Since Hayden first showed an interest in trains and Thomas in particular, Mike and I have been talking about taking him to a Day out with Thomas on the railway. Mike has fond memories of seeing Thomas in real-life at the watercress line when he was a child. For this reason he was keen to go the Watercress line especially to relive his childhood memories.
Whilst staying the weekend at our parents in Hampshire we were invited to go to A day out with Thomas at the watercress line. Before we went I showed Hayden a video on the website and he was so excited!
Day out with Thomas
Based across 3 different stations, there was plenty to do at each station.
We started off at Alresford as this was the closest for us. There was parking at the station but this was full, luckily there was plenty of overflow parking just a 2 minute walk away and was also free on Sunday.
I’m really glad we started at this station as here they had a life size Bertie Bus and Trevor the Traction engine outside the front. Hayden spotted these straight away and made a beeline for them.
We collected our tickets and Hayden got given a Thomas passport, with things to spot during the day and puzzles. A bit old for Hayden just yet but a great idea for slightly older children, and Hayden just loved carrying it around as it had Thomas on and more recently he has insisted on taking it to bed with him!
We then boarded the steam train for the 10 minute journey to Ropley Station where most of the activities were.
Although I’m not massively interested in steam trains like my husband or son, what I do love is the retro look of these old railway stations and steam trains!
First to do on our list was to see Thomas!
They had thought it all out for young families pretty well, providing undercover buggy park and changing tent just outside the station’s platform. We dropped the pram off and put Austin in the carrier.
Hayden was so excited to see that the steam train on the platform was Thomas!
Mike and I were impressed too by how like Thomas he actually looked. We stood on the platform for a bit looking at Thomas before boarding the Thomas train. Obviously it’s a normal carriage you get on, but the thrill of being pulled by Thomas is definitely a real treat for the children.
You take a short few minutes ride up the tracks on the Thomas train and then back to the station again. I first I thought this was a little disappointing but soon realised that actually this was great, because it meant that Thomas spent more time at the station for the children to look at him, and they didn’t really have to wait long to see Thomas or go for a ride.
Due to Hayden’s age he couldn’t seem to grasp the fact that Thomas would come back in a few minutes, which led to him crying and pointing every time Thomas pulled off from the station and smiling and shouting excitingly every time he returned!!
The problem with seeing Thomas first was that then Hayden didn’t want to leave and I firmly believe he would have happily stood on the platform come and go all day long!!
We eventually managed to persuade him to go to the other side of the station where there was a bouncy castle, magic show, refreshments and grassy areas for picnics. He was only amenable to this though as he could still have a good view of Thomas on the platform.
We were lucky with the weather that it was a lovely sunny day and plenty of families were sat enjoying their picnics, unfortunately we weren’t very organised and didn’t bring anything with us. But all was not lost, we brought some food and drinks from the refreshment shed instead.
After lunch, we met and had our photo with the Fat controller, who was also bore a great resemblance! I say we, but Hayden actually wasn’t interested in meeting the Fat controller just the trains and wandered off during said photo!!
We then went to catch the next train to the last station, Alton. Whilst we were waiting on the platform for the train to arrive, we checked out the the story time complete with books and dress up hats etc. This was great for Hayden to have 10 minutes quiet time.
After boarding the train to Alton, Hayden and Austin almost immediately fell asleep, swiftly followed by Mike! So there I was with 3 sleeping boys on a train… Hayden really needed a nap anyway as he had been getting super whiny so I just decided to let them sleep. We travelled up to Alton station and then all the way back to Ropley at which point I woke them up so we could disembark!
After a quick nappy change for both boys in the very well equipped changing tent, off we went to the shop, where Hayden had £20 from grandad to spend.
The shop was very small and busy, and it was a bit mad trying to stop Hayden from grabbing everything Thomas related in sight like a crazed hoarder! The did have a great selection of Thomas toys though, from my first Thomas through to the wooden Thomas. I let Hayden pick what to buy with his money, with a bit of guidance he got a Connor and victor engines, a Thomas toy camera and a Thomas flag to wave on the station.
Last but not least we hopped on the miniature railway for short ride before catching the train back to Alresford station and home.
Unfortunately we didn’t manage to fit in getting to ride on Toad or Diesel as we couldn’t seem to get our timings quite right and kept missing them!
We had a really great day out with Thomas and I’m sure it won’t be the last time that we visit Thomas! Though next time we will remember to bring a picnic!
If you or your children are Thomas fans then this day out with Thomas is a must.
You can find out more info about a Day out with Thomas on the Watercress Line here.