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Frank's travels around Britain.

Bluebell line & Brighton.

The Bluebell line is run by enthusiasts for the benefit of all. I quote from their website. The volunteer run Bluebell Line was the UK's first preserved standard gauge passenger railway, re-opening part of the Lewes to East Grinstead line of the old London Brighton & South Coast Railway in 1960. Since then it has developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex, yet it still remains true to its objectives of the preservation for posterity of a country branch line, its steam locomotives, coaches and goods stock, signalling systems, stations and operating practices. It is just like going back in time, as I remember the LMS railways... only cleaner. The staff are brilliant, they are all playing at trains in one to one scale and obviously love it. They are of another era, only polite!

If you are a railway nut, its not that expensive, as you can spend an entire day travelling up & down the line. There's a lot to see, hear & taste. This is real English railways, with steam & nostalgia. You are welcomed onto the footplate as the train waits in the station. All the staff love answering questions and you feel most appreciated. You can sample British rail tea in the refreshment room on the station platform. The gift shop is, of course, full of junk your don't need but find hard to resist! I mean, who needs a tinplate advert for Pears soap for your bathroom? (Well me actually, if I could afford one!) I just loved the way Thomas the Tank Engine was in every area of the shop. I can see Dad the Train Nut being unable to resist buying Clarabelle for Train Nut Jnr.

Brighton was a whole new place in comparison to the Bluebell line. Your first problem is where to park! Brighton has an image of a centre for gay culture, so much so that the Brighton.co.uk website has a specific gay link. I think you'd have to live there to join in, because trying to find a place to park & just visit is very difficult. Assuming we don't all want to park up in a shopping centre, the streets are jammed with cars jostling with traffic wardens. I just got to the sea front. turned left & parked up past the cafes.

The pebble beach, the pier and same sex people walking around together. How its image has changed since my early days. Brighton was renown as the dirty weekend centre of the south coast. My last visits were at the Toy fair that was held there in January for years. It is still a conference centre, famed for the IRA bombing Maggie Thatcher at the Grand Hotel. I liked the sunshine, the pebble beach is vaguely uncomfortable (take folding chairs!), I think its probably very good for ladies who like to shop. As you head westward out of town, the coast seems to change into God's waiting room. Maybe his idea of heaven is a pebble beach!

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Bluebell Railway