Twilight’s Last Gleaming

Twenty years ago today, on September 11, 2001, the world changed. There are many ways to reflect on that awful day. After 36 years working as Cabin Crew, my thoughts will tend to be directed towards those crew members who lost their lives, but this doesn't in any way diminish the rememberance of all of …

Inclined Plane and we’re nearly done

The WiFi and internet signals are a little hit and miss on this Tour - perhaps unsurprisingly since we’re on a moving barge in the middle of mountains and the remote French countryside. Today is our last full day on the Barge, so this post will be for both yesterday and today, and so slightly …

Saverne and a surprise BBQ

Having moored overnight at Saverne we started the day with a guided walking tour of this pretty little French provincial town. As we walked around Saverne the Church Bells started ringing - I always think this is such a pretty sound, and I was impressed that our Guide had arranged for them to be rung …

Tarte Flambée (NOT Pizza)

My cabin window is very close to the waterline, which doesn’t matter much when you’re travelling really slowly on a silky smooth canal. I woke this morning to see the canal surface steaming gently as the morning sun hit the water (that’s my poetic/romantic moment for the Tour all done in one paragraph). It was …

First day cruising in Alsace

We woke to bright sunshine - there’s not been much of that this year in the UK so it took a moment to recognise the big shining yellow orb in the sky. We took a leisurely breakfast inside and finished our coffees outside because… why not? Our cruise takes us along the Canal de la …

On our way to Alsace

So, for the first time in a very long time, TimOnTheTrain is off on an International adventure. An early start at St. Pancras meant that we had it almost to ourselves, and it never looked lovelier! In recognition of this return to the status quo, Great Rail Journeys had organised a glass of champagne in …

Waterways

Bonjour Everybody. Unexpectedly, I've picked up another Tour after my Italy was cancelled. It's very different to my usual kind of thing, but I'm looking forward to it immensely. I'm going to be French, or actually, to be specific, I'm going to become an Alsatian. Fortunately, this doesn't mean that I'll be entered into Crufts …

Amazing Grace at Sea Lion Rocks

Today, our final full day on the Isle of Man, was a free day for the clients to explore at leisure. As I write, they’re still out at somewhere unknown. Having Fun. Alone and unsupervised! Better hope that doesn’t catch on. I planned out a voluntary excursion for those clients that had nothing better to …

Sheep (probably)

Today was our visit to the top of Mt. Snaefell (2307 feet - 620mtrs) on the Snaefell Mountain Tramway. After some fabulous views, at about 1500 feet we entered the clouds… And didn’t come out! The visibility stayed at about 50 metres, and, since clouds contain the odd bit of moisture, it was wet. None …

Queenies

Today we headed for the North & West side of the Isle of Man. The weather Gods decided to give us all a day off from being drenched after we sacrificed a small child. First stop was Tyndall Hill where the government of the Isle of Man (They’re independent, remember?) meet once a year to …

Castletown

Our first full day on the Isle of Man and we experienced a biblical deluge for most of the day. I was surprised that we hadn’t mutated into webbed feet creatures by the evening. Fortunately, my clients are British (including some from Yorkshire!) and they are made of sterner stuff than others, and so took …

Back On The Rails

I'm off on Tour again. At Last! I'm back with Great Rail Journeys again, this time on a Tour named Vintage Railways of the Isle of Man. It leaves on Wednesday, returns home next Monday, and you can follow me round the Tour on this Blog. Surprisingly (for some of you) the Isle of Man …

On our way Home

Yesterday we visited Fort George, near Inverness. It’s the home base of 3rd Battalion ‘Black Watch’ who have just arrived back from a Tour in Afghanistan. We thank them for their service. The morning was spent with the Strathspey railway, and our last steam of the Tour. The Aviemore scenery looked beautiful. I’m writing this …

Boats & Trains

Travel Day today. We started with a short ride to Stromness to pick up the Ferry to Scrabster (population: approx 6) Goodbye Orkney On the Ferry we passed close to the Old Man of Hoy, captured here by one of our clients (Thanks to John Williams). Copyright: John Williams Next, John O’ Groats for the …

Far North & Orkney Tour – Days 4 & 5

The Orkneys are the site of the finest Neolithic archeological diggings in Western Europe, and they can be found at The Ness of Brodgar, a thin strip of land, in the West Mainland of Orkney, that separates the lochs of Harray and Stenness. We explored the Standing Stones of Stennes, the Ring of Brodgar and …

Far North & Orkney Tour – Day 3

Excitingly, I’m writing this on a boat. Or should it be ship. Or maybe just, Ferry. I’m not too strong on things nautical. Boats make me slightly nervous. They sink. Also, the ones in Aberdeen harbour, which service the oil industry look a bit odd and have some very strange names… That said, this is …

Far North & Orkney Tour – Day 2

A busy day, and a good one. We started this morning with a visit to Crathes Castle. It’s surrounded by beautiful formal gardens. Today is our 31st wedding anniversary, so I thought I’d Facetime Mrs TimOnTheTrain (Hi sweetie) from somewhere with an attractive background. You couldn’t ask for much better than this… (and she seemed …

Far North & Orkney Tour – Day 1

So. The thing about the far North is that it’s quite… you know… far? It’s a seven hour journey from London Kings Cross up to Aberdeen even on the latest AZUMA trains. The post-COVID on board catering is improving gradually from the dog days of a bag of potato chips and a bottle of water. …

Thank You Sainsburys!

The life of a Tour Manager during lockdown is not a pleasant one. Working in the Travel Industry at a time when there is no travel is depressing, and financially ruinous. After many months depleting my savings in the recurrent expectation that travel would return, only to have my hopes dashed time after time, I …

‘Narrow-Gauge’ or ‘Standard Gauge’?

On many Tours we find ourselves travelling on Narrow Gauge railways and clients are used to referring to them as such. People often understand what it means (or think they do) but for many, the phrase is almost meaningless. Let's take a look at what is going on. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad …