Mine / Llandudno / Blackpool / Chester / Lake District / Severn Valley Railway / Cotswolds / Stratford / Warwick
1993 (Home from Japan)
Henley / Bath/ Blackpool / St Albans / York / Malton / Robin Hoods Bay / Whitby / Hull / North York/ National Railway Museum /
Blackpool / Trough of Bowland / Harrogate / Malton / Hawes / North Wales / Manchester
Canterbury and Whitstable / Tenterden / Kent and East Sussex Railway
Brighton / Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway
Bognor / Chichester / Portsmouth
Duxford Airshow / Cambridge
Sheerness / Sittingbourne and Kemsey Railway
Bournemouth / Swanage / Lulworth / Winchester / Mid Hants Railway
Charnock / Great Central Railway
Peterborough/ Wells Next to the sea / North Norfolk Railway / Norfolk Broads / Norwich / Bressingham Steam Museum
Exeter / Plymouth / St Ives / Lynton / West Somerset Railway / Bridgewater
Day trips to Emmet’s Garden, Scotney Castle, Igtham Mote, Chartwell, Wakehurst, Sheffield Park
Isle of White / Isle of Wight Railway
Huntingdon / Nene Valley Railway
Princes Risborough / Chinoor Railway
Bury St Edmonds / Southend Pier
Cranmere / East Somerset Railway / Seaton / Seaton Tramway / Branscombe / Lyme Regis
Bakewell / Matlock / Peak Railway / Peak District / Woodhead / Castleton / Buxton
Ludlow / Dean Forest Railway / Golden Valley / Tenby / St Davids / Aberaron / Tallylyn Railway/Ym Mochnant / Llangollen / Llangollen Railway
East Lancashire Railway
Brockenhurst by Train / Cycle hire in New Forest / Southampton
York by Train
Dorset – Milton Abbas / Corfe Castle / Swanage Railway / Bournemouth
Cotswolds / Broadway / Blenheim Palace
Shrewsbury / Long Mynd / Ludlow / Llandrindod Wells / Great Malvern / Burford
Stamford / Oakham / Melton Mowbray / Nottingham / Loughborough / Great Central Railway / Brackley
Malbourough / Avebury
Wells / Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis / Swanage Railway
Edinburgh by Train
Llangollen / Llangollen Railway / Llanfair Railway
Aldeburgh (Several Times)
Aldeburgh / Cromer / Norwich
Tenby by Train
Chatsworth by Train
Leicester by Train
Lincoln Christmas Market