Driving back from swimming today, I was carefully navigating the narrow road between old stone buildings in a village on my route, when the road gently rose to the level of the railway crossing. It’s an unprotected level crossing, from the road user’s point of view perched on a rise in the road. The barriers were up, the red warning lights quiet and unlit, but instinctively I glanced sideways down the railway line as I crossed.
I saw a portal into another world. And of course, it is. When we go from A to B by car, the landscape we pass through is entirely different to the one the train zooms through. Instead of houses, front gardens full of flowers or old fridges, shops, garages, street signs and people trudging or bustling along the pavement, from a train you see marshalling yards, industrial estates, wide open countryside, peoples’ back gardens, some intimate, some tatty. And it is a glimpse into another world.
So when these two worlds collided this morning on the country level crossing, I had one of those moments. Was I having an insight or am I completely bonkers?