On the one fine day of this week we decided to have a lunchtime run out in the Model T to the Goat Gap cafe on the A65 between Clapham and Ingleton. The A65 would get us there directly but it is no fun and there is a gentler route by country lanes via Giggleswick, Lawkland, Austwick and Clapham along which you can just chug-chug, potter and take in the countryside.
The Goat Gap cafe used to be a Little Chef. It closed some years ago and has lain forlorn until March of this year when it re-opened, following a stunning refurbishment, doing fine food and wine cafe style.
Goat Gap Cafe
It is highly recommended, but that's another story.
In the middle of nowhere en route my 'phone rang. I pull over and answered it. As coincidence would have it we were at a spot near the village of Eldroth, overlooking the little used but important railway line that connects Settle junction with the West Coast Main Line at Carnforth, near Lancaster.
I switched off and continued the call, which proved lengthy. The scene in front of us was idyllic and the sun was on our backs. Nothing was moving on our country lane nor on the railway. There was silence. My interlocutor was at work in his solicitors office in the City of London. Conversation was businesslike.
After some minutes Pat interrupted. "Look!" she shouted, pointing to our left. Curling lazily upwards was the unmistakable shape of a cloud of steam. I interrupted my call with a description of the unfolding scene, to the delight of a London lawyer. It was indeed a steam engine, towing only its support coach, en route from Carnforth to Hellifield and onwards to who-knows-where. Our old car on the skyline would have been as unexpected a sight in the bucolic scene as the train was to us. We waved, I commentated and there was a wave and a whistle of mutual admiration and respect. "What was it? Did it have a name?", London asked. "Just an 8F or a Black Five" I lied, pretending to know the difference. That satisfied London and conversation moved on, with only thinly disguised envy seeping northwards.
In hindsight the scene would have been worthy of one of those jigsaws; you know the ones - happy people in old car, picnicking by a railway line with a steam train passing, everybody at peace with their worlds.
At the other end of my call was Edward Album - heavyweight London lawyer who tied British Railways in legal knots in the 1980s when they were trying to close the Settle-Carlisle railway line. Unknowingly, the crew of that little train had made his day.