It’s not everyday the sight of an approaching train turns one’s legs to spaghetti, but then again, it’s not everyday I await the arrival of the beauty that is the Orient Express’ British Pullman. We look quite a spectacular picture, if I may say so myself. ‘We’ are Margaret Davidson of Penny Dreadful Vintage, Charly Surry of Land Girl 1980, Gemma Seager of Retro Chick and photographer Claire Pursglove and myself of course and we’re taking the British Pullman to Bristol. Margaret in her 60s embroidered dress, Gemma in a Stop Staring frock, Charly in a dress she’s made especially for the occasion, Claire in a Tara Starlet dress and yours truly in a Jasper Garvida A/W12 chevron dress. Are we overdressed for a train journey? Not at all. Not this train journey.
The British Pullman’s steamy roar seems to welcome us as we step aboard the threshold of our 1927 art deco carriage – Minerva is her name and she is enchanting. Each carriage has a name and no two carriages are the same. Each one is upholstered and decorated in a unique style – even the stunning loos (loos… stunning? Yes Indeed) are all different. We spend the first our aboard the British Pullman marveling at every detail. Last night I watched Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and a wave of deja vu dances over me as my eyes roam the carriage. I may even be in the mood to solve a murder.
Bellini’s are served, but for non-drinkers like me, there’s a disappointing choice of ‘from concentrate’ fruit juice – I choose apple. I’m more than appeased by the lovely breakfast however; yoghurt with fresh fruit, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with caviar, potato rosti, pastries and tea and coffee. Our steward is quick to judge my initial disappointment and asks me what I might like with dinner later (instead of wine). ‘Ginger beer, please – Fentiman’s ginger beer.’ ‘We’ll see what we can do,’ he promises.
A pit stop for the water hungry steam engine gives us the opportunity to step out and admire the train’s chasis, take pictures and enjoy the sight of magnificent plumes of steam emanating proudly from the train, like a cloud performing a party trick. Our appearance appears to be causing quite a stir too, with other passengers requesting to photograph us and congratulating us on making an effort to dress in costume. We attempt to explain how we ‘dress like this everyday’, but not everyone is a believer.
A tour of Brunel’s SS Great Britain and a short spin around Bristol and we’re back on the British Pullman who welcomes us with canapés and wine and the biggest bottle of Fentiman’s Ginger Beer I have ever seen. It’s fair to say, I am seriously impressed with the staff. Our collective dressing efforts have also impressed the train manager and to show his appreciation, we are presented with a bottle of Champagne. I however am quite content with my ginger beer.
The canapés are promptly devoured before we are served a delicious dinner, including a piquant asparagus soup. Now, you might be wondering how one serves soup on a moving train without major spillage and frenzy, yet I our friendly steward ladles the silky mélange without an ounce of uncertainty. He is a soup artist, I say. The meal is finished with coffee and petit fours and we have long decided we never want to leave, or at least never travel on anything other than the Orient Express. As I make my way home that evening, I’m already dreaming of my next Orient Express adventure. Where to next? Istanbul? Venice? Thailand?
The Orient Express British Pullman – Travel in vintage carriages from London on day excursions to Britain’s greatest destinations. Book your journey at http://www.orient-express.com/web/uktr/uk_day_trains.jsp