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APRIL 2016

Local Dining Out Report for April 2016

Sunday 10th April 2016

Local Dining Out Group Lunch - on The Watercress Railway from Alresford, Hampshire

Sunday 10th April 2016 saw our first lunchtime and weekend dining experience. Dining on The Watercress Line Railway. Our day started off dry with a bit of a wind chill and held like that for the most part. We only experienced rain towards the end of the day as we neared home ground.

We had the services of one of Herrington's new 53 seater coaches expertly driven by Kevin. Our pickups started at the Ship Inn in Fordingbridge, travelling through Godshill (as this size coach cannot negotiate the Breamore Mill Bridge) on through Woodgreen, Hale and Woodfalls. Our last pickups were at Morgan's Vale & Woodfalls Hall and through Redlynch leaving the local area by Lover. Despite checking timing, everything almost went too well. With very little traffic on the Sunday morning we were soon ahead of ourselves but ended up on time at our last pickup.

Once again traffic was light as we made our way on to Alresford. Along the dual carriageway between Winchester and Alresford we met a small truck loaded with fencing panels. Unfortunately they were not tied on very well and began falling on the road. Decisive evasive action was taken by our driver and luckily we avoided any serious incident.

We arrived at Alresford Station a little earlier than planned this gave us time to look around the Station and the Gift Shop and have a coffee. The Station Building is shown below left and you can see the layout of the platforms and track in other pictures towards the bottom of this page.


As we arrived at the platforms our Steam Engine for the day, named 'Cheltenham' was arriving. It went on to bring our dining carriages out of a siding, further away from the station, up to the station platform ready for us to get on. You can see this on our short video below.

Our coach marshall for the day, Margaret Fox, was soon on hand to check us all into our carriage. Our group had sole us of one carriage. We had organised a seating plan beforehand. Each table seated four people and we had thirteen tables. Where possible we had seated our diners with their friends and family.

We had five members of the Dining Train staff looking after us through the afternoon. Drinks lists were at each table and you could order some reasonably priced wine - red, white or rose, beers and much more. Some diners brought their own drinks and corkage fees applied. We were soon moving along the track towards Alton. During the afternoon we made two journeys to Alton and returns to Alresford.
Each time we passed through Ropley, Medstead & Four Marks stations.

Our Lunch Menu


Main Course:
or tThe vegetarian option which was a creamy vegetable filo patry tartlet with vegetables.


To follow:


As we were getting into the rhythm of our travel with our drinks there was quite a buzz of conversation. Our Starters began arriving at tables 1 & 2 end of the carriage. As service was made each diner was given the choice of the main starter of soup or to have fruit juice. Serving although efficient took time with so many of us and by the time those of us at the other end, tables 12 & 13 were served, it was time to clear plates back at the start. This worked well.

Our main course was served, again starting at one end of the carriage. Most people had the superbly cooked chicken although nine people had pre-booked the vegetarian option and one person had another pre-booked special diet option. Roast potatoes and plenty of vegetables, as listed above were available for everyone. You can see here the high level of care and planning put in by the Watercress Railway team.

This was followed by a choice of desserts and we finished with a choice of tea or coffee with mints.

As the tea/coffees started arriving it was time to start our bumper raffle . We just managed to sell and fold the tickets and found we were back in Alresford station for the final time. With all the drinks bills paid we said goodbye and thanked the volunteers from the Watercress Railway. We left the dining train quickly as it had to be moved into the siding again to keep the platform clear. Our coach was ready and waiting for us in the car park. As soon as everyone was on board we remained there and started drawing the raffle. We had 15 prizes including Wine, Sparkling Wine, Chocolates and other gifts for the main raffle. Finally we had two prizes for the free ticket draw.

Our draw fund for our target of £590 for a ShelterBox was increased by a further £119.64 on Sunday. We now have a total of £255.31 and need to raise a further £334.69 to complete the target. Well done and thank you everyone.

I would like to thank everyone who joined us on this event, Kevin our coach driver, Margaret and the Watercress Railway team and Karen in the Watercress Railway booking office for her help. Finally thank you to several people who have sent me notes of appreciation for the day's event.

For our next Local Dining Out Dinner on Wednesday 25th May we will be visiting The New Forest Inn at Emery Down. You can read full details through the following link. LINK TO MAY EVENT. Please remember we are booked in to visit The Cliff House Hotel at Barton on Sea on Wednesday 29th June. Tickets will be on sale soon. SEE OUR 2015 VISIT

Donald Summers
Local Dining Out Group