We did not wait to make breakfast but went straight out into the rain. Yes, it was raining for the start of our holiday. The 205 carried us to Marylebone station which we reached at 7:26, leaving plenty of time for breakfast before our train left at 8:14.
We are travelling on the Wrexham and Shropshire service and our locomotive is appropriately named the Thomas Telford. As we leave the city and run out into the countryside, breaks appear in the clouds and there is a hope that the weather will change for the better.
We are seated facing one another across a table. We have window seats and luckily the reserved seats next to us have remained unoccupied. This is just as well as conditions are rather cramped with old-fashioned fixed arms to the seats which makes it difficult to get in and out.
Having bought our tickets well in advance, we got cheap prices so the idea occurred to us to ask how much it would cost to upgrade to first class. The price was surprisingly moderate because it was the weekend.
So we treated ourselves. We obtained facing single seats which were roomier than the standard class ones. Naturally, we availed ourselves of the included coffee.
We reached our hotel – within sight of the station – too early to check in but they did agree to lock our luggage away, leaving us free to take the bus to town.
At the bus station, Tigger picked up an impressive collection of bus maps and timetables to use in planning our explorations.
Attached to the bus station is a large shopping centre. All the usual suspects are represented and we went for coffee to the cafe at the back of BHS. Tigger lost no time in studying her maps and timetables. For my part I bought some Lotto numbers on the principle that if we won it would pay for the trip and a few more besides.
We now caught the 76 bus to the Ironbridge Gorge, so called because of the iron bridge that crosses the Severn here.
In Ironbridge itself, we had lunch at The Swan, a large sparsely furnished pub, and then set out explore the picturesque town. Despite the uncertain weather, the streets were busy with visitors. The museum and shops and cafes were doing plenty of business.
Ironbridge is a site of key importance in the history of the industrialization of Britain but as industrial activity ceased long ago, the town is now quiet and clean and resembles a museum.
The bridge itself, built in 1779, is even today an impressive structure, robust and yet elegant in design. It no longer carries vehicular traffic but can be crossed on foot. An interesting sight itself, it also affords a fine vantage point from which to enjoy views of the river and the surrounding countryside.
The town is small and runs along the river, separated from it by the main road, but also spreads up the steep slope, in a picturesque configuration.
We did not visit the museum as we had only a short time to spend here. We caught the bus back to Telford and went into the adjoining shopping centre to pick up a couple of items and then took another bus back to our hotel where we checked in and transferred our bags to our room.
We are staying at the Premier Inn close to Telford Central station. Though monotonous in their conformity to a single design, they do have the merit of consistency. You know what you are getting, unlike private hotels which, booked sight unseen, vary from excellent to poor.
After tea and a rest we decided we had done enough for today and would spend the rest of the evening in. We had bought some food while out to make ourselves a picnic supper. A kettle is provided in the room and we had brought our own tea with us so we were all set.
During today’s outing, Tigger collected pamphlets and timetables and we were able to plan where to go and what to see though when we make the various visits will depend on conditions on the day such as the weather.