OMG the sun is shining!!!
Insert whatever expression of amazement you like here but Rawtenstall has sunshine as well as the moonshine they probably sell at all good local bars. The walk down into the centre from the flat was just lovely today. I even had to take my jacket off and strip down to my t-shirt it was so warm. Yes, the sun was well and truly shining down on this sleepy little town and true to Andy’s words; it lit it up like in a storybook fairytale (GRIMM?). The sun blazing down on the stream made it sparkle, the ducks looked happy (probably stoned) and today was the first time I was going to meet Andy’s sister, Caroline and her family. Oh and in all this glorious sunshine, my hair glowed a lovely iridescent pink. There is nothing like making a first impression for the future outlaws.
We took our time walking down the steepest hill I’ve ever encountered just enjoying the sunshine. And it was then that we heard whistles of the old steam locomotive come into and subsequently leave the local station. Yes it was just too beautiful to rush the moment believe it or not. Andy always maintained that this place was just gorgeous when the sun shines; it’s just a shame it doesn’t do it all that often.
|Where's my bloody brother? Grr|
As pre-arranged earlier that morning, Caroline and her family were waiting patiently for us, while eating their way through the wares of the local ice-creamery; apparently this establishment has been here for around 80 years, says a man in an old flat cap who maintains he is still waiting to be served. Anyways, with all the awkward greetings and secret Masonic handshakes out of the way, and Andy close by with tickets in hand, we ventured into the pride of the East Lancashire Railway, Rawtenstall Station and went out onto the platform to wait for the next heavily breathing goliath of industrialised steam power... a choo choo train. I should probably point out around about here that this is not your normal train ride. We are riding on a steam train, with the locomotive on loan from the National Railway Museum, and the whole set up being run and manned by both volunteers and hobbyists. The refurbished railway station was only reopened in April 1992, part of a work of loving restoration from a group of wealthy rail enthusiasts including Pete Waterman from Stock, Aitken Waterman, Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley and Jason Donovan fame (if you can call it that).
|Bury bound on the East Lancashire Railway,|
Click here for the full East Lancs Railway Album
Anyway, without further ado we were soon on our way to Bury. The train ride itself was just delightful. I got to view the local countryside all bathed in glorious sunlight, seeing the grazing cows, horses and sheep in wide open fields along the way. Watching out the window with Alex, Andy’s niece and her giggling at my accent, I got to share with her some little bits of Australia, comparing a handful of Aussie coins with the UK version. I also brought along some Mem Fox, my favourite Aussie children’s author, story books for the kids to read too.
Bury is 12 crow flying miles from Rawtenstall, so the train ride was just long enough not to bore the children and child like. We jumped off at Bury station and as we didn’t have a lot of time before the last train back home came through, we thought we would just stop at the station and have coffee and sandwiches and talk with the family. The atmosphere was made just that little more fun by the gentlemen behind the counter and his witty commentary of the British railways and his knowledge of the steam trains. Yes he was another volunteer who loved his work.
The Bolton Road Station at Bury has a pub on the station’s platform 2 and it appears it is a popular place to go on the weekends. The tables regimentally arranged outside in the sun were all packed and it appears nowhere escaped all the bunting for the Queens Jubilee. But this just made the place look that much more British. I loved it.
For the train ride home, we sat on the opposite side of the train to get in the other half of the journey’s epic scenery we missed while looking out of the opposing windows on the way to Bury. And whoever came up with the name Ramsbottom for a neighbouring town must have been drunk or high on crystal meth. I still giggle every time I hear it. Seriously, Ramsbottom? Even the kiwis go for the ewes.
|Quick, throw one in the back of the van, |
we'll eat for weeks. Hee hee
After a lovely couple of hours enjoying the East Lancashire Railway, it was time to come back to modern day reality and we were invited back for dinner at Caroline’s. Well the modern day reality for me was simply being in awe of the old 1700’s buildings and cobbled stone roads. I still feel like I am in a dream, or have been transported back in time to this beautiful little town. I mean there are sheep to be found roaming the streets here. Just not something you’ll ever see in Coomera, we get the odd roo every now and then, but sheep, no, never.
Caroline lives in a terraced house (one in a block of three) that was originally built for the clergy of the local St Marys church. 3 little terraces overlooking the church grounds and graveyard and they are just gorgeous. They were originally built in the 1700s along with much of the surrounding streets. For now though, the church will have to be an outing all of its own to allow us to get all the beautiful architecture photographed and shared in the blog for you. But we did come across a lovely ornate library on the main road leading up to Caroline’s.
Just another beautiful day in the old UK, I really do love it here, it's so full of history, awesome buildings and rather nice boyfriend material too.