How we used to travel

It was my writing group yesterday and I’d asked them to write about something from their childhood real or imagined and try to write about it i a lyrical and vivid way – inspired by Laurie Le’e’s descriptive ‘Cider with Rosie’; I  read something which I have already shared here, ‘Green’, which was fictional but I hope evoked my childhood spent on and in the river.

One writer remembered a school trip from when he was about eleven, out into the Lake District. We had a discussion afterwards whether bus, coach or charabanc was the right word to use, and decided that although at the time we were going out for the day the vehicle would have been a bus or a coach, the right word for this piece of writing was charabanc. The story started with the children piling into the old coach which smelled of cigarettes and old leather; it started with a crunching of gears and creaked its way along the road, straining to get up the hills – so different from the way we travel now.  It was a complete story of  a moment in time when the young boy was just beginning to glimpse his teenage years ahead. It was a magical day in many ways, surprises and experiences which in a way changed him. The story was so well written it was a joy to listen to , so evocative, so vivid, it really came alive to us. It was autobiographical but enhanced by imagined  as well as remembered details.

The other story coincidentally also involved transport; this time the young boy was taken by his father on a journey to London, travelling by trains which of course were drawn by steam engines. There was such excitement at travelling by train in the past, the shiny polished monster engines, manned by friendly driver and fireman who would lean out of the cab to watch for the signal as well as chat to young children staring in amazement. The story gave a vivid picture – one which we all remembered of the sounds of the wheels and the whistle, the smell of the smoke and steam, the rattles and vibrations, the way the world whizzed by – although of course it was the train whizzing. As we passed the telegraph lines they seemed to dip up and down and sometimes we would see people waving as we passed – now i am going into my own memories and not exactly what was in the story!

it was a successful afternoon and I look forward to next month’s story, something with a touch of magic!



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