Here is my photo of Paris in the Schmapp Guide:
I notice they didn’t straighten it out. Never mind.
We’ve just got back from a wedding somewhere in deepest Sussex: I didn’t concentrate too hard on where it was precisely, because my dad was driving and my beloved was navigating, so my mother and I sat in the back and ignored the road.
Anyway. The wedding was lovely, as weddings are, and especially lovely because the couple in question had fought for years to be allowed to live in the same country, and spent many months apart over that time. I don ‘t know how they did it, but I’m so pleased for them now they have overcome every last bit of red tape and can get on with normal life like the rest of us.
But really, I wanted to tell you about the miniature railway which we took a damp ride on in between the service and the reception. The wedding was held at Bolebroke Castle, which is an attractively rundown sort of stately home (I wouldn’t really call it a castle: no turrets) set in rolling grounds, with lakes and bowers aplenty, and the aforementioned miniature railway which, the railwayman told us, runs for some three miles into the surrounding countryside, though most of the line is only open to members of the associated club (if you’re keen, you can find out how to join here).
The route we took ran around the side of a lake, over a bridge, through a tunnel and alongside an enormous uprooted tree which must have shaken the castle”s foundations when it fell (perhaps that was the reason for the leaking roof which dripped into the main hall during our meal).
It started to rain as we arrived at the departure point, and got a bit heavier as we started out, but since we had a two-year-old boy in our party we persevered, and it was well worth it. The ride takes under ten minutes, but it’s very picturesque and mildly thrilling in a very tame funfair ride sort of a way. Our party consisted of self, beloved, parents (mine), an old school friend, her husband and their offspring; said two-year-old. In our cocktail dresses and suits, and clasping glasses of champagne, we probably weren’t a typical group of passengers, but the taciturn operator of the train took it all in his stride.
I’m not sure I’d suggest a trip into Sussex just for the railway, but it’s just up the road from the Ashdown forest, where you can play Poohsticks on the original Poohsticks bridge, and the surrounding villages are acceptably pretty, so if you’re in the area, you could do worse than to drop in. Accompanying child not essential, but you might feel a bit less silly clambering on to the tiny train if you have one with you.
Bolebroke Castle, incidentally, is where Henry VIII met Anne Boleyn. We all decided this should be interpreted as a good omen for the marriage.