Picture this: you are sitting at a station waiting for a train.
What can you see? I’d guess – shades of grey, a mundane image of utilitarian travel, heavy with cement, metal, and perpendicular lines. Not so in Kemble. Kemble station is the antithesis of your average, functional, uninspiring railway station. It is tranquil, quaint, and fragrant – a place you can enjoy. From its beautiful landscaped garden to the brightly painted wooden trimmings edging the station building, to the delightful ‘Off the Rails’ café – I have never found a station so beguiling to the senses.
And customers seem to respond to the environment and mirror its quiet and kindly, relaxed mood. Set in deep Gloucestershire, Kemble is a busy little station – as busy as the bees that populate its garden – frequented as it is by the daily London commuters that live in the surrounding villages.
Travelling from Kemble takes the edge off commuting, with its comforting, human-size experience. It’s a station with personality, one that acknowledges its heritage and people’s need for amenable surroundings.
The station garden – created and maintained by the students at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, with donations from Dobbies Garden Centre, is a fantastic local initiative. It offers a little quiet haven where to gather yourself ahead of a busy commute – all lavender and lilies and buzzing with bumblebees. Starting your journey here, puts you in a positive frame of mind to face the day ahead.
Kemble keeps its charm all year round: in the summer, you can sit in the RAU garden and watch the trees gently sway in the breeze and in winter, the waiting room has a cosy, welcoming feel with its little heater you can turn on and people smiling and saying hello as you enter. You can take a seat on one of the two wooden benches and help yourself to one of the free papers. Makes you feel like you are waiting in someone’s front room!
The ‘Off the Rails’ café, a quaint, little Aladdin’s cave emanating tempting aromas of coffee and grilled bacon, oozes character and charm and despite its diminutive size, offers a great section of freshly prepared snacks and coffees, not to mention other items like newspapers, magazines, greetings cards and even features a book exchange! Delicious, the freshly grilled bacon baps and the Danish pastries! How refreshing to have a privately-run, local café rather than another faceless chain outlet!
As with all ointments though, the proverbial fly applies. Beware of parking your car in the station approach road. There have been several reports of damage to cars there, mine included, alas. Parking here, although perfectly legal, is not advisable. Car number-plates have gone missing and cars have been bashed. So, use the car park, at least it has CCTV cameras!