One way or other, last year ended on a bit of a low note. I lost a number of old friends in a relatively short space of time and it all seemed a bit dark for a while.
Today we made our final farewell to David, a friend and colleague from the days when I earned my living running railways. Sadly, he was one of the losses of 2014.
David had instructed his family that he wished his ashes to be laid in a beautiful woodland setting alongside the South Devon Railway, a heritage steam railway that he loved and helped to rescue from scrapping way back in the 1970’s.
It was with mixed feelings this morning that I fired up Harley in delightful spring sunshine and headed for Buckfastleigh, the headquarters of the railway.
The trip took us across some of South West England’s most rugged and beautiful landscape, Dartmoor. Despite the wonderful day, I was not really in the mood to stop and take photos, so please forgive me and I hope you understand. I was aware of the loveliness, but felt a bit grim about what was to come.
On arriving at the railway I met up with David’s family and other friends. We all boarded the special train and it was unanimously agreed that David’s ashes should make the trip on the locomotive, he would have loved that!
Soon the train arrived at the designated spot adjacent to the lovely River Dart and after a short committal ceremony, the ashes were interred. As we climbed back aboard the train, the locomotive sounded a shrill sad whistle and we started our return journey, I instinctively waved good-bye to my late friend.
Back at Buckfastleigh, we swapped stories and anecdotes and generally enjoyed sharing our memories over a late lunch; whilst not forgetting to watch the public service train depart, this was a railway occasion after all!
In due course we made our farewells and as I threw my leg over Harley I sat and remembered one of David’s favourite sayings when a job had gone perfectly:
“Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?”
I do indeed my friend, I do indeed.