A Place In The Sun star Laura Hamilton on the Bluebell Railway, travelling with kids and her naughty fare-jumping days
What country have you most enjoyed visiting by rail?
Cuba. When I visited, I travelled in the Hershey Train from Varadero to Havana. It’s an incredible train that’s full of character and when you get on it you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Have you ever travelled by train overnight?
Yes, I took the Caledonian Sleeper train from Euston to Fort William in Scotland when I was about 12. We were going skiing as a family and it was a great adventure. I remember stopping at some tiny stations in Scotland that were all covered in snow.
Can you remember your first ever train journey?
Yes. My Gran took me on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. I loved every minute of it.
Have you ever been on the Eurostar?
Yes, I’ve travelled Eurostar trains a couple of times and recently I went with my husband Alex and our kids Rocco and Tahlia to Bruges. My kids travel a lot with me for work so they’re used to planes but trains are a real novelty for them and they love the way you can look out of the window when you travel by train. For once, they weren’t glued to their iPads because there was so much to see. I really love Eurostar because unlike a flight, you don’t have to turn up two hours before you depart.
Where would you like to travel to by rail?
Vietnam. I’ve heard some great things about the Reunification Express. It looks like a fun train and I think it would be a great way to see the countryside and meet some of the locals. I love local trains – you always get a snapshot of the country on board. I’d also love to go inter-railing through Europe.
What’s it like to travel as a family by rail?
It’s an easy option because no one has to drive and the kids love the adventure of train travel. I love travelling together as a family and making memories, good or bad. Like most mums, I always take emergency snacks and wet wipes with me because you never know when you’ll need them but trains these days have some great on-board cafes so you’ll never go hungry.
Are there any train journeys you’ve taken that stick in your mind?
Yes, I was lucky enough to do a day trip on the Orient Express. It’s amazing on board – really luxurious and just like stepping back in time.
What do you always take with you on a train journey?
My phone and a small suitcase – I’m very good at packing lightly these days.
Do you get recognised when you travel by rail?
Yes, I do but I don’t mind at all. It’s great to hear why people love A Place In The Sun so much and I’m happy to take a selfie with them. Though in these Covid days with everyone wearing masks, you can’t do that.
Have you ever skipped a rail fare?
Yes, and I feel terrible about it, especially as my brother used to work for the British Transport Police. When I was in my teens, I lived in Falconwood in south east London and my boyfriend lived nearby in Bexleyheath. I used to skip the fare between the two stations because there were no guards on board but then I got caught and was fined £20. I stopped after that.