Friday, 10 August 2012

A Family Day Out

We'd been putting it off and putting it off. Blaming the weather, or work, or that the moon has wrongly aligned with the house of the penguin, or something. Anything. But finally we had to do it. We had to have a family day out.

*Reaches for gin*

But not an entire family day out. The TeenTwins are at that age when going anywhere with the family is entirely "meh" and very much "duh." So it was just Us, me and The Man, and Them, The Boy and the Third Girl.

And because it was us, we had to go on a steam train because, well, that's what we do. (I worked out that 99.9 per cent of all trains I've travelled on in the past ten years have been steam powered. That's not re-capturing the golden age of steam, that's still bloody living it! *Rolls eyes*)

A steam engine
The Steam Engine

By lucky hap *sarcastic face* the Scarborough Spa Express travels through our hometown of Wakefield to Scarborough three times a week in the summer months. Not that we were going to Scarborough for the day, don't be silly... the seaside? On one of sunniest days of the year? Of course not. Not when York has MORE steam trains in the National Rail Museum. *Sighs*

But I love York, I went to college there when the world was young and the pubs were better so yet another  trip to the NRM, and we make a LOT of trips to the NRM, is always offset with the pleasure of seeing the old student stomping ground again.

Having negotiated getting up, getting everyone else up, getting them ready, getting me ready, putting together a picnic and getting to the train on time without any serious casualties... though OF COURSE The Boy decided he wanted a wee at just that exact amount of distance between house and train station as to make it impossible to reach either as quickly as, um, required ....we were off on a family day out.

I found it entirely charming that, at the station waiting for the steam train, the tannoy suddenly sparked to life with a request that anyone who would be travelling on the soon-to-be-arriving Scarborough Spa Express stick their left arm in the air so they could get a rough idea of numbers. Everyone else evidently found it charming too, there was a ripple of English laughter in the air, an English raising of arms (hesitant, mildly embarrassed and a little bit puzzled) and the steam train puffed into the station.

Pulled by a diesel though because, well, it's a steam engine and it breaks, a bit, now and again. It was a heritage diesel though, so what can you do....

The diesel engine that actually pulled us to York
The diesel engine that pulled the steam engine

By the time we were waiting for a train, ANY train, to bring us back home six and a half hours later, I wasn't finding anything at all very charming anymore.

Our family day out had managed to expose the limitations of each and every family member in each and every way. Tolerance, we don't have that. None of us. Patience? No, none of that either. Asking loud and embarrassing questions at inappropriate moments? We have lots of that. Ditto, being wide-eyed, innocent and saying "Who Me?" Doing what mummy and daddy say? AS IF?

Our family day out was, to coin a phrase: "The best of times and the worse of times." When The Boy decided to have a full on melt-down halfway through the ride in the Jorvik Centre was a worse bit.

That I'd specifically arranged to go to the Jorvik Centre because I thought The Boy would find it both entertaining and educational was a bit depressing. That I spent the entire visit trying to beguile an entirely angry looking Boy to appreciate the daggers, knives, swords, skulls, actual skeletons AND A POO depressed me even more. He almost raised a smile at the poo though. Almost.

And a best bit? *Thinks hard* Possibly the moment in York Minster when the kids united briefly, unexpectedly, to light a candle, with great and suprising solemnity for our deceased hamster. Toast. All rest his soul.

But it was a long day. And a hot day. And, except for that one moment when Them were briefly united in grief for a hamster dead for the past nine months, it was a bit of a struggle. There was bickering, and not all of it was between Child3 and Child4.

The Shambles, York
A Shambles
It also appears there ARE only so many times you can visit the NMR without wanting to slit your own throat and that amount of times is roughly about 276. I worry sometimes they might just start charging us rent.

The Boy at the NRM
Some trains and The Boy

And finally, at the station, the train home was 45 minutes late. The first steam engine that had had to be pulled by a heritage diesel had been replaced by another steam engine. The replacement steam engine then got entirely excited and set fire to most of the countryside between York and Scarborough in a cinder burning meets dry grass kind of way. They were going to swap it for a diesel when it finally arrived in York from Scarborough and that wouldn't be long now ... Yeah, suddenly, the charm of a bygone age was gone.

I found a shop on the station. I found the shop on the station sold gin in a tin. I bought gin in a tin for an entirely reprehensible not-worth-it-but-I'm-going-to-pay-it-anyway price. I almost wept with gratitude when the cheerful salesgirl dug out the coldest tins from the back of the fridge.

When the train home finally arrived to take us home, The Man, more used to the ways of the world than I, was first in the queue at the buffet car and, while we waited for points to switch to other points so the Scarborough Spa Express (probably) could finally move, we got stuck into a bottle of over-priced, not-chilled-enough, served-in-plastic-glasses-that-aren't-even-really-glasses wine and tried to ignore Childs 3&4 who were fighting. Again. They moved on to trying to kill each other. We drank more wine.

Eventually the train pulled into our home station. I smiled across at the two elderly women, each taking a now-wilting bunch of flowers home with them. They'd sat opposite us all the way there and all the way back: "I'm sorry," I said, indicating my bickering offspring, and trotted out every mother's excuse for all and every incident of their children's embarrassing bad behaviour ever: "They're tired," *beseeching look* "It's been a long day."

"Oh no," said the old lady on the left, "Not at all." And she beamed, happily. There wasn't even a HINT of sarcasm. And believe me I looked hard. And then I felt quite tearful. We HAD survived.

We went home. In a taxi obviously because a sense of adventure can only stretch so far. The Man went, almost immediately, to the pub.

In two weeks time we're going on holiday.

*Girds loins*


  1. We've been putting off days out too - with the Olympics on, a 5mth old and other kids around to play with we've been dreadfully lazy. I will probably spend the next few weeks trying to get through the 90% of the overenthusiastic bucket list - eeeek! x

  2. I like your blogs - there is something about the way they are written that makes them come alive and feel real - :-)

  3. Haha sounds like quite an adventure! Our 22 month old daughter does a great line is random strops and incidents whilst on excursions too, makes life more colourful eh!

  4. That looks a lovely day out! My 2 love trains must admit I quite like them too :)

  5. That looks a lovely day out! My 2 love trains must admit I quite like them too :)


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