A shutterbug of steam



On Friday just gone, there I was slaving away in the office, which happens to be next to the East Coast Mainline – the rail route from London to Yorkshire and Scotland.  You tune out the usual engine noises and unless you catch sight of something that’s an unusual colour you don’t take that much notice of what going past.  Unless it’s a steam train.

As I said, there I was slaving away in the office, when I heard a ‘whoosh’ behind me and a colleague who was walking past said “That was the Flying Scotsman!”  It really goes like the clappers and by the time I had looked up it had gone past the windows and I'd missed it.  I wasn’t too chagrined, though, as I’d had a Flying Scotsman hat-trick earlier in the year:

On the Tuesday, I had just walked onto York station when this steam engine came up the track, pulling one coach and closely followed on the platform by men who were almost overcome with emotion saying “she’s magnificent!”  I didn’t see the name on its side but I knew it was something significant.  I dashed(!) up onto a very-nearby footbridge and I managed to get a photo of its smoke and of the carriage it was pulling.  An evocative photo, but not world-class. By this time, I knew which engine it was and I was really pleased to have seen it. 

On the Wednesday, I had a late lunch after a meeting, and was just walking back up to our office with my newly-purchased sandwich when a colleague on a reciprocal course (he’d love that phrase!) told me that there were a group of people looking hopefully at the railway line and that there must be something unusual train-related in the offing.  Seconds later, the Flying Scotsman roared past on its way to London. Cue much excitement among us who were watching. 

Thursday, 25th February, was a day of railway history.  The newly-restored Flying Scotsman was making its inaugural run from London to York amidst great fanfare.  The start of the journey had been the main theme of the morning’s pre-going-to-work television news (and the run was quite probably the theme throughout the whole morning).  I didn’t take my main camera with me, but my trusty phone has quite a good camera built in.  There was much excitement in our office and in the offices of the other organisations in the building!  The appointed time came and went, but no Big Green Engine... 

A quick glance at the headlines showed us why.  Such was the excitement that people were even straying onto the tracks to see it, bringing the whole mainline to a juddering halt.  I only hope that these were people who wouldn’t normally give a stuff about trains.  Anyway, I booked myself out of work, grabbed my phone/camera, made a coffee, and sat by a window in a desk-less area.  We knew when things were about to happen – people (general public as well as staff from our offices) started to congregate outside and a helicopter that wasn’t the police one started circling overhead and slowly moving northwards. 

A few minutes later, there it was!  I had seen it three days running, I got another good look at it, I got a decent-enough photo, and I got a story to dine out on.


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