I took a train trip recently – not my usual mundane Fareham to Fratton commute, but on a vintage steam train run by The Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
I’d been kindly invited by train enthusiast and commercial manager of the railway Jim Loe.
Volunteers do everything from tending the landscaping to actually restoring the carriages and bringing them back to life again
It’s been years since I last ventured across the water, so I was long overdue for a vist.
But I didn’t exactly pick the right morning as the ferry was jam-packed with people going to the music festival and I kept getting battered by massive backpacks!
Once I reached Ryde, feeling slightly nauseous, I got the little pier train to Smallbridge, where I picked up the steam train.
As I climbed aboard it immediately reminded me of the film The Railway Children and the romantic notion of rail travel when the smell of steam gently wafted through the countryside (not that I was around in those days).
I also think that steam locos remind the older generation of a time when the British actually made things themselves and were at the forefront of transport development.
Meanwhile, for the younger generation it provides a great education.
The line is five miles long and you can get off and explore the different stations, then just hop back on.
I got off at Havenstreet, the main station, and was impressed by how well-maintained it is by its staff and the many dedicated volunteers who do everything from tending the landscaping to actually restoring the carriages and bringing them back to life again.
The newly-opened Train Story discovery centre, funded by a £970,000 Heritage Lottery grant, was amazingly good fun with interactive displays and locomotives and wagons more than 150 years old.
I was completely bowled over by going aboard a carriage that Queen Victoria once travelled on from her home at Osborne House. Another highlight was a magnificent falconry display.
The railway has many different events taking place throughout the year. I thoroughly enjoyed my jaunt and hope to return some time, once I’ve found my sea legs again!