National Railway Museum

Last week being half-term, there were more entertainment options than usual for my two days of the week at home with G. On Thursday, swayed by a leaflet Mrs J had picked up somewhere, I decided to take G across the Pennines to York, for her (and my) first-ever visit to the National Railway Museum.

I was a bit apprehensive about this. York is, after all, a good hour-and-a-half away by train, which makes it a three-hour round trip. That's nothing if you're in the car in the evening and G can snooze away in the back seat, but trying to keep her entertained for that length of time, without becoming That Guy With The Annoying Toddler, looked a more challenging prospect.

As it was, the journey over was fine. We had a table to ourselves, and when she wasn't staring wistfully out of the window (as shown in the picture above), she kept herself amused by pointing out all the things she could see. Despite having lived near the Standedge Tunnel for a couple of years, she was completely baffled by it when the train passed through ("We're in a tunnel daddy! Why?"). Eventually, she gave up trying to make sense of the outside world and started playing hide-and-seek, which was about as successful as it normally is.

We got there, and the museum being helpfully located right next to the station, we were soon here. I let G wander off to explore a bit.
Along with all the old trains, there were various child-friendly activities on offer, which helped explain the rather unusual museum clientele which seemed to consist entirely of retired folks who like to trainspot, and under 8s. One of these was a model Thomas The Tank Engine display. As G pushed her nose up against the glass, the woman said to the children assembled: "Look, there's a blue engine down there, that's Thomas". G replied, insistently: "No, that's Thomas over there, he's got the number one on him!" I think at G's age that still counts as cute rather than irritatingly brattish, but I accept it's a close call.

We looked at other trains, both model and real, and rode on a steam train (green, so inevitably, "Percy") in the goods yard. The BBC's Thomas rival, Chuggington, was also well represented. Once G saw the play area full of various Chuggington track and trains, I had to write off the next part of the afternoon.
With time before our return train ticking by, the only way to get G to leave was to promise to buy her something from the museum shop on the way out. "I want Annie and Clarabel!" she announced within about 1.7 seconds of browsing the toys (keen observers will know that they are Thomas's coaches).

And so her wooden train set at home is now busier than ever. But considering she had been beautifully behaved all day, and the museum only cost a £3 donation to get into, I'd say investing in a couple of little carriages was a small price to pay.