Steam Dreams

    Taking a journey back to the golden age of travel, Clare White enjoys the night train to Oxford and back again

    Paddington Station in the evening is an exciting place. The bustle of the evening commuters rushing home and the sound of the train announcer.

    But this is special, we are going on a steam train with Steam Dreams rail co. The passengers are eagerly waiting on the platform, dressed in their smartest evening clothes, cameras at the ready, as the classic Braunton west country class 1930’s engine pulls into the station.

    The beautiful train is immediately surrounded by enthusiasts and trainspotters staring at the engine, enjoying its power and strength. The firemen and driver are on the hot plate, already stoking the fire, shiny with glee and excitement.

    We are the lucky ones going onto the train and into the remarkable Pullman-style carriages. We’ll be carried into the night, for a round trip with fine dining in the comfort of the vintage pullman coaches.

    There are comfy winged armchairs and crisp white linen tablecloths, set with silver and pretty china plates. Cosy blankets and cushions are stored up above in the luggage rack if needed.

    The wonderful carriages are reminiscent of Agatha Christie films, or other bygone ages.

    Every detail is perfect, from the wood panelling to the flowers and the lovely, kind and helpful stewards — who are smartly dressed in tweed waistcoats. Everyone is having a good time.

    After a delicious glass of champagne served in a classic coupe the train glides out of the station and chugs out through West London into the dark countryside, towards Oxford.

    Occasionally great puffs of stream pass by the window, you soak in the tell-tale smell from the smokebox, and see amazed smiling faces of other travellers waiting on the adjoining platforms. This reminds you to enjoy how special these trains are. Details of the engine and route are helpfully provided for minute-by-minute information, and as a keepsake.

    Statesman Rail Saphos Trains – Food

    After an amuse bouche – all special dietary requirements met – the first of our four courses was soon served, a delicious duo of Scottish salmon. It’s fun to use your silver fish knife and fork. This is followed by fantastic cod in a tomato sauce or roast turkey, roast potatoes, all served with a medley of cabbage, sprouts and green beans. As the train starts to pick up speed, reaching 75 miles an hour, they bring round a really interesting British cheese board, on a cheese trolley of course! There’s a choice of Isle of Aaren cheddar, Somerset brie, Colton Bassett Stilton and Lancashire, accompanied by two tasty chutneys. Then finally out pops the chocolate and orange cake. Everything is cooked to a very high standard.

    A bottle of fine wine per table is included, and tea or coffee, and truffles are served afterwards, along with a thoughtful present — a box of chocolates.

    The carriage is filled with the friendly chatter of train enthusiasts and families enjoying the pleasure of being together in such a beautiful setting. The night rushing past the window and the wings of the armchair lull me into a feeling of peacefulness.

    What bliss and comfort. I feel like Miss Marble venturing out on an unknown case!

    Until of course we’re back in the reality of Paddington station, and I have to join the other commuters on the journey home! Oh well, it was super fun while it lasted.

    Find out more about Steam Dreams experiences, here.

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