I rarely travel by train any more. I have a car that works perfectly well, and I can fill it with children and all their kit. My car runs quite inexpensively and generally on time. Trains don’t. However, given the rare opportunity when I get to go somewhere on my own without the kids and associated paraphernalia, I’ll splash out, hope that I don’t have to spend eight hellish hours waiting at Newport for a missed connection and thoroughly enjoy the ride.
On a solitary train journey one is all but forced to sit nice and still in one place, drink a tin or two of warm and overpriced train Stella Artois (optional), and gaze at the countryside as it rattles by. This is my idea of Nirvana (I get that it may not be yours), and last week I chugged down to Bristol with only a ten-minute wait at Newport. Phew.
What a city: all Brunel and beards, a railway station that looks like a cathedral, and some of the best places to eat anywhere I know. I was taken out for lunch by my friend Xanthe who writes about food for the Telegraph (a bit like this paper, but with bigger pages and less fat stock news) to a place called Flinty Red where I ate amongst other things, hang on, I’ve still got the menu, “Roast Carrot and Ewe’s Curd, Carpaccio of Kid Loin with Caper & Lemon Dressing, Seared Onglet with Creamed Kale” and I came very close to weeping with happiness in front of Xanthe. Which would have been horribly embarrassing. Such simple stuff, so painfully bang-on 2014, but effortless too. And cheapy cheap cheap. And the place wasn’t even full. Astonishing. In Ludlow a gaff like Flinty Red would be booked up months in advance.
I didn’t think it could get much better until five hours later when it did, at Bell’s Diner. Much of the same but up a notch and I think this time I actually did do a little cry, but it was darkish in Bell’s so I reckon I got away with it. I’ve got their menu too, but it would be showing off to relate that to you. Google it and go.
There are funky little coffee shops everywhere you turn, great pubs on each corner, friendly people, mad hairy wholefood shops selling bags of foraged foliage, bonkers wine shops. Enough already, you get the idea, I enjoyed myself in Brizzle.
But back at home, I spotted some local asparagus in the shops, a sure sign of tastiness lurking just round the corner. This weekend, what could be more springy than the clocks changing and Mothering Sunday? A cause for celebration if ever there was one.