Destination Unknown

The dual appeal of parking next to a train track.

Whilst traveling through Europe I’ve never perched myself next to train tracks for obvious reasons, though here in southern France the train tracks have added two rather pleasant attributes.

Firstly there is the nostalgic element, an almost child like amazement at the sheer size and noise of the mass of steel that barrels through at break neck speed. Its amazing!

Faster than the speed of light

The distinct gentle hiss on the track notifying me of a trains impending arrival, to the rumbling vibrations that ripple through from ground beneath and finally the thunderous roar as it hurtles past my rear view windows, giving me seconds to read the advertisements or enjoy the graffiti artwork as it flies by. Bringing all conversation or mere reflective thought to a pause or a standstill that can seem to last an eternity.

The child in me often gets the urge to stand and wave frantically in hope that some stranger catches a glimpse of my flailing arms and it brings a brief smile to a long labourous journey home after a hard day in the office.

A few weeks back I rode my bike across a train bridge and at the time it hadn’t even dawned on me whether it was still in use or not? I just kept my eyes forward and positioned on my front tyre ensuring it land dead centre of the tracks.


Perhaps the repetitive nature of the tracks and the concentration needed to keep the bike from getting too close to the edge slipped me into a state of reverie as I saw my youthful ventures being replayed in my mind. Games like playing chicken by placing an ear on a track of a long bridge to ascertain if you’ll make it across before a train would come. Placing pennies & quarters on the track to be flattened or jumping into the river when you saw the train in the distance, all these memories flashed through my mind I was hardly aware of where I actually was. It had me completely present at two moments in time, not quite déjà vue, but seriously in two different dimensions, two continents, past and present.

It was a wonderful moment, occasionally experienced but very rarely acknowledged.

The thrill and excitement of a moment often supercedes our ability to actually tap into these past memories fully, something we can perhaps learn to appreciate and develop.

Keeping the past in the present
Gruissan-Tournebelle Station

With progress train travel has lost its allure, we no longer consider train travel a cost effective nor enjoyable mode of transport, nostalgia doesn’t keep this business chugging along.

I can see for miles and miles… The Who!

Over the course of a day between commuter and commercial loads the latter seem to win hands down. Numerous container and flammable /dangerous products are belting through the countryside at all times of the day.

Purple flowers found everywhere, makes me feel at home instantly

On a positive note to the wild camper, many a somewhat relaxed countryside/canal side location can be found with the occasional disagreeable neighbour peering down his nose at your foreign plate. He knows you won’t be staying long, only he is foolish enough to own property next to a frequently used rail track.

Agreeable views to the front with the occasional disruptions to the rear

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