All aboard the Fly­ing Scots­man

Steam lo­co­mo­tive fan Michael Pear­son took the trip of a life­time as he dined out through Sur­rey on the mag­nif­i­cent Fly­ing Scots­man

Staines Informer - - TRAVEL -

WHEN I was a child I had an ob­ses­sion with trains, and one in par­tic­u­lar – the Fly­ing Scots­man.

For any young boy, the fa­mous steam en­gine is the one you long to have in your col­lec­tion of mod­els.

When my love af­fair with the once fastest lo­co­mo­tive in the world be­gan I re­mem­ber go­ing to visit the liv­ery in the early stages of its over­haul at the Na­tional Rail­way Mu­seum in York.

As an ex­cited 12-year-old in the sum­mer of 2006, I walked into the restora­tion work­shop to find my beau­ti­ful LNER class to be in tat­ters and stripped to the bone.

This com­pelled me to throw a £1 coin (prob­a­bly my week’s pocket money) into the square-boxed tins around the con­course of the work­shop.

Fast for­ward 10 years and to have the op­por­tu­nity to ride on the re­fur­bished train was some­thing I was de­ter­mined not to miss.

I was trav­el­ling on the 6.50pm ser­vice from Lon­don Vic­to­ria and, ea­ger not to be late, I ar­rived at the sta­tion in good time, just be­fore 6pm, but right in the mid­dle of the com­muter rush hours.

Thank­fully, any­one trav­el­ling on the Fly­ing Scots­man was given a par­tic­u­lar part of the sta­tion to go to, so I was able to eas­ily queue up and wait for the liv­ery to ar­rive.

Hav­ing al­ready seen the lo­co­mo­tive pass through Sur­rey that af­ter­noon, I thought I would be slightly less thrilled about see­ing the train again, but when it pulled in my in­ner 12-yearold ex­ploded and I called my mum to make her lis­ten to the beastly en­gine roar into the sta­tion.

Leav­ing not a sec­ond late, the train pulled out of Vic­to­ria and be­gan its jour­ney into the Sur­rey Hills.

Con­sid­er­ing the mon­u­men­tal ef­fort it must have taken to sched­ule the Fly­ing Scots­man to leave the cap­i­tal on a week­night, the lo­co­mo­tive was on time and ev­ery­one was re­laxed.

It was tak­ing us time to leave Lon­don but I was more in­ter­ested in the flair and ro­mance of the evening on board.

I was seated in the Premier Din­ing sec­tion of the train where pas­sen­gers could en­joy a five-course meal, with no ex­pense spared.

More than 400 were sit­ting for din­ner and I was amazed to dis­cover the food was pre­pared and served out of just a sin­gle car­riage with a small team of chefs.

To start, we ate a mack­erel pate with fen­nel and dill pickle on top, fol­lowed by the main event – a more tra­di­tional roasted fil­let of beef with herbed mashed potato, fine beans and spinach.

In be­tween cour­ses I met some of the other pas­sen­gers on board.

A lovely re­tired cou­ple were seated on the other side of the car­riage and I no­ticed how all the staff seemed to know who they were.

They ex­plained that they have trav­elled on the Steam Dreams [the com­pany that runs the car­riage ser­vice] ex­pe­ri­ence days many times and are wel­comed as part of the family.

I could well be­lieve it as staff and guests ap­peared to share in the truly fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether.

Back to the meal and it was on to the dessert – a salted caramel tart fin­ished with hon­ey­comb and rasp­ber­ries.

By this point my pal­let had pretty much been on a train ride of its own so the tart was a fan­tas­tic fi­nale to my meal.

As I chose to alight at Shal­ford Rail­way Sta­tion rather than the fi­nal stop, I missed out on the other two cour­ses – a cheese board fol­lowed by choco­late truf­fles and cof­fee.

As we passed through Guild­ford and be­gan our ap­proach to Shal­ford, we were told there were more than 200 peo­ple on the plat­form wait­ing for the ar­rival of the great steam en­gine.

For me, this re­ally was the ic­ing on the cake.

What bet­ter way to cel­e­brate the great lo­co­mo­tive than hun­dreds of peo­ple turn­ing out to get a glimpse of their own child­hood love. l Pre­mium Stan­dard is £79 per per­son; Pull­man Style Din­ing is £205 per per­son.

Gra­hame Larter SA162021

There she blows: The Fly­ing Scots­man, as the Cathe­drals Ex­press, pass­ing through Guild­ford Rail­way Sta­tion on a pre­vi­ous jour­ney.

Mack­erel pate with fen­nel and dill pickle. Pic­ture: Steve Porter Ref: SA162104

The Fly­ing Scots­man at full throt­tle through the Sur­rey Hills. For starters: Pic­ture: Michael Pear­son

Pic­ture: Michael Pear­son

Dressed to im­press: The laid-out ta­ble in the din­ing car­riage.

@Jas­mine_BFN.

The lo­co­mo­tive steams in to Byfleet and New Haw sta­tion.

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