A Glimpse of the Orient
Returning home from town last Thursday, under a spot of blue sky after the storm clouds cleared, we glimpsed distinctive yellow and brown flashes as the famous Pullman crossing the bridge by Folkestone’s Central Station.
“A Pullman,” came the reply from the driver’s side.
“The Orient Express? Yes! Get a wiggle on, Love. Let’s see if we can catch it up!” I chuckled. My lovely husband obligingly put his foot down on the accelerator and we sped off, within speed limits of course Officer.
At the traffic lights by the junction of Shorncliffe Road and Beachborough, we forked left and swooped into Folkestone West – yes we have not one train station in Folkestone, but two! Yes, I know!
A sight for sore eyes lay in wait for us. That wonderful beast that is the Orient Express crouched patiently on the rails, its would-be passengers milling around admiringly, whilst a sunshine brass band poised brightly on the platform to welcome it into the station and send it on its way again.
It was a joy to wander, to the jolly tune of ‘Hello Dolly’ and in the now blazing sunshine, alongside its flanks and gaze into the luxurious dining carriages, complete with white tablecloths and plush embracing seats. In some of the carriages, sporting names such as Perseus, Vera and Lucille, lovingly created in the Midland towns of Smethwick and Saltly during the last century, several passengers were already installed and enjoying a glass of sparkling bubbly and a cream tea.
At almost half past the hour we waved them off, smiling enviously at their good fortune to be part of the Venice-Simplon experience. Having left their sleeping quarters over in Calais, they were on their last leg home, dining in luxury.
We watched as it became a tiny dot, the central point of architectural perspective, the apex of the tallest ladder reaching into the landscape beyond the realms of sight.