Last Saturday was Gus's birthday and Heather treated him to a ride on the Real Ale Train. This is a monthly fixture on the Watercress line which runs from Alresford to Alton in Hampshire. The train of ten coaches goes up and down the line several times while those on board can consume various real ales. Food is also available.
Jack and Richard were also invited and Heather was good enough to be the designated driver taking them all up to Alresford and back. It can't have been much fun for her as the three men gradually got sozzled.
The men really enjoyed the experience sampling a range of real ales, favourite of which they agreed was something called "Good Ol' Boy" which is brewed somewhere near Newbury. As well as the beer they all enjoyed a hot chicken curry.
The one disappointment of the evening was the fact that the carriages were pulled, not by a steam engine as they had expected, but by a diesel locomotive. They did see a steam train at Alresford station but for some reason it was not used.
Gus has posted on Facebook a few photos, including one showing Heather with the Station Master at Alton, a rather rotund gentleman who lives up to the image of the Fat Controller.
Gus said that he wanted to recommend the Real Ale Train to Mike for a departmental bonding session. We could hire a minivan and have a group booking. Heather had told him not to be so ridiculous. The idea was far too male oriented - departmental bonding experiences needed to be less sexist. Perhaps a visit to Marwell Zoo would be more suitable. However when Sian heard this she said she would much rather go on the Real Ale Train than visit a zoo. Bubbles also said she would like to go on the train.
So it now seems that we might organise another train ride at some point for a rather larger group of people, even if it is not an official departmental event. I had better ask Jenny if she wants to go.