Last week I felt very fortune to make my bucket list a little smaller, by putting a big tick next to something that I’ve been wanting to do for as long as I can remember; take a ride on the Belmond (or y’know, a really lovely train journey).
Perhaps it was an overindulgence in Wes Anderson films and that Christmas advert, or even watching too much Michael Portilo last Autumn– but there’s always been something unbelievably otherworldly about riding cross country on a steam train, sipping on tea and experiencing the world how it might have been decades ago. It’s something that seems as magical now as it did then, and something I’ve been desperate to do one day.
So, when an email landed in my inbox letting me know about a celebration of Laurent Perrier’s Rose’s 50th birthday on board the Belmond British Pullman for afternoon tea, I positively leapt at the opportunity (and started requesting I’m spoken to only as Lady Purvis and nothing else). Penning it in to my diary, I rounded up my mum- ironed my favourite Marks and Sparks dress and started counting down the days.
Starting at London Victoria, the route took us around the Kent countryside, from local suburbs of Bromley to the golden grassy hills in the depths of the countryside leading us to Ashford, and back again. We sipped on Laurent Perrier’s birthday beverage of choice (which, I can confirm, from all attendees, was delicious), as well as homemade warm scones, finger sandwiches and cakes all themed around the big celebration (it just so happens myself and Laurent Perrier share the same initials, which was a very happy coincidence indeed) and nattered away as we zoomed past new and old pockets of the country and slumped into the pillowy cushions on board.
After food, we slipped from our carriage to have an explore of the other nine on the train. With each having it’s own unique history and decadent decor (for example, you can see the seat Nelson Mandela sat in, as well as part of Winston Churchill’s funeral train)- it made for a fascinating peek back into history, and knowing each had been lovingly cared for and seen so much made you truly feel like you were experiencing something special. You can’t imagine the kind of guests these seats had seen- from royalty to the a-list, being a fly on the wall over the years must have been incredible- even the toilets felt fancy!
As golden hour washed over the day, we began pulling back into the big smoke. I could certainly get used to all of my commutes looking like this, and although it’s certainly a special occasion and once in a lifetime kind of experience, I can’t recommend it enough for anyone considering booking. It’s certainly not something I’ll forget any time soon, and it’s safe to say that the Venice journey is solidly next on my list, a girl can dream!