Last year we paid a quick visit to Alresford while on the way to France in order to see the place where I was made. (https://horacethealresfordbear.com/2015/06/28/going-back-to-my-roots/) I was very keen to go again and ride on one of the steam trains that run on the Watercress Line, and as Growler is very keen on engines, wanted to take him along too. We were ‘over the moon’ to find last weekend that we were indeed going back to Alresford, along with Growler & Nye (who had been wanting to see where he was made too).
We arrived at Alton Station in order to get on the 10.50am train.After buying our tickets we went onto the station platform to wait for the train to arrive.The train arrived at exactly the time that the timetable said that it would.Nye and myself helped Growler on to the train and we found a comfy seat.I undertook the very important task of showing our tickets to the ticket inspector.As the train left the station we decided to climb up onto the table for a better view. Growler used a special seat which also doubles up as a human purse.
We got off at Ropley station as there were some interesting things to look at there. The yew topiary has been there for more than 100 years. Dogs used to have to have tickets to get on the trains at Ropley.We had a little rest on a platform bench for a while…..…until we spotted a train coming in on the opposite side of the tracks. Very quickly we crossed the bridge to the other side of the track to watch it being filled up with water. We didn’t get there quite quick enough to get a photo of the water filling, but here is the engine and the big tube they used for filling it up.There is an interesting room up some stairs at the station where people and bears can see into the workshop through a big glass window. In the same room there are also lots of tables and chairs with some activities for young humans such as pictures to colour in. I was particularly delighted to find some hats for bears to try on. I found a splendid station master’s hat. Here I am modelling the hat in the ticket booth.I also made friends with the station master’s cat.The time had nearly arrived for the next train to Alresford to arrive, so we waited safely in the back pack on the platform. This train had carriages with red seats which I rather liked.As the train moved off we soon got into our positions on the table in order to see the view from the window.
On arrival at Alresford we were all very excited. We remained on the train briefly for a photo from the outside.We then walked down to the end of the train to see the engine moving to the other end of the train.It was here that dear old Growler had an accident with his nose. He was so excited about going on a real steam engine he climbed out the bag too quickly and caught his nose.Fortunately Karen had some plasters in her bag. We performed a quick bit of first aid so Growler was still come up into the engine cab with me.I tried my paw at shoveling coal but it is very hard work for a small bear.We stayed well back from the fire. I am particularly at risk due to having acrylic fur. Dear old Growler doesn’t have much fur anymore.We sat for a while on special seat for bears.After climbing down I had a closer look at the outside. The engine was called ‘Cheltenham’, and was one of the most powerful locomotives to operate in the UK. There is more information here: http://www.watercressline.co.uk/article.php/27/925-cheltenham I was then delighted to be invited up for a look at the signal box.The signal lady kindly got me a chair to stand on in order for me to reach the levers. She said that the tea towel was very important and had to stay on the correct lever.I decided to get a souvenir of my experience so treated myself to a new raincoat in the gift shop.The humans were hungry as it was lunchtime, so we headed to Alresford High Street to Tiffin Tea Rooms. While waiting for lunch we comforted Growler about his nose and applied another plaster to make sure he didn’t lose any woodchips from his snout.I ordered watercress soup, which was very yummy indeed.After lunch it was time to take Nye to see the building in which we were both made. It used to be The Town Mill, but has been converted into flats.Nye was happy to know that he had been made in a lovely location. We had time for a short walk along the River Arle before catching the train back for the return trip. I said ‘Hello’ to a family of swans.My little legs were starting to get very tired after such a busy but exciting day.We said ‘goodbye’ to Alresford before heading back to the station to catch the train back to Alton.There aren’t any photos of our return journey. We were so tired we fell fast asleep as soon as we sat in the carriage.
We have very happy memories of a splendid day and would like to visit again one day.
Horace the Alresford Bear 23/8/16
For more information about The Watercress Line see http://www.watercressline.co.uk/