Saturday’s predicted rain showers did not materialise, as my heart buddy and I stood on a country railway platform, the sun blessing us with her warmth.

The raw power of a steam engine masked behind a stately pace as a new journey is about to begin. With a stoked fire, smokey steam rising from the funnel and water hissing onto the tracks. Her whistle blows as the coupling rods begin a slow rotation on giant wheels.

The sounds and sights of a past time when the pace of life was slower and man and steam worked in harmony to create connection.

On the platform, a toddler sitting next to his twin brother in their pushchair called out;

‘Daddy, it’s Gordon.’

As his face shone with delight.

Reverend Wilbury Awdry and his son Christopher created the world of Thomas the Tank Engine. I remember when Emily was three, and these were her favourite bedtime stories.

The station house sympathetically restored into a cafe and gift shop. Brown gloss paint on woodwork, thick cream coloured walls, open fireplaces, glass pendant light shades and an old railway clock gently marking the passage of time. The air filled with memories of white gloves, tea dresses, lace doilies, rose-patterned china and men dressed in a suit and tie pulling chairs out for their ladies.

My heart buddy gifted me a book about narrowboats and the canal network in The Midlands, UK, which writes of a time when the pace of life was slower, and connections drove a community who cared for each other.

Over a decade ago, I spent a magical day on a narrowboat. It was a trip and picnic for a small writing group I was part of, and the boat was the retirement dream for a fellow creative writer and her husband. I opted to go to the back and help the Captain. What followed is a day where magic created memories, and I can still touch the peace of these in my heart.

We swapped stories, and he taught me much about the engine, letting me steer as we’d lapse into periods of soothing silence. Gliding through the water, as cows and sheep grazed the grass on the banks, fish plopped to the surface framed by Weeping Willow’s trailing branches where frogs and birds joined in song. As we journeyed under a viaduct, traffic noise intruded and assaulted our senses with the urgency of their rush. It was a relief to leave it behind as we puttered forwards into nature.

Steam engines and narrowboats speak of a time when people mattered more than things; the instinct to slow down went unquestioned, care forged connections, and we trusted the sense of belonging.


69 thoughts on “Nostalgia…”

  1. petespringerauthor

    This reminds me of The Little Engine That Could. Thank your for bringing back a memory I haven’t though about in decades, Jane.

  2. This is such a calm and peaceful post, Jane! I hope your day out was as serene as your writing <3 Richard and I (as well as Elinor) love our steam train journeys and I hope we'll be getting back to them soon. Sadly, a few of the steam restoration lines have gone bankrupt during the pandemic with no visitors and no income to keep everything going.
    We have also enjoyed canal boat trips – the best one was from Llangollen. It was absolutely gorgeous being pulled along by a couple of beautiful horses! Have you tried that one?
    Love and soft hugs xxXXxx <3 <3 <3

    1. Hello my lovely and I didn’t know about the Llangollen horse drawn trips. Thank you, as they sound lovely. Saturday was the best day out. <3 Much love to you all, always. <3 Xxxx <3 <3

  3. Wow, you literally took me along on that narrow boat ride. I could feel that peaceful and fulfilling feeling. I understand why you loved it that much. Btw. I received two different messages of your daily balms for the past two days. I thought, I’d let you know.

    1. You are thoughtful, Erika. Thank you. I am navigating a life change and a few of my spinning plates are wobbling! I think I have solved the software scheduler issue. You know only too well how these techie issues can play out. Much <3 to you, always. Xxxx

      1. OMG, yes, they can drive you nuts when they are acting by themselves in a way you don’t understand. You know, I don’t mind your beautiful words at any time. Also, it was well timed – one in the morning, one in the evening. Much love πŸ’–

  4. Maybe the Titanic with its rush across the North Atlantic was a sign of the times … Where time mattered more than connection, schedules more than life or livelihoods. Certainly steam hearkens back to a simpler time … There is a sense of peacefulness reading this story – Thank you <3

  5. A lovely share from the past Jane. You said it all in the last part – ‘a time when people mattered more than things.” Love and hugs my unicorn buddy <3 xoxo

  6. Yes, evocative moments – leaning into the steam and smoke at Exeter St. Davids without caring if I was endangering my young lungs, feeling that power! Narrow boat holidays and my days on the Broads – Oh, Jane, you’ve stirred up a few regrets and joys there! You had a great day – I wish I could replicate it…

  7. Oh how I love the way you write Jane! You scoop me up and transport me to a time and place when life moved with grace and style. Thank you, I so enjoyed this journey with you. Sending you my love and joy, C

    1. Ohh Cheryl, I am humbled by your kind words. Thank you so much, my lovely. You are in my healing prayers and here’s wishing for journeys of grace and style. <3 Hugs, soft ones, for you. xXx

    1. Thank you, Toni, the trip to the railway and town in Shropshire and the day on the narrowboat are everlasting heart memories. Hugs to you both. Xx <3 with much love Xx

  8. It is amazing how just looking at a photo of a steam engine creates nostalgia for the “good ole days.” Every time we watch an old movie (or a new movie/TV about a time in the ’40s) and my guy sees a steam engine he shouts out enthusiastically as if he’s 5 again. Sounds like such a fun get-away for you and your heart buddy.

  9. Your special post also triggered off some enjoyable memories for me. There was the 1956 Welsh Canal trip on a barge with my Mom, Dad and siblings. We named our barge “The Dawdler”. Another is from 1965 and the steam tractor, The Cock-of-the-North, standing in a rat filled barn. I did an ink on linen measured drawing. (An architectural school summer assignment – they obviously wanted a building but tolerated my infraction). Then there are the times 1989-91 gently motoring up and down waterways near Oxford with my brother who lived, for a few years, on a “House Boat ” on The Themes in Oxford. Last is from 2011 of a leisured three day “backwater cruise” in Southern India where our party of three was outnumbered by the crew who served us meals and took care of all our needs.
    At those times, peace reigned, may it continue to do so with you.

    1. Jane, what wonderful memories and thank you for sharing. I love the name of your barge, ‘The Dawdler’… Do you still have your ink on linen drawing?

      Here’s to peaceful times, always. Much love to you both. <3 Xxx

  10. Lovely imagery and writing. The past has a tendency to evoke nostalgia – makes me wonder if it’s brought from the knowledge that the past is done and over with and the fact we survived, or if it was truly much better than today?

    1. Hello Jina, it’s lovely to hear from you and you ask an insightful question. Your perception that the past is over and done with and we survived strikes a chord. Maybe the past was slower and simpler and we are hankering for that sense of calm. Hugs and much love flowing to you. Xx <3

It is always lovely to hear from you:

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