“Choo choo.” Imagine that on repeat and with an echo. With two toddlers (Little London and his cousin) sitting in the back of my car I started to regret telling them that we were off to see some trains.
The excitement was brewing and they were eager to get out the car and just start playing. And it was a place I knew they would love. After all it was a magical place when my sister and I were little girls. The Audley End Miniature Railway.
We parked the car and walked up to the gates, the boys hand in hand and jumping up and down as they glimpsed the steam engine pulling passengers around the outskirts of a huge green filled with people enjoying picnics.
First big fail for us a parents- we didn’t realise we could have brought a picnic!
The Audley End Miniature Railway is for those children with the beauty of innocence and belief still in them. Those that believe in Father Christmas, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and all those magical characters that slowly disappear over time.
An elf approached us while we were waiting to get our tickets to give the boys a woodland i-spy sheet and an Audley End pencil that could be made into a wand at one of their activity tables.
I really do appreciate that extra effort places take to keep children excited and focused.
With tickets bought and one toddler not far off a nap, we decided to get straight on the steam train.
The shiny red lacquered train pulled away from the train station and we started our one and a half mile journey around Lord Braybrooke’s gauge railway through private woodland.
The boys stared out into the woodland, spotting the variety of animals and stuffed toys while pointing and yelling out names. They particularly liked the long tunnel stretches and found it amusing when it went from dark to light in a matter of seconds.
Whereas my sister and I fully appreciated the chance to get up close to a Second World War pill box and realised the water passing under one of the bridges was indeed the River Cam.
Once we returned to the station we were greeted once more by the cheery station master who asked the boys if they’d enjoyed themselves. I think the big grins summed it up.
We decided to take the boys into the enchanted forest- the idea was to keep them moving to prevent Little London’s cousin from realising he was a tad overdue on his nap.
Second big fail for us- we forgot to bring his pram thinking he’d be ok in Little London’s pram. That didn’t go down too well with Little London at all. Toddlers don’t share possessions easily.
Because of this we decided to forgo the wand making and face painting and just headed straight in to the walk with sparkly wings and wands purchased from the shop to help their imaginations flow.
This was post each of them having a slice of cafe bought homemade cake- we figured the sugar would keep them going and prevent any meltdowns from happening.
As our little fairies made their way around the forest they stopped and looked at each of the fairies and the little set up scenes that were dotted throughout the woods.
They enjoyed playing in the den making area and feeling the strips of material tickle their faces as they ran in and out of the den.
The walk was lovely, we were able to go at a nice sedate pace and be as involved as we wanted, all the while keeping a watchful eye on just how tired Little London’s cousin was getting.
We made it to the end without feeling rushed and spending a good amount of time in the forest watching our boys skip around calling themselves butterflies without a single meltdown (thank you cake!).
Before we decided to get back in the car and head home so the little one could nap.
Had we planned it better, we would have stayed all day. If it wasn’t for the nap situation we easily could have because there is a cafe serving a variety of food including kids lunch boxes. Although we would have really enjoyed planning ahead and bringing a picnic with us.
Plus with two bouncy castles, swing boats and a cute little playground the boys could easily have been entertained for hours.
With special events throughout the year stay posted because no doubt I’ll review one of those too 🙂