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25th March 2007

Me in my finest !
 Sunday 25th March 2007 started as a rather overcast day, but with hints that it could brighten up a bit later.

I set out at 09:10, dressed in my smartest clobber, to catch a train from Catford Station to Victoria where I was due to meet up with Aleemah at 09:41.

 Pictured on the left is me in my new jacket, tie, shirt and flannel trousers. Probably not since schooldays have I been similarly attired.

 Pictured on the right is Aleemah dressed in her best cardigan, and overcoat.

Our "mission" for the day was to take lunch (or was it brunch ?) in the luxurious confines of the Orient Express train as it conveyed us from Victoria to Paddock Wood, and back again.
Aleemah sitting in luxurious surroundings

 We were seated at seats five and six in the coach Ibis.

All the coaches of the Orient Express train have individually names.

 Pictured on the left is Aleemah in her armchair like seat. While on the right is our coach.
route map
posh washbasin

 Above is the route we took. (Clicking on this picture links to a higher resolution image).

 The facilities on the train were just as luxurious as the seating arrangements. On the left is a picture of the washbasin in the toilet, and on the right the actual toilet bowl. The toilet bowl looks pretty ordinary, but look beyond that at the tiled floor.
(all the above pictures are slightly shrunk. On some web browsers you can right click them, and choose "view image" for a larger view)

 Our trip took approximately three hours in total. From my point of view the worst aspect of it was that there was no smoking permitted anywhere on the train. The train manager informed me that it was only this year that the total smoking ban had come into place, and had we gone last year we could have been accomodated as smokers. He also informed me that there would probably be sufficient time while the train reversed at Paddock Wood to allow me to get off the train for a crafty fag. This I did, but it was done in an unnecessary rush. We were actually stationary at Paddock Wood for sufficient time to smoke at least two fags in quick succession instead of the three quarters of a fag I let myself enjoy before rushing back onto the train.

 The food was tasty, but like many posh resturants the portions were very small. The main course was scrambled egg with chives on a toasted muffin. Laid over the top of that was some smoked salmon, and sitting on top of that was a small blob of caviar. That was the first time I have tasted caviar, and considering that it is just a pile of fish eggs, it was sort of tasty, but much of that flavour may have been from the smoked salmon anyway. As a food it is a waste of time, and even as a posh treat it sort of seems pointless. The other rather peculiar thing was that the food seemed, to my uneducated mind, to be served in the wrong order. The main course came second to last, with the last being a croisant. There were several things before that which I would have served as a sweet, but I guess my main food education was probably school dinners !

 I did make some other observations about the train that are worth recording. The seating is not fixed as you would normally see in a train. Each seat is, in fact, a totally moveable arm chair. They look very comfortable, and Aleemah thought that they were, but I think the bouncy seats that were used in some of the old, and now obsolete, slam door trains were possibly even more comfortable. Another noticable thing was the "ride quality" of the carriage suspension. It was more like that of a sports car. Every bump in the rails could be felt as a small, but hard jolt, and yet the lateral movement was very small. Most train seem to have suspension that is soft enough to cushion these bumps, and yet is so soft it allows the whole carriage to sway. In our carriage, "Ibis", and it is almost cartainly the same for the others, it was very noticable how there was very little side to side movement, and this is obviously a very desirable thing with stewards on their feet delivering food and drinks all the time.

 We arrived back at Victoria on time, or maybe just a little earlier, and then Alemah and I retired to the Wetherspoons pub for a few drinks and a chat about our experiences on the train. After three pints of Stella Artois, and having replenished my nicotine levels, we each made our own way home.