An article on the Gardeners' World website about plants on railway embankments made me think about a railway journey I made this summer. It was familiar territory in many ways, from the Moray Firth to Aberdeen, then down the east coast to Edinburgh. It was a fraction of the journey I did many times as a student: the long haul down to London as the starting point for some trip or another, often getting the boat train from Victoria. The return journey was always a sheer delight, no matter how fed up with trains and planes I was by that time. Coming from France, it was an immediate re-possession of Britain by way of railway embankments, back gardens and allotments, and railway stations. The journey north from King's Cross to Aberdeen took most of a day, with the changing geography rolling past the window. Quite apart from the splendours of the North York Moors, Durham and York cathedrals, the Forth Rail Bridge and the cliffs near Stonehaven, I especially loved the railway stations with flower beds and hanging baskets.
On my most recent journey I was sorry to see that the stations which used to have quirky flower beds and a general mass of colour were now bare and empty. Only one station had anything growing in platform flower beds - Ladybank, in Fife - and those were sponsored by some company or other (obviously its advertising opportunity was lost on me). Understandably railways have to be staffed by people who are trained to run a safe and on-time (?) service, but I really missed seeing flowers at stations. It makes me feel a hundred years old to be saying this.
Fighting the horror
9 months ago