Local train headed for Reading on the Bristol – London line, taken on a Sunday afternoon dog walk in Southcote.
We moved three weeks ago and our new home backs onto a little river (the Holy Brook) and also not very far off is a railway line. I love travelling on trains, in fact they are probably my favourite mode of transport. Driving gets you door to door but is hugely tiring if the journey is lengthy, I love the excitement of airports but not the actual sitting imprisoned on a plane for any length of time and boats have to be large and the water of millpond status to get my vote, so trains it is!
In my 20’s I traveled a lot and railway journeys all over the country were a regular occurrence. I love to see the world speeding by and tiny snap shots of other lives being lived glimpsed momentarily from the train window, never to be seen again as we move relentlessly onward. There are tantalising glimpses of children waving on a gate, shopping centres full of busy people as we cross over bridges, offices, car parks, freight yards, fields decorated with sheep, horses or cattle, lines of cheery washing and perhaps someone with her dog enjoying a familiar and local route traveled every day.
Now I am that woman … (with a dog) going her own way, purposefully stepping out into her life and walking relentlessly into her future, glimpsed from a train window as we make our walk daily. I sometimes look up at the trains and catch sight of a gazing traveler and wonder about them. What is it about us as people that makes the otherness of lives unlived (those of other people) so attractive? I think it has something to do with escapism and living in the moment both of which train journeys give me. They are an antidote to the ennui that can afflict us all from time to time. There is the promise of new horizons and the reminder that our lives consist of happenings and opportunities and it’s what we do with these that ultimately matters. As a traveler I am often spurred on to want to make changes and aim to start afresh in some area of my life once I have reached my destination.
Now as that person glimpsed from the train window perhaps we (Alice and I) may have that same effect on someone else … not that I will ever know …