Darjeeling 2011 - Railwaygardener

Darjeeling 2011 - the beginning

To whom it may concern...

In the beginning the Chairman of a certain Society observed that he was approaching the Age of the Start of Life, and decreed that it should be celebrated. And So it was Enacted.

This is a record of How it was so Done. It will develop and grow, if you’re not careful.

It is determined to execute a visit to the Sovereign Socialist Democratic Republic of India in the year 2011AD, for the declared purpose of rail touring. The preferred supplier for the enterprise is Darjeeling Tours subject to availability, price and numerous other caveats. The quality of this organisation has been thoroughly tested by Society members on previous expeditions in 2002 and 2004. It was found to deliver more than satisfactory service.

Prospective participants are accepted according to the Conditions of Carriage. They must also satisfy stringent medical requirements and achieve specified standards of training. Membership of Team 2011 is strictly by invitation only.

To be admitted, candidates are required to complete the Three Tasks:

1) Lay at least four track panels on the Welsh Highland Railway,

2) Traverse the full length of the Festiniog Railway (in both directions) without the use of supplementary oxygen,

3) Buy a round (Full Beer, no halves, spirits or shandy permitted) for Team members at Spooner's Bar, Porthmadog Station.

As an alternative, and for favoured candidates only, membership can be sought by submission of a packet of at least five (5) crisp, new £20 notes in a brown envelope, for inspection by Our Chairman and Project Leader. He regrets applications cannot be returned.

Note: A packet of crisps is not acceptable.

A message from the expedition’s Honorary Medical Officer:

‘A training camp in circuitous and mountainous narrow gauge railways has been established in the foothills of the Snowdonia mountains. This has been supplied with all the necessary items for acclimatization to the Indian narrow gauge, ie spicy Indian tea bags (aka Chai), sickbags, curry powder, Imodium capsules etc. Details of the programme will follow - sicknotes will not be accepted, but the team induction will continue with visits to the Kasturi and cultural exchanges with East Lancashire.’ On behalf of the team’s medical committee Dr Jim Ford MSc MFOM DDAM DRCOG certMHS FAMS MBE (by marriage) Consultant Occupational Physician

For those not practised in the reading of prescriptions, this can be rewritten as:

‘A training camp in circuitous and mountainous narrow gauge railways has been established in the foothills of the Snowdonia mountains. This has been supplied with all the necessary items for acclimatisation to the Indian narrow gauge, ie spicy Indian tea bags (aka Chai), sickbags, curry powder, Imodium capsules etc. Details of the programme will follow - sicknotes will not be accepted, but the team induction will continue with visits to the Kasturi and cultural exchanges with East Lancashire.’ On behalf of the team’s medical committee Dr Jim Ford MSc MFOM DDAM DRCOG certMHS FAMS MBE (by marriage) Consultant Occupational Physician

Message ends.


Note: the Kasturi is an eating house of the curry persuasion in the Southport locality.


Postscript:

December 2007, and training begins in earnest. It was clear that only a combination of physical and mental exercises would provide a sufficient foundation to prepare adequately for the rigours of the sub-continental trip. And so it was that four selected members attended Advanced Base Camp in Porthmadog for track-building hard labour, courtesy of the Welsh Highland Railway. Their progress was judged sufficiently worthy for future events to be organised on a regular basis, as the fitness levels gradually increased. Regrettably this was more of the physical than the mental variety.

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