As we get older suddenly there is so much to celebrate! Special anniversaries, milestone birthdays, and best of all – retirement!
Family and friends may struggle to find that ‘special gift’, but sometimes experiences and memories can be more exciting than material ‘things’. Nothing is more unforgettable in my opinion, than a day out on the luxurious Belmond British Pullman.
My husband and I were lucky to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary recently and decided on a day trip to Bath travelling by steam. When the beautifully boxed tickets arrived I knew we were in for something unique.
The day started early at 08.45 from London Victoria Station, so to avoid last minute hold ups we stayed the night before in a comfortable hotel in East Croydon. This saved us money over a central London location, provided safe parking for our car and was just 20 minutes from Victoria. As our day on the British Pullman included quite a lot of alcohol, we also stayed the following night. There is plenty of choice in the area, but we liked the Croydon Park Hotel just 2 minutes walk from the station.
On arrival at Victoria we quickly checked in and then joined the crowds to watch the great steam engine pull the beautifully restored carriages into the station, a sight that had many every day commuters stopping to stare. Most of our fellow passengers seemed to be like us, celebrating something special and had dressed for the occasion. We all milled about enjoying having photos taken alongside the train.
All the coaches are individual and have varied interiors. We were in Cygnus, designed as a First Class parlour car, but then put in storage during the war and not completed until 1951. Once on board in our sumptuous seats we sat back and relaxed as the train began to negotiate around London and onto the main southwestern rail line.
The journey took about 4 hours and the time just flew by in a haze of beautifully prepared food and drink. Peach Bellinis were served as we left Victoria, followed by pastries, fresh fruit, eggs, smoked salmon and lots of fresh coffee.
Some guests struck up new acquaintances, while others just sat quietly and enjoyed the wonderful English countryside. We had been blessed with a warm and sunny day, the sky was blue, lambs frolicked in the fields and the hedgerows were bursting with blossom.
We had a 20-minute stop at Newbury for the engine to take on water and it was a chance to stretch our legs, watch the work being done and admire the train.
On arrival at Bath we had the opportunity for a city coach tour but as the weather was so lovely we opted to stroll around on our own. Bath is a delightful city and there was plenty to do and see, the famous Pump Rooms and Spa, the imposing Abbey and an array of imaginative shops. Oh and tea shops of course! We indulged ourselves by sharing a Sally Lunn teacake in the historical tearooms.
After 4 hours it was back to the station and our return journey to London. We settled down with a glass of Champagne and a leisurely 4 course dinner. I had asked to see the galley style kitchen and was amazed that such tempting and well presented food could emerge from such a tiny space, airlines could certainly learn a lot.
After soup, succulent lamb, a selection of English Cheeses, fruit tart and petit fours, we were satisfyingly replete.
All too soon our perfect day was over but the memories will stay with us forever.
Belmond British Pullman offers day trips thorough the year and have a comprehensive calendar of events:
Prices for the Historic Bath journey on board Belmond start from £561 per person and include brunch with a Bellini, a four course dinner with Champagne and half a bottle of wine and a guided tour of Bath. To book or for more information visit Belmond.com or call 0845 077 2222.