Friday, June 5, 2009

Locomotive love

Q: What do you do when you have a four-year-old who’s mad about trains, but you live in a city which has no trains to speak of?

A: You take her to the one place in town that not only has trains: they have kid-sized trains that she can ride on as many times as her heart desires (and her mum can pay for).

Last weekend, that’s what we did: took a jaunt with some friends to the Kingston Miniature Railway, where two Sundays a month train enthusiasts large and small can pay to ride on miniature trains pulled by real, working, miniature steam locomotives (and some petrol-powered ones too). The railway is run by a club of model train engineer enthusiasts and is, as far as I can tell, a labor of love. We ended up chatting with the wife of one of the engine drivers, who told us that the club members not only put up and run the miniature railway, but also actually built the tiny engines. It costs nothing to get in, the train rides are pocket change, and there’s even a picnic area (with, yes, working gas barbeques) if you want to settle in for a meal or throw a birthday party for your favorite Thomas the Tank Engine fan.

It might be constructed on an old rubbish dump, but the Kingston Miniature Railway seemed like a magical place to me: everyone there was enjoying themselves, from the people running the whole outfit to the smallest kids standing (or in Miss B’s case, jumping up and down) in line, patiently waiting for their turn to ride on a real steam train. And yet there was no hassle, no crowds, and no exorbitant costs. It was just a simple recipe (trains + love + kids) for a memorable day out.

Portable refueling ideas for trainspotters of all sizes
Since food, in my opinion, improves almost any occasion.

- Bacon and egg pie
- Cold pizza
- Flapjack
- Turnovers


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