|The Night Riviera's gleaming coaches stand at platform 1 at|
Paddington station while the staff prepare it for boarding.
The early-arriving passengers are in the 1st Class Lounge nearby;
many others are still on their way.
|Class 57 diesel locomotive "Restormel|
Castle" at the head of The Night Riviera
at platfrom 1, London Paddington
|Magazine and hot chocolate in the Club Car|
|Changing trains at St Erth|
|On our way to Eden!|
|Mediterranean lunch with Cornish beer|
Plymouth is one of those historic cities that had to be substantially rebuilt after receiving a lot of enemy attention during the second world war (not surprising when you look at how much of the Royal Navy is still there now), and is therefore fascinating architecturally in many ways. We had also arranged to meet some friends here – which is what initially brought Plymouth into the tour – and we had some shopping to do, shopping which spilt over into the following day in another city ...
And so to the final day. The train out of Plymouth was the only one which we had booked in advance with reservations so as to be able to afford the long-distance first class fare to Birmingham. Like East Coast Trains, CrossCountry first class offers free catering (not including the wine, though, for which we had to pay), and we looked forward to dining as we passed along the south coast on one of the most scenic routes in England. Given that we boarded at noon for a 12:23 departure, we imagined that lunch would soon be served. But CrossCountry is not like East Coast, and snacks were all that was on offer until the hot meals came on at Bristol. Bristol!! It took several snacks to keep us going until Bristol! No china plates or steel cutlery, either. The CrossCountry shepherd's pie when it came was very good. Worth waiting for. But on a cardboard plate? With plastic cutlery? We'd paid a bargain price for our tickets, and we did get comfortable seats in a spacious coach and the food (but not the wine!) was free, but I think if I'd paid the full fare I'd have felt less happy. Lunch over, the approach to Birmingham through leafy suburbs and along the canal is one of the best city approaches in the country until the final plunge into the tunnels that take us beneath the city's famous canals into the heart of the city centre.
I have since come across another view of the fabulous Night Riviera train ride: http://www.libertylondongirl.com/