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Eden Halt, an Antrim Memoir

Ross Skelton


'He was one of the stay-at-homes,' said my father. 'He didn't want to fight Hitler.'

In the quiet of the morning, strong puffs from the engine drew us out of the dark station and into sunshine. Soon the train went into a tunnel. Then we burst into the light again.

'We need air in here,' Father said, lowering the window. I stood up and put my head out, enjoying the wind and looking down at the passing shore.

'It's nearly our stop,' he said, getting to his feet.

I turned, surprised.

'But there's nothing here!'

'Over there!' My father pointed to the landward side of the train and I saw a scattered collection of coloured wooden bungalows. Most of them were dark green, one or two were blue, but one stood out: bright yellow with red window frames.The train stopped at a platform fashioned from railway sleepers and cinders. On a weather-beaten board I could just make out the name EDEN HALT.

My father and I, Natasha and Sassy stood gazing over the railway lines at the sea. On the still, shining water the silhou­ettes of sea birds stood out against the bright water, some motionless, some flying along the surface. We crunched along the railway cinder path, past the yellow bungalow. I thought I saw a curtain move. Across the railway lines, we stopped to read a concrete notice:'Beware of trains — Stop, Look, Listen.'

Father went through the turnstile gate first, and then we stepped down towards the shore. He was first across the bridge and, as I watched, the boards flexed under his weight. Then it was my turn. I looked down at the fast-flowing water and followed the river with my eye to where it fanned out in silver across the flat shore to meet the sea.