The Lakeside steam railway – first published 18 April 2014

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Playing the Easter Bunny on Good Friday 2014 I’d made it to the airport and taken a photo of trains waiting at Southampton Parkway Station whilst worrying about the chocolate, probably melting, in my rucksack. Next I was on my way to see yet more trains. These were just up the road at Lakeside Steam Railway. To be honest I’d chosen that route more to see the lakes than the trains and because there is a footpath through the other side close to Philo and Sirona’s house I wanted to try but still…

When I got to the little station there was a steam engine in the sidings that looked as if it was preparing to be coupled up with the little red coaches. The smell of steam and coal dust took me back to my childhood when steam trains were a regular sight at the little station in my village. Of course these are not full sized steam engines so I waited for a while but there didn’t appear to be much action so I carried on towards the lakes.

When I last came this way, back in February, there was mud, lots of mud and people were sailing model boats on the first lake. Yesterday the mud had all gone and so had the model boats. The lake looked quite empty without them, just one solitary duck swimming around in circles. Still, the sky and the grass was speckled with daisies and dandelions even if the people did outnumber the wildlife.

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On the other side of the lake, where the little stream runs into it, there seemed to be a lot less trees than when I last passed this way. A mass of stumps told me there had been a few casualties of the stormy weather which was sad but it did give me a better view across the water. The stand of silver birch and the small reed pond looked far more inviting with a bit of sunshine and by the look of things it will look even better when the water iris flower. Note to self, come back again in July.

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The next lake seems to be the fishing lake and one fisherman had even set up a little tent. I can’t help but wonder exactly how many fish there are in these lakes because there seem to be an awful lot of people trying to catch them. Maybe the fun is in the sitting rather than the catching. With beautiful views and the blue sky and fluffy clouds reflected in the water I can’t say I blame them for wanting to sit there.

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There really did seem to be a lack of water birds for some reason, perhaps they’re all hidden away somewhere nesting, but one swan saw me looking out over the water and came powering towards me. I’m pretty sure he thought I had some bread for him, which, of course, I didn’t. Really one of these days I’m going to get some proper swan food and start carrying it with me. Do they sell proper swan food I wonder? He came right up to the viewing platform I was standing on and looked at me expectantly. He was beautiful, especially so close up and I felt a little guilty I didn’t have anything for him, almost as if I’d called him over under false pretences. When he started staring me right in the eye I decided discretion was the better part of valour and beat a retreat. Somehow I don’t think I’d be the winner in that battle.

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The footpath wasn’t far away and soon I was leaving the lakes behind me, not quite sure where it would lead me and hoping I’d not made a terrible mistake. At the top of some steps I came to a fenced off area where it seems the trains turn around. There were two mini level crossings to cross and I looked carefully to make sure there were no trains bearing down on me. I’m always very cautious on level crossings and it would be quite embarrassing to get run over by a miniature steam train. Imagine having to explain that away, I could almost see the rolling of eyes and hear the cries of ‘only you….’

Luckily there wasn’t a train in sight so I got safely across and the footpath came out by some garages. Some lads were fixing a car outside and I walked past still wondering if this path would ever lead me out onto the road as I expected. I didn’t fancy having to walk straight back past them so quickly. As it turned out I needn’t have worried. I soon came out onto the road and I even recognised where I was. This was largely due to the lovely little thatched cottage on the corner but at least I didn’t have to resort to looking at the WalkJogRun maps like an idiot. Quite why I worry about that I don’t know because it seems to me I look like an idiot quite a lot of the time anyway.

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When I got to Philo and Sirona’s house no one was home. Maybe I should have called first. In the end I dropped the red bag of goodies over the back gate and sent Sirona a text to tell her the Easter Bunny had been, where the goodies were and that she had to share nicely. I was hoping the chocolate wouldn’t melt before she found them.

Later I’ll tell you about my walk back home. There will be more trains and, for anyone not interested in trains, there will also be more pictures of the lakes, ducks, flowers, new paths, and some sailing boats.

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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