Great Pottery Throw Down presenter Keith Brymer loves rail travel. Here he shares details of his favourite rail journeys – from overnight trains in China to a drive-on train journey in his childhood.
What’s your favourite rail travel journey?
The Northern Explorer from Paraparaumu to Auckland. It’s an incredible journey that takes a long time (11 hours). Not that this is a problem; on the contrary, it’s rather wonderful. When it comes to rail travel, the landscape of New Zealand is some of the most diverse in the world. It’s no surprise that the country is used for many film shoots. The train has a carriage that is partly open air. And standing on the deck of the viewing platform looking out is really inspiring.
Which country have you most enjoyed visiting by rail?
For many years I have been visiting China on business. Once I had to travel throughout the country by rail – it didn’t disappoint.
Have you ever travelled overnight by train?
Yes, firstly when I was a child in the 70s. As a family we used to go to Wales by train. We would get the overnight train from Paddington to Fishguard. We had to drive the car on to the train then find our cabin. In the morning you had breakfast bought to you in your cabin – what a treat. As a child, the thought of driving on to a train in your car felt very exciting.
I also travelled on an overnight train in China. I travelled 1,220 miles from Shenzhen to Hebei in a very comfortable carriage. There is something quite magical about travelling by train at night.
Can you remember your first ever train journey?
Yes. I took a tube from West Finchley underground station in London to go to Oxford Circus and visit Selfridges. I was seven. That was back in the days when the tube had smoking carriages. It’s so strange to think of that now.
Where would you like to travel by rail?
I’d really like to travel on the Trans Siberian Express. Just the name alone conjures you all manner of emotions. Imagine all the different landscapes and scenery you’d see on the way. Not to mention all the different time zones you’d go through. A stop in Ulan Batu would definitely be on my bucket list.
Who is your ideal travelling companion on a rail journey?
I’d have to say my partner Marj. We both love to travel, seeing other cultures and how they work. When you’ve been around a bit like me, you learn there is an alternative to every scenario life throws at you.
What’s the best thing about taking a rail journey?
Having the time to think whilst going somewhere…. I always loved that advertising slogan ‘let the train take the strain’.
What do you always take with you on a train journey?
Music. I love listening to music while I look out of the window travelling through a land I’ve never seen before. It’s amazing. It’s like having your own film soundtrack to your journey.