Sunday, 30 November 2008


During the summer, we took our two-year old brio fanatic for a carefully choreographed wander through the cattle fields of Staffordshire and beyond to Burnam Dilhorne wood.

Not only does this huddle of trees conceal a "secret" railway station, but it also confers a fraction of the requisite mystique upon some rather theatrical red-coated gentlemen wielding period rifles, thermos flasks, and severely re-enacted facial hair.

"Mind out for the live rounds, kids!"

Granted, I have a known weakness for steam trains, but Stoke's own Foxfield Railway features the coolest of them all. Going strong (well, ambling, on and off) since 1874, it merits this title in part on account of its fearsome and rather steampunk-sounding name. Except, there's no punking required for this most genuine of articles.

More than that, it's the only train I've ever known that pssshticoofs exactly like Ivor the Engine whilst trundling about its north-west corner of Staffordshire. Ivor, you'll recall, had his whistle changed for organ pipes and sang in the male voice choir.

If you've no idea what I'm talking about, you suffered a deprived childhood of cultural denial and your mum and dad should be pilloried by the outraged townspeople of Llantisilly.

That, children, is Bellerophon - creature of myth and slayer of monsters.

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