Bear With Us #Paddington #bear #story #London #trains #statue

Paddington station in West London is currently and has been for years, under a considerable amount of construction and re-generation. Yet it is not, and never shall be, without its beloved statue of a bronze bear; a statue no other station can boast of, Paddington Bear.  
A lonely singled-out bear in a Christmas shop window of 1956 was bought by Michael Bond for his wife and became the inspiration for his story book, published in 1958

‘A Bear Called Paddington’

Paddington loves marmalade and is so very frightfully polite, yes sir; he later acquired a pair of red Wellington boots and was adopted by a London family, the Browns.

What a lovely little face, floppy hat, big paws and shaggy coat and with such charming manners. He’s looking out at all the trains pulling in under the vast Victorian iron archways, staring bemused at a 21st century generation of preoccupied lives; the frantic crowds, busying this way and that; he’s just waiting longingly for a hello and how’d you do.  

Many London children were evacuated from Paddington station to the country during World War II. With labels around their necks and a small suitcase of meagre possessions, they were transported safely away from the city to new homes; this too was the inspiration for Paddington’s own label.

‘Please Look After This Bear. Thank You.’

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I Remember, I Remember #PhilipLarkin #Coventry

Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922 and brought up there from 1927 to 1940, before leaving for Oxford University. He says it is where his childhood was ‘unspent.’ One day whilst travelling by train in January, 1954, the train pulled into Coventry; much to his surprise, all those early memories came flooding back. He penned this famous poem soon after. Amazing what trains and a single word can do…

I Remember, I Remember

Coming up England, by a different line
For once, early in the cold new year,
We stopped, and, watching men with number plates
Sprint down the platform to familiar gates
‘Why Coventry!’ I exclaimed, ‘I was born here.’

I leant full out, and squinnied for a sign
That this was still the town that had been ‘mine’…

Larkin died in 1985 and is to be immortalised with a memorial ledger stone in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey; 2015 marking the 30th anniversary of his death.

Here’s the sign Coventryat the industrial grey station, with its low, grey cloud and its grey, gloomy atmosphere. The city is changing, growing and transforming itself with active investment. It is twinned with the German city Dresden; both cities were devastated during the Second World War.
Trains pass through southwards to London Euston, northwards to Birmingham.🚉

Trains and Buttered Toast #MaryleboneStation #BluePlaques

Sir John Betjeman (UK, Poet Laureate from 1972 to his death in 1984) is remembered for his love of everything English. Particularly trains, churches, architecture and buttered toast. He embodies a unique sense of Britishness, both within himself and within his work; a culture so desired and embraced by tourists and foreigners alike. Chiltern Railways transport you to Stratford upon Avon (Shakespeare) Banbury (Banbury Cross) and Warwick (Castle) and apologies to Slough who Betjemen insulted with ‘come friendly bombs and fall on Slough’).
Approach the old towns of Middle England by train and see rolling hillsides, golden, wavy fields, hedgerows and woodlands, canal boats and waterways. A journey steeped in history, poetry and legends provides everything for the imagination. Grab a cup of tea, leave behind the capital, London, and soak up the atmosphere Betjeman enjoyed by train.