Christmas is undoubtedly an incredibly exciting for children. It’s hard not to get completely absorbed in the festivities with them, but I definitely enjoy some aspects more than others.

Jingle Bells on repeat? Not so much.

A steam train with Santa? Yes!

The Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway is about a 30 minute drive from our house in the North of Edinburgh. Whilst it runs throughout the year, it’s ‘special events’ are the ones that particularly attract local families. This particular trip was months in planning as it was one of the rare occasions everyone in my original baby group could get together. The Santa Trains also sell out remarkably quickly so we were very lucky to all get tickets. Seeing our old friends definitely added to the excitement for Katie; but it also meant there were plenty of adults to keep an eye on my rabble as well! It made for a really enjoyable morning.

The station was a little bit manic to begin with; however once on the train the kids really began to appreciate the novelty. Ben was amazed to see the steam drifting past the windows and was surprised that it was so quiet. I was struck with nostalgia at realizing the seats were sprung and at the mini sliding windows!

As the train set off, we were greeted by a friendly ticket collector bearing gifts of reindeer hats and boxes of raisins. As we passed fields and roadsides, it was lovely to see people stopping to wave at the children on the train – causing much merriment for Katie and Thomas.

It wasn’t long at all before Santa appeared with gifts for all the children and to take the time to ask them questions.

As Katie wanted to say in review:

I loved meeting Santa on the train. I went to the North Pole! Santa gave me a present from his bag. He asked me what my number was, so I told him four. He ‘gived’ Thomas a book too and me a book. I wiped the windows with my gloves. We sang along to music – we sang Santa Christmas songs!

Believe it or not – Katie was right that we went to the North Pole. Or at least that’s what the sign at the station said. Apparently nice women selling marshmallow and strawberry kebabs are a mainstay of the North Pole. Who knew?!

The journey to the North Pole took about 30 minutes but the time flew by in the excitement of meeting Father Christmas. Somehow, the journey seemed quicker on the way back but this may have been in part to the musicians who led us all in a sing-along of Christmas tunes. This could have been really cheesy but the kids really enjoyed it. They played a great array of songs that the kids knew and everyone was happy to sing along.

I would advise taking along a few snacks; Thomas particularly was easy to keep in his seat with the allure of Bear Paws! Although that said, the younger children really were well behaved and were quite taken with everything going on.

I would be very tempted to repeat the journey throughout the year as well. Their ‘Afternoon Tea’ days particularly look epic and I know their Thomas the Tank Engine days are very popular. I know they do sell out incredibly quickly but I’ve been too indecisive when looking at it before. I’ve noticed that they are due to hold one on my Thomas’ 2nd birthday – so will have to keep my eyes peeled!

It was a great day and I once again was grateful for wonderful friends. We didn’t manage to make it to the Railway Museum as nap time was calling for Thomas and the older two were hungry. Had I been better prepared with a packed lunch and a buggy – it would’ve been good to explore and spend a bit more time with friends. I’ll just have to vow to make an extra effort to see them over the holidays!

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