Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Day out with Thomas the Tank Engine (and Mummy and Daddy and Nonny and Poppy)

Last weekend my MIL very kindly booked and paid for a family day out to one of our local tourist attractions, the Dean Forest Railway who were hosting a very special event - 'A Day Out with Thomas'.

As anyone with small boys (and girls) will know, Thomas the Tank Engine is still going strong and as popular as ever. You can now buy just about anything with the cheeky blue engine on it - Riley has clothes, books, toys, jigsaws, plates, bowls and cups all featuring Thomas and Friends. He even goes to sleep on a Thomas pillow, under a Thomas duvet!

So as you can imagine actually seeing Thomas in the 'flesh' (as it were) produced squeals of delight! In fact in the few days leading up to our 'Day Out' I really thought the poor lad might burst with excitement!

Look Daddy! It's Thomas!!!
All the train rides and sideshows are included in the ticket price so the first thing we did is hop on the little steam train to Lydney Junction (sadly not pulled by Thomas - he had to stay behind and entertain the new arrivals). Its a lovely ride, passing through the town, past the big recreation ground where I used to spend my school lunch breaks in the summer, stopping briefly at the quaintly named 'St Mary's Halt' for those who wish to take a stroll around St Mary's Church and Lydney Lake, before stopping finally at Lydney Junction where you can connect up to the mainline trains to Gloucester or Chepstow.

Changing ends at Lydney Junction
Back at Norchard we had some lunch in the not too overpriced cafe carriage (although they are quite amenable to visitors bringing picnic lunches and provide lots of tables on the platform for people to sit and eat) before a mini-drama erupted as naughty Diesel stole Thomas's trucks whilst he was snoozing! Thomas gave chase, followed by The Fat Controller (more politically correctly known as Sir Topham Hat) waving his brolly at the naughty engines accompanied by some very entertaining commentary by the Station Master.
Who stole Thomas' trucks?
Riley was completely enthralled by this little bit of Thomas 'in action' joining in the shouting at the right time and clapping and cheering Thomas when he reappeared with his trucks in tow...

A REAL steam train. In miniature!

There were plenty of other attractions to keep the little man amused - a mini merry-go-round, face painting, Punch and Judy show and this fab dinky steam train...
We had just enough time for a story time ride on Daisy through the the village of Whitecroft and the surrounding woodland to the pretty station at Parkend. Again you can alight here and visit one of the lovely pubs for a slap-up pub lunch if you wish or take a walk through the woods before riding the train back to Norchard.
We finished off our day by popping into the Dean Forest Railway shop that is packed to the gills with Thomas merchandise for a few trinkets to remember the day by, before heading home with one exhausted but extremely happy little boy...

'A Day Out with Thomas' can be found at Steam Centres around the country all through the year. It's an excellent day out for the whole family and will delight 'Thomas' fans young and not-so-young alike!  For the wheres, whens and booking info visit the Thomas the Tank Engine website.

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