Tuesday, 22 November 2011

All aboard the Santa Express

The children with a friend 
You may remember a few weeks ago, I took the children to the National Railway Museum in York and I blogged about our VIP day. I didn't expect to be back so soon but we were invited to visit again and this time, try out Santa's Steam Adventure on the launch day last Saturday. This time, there were four of us as husband had taken a day off.

We arrived to collect our tickets and stopped for a coffee with Jen and Cass, who were also there with their children for the occasion. The children were super-giddy at the prospect of seeing Santa - although they know this one is not "the real Santa" - mainly because Missy Woo knew when she was 3 that her daddy was the Santa at the school Christmas fair, so we have to come up with a plausible explanation for this! They were keen to get a look at Santa's workshop and we'd been advised to allow some time for this. In reality, unless it's really busy, you don't need too long if your children are as giddy as mine were. They leg it down through and although they stopped to look at things, we were left kicking our heels a bit and the children were champing at the bit to get on the train.

Just to prove we actually went on a train!
Eventually, they could wait no more, especially as Teddy the steam train had arrived back in the station yard. On we trotted - the children had cushions to sit on and blankets to wrap up in which was cute. There were a few seats for adults - although now I wish I had sat closer to the children as I couldn't get close enough to take decent pictures.

Once everyone was on the train, it was quite busy (apparently, all with other bloggers but I only found out that some were on there until afterwards) but just about enough space for all. The train set off and we had a lovely little story telling session trying to help Santa's train working again. This distracts the children from the fact that the train actually doesn't move that far - a few hundred yards down the track and then back again afterwards. Thankfully, after a few false starts and of course a bit of magic, the children were able to help get the Santa train moving again. I could see Monkey's face and he was loving every second of it.

The main man
As the journey ends, Santa appears and gives presents to the children. This, for my two, was the one disappointment of the day. Somehow, they ended up with the same present, which was a Winnie the Pooh story book, which they proclaimed "babyish" although to be fair, Missy Woo looked at hers in the afternoon. I noticed the label said 3-6 Unisex - which to me, would be a hard category to pull off; a 3 year old is a very different being to a 6 year old and a good toy for a 3 year old may well be babyish to a 6 year old. Conversely a toy for a 6 year old may well be too advanced and sophisticated for a 3 year old. To make matters worse, the other boys of Monkey's age seemed to have been given toy trains and puzzles so I can understand why he felt a bit hard done by. There were no tantrums but you could see their disappointment with their present and they tried to convince us they could buy something else from the shop! I really don't want to sound ungrateful here, but I think this is the one area where the experience could be improved.

After your adventure is over, the grown ups can get a hot drink and a mince pie from the restaurant. As it was lunchtime, we combined it with buying our lunch and the children had the most enormous pieces of pizza which disappeared in next to no time. I can report that the mince pies were lovely - they had a crumble topping and very short, sweet pastry.

We then spent an afternoon looking round some of the bits of the museum we had missed last time - the Works, a long cold 10 minutes on the platform that overlooks York station trying to see the Blackpool train that was due to be leaving and then a trip to the Flying Scotsman story - which the children proclaimed "boring" as they walked in, then changed their mind when they found a pinball game to play and changed their minds very rapidly to "the best place ever". It was nice to go back and see all these things again - and of course, it's easy to do this because the main part of the museum is free to enter.

Overall, despite the children's disappointment at their presents, we had a lovely day out again and no doubt, we'll be back again. The children have their eye on returning sooner rather than later for other events. Probably in an attempt to get more from the shop.

Santa is riding on the National Railway Museum train every weekend until 17th December, and then daily until 23rd December. Tickets cost £7.50 per child, £5 per adult.

(We were kindly given free tickets to Santa's Steam Adventure and free parking at the museum. I have received no other compensation for this post, I have not been told what to write and all words and opinions are my own.) 
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