The Land Rover Owners Ex Wife

……becoming me again

The Polar Express …… minus the snow, the moose and the roller coaster

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Excited Mudlets meeting Santa

Excited Mudlets meeting Santa

Way back in the Summer, we visited the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway in Ludborough and had a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours, details of which can be found here. Whilst in the gift shop I noticed an advert for ‘Santa Specials’ which operated over two weekends in December and so later that night, with the Mudlets tucked up in bed, I did some investigations via Google. For £8 per person, you get a ride on the train with Santa and his helpers and a quality gift and after some review reading, we chose which day we wanted to go and what time and sent off the booking form.

At this point I would like to say that £8 per person may seem like a lot of money but I will say right now, it was great value and we had a wonderful time.

Last Sunday (14th) was a bitterly cold day and it was with some reluctance that the girls donned their outdoor clothes and winter boots to go on what they believed was to be a walk in a forest somewhere. About 10 minutes or so into the journey, Mud started to curse the Sat Nav, claiming that it was sending us in the wrong direction …. which of course it wasn’t but the Mudlets didn’t know this.

“It’s trying to send us to Grimsby,” he uttered, sounding really exasperated.

“Did you remember to tell it to avoid motorways?” I asked, playing my part with great aplomb I felt.

The station was decorated and Christmassy ..... so Mud took a picture of a diesel engine!

The station was decorated and Christmassy ….. so Mud took a picture of a diesel engine!

Mud then gave a masterful performance which could have won him an Oscar under different circumstances, deriding the inability of Sat Navs to think for themselves and the ineptitude of Sat Nav programmers to realise that some people may wish to avoid AND use motorways in the same journey and, therefore, write the software to be able to cope with this eventuality.

“I need a cup of tea and some breakfast,” Prima Donna Mud announced, just as we passed a huge sign advertising the Santa Specials.

“Oh look,” Miss ‘No Flies On Me” Middle Mudlet said,”The Lincolnshire Wolds Railway is just over there!”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes,” she announced,”We just passed a sign for the ‘Santa Specials’.”

“If they’re open, we could call in for a cuppa and bacon roll in the cafe car,” Mud said,”Then I can reset the Sat Nav.”

A short while later we were parked up in the car park and heading to the station. Mud and I both commented that there were an awful lot of cars for this early on a Sunday, so something must be going on.

“It’s the Santa Specials,” Middle Mudlet reiterated,”We passed a sign a little while ago.”

Mud and I both acted surprised, lamenting that had we known they ran such things we would have looked at booking tickets. What a shame. Initially Middle Mudlet didn’t look at all convinced and was sure we were pulling her leg but over the next hour as we sat in the cafe drinking cups of tea and eating breakfast (bacon or bacon and sausage rolls), her confidence began to waiver.

When the first Santa train of the day pulled back into the station, the girls watched as the passengers disembarked. As luck would have it the old mail carriage in which Santas’ grotto had been set up, stopped directly outside the cafe carriage and so the girls were able to get a clear view of the young passengers leaving the train via the grotto, each clutching a bag with their name on it and a toy inside. Some of the families even made their way into the cafe and so the girls were able to see the fabulous gifts these children had been given.

Middle Mudlet looked on with envious eyes as one of the older boys admired the ‘Build your Own Solar Powered Robot’ kit that was in his bag and which, the box proclaimed, could be made into anyone of three different solar powered models.

“We need to make a move,” Mud said after a second mug of steaming hot tea,”We don’t want to be out for too long and the weather is set to get worse this afternoon.”

Not quite the Polar Express but still a magical experience for the Mudlets.

Not quite the Polar Express but still a magical experience for the Mudlets.

I have to say that mine and Muds’ hearts broke for Middle Mudlet at this point and we very nearly ‘fessed up, as her face fell and a look of disappointment took over with the realisation that we really were leaving to go for a cold walk somewhere…….

“Ho, ho, ho, are you going on my train?” a very jovial and realistic Santa asked the girls when he saw them on the platform.

Middle Mudlet started to say that she didn’t think so, at which point I pulled the ticket out of my bag and the whole demeanor of the girls changed in a split second with huge, excited smiles and outraged exclamations along the lines of what horrible parents we were to tease them like that. After a quick glance at the ticket, they headed off to the carriage where our seats were and settled in.

The train journey itself is a relatively short and gentle paced affair, taking no more than 10-15 minutes each way but there is something relaxing about being on board a steam train …. even if we were in a relatively modern carriage (circa 1980s). During the journey Santas helpers visited each of the four carriages singing songs, being very jolly, accompanied by a very good accordion player and Santa himself also visited each carriage to engage with the young passengers.

Back at Ludborough station and we were asked to remain where we were and the passengers of each carriage would be brought through to the grotto in turn, for an audience with Santa. The girls could hardly contain themselves and when it got to their turn, Middle Mudlet was even more stunned to find that not only did they know her name and age but they also knew she was a tomboy and to her delight, when she looked in her bag, she found the very kit she had been coveting, just a short while earlier. Little Mudlet was equally delighted with her gift which was a large ‘Make Your Own Cards’ craft set with enough ‘ingredients;’ to make at least 12 cards.

“I’ve never given one of these toys out in a girls bag before,” the chief helper commented as she handed over a red bag to Middle Mudlet (girls had red bags, boys had green).

The girls posed for a picture with Santa and then moved to leave the train but as they passed the Chief Elf, she handed them another bag “to ensure you don’t become 100% tomboy,” she said and then added, “but it’s to share.” Beaming the girls thanked her, wished her Merry Christmas and left the train. Mud and I followed them off, adding our own thanks to the kind Elf and smiling at her obvious reluctance to accept that such a pretty little girl would be happier with robots. trains and all things mechanical, than Barbies, dolls and fairies.

Santa paid a visit to each car during the train ride.

Santa paid a visit to each car during the train ride.

Back at the car, the girls examined their bags more closely, especially the bonus bag which I can only assume was a spare, possibly as a result of a family that, for whatever reason, hadn’t been able to use their booking, as our girls were the only ones we saw with an extra set of gifts. Looking into the bonus bag, they were delighted to find: A brownies mix, box of fairy cake mix, packet of pretty bun cases, childs’ piping bag set, childs’ measuring jug with measuring spoons and a lovely free standing Muffins and Cakes recipe book.

Even without the extra bag, in terms of value for money this experience ranks right up there. The friendly and fun attitudes of the volunteers who run the railway, the realistic looking Santa, the quality of the gifts and the gently soothing ride on the steam train itself, made the whole trip a magical, never to be forgotten, childhood memory for our girls.

As a special Christmas treat – Mud and I wholeheartedly recommend the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway Santa Specials and would happily do the whole thing again.

 

 

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