Saturday, 13 June 2015

Operation Desert(ed) Storm

I can't believe it is now two years ago that I last visited Great Central Railway for their annual 1940's weekend.  I have wonderful memories of visiting last time, and had been looking forward to this year's event for some time, so when the chance to return this year came I up I wasted no time in agreeing.  Not only that, but with it falling on 6th June, it made it quite special as the anniversary of the D-Day landings in the Second World War.

It began as a very early start to Loughborough, which meant I had to set the alarm clock for the shocking time of 5.00am.  I know, I know - many do actually get up at that time and before, but for me this is a rare thing.  Shower, apply make-up on and then the decision as to what to wear.  With mixed weather reports, but going for the most optimistic one, I chose my light-weight vintage blue two-piece suit... over corset and stockings, of course.

The roads were thankfully clear as we barrelled down the M6 to Loughborough.  Great Central Railway runs from Loughborough down the Birstall, in the north of Leicester, so the plan was to catch the first train at 9.00am (usually the quiet one before the hoards of kagool-wearing coach-trippers turn up) to Birstall and then slowly make our way back up the line.  Looking at my watch, I saw we were ahead of schedule as we peeled off the M6 at Stoke on Trent and headed across country to our destination.  "Oh great, there'll be time to take some sneaky blog snaps before the first train leaves from Loughborough," I thought, thinking of my lovely retro underwear that I could show off in suitably retro surroundings. 

Hmmm... not so.  We hit the outskirts of Loughborough at 8.30am - the Great Central Railway was now just five minutes away.  Or would have been, if the blasted town and tourism planners had thought of actually putting up signs for the railway.  We got hopelessly stuck in the most horrendous one-way system in the town centre.  I swear we passed the same shops three times as we desperately tried to find a way out the maze.  My recent trip to Birmingham unveiled itself in my memory, and I had horrible visions of this blog just being about the unremarkable architecture and roads of inner Loughborough - and believe me, there's nothing to write about regarding that.  "Haven't you got Sat-Nav or we could stop and ask someone?" I asked our erstwhile driver.  "Sat-Nav?  Bloody Sat-Nav?  I don't need that bollocks, I've got a memory and maps thank you very much," he replied haughtily as we drove down a one-way street for the third time.  Shame he wasn't quite using those either.

Suddenly, and I think more by chance than luck, we found the road we were looking for and as we pulled up near the train station I glanced at my watch - 8.55am.   Oh well.  We bundled from the car and scurried through the lovely station entrance.  Grabbing our tickets for the day we hurried down the steps to the 1940's picture-perfect platform.  I was a little dismayed to see the train was already waiting to leave, but more dismayed to see the platforms very busy with visitors - good for the event, but not for showing off my stocking tops and girdle.  Oh well.

We jumped on the train as the whistle blew and settled down for the journey down the line to Birstall.  With a group of day-trippers in the seats next to us I did manage to get one of our group to take at least try to take a couple of naughty upskirt shots...

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - stockings at Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

On the way to Birstall we passed two other stations that we'd be visiting on the way back up the line - Quorn/Woodhouse and Rothley.  I noticed they were a fair bit quieter than the last time I'd visited.  Rothley, the site of the 'German' base, was full of German vehicles last time - this year the number was much, much lower.

We eventually arrived at Birstall, and although it was very windy at least the sun was out.  As we disembarked from the train I took the chance for a photo alongside the beautiful steam locomotive.  The helpful steam train driver suggested that this was the perfect time to actually step onto the locomotive for a picture - I didn't need to be asked twice.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - a rather beautiful ride at Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

Bistall wasn't too busy at this fairly early time, so it was quite nice to wander around the pretty station and nearby Greenacres site where they had a few vintage vehicles and stalls - but once again, whereas last time the Greenacres site had hosted a large number of American WWII vehicles, this year there was a solitary Jeep.  Perhaps, maybe with the Germans taking over Birstall station itself and flying their flag had something to do with it!

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

We caught the next train out, north-bound, and headed for the next station up the line - Rothley.  This was the scene of the main German base, and as last tine, I was pleased to see the German swastika's flying.  Not that I'm a Nazi, if course, but I disagree with the 'sanitising' of history.  I became disillusioned with the 1940's weekend at Ramsbottom when they banned German uniforms.  We cannot disregard and whitewash history because we are uncomfortable with aspects of it now - to me it just makes the danger of history repeating itself more likely.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Rothley, Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

Rothley was a perfect opportunity to grab a drink and bite to eat at the station's cafe, serenaded by a rather curvaceously sexy blonde singing WWII-era German cabaret songs.  It was certainly a pleasant stop-off on the line, and the 'German' guards and soldiers were enjoying their role in demanding 'papers' from members of the public.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Rothley, Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

Soon the next train arrived and we were heading further up the track to Quorn & Woodhouse - probably the largest of the stations on the line.  Finally, standing in the corridor of one of the beautiful old train carriages, I got a chance for a little flash of stocking top!

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

On the way I tried getting some photographs from the open door of the carriage, and caught one just as a train was approaching on the other line.  Good timing, if a little lucky, as I never saw it coming.  it's a good job I didn't have my head out the window at the time!  I did one or two decent photos of the line, though, but couldn't quite get the lovely locomotive in shot.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

In 2013 the Quorn & Woodhouse station was full of stalls, vintage vehicles, steam traction engines and vintage train carriages.  This time around it was quite a bit less busy - more worryingly, the whipping wind was creating mini-dust storms and whirlwinds in the dusty parking area.  Stepping off the station and into the parking area was like being hit by a desert sandstorm.  The vehicles and stalls that were there all had a fine covering of sand and dust, and in no time my bright red shoes were dusty and dull.  However, I was surprised to see that I wasn't the only Escort at the event...

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - another Escort, Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

It was still nice to see the old vehicles parked up - even if there wasn't as many as last time - but the whirling dust clouds made it uncomfortable to stay too long.  We made our way to the big cafe on site to rest from the billowing clouds... none of which show up on the photos!

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Quorn & Woodhouse, Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

After the late lunch I braved the swirling dust again to have a look around the site.  Even in the tented stalls, everything was covered with dust.  My pristine white gloves turned a grim grey in no time, and after looking through two rails of sand-blasted clothes I gave up.  The bright blue interior of a 1920's traveller's caravan was the only thing that seemed to have escaped Desert Storm - probably because only one tiny window was open.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Quorn & Woodhouse, Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

Soon a group decision was made to head back onto the platform and catch the train back to Loughborough station.  It was only 3.00pm when we decided that we'd seen enough - it was a little too quiet to venture back down the line, and none of us fancied braving the conditions at Quorn & Woodhouse any longer, so is was an early goodbye to this year's Great Central Railway WWII event.

I certainly didn't get the D-Day anniversary photo that I hoped for, as it's a very important day and occasion to remember the sacrifices laid down by so many brave men.  However, on the way back home I remembered that I had fortuitously put my bright poppy bedding on in my little 'shag-pad' so a quick detour and quick strip to my corset and stockings was ideal for a couple of quick photos.  One is this week's Picture Of The Week, but here's a little one for the blog...

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Great Central Railway WWII Weekend 2015

Lest we forget, indeed.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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