Sunday, May 10, 2009

Narrow guage, over the fence and history lesson.

1. The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is so narrow that you could only just drop a foot ruler between the tracks.

2. The line between Romney Sands and Dungeness runs between two rows of houses. Heads (an aristocratic greyhound, a sun-red man with tattoos and medallions, a small and friendly hoodie with his mother) pop over back fences to see us go past.

3. I talk with an ATS re-enactor and she explains some of the things my grandmother talks about -- the hat band over the top; and the mysterious bootlace hairstyle. We learn from a Desert Rat that the men were allowed two pints of water a day (for everything) and used petrol to wash as it was more widely available. The Desert Rat tells a passing boy re-enactor 'You've got yer belt on upside down. You'd be on a charge for that.' The boy disappears into a tent to sort himself out.

4. The whole reason we have come down here is to see a replica of the armoured train that patrolled the railway during world war two. It stands in a siding, a sad grey plywood shell. But once I've seen some pictures of the original, I can imagine how satisfying it would have been to patrol up and down, ready to defend against the German invasion.

5. I liked seeing the father and two toddlers who sat in the next compartment tumble out at the end of the line to meet mum, pushchair and terrier.