About a month ago, I received an email from my brother-in-law asking me to keep the 21st of July free as my sister Becky had planned an early birthday surprise. The day got closer and I tried desperately to trick clues out of Mark who did well to not let anything slip as he struggles to keep surprises.
I was told that I had to be ready to leave the house by 10.30. Mark got Hula ready and we drove towards Wakefield. Finally, after fighting with the road works we got to Westgate train station and met Becky, Matt and Josh their little boy. Becky and Matthew strategically placed me so that I couldn’t read the electronic timetable. I was really starting to get excited at this point with the anticipation building when Becky said, “Vicky, what’s this coming down the track?” I could see a huge black engine with steam billowing out of its chimney. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was the Hogwarts Express. It was the sheer thrill of being a child on Christmas morning.
Was Hogwarts Express, now Scarborough Spa
I found out that you can charter a journey to Scarborough by steam train with West Coast Railways. It may not always be the train used in the Harry Potter films but it will be one just as charming. The carriages were wonderfully nostalgic and romantic and smelled of an old library. There was plenty of room for the 6 of us and 2 pushchairs. We soon discovered that small bits of soot came through the window and Hula got some on her socks from standing on the table. It all added to the atmosphere.
Me, Holly, Becky and Josh (muggles)
It was so lovely that as the train went by, people waved from their gardens. As we picked up more passengers, enthusiasts were waiting with cameras.
As the train pulled into York station, we decided that we would find somewhere to have lunch. We chose to eat at Il Bertorelli’s which is part of a chain of Italian restaurants. However, the food was really good and they were geared up for having families with small children. It was no effort for them to rearrange tables and chairs so that Holly and Josh could sit opposite each other in their high chairs.
The boys took the babies for a walk, and Becky and I went for a wander around the shops. I love visiting York. Having said that, I feel that over the years it has become far more geared up for tourists from overseas and it has taken the shine off of its charm a little. To say it was a weekday, the Shambles were packed. I always enjoy how the Minster just seems to appear without warning. Becky and I went inside to light a candle but it was strewn with visitors. Unfortunately It didn’t even feel like a place of worship with people shouting and mobile phones going off. I guess that’s what happens when you charge people £8.00 admittence.
We bought some little treats, there was a fantastic sale on at Cath Kidston so I bought a few choice items (it is my birthday soon afterall!). We all walked to the museum gardens by the river to let Josh have a run around before we got back on the train and to get Holly out of her pram for a while. The weather was beautiful and at 17.30 it was starting to cool down a little.
Me and Holly in the Museum gardens
The journey home was amazing. Such a beautiful summer evening showcasing our beautiful Yorkshire countryside in all of its glory. I’m very proud to live in one of the five towns, to think that it was in the area that I live that provided coal for such a stunning piece of British engineering. The mines have gone but much of the pride and pit bands remain. It was such a fantastic day, shared with lovely people. I’m looking forward to when Holly and Josh can understand who Harry Potter is and that they went on a magical journey on the Hogwarts express.
Snaking through from Woodlesford to Castleford