Sunday, 30 December 2012

Festive Lunch On The Severn Valley...

Hello guys. This morning, through the damp mist, we were heading along the M6, M42 and later the M5 towards Kidderminster. Destination?: The Severn Valley Railway. As the final part of my birthday celebrations we had booked a table for four on the 'Severn Valley Limited'; the SVR's popular dining train. We have travelled on the 'Limited' many times in the past and have never been dissapointed. Therefore we thought we would come again today! Parking up in the spacious Kidderminster station car park, we stumbled across the gravel towards the station footpath. You can see the full extent of the operations around the station from here. 42968 - the Stanier Mogul - was just departing with a late running passenger, whilst Pannier 1501; recently returned from overhaul; stood steam-heating the Dining stock. Running alongside the footpath is the quirky 7.25" gauge Coalyard Miniature Railway: a line that I have driven for the public on before, aboard Dave's 14xx (see blog post here). These days the line has its own steam motive power and takes passengers on a mostly straight-line trip in push-pull mode. Today the little steamer in use was one of the butch-looking Station Road Steam 'Stafford's, with this example wearing yellow and named "Mae"...
"Mae" - A Chunky Engine for Only 10k!
The impressive Kidderminster Station was still festively decorated as the so-called 'Festive Season Trains' came and went behind four different steam locomotives. I really like stations like this that have that authentic feel. Our train departed at 12:55 and we were soon called to take our seats aboard the warm dining coaches.
Having boarded and been seated, we settled in for the 16-mile steam hauled journey to Bridgnorth. The Severn Valley is a beautiful line, cutting through attractive countryside and passing many features of interest. Spotting the Elephants of West Midlands Safari Park at Foley is always a treat, not to mention Daniels Mill and the fabulous views of the River Severn from Victoria Bridge. Enjoying a pint of a local ale over the tasty starter of Leek & Potato Soup, the run was very pleasant. Home-made soup is always the best in my book. The main course was a large cooked dinner with a hearty portion of Turkey Parcel at its centre. The parcel (a large helping of turkey filled with stuffing and wrapped in bacon) was very tasty and went with the good selection of vegetables very well. I can recommend the Severn Valley Limited - as I say, we've never been dissapointed. Over the sound of chomping mouths you could hear the healthy bark of 1501 as she pulled the train along the picturesque Severn Valley.
Maisie Enjoying The SVR Limited
The Dessert orders came as the train approached the terminus at Bridgnorth, where there was a short booked stop of only 8 minutes or so. I alighted at Bridgnorth to have a quick nosey around as, unlike the many paranoid folk who remained on board, I see no reason why a train should depart without us with no locomotive yet attached. In the yard at Bridgnorth was a recent visitor, hiding behind her support coach. Ian Riley's Black 5 No44871 was drafted in to help with Santa duties on the SVR and stood cold today, in the midst of GWR 2-8-0 No2857; who isn't a world different from 3803.
The quick turn around was aided by the addition of a different locomotive on the return run. The attractive Stanier Mogul No42968 was duly attached, having came up from Kidderminster just before us on that late running passenger I mentioned earlier. The Mogul was soon coupled up and I rejoined the train ready for dessert...surprisingly not getting left behind!
Departing from Bridgnorth past the Mogul's previous stock, we gained speed as we chugged towards Hampton Loade. The Dessert was fantastic: a mint cheesecake pleasantly presented...
A Spot On Dessert!
The run back did seem a little different in sound, from the locomotive at least. The strong exhaust beat of 1501; no doubt aided by its recent overhaul; was a stark contrast to 42968. The latter is coming to the end of her boiler ticket now and it sounds as if the valves need some adjustment. The beats were very one-TWO-Three-four, particularly when getting into her stride. Mind you, what do such things matter with an engine so close to her ticket's end - she's still going at least! Following on from the brilliant dessert, Tea and a Mince Pie was served. The Tea was nice and so was the first bite of the Mince Pie...the rest I could not eat for fear of bursting! We did eat very well on this train and the portions were certainly very good for the money. Mind you...thinking of it as I write this post...I could eat it all again!
Back at Kidderminster we detrained following another brilliant meal on the SVR Limited. Though it is of course extra money to travel it is always worth it and, in my mind, there is no better way to see a preserved railway...except maybe from the footplate! ;)
Pretty Stanier Mogul Back at Kidderminster
Thanks for reading guys. Now we have to jump back into the car and retrace our steps back to Bedworth along the M5, M42 and M6. Its the last day of 2012 tomorrow...Can you believe it?! Regards, Sam.

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