Give planes a break let the train take the strain? This week I am rail bound as travel plans rule out cars, with airports in all the wrong places. This means the 14.00 off Kings Cross bound for Aberdeen although I’m only as far as Edinburgh.
As we board there is kerfuffle of who is in whose seat. There are also mounds of recently purchased junk food takeaways to sustain folks. For a long haul on a Monday afternoon, I wasn’t expecting the travelling circus. As we thread out of the capital, there is much chomping before people get down to the serious business of gawping at their devices. This route means the first stop is in York. So we hurtle for 200 miles across the flattest of land through forgettable towns in a train that has been refreshed but, let’s face it, was a 1970s British Rail design. The most interesting aspect is the dramatic weather with towering clouds delivering deluging April showers over yellowing rape seed fields that we pass through at full speed.
Following Darlington the landscape begins to undulate and then, thar she stands! The Angel of the North. Then I notice that on this full train, I’m the only person looking out of the window. I give an involuntary shrug. As we wend our way across the Tyne, I crane my neck to take in excellent views presenting the multiple river bridges all the way down to the Sage centre glinting in the spring sun.
As the train gathers speed north of Morpeth we suddenly find the coast and the majesty of Northumbria unfolds. The lowering sun is shining out to sea. With the seascape exquisitely lit the immense blackened clouds brood: proper four-seasons-in-one-day weather. A stiff breeze drives sizeable breakers ashore and whips the dark sea beyond into choppy white peaks. We are travelling at quite a clip so stone walls rise and fall, fields roll and drop away suddenly to the sea, deep railway cuttings blur lined with gorse bushes that shine with new flowers. New-born lambs run close to their mums as we barrel past.
If you have yet to see the coast up here, make the effort as it is something to behold. Unspoilt, weather-beaten, with epic skies. Take a few days, walk the beaches.
We stream past small harbours and villages before rattling west of Lindisfarne which has a thundery, deep grey backdrop.
With this theatre on full widescreen display it is with incredulity I report that no one aboard gives a hoot. All engrossed in jaw-jawing, watching iPlayer and/or eating. Next to me are a sweet Scottish family with a splendid 3 year old who is bursting with life. She absolutely will not stop. All the way from London we enjoy songs from Frozen, the choruses of any number banal pop songs and – aw bless – the chatter of a happy child at play with an attentive Ma & Pa. After 3 hours though, it’s wearing thin. Where’s her off switch? Solution? I pop in the ear buds and allow The Cinematic Orchestra to flood my mind. They are a fabulous enveloping aural recliner on which to lay whilst the landscape delivers its bounty. The spring colours of the land, the furious stormy hues of the sea and dramatic squalls. It’s all I can do not to shout “Bravo” or “ooh” and “ahh” like one might at a fireworks display.
I don’t though. Because it would mark me out as a loon. “Why is that baldy man making noises Deirdre?” I am the only person who has their eyes up taking in some of the best views Britain has to offer. The world can be a grim old place and yet when there is sheer unbridled joy on offer, for free, no one pays a gnats crotchet of attention. People glance up only to revert to their laps. No these are not ground out commuters, nor stressed business people having meetings: they have no reason to be so bloody joyless.
What is wrong with you all? Look at the bloody view y’lifeless goons.
(Many nationalities aboard folks so we’re not wagging a finger at one nation. Just at the soulless.)
Edinburgh delivers too. The evening sun striking the handsome New Town, deep blue skies and fresh Arctic air. Although, to be fair it is freezing. Am back down to York in a few days. Will people look out of the window on that trip? We’ll see shall we? Well, at least I will.
There’s a world outside your window and it’s not one of dread and fear. It’s beautiful. Be more curious gang.