Just as I was about to start my diet, I received an invitation to have lunch on the Orient Express. It didn’t take much persuading (well none at all, actually!) to postpone my diet for yet another week. (Diets always have to start on a Monday!)
I arrived at Victoria’s Platform 2 to see the familiar brown and cream carriages of the British Pullman that I had often seen on the holiday programmes. Each of its carriages is decorated inside with polished wood panelling of rosewood, ash, mahogany and exquisite marquetry. Everything inside, including the carpets and upholstery are as they were back in the 1920s when it was new. They are still the most luxurious railway carriages in the world.
My boarding card directed me to ‘Phoenix’ carriage, which I later found out had been a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. It had also been used by General de Gaulle and other visiting heads of state. Stepping inside was like going back in time. I wondered how it would have felt to have been one of the gentry, lucky enough to travel in such style and luxury.
The tables were beautifully laid with crisp white linen, floral table decorations, glass and silverware. I wondered who else had sat in the sumptuous seat where I was now! The champagne poured and we slowly pulled out of the platform.
The set meal consisted of five courses and was everything I had hoped it would be. They had taken the trouble to find out if there was anything I didn’t like in advance, so I had no worries that I’d go hungry.
If you want a special treat and something a little different, this would be a perfect choice. The British Pullman operates all year to Bath, Leeds Castle and Stratford-upon-Avon. Prices start from £150. Some trains are still steam-hauled for a truly nostalgic experience.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day on the Orient Express, cocooned in my bubble of luxury–and the thought stayed with me in a secret smile as my South Central train jostled me back to East Grinstead. No, rail travel hasn’t lost its romance!