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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

STEAM TRAIN ADVENTURE - memories still alive

Mothers' Day saw a delightful steam train ride courtesy of the National Railways of Zimbabwe. The new venture run by Rail Leisure, was a wonderful trip down memory lane. Remember when we were young and life was carefree ?

We would travel to Rhodesia by the Sea or Beacon Isle in the Cape, for a six week holiday every second year. Who on earth could afford to do that today, both from a time and a money perspective?

The carriages were clean and comfortable and they had even brought some of the majestic old ladies out of the Railway Museum I believe.

There were the signs we remembered as kids "Do not expectorate " or "moenie spoeg nie"!!

Those fabulous old sleeping and dining cars in paneled walnut, with the RR engraved on the windows are still there. The water bottles which adorned every carriage end had gone but the leather straps that held them in were still there as reminders of the days when life was genteel and easy !!

Leisure Rail did everything in their power to make life as comfortable as possible, and as we pulled out of the Bulawayo station, which was clean and shining, that old familiar huh pulled at our heartstrings.

We passed Khami station, Figtree, Marula, and on to Plumtree where they had laid on a braai, a giant marquee and entertainment while we ate and drank.

How well we remember those crazy loos which showed the ground racing by as one depressed the pedal to flush !!

Those bunks in real leather, with the table that came down from between the windows, upon which we played card games and board games, and that dear little basin, just small people size, which was covered when the table was extended.

The Bedding cupboards were still there and although we did not sleep over, I could almost smell the crisp fresh starch and see the gleaming whiteness of the bedding that would be brought to us by the conductor before we slept.

There were loads of kids taking their first train ride, bouncing off the bunks and the padded leather or walnut walls, while the more sedate sat in the dining cars, sipping coffee and gazing out at the mopane scrub that flashed by the windows.

The train stopped several times to take on water, one could hear that familiar tap tap of the wheel tappers, and that glorious old nostalgic whistle could be heard "all aboard" as we puffed off to our next stop.

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