Week 245 – train adventures

On Tuesday morning I joined a silver-haired crowd at a Brighton cinema to see the recent release ‘A Quiet Passion’, a dramatisation of the reclusive life of the American mid-C19th poet Emily Dickinson. It was a very moving film: life and death, love, sickness and pain, prejudice and frustration – all were experienced by Dickinson within the confines of a comfortably well-off Bostonian family home, and brought to life in her eloquent, passionate poetry (most of which was not published until after her death). Cynthia Nixon was wonderful as the fiercely intellectual yet fragile poet, and Jennifer Ehle as her beloved sister.

On Thursday night I hosted a dinner party for my local mum friends. It was a cold night, and a good opportunity to get a pan of mulled wine brewing – it’s been such a long time since I last made it (it used to be a winter-time staple) I’d forgotten my recipe! Everyone brought a dish, and we spent a happy few hours eating comfort food (soup, cheese and chocolate) and putting the world to rights.

Maisie’s second term of school ended on Friday. We went for a play in the park afterwards and she promptly fell face-first out of a tree! She was a bit shocked and sustained some impressive grazes, but luckily, nothing more serious. She also received her first school report, which was all positive, with the one caveat that she isn’t always keen to let others take a turn to lead activities!

On Saturday the kids were invited to a party, but as it didn’t start till 1pm, and they were up, raring to go, at 6am, it was a hard task getting them through the long morning! Happily it was chilly but bright, so we headed out to the park.

They decided to go on an adventure, exploring every corner, then spent an hour digging holes in the sandpit (co-operating very well together!). I tried to find patches of sunlight to stand in to stop my body gradually numbing with cold!

On Sunday Ben and Myomi drove Maisie, Tommy and I to the Diamond Valley miniature railway, a popular family weekend destination.

Set up by enthusiasts and staffed by volunteers, it’s an extensive network of tiny tracks, junctions and tunnels laid out in a pretty area of rolling woodland, complete with to-scale signals, bridges over tiny creeks, engine sheds, functional level crossings (Tommy’s favourites!), control towers etc.

The extensive fleet of engines and carriages (both ‘passenger’ and freight-style wagons) are all replicas of full-sized American and Australian models, perfect to the smallest detail and all immaculately clean and shiny.

As it was a busy day they had four or five different trains in constant operation (and they often brought other models out of the shed) so you never knew which one might whizz past in the other direction, or suddenly race you down the track.

Tommy was, of course, thrilled from the get-go, studying everything closely, pointing things out and excitedly naming them.

Maisie wasn’t too impressed after the first ride, and was more engaged by the nearby playground (heaving with toddler birthday parties, show-casing an impressive array of railway-themed cakes!).

But after we’d had our picnic lunch we went back for more train fun and she loved the ride so much she demanded we immediately went back round again!

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