Monday, 1 November 2010
We left the station whilst the world was still frozen and travelled through embankments glittering with early-morning brilliance. We sat quietly in our creaking carriage, slightly stiff from too many layers of clothing, slightly breathless from the dash to the platform and slightly awed by the rolling romance of the rails.
Before our faces breath condensed on the windows and outside the train steam floated eerily through crystallised branches and melted into fields still crisp with a late October frost.
At first we gasped at each blast of the whistle and gaped at each billow of steam, but as low, hazy sunbeams started to swing across our faces we relaxed into the rhythm of the railway and let the tracks take us slowly but surely through the golden moorland towards the sea.
Of course, John won't remember the sudden hisses of steam that shot violently from the engine, the scent of soot that pervaded everything that day, the Thomas The Tank Engine flag that he waved once and then chewed on determinedly, the rattle and roll of the carriage as we rocked our way to Whitby, the icy blasts of air that shot through the open carriage windows, the feel of soot in his face and hair and eyes or the flat orange light that turned the whole world golden as we wound our way home.
But one day, when he's older we'll tell him about his first ever train trip and remind him of his wide, wondering smiles. We'll explain to him that it was his lucky win on a raffle that allowed us to travel by steam train through the North Yorkshire Moors and we'll thank him for taking his mum and dad along for the ride and treating us to such a magical and memorable day.