Our day out with Thomas the Tank on the Watercress Line

If you follow me on social media at all, you can’t have missed how excited I was when I recently won a Family Ticket for The Watercress Line’s Day out with Thomas event. If you haven’t heard of the Watercress Line (or to give it it’s full title The Mid Hants Railway – The Watercress Line), it’s a beautifully restored and maintained vintage steam and diesel railway line, running trains all year round from Alton to Alresford in Hampshire. If you haven’t heard of Thomas the Tank then where on earth have you been for the last century?

The competition was run on Instagram and asked you to share photos of your child playing with their Thomas toys. Seeing as how Oscar is such a big Thomas fan, I had plenty to hand and entered a few. This is the one that won and quite right too. I love it!

The IG photo that won the competition. The original caption said ""I'm working on one side of the table, he's working on the other. It's lush"

The IG photo that won the competition. The original caption said “I’m working on one side of the table, he’s working on the other. It’s lush”

We started to explain to Oscar where we were going and what we were doing two days before the Thomas experience even started, which was a massive mistake. Once he heard, he wanted to go NOW, NOW, NOW! School boy error on my part perhaps, but it did give him time to get his head around the idea. We used videos on the Watercress Line website, showed him pictures and talked him through what we might see, In his mind he had it all sorted. He was going to drive Thomas, I was going to ride in Clarabel and Ben was going to set the points.  And he told us all that with words, dontcha know!

Oscar marching up to the station as early as we could have possibly got there!

Oscar marching up to the station as early as we could have possibly got there!

A Day out with Thomas

A Day out with Thomas was running for a week this summer and Oscar’s excitement made sure we were stood on Ropley station platform, tickets in hand, at 9.30 on the first day it started. He was beside himself and to be honest so was I. I mean how often do you get to introduce your child to their idol? I’d seen photos of what to expect, but I wasn’t quite sure how authentic it would feel. I’ve heard of other ‘experiences’ that promise the world and fail to deliver, but I needn’t have worried. When Thomas puffed down the track my little boys screams of “It’s Thomas, he’s here” and how hard he jumped up and down told me all I needed to know. As did the fact that Oscar’s excitment made Ben well up 😉

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Just look at how perfect this Thomas is! It blew all our minds!

Thomas himself gives short trips up and down a small piece of track (well he is only a tank engine!) and when he arrived on the platform we started to walk straight to Annie and Clarabel (the carriages for those not in the know!). However, Oscar had other ideas. Despite all our prep, he was adamant he was there to drive Thomas. We told him over and over that he couldn’t, but it took quite a long time for him to understand (and a few tears). It was no ones fault. He just got an idea in his head and when that happens it takes some effort to change that.

We finally got him to ride in Annie and Clarabel, instead of in Thomas, but bless his heart if he wasn't just a little disappointed!

We finally got him to ride in Annie and Clarabel, instead of in Thomas, but bless his heart if he wasn’t just a little disappointed!

Riding while standing and looking out of the window is so much fun for my guy.

Riding while standing and looking out of the window is so much fun for my guy.

After a couple of rides in Thomas’s carriages, we went over the bridge (Oscar loves bridges) to check out the other attractions that were available. We got to ride actually in Toad the Brake Van (which went some way to compensating for him not getting to actually drive a tank engine. You know, at four years old 😆) and then took a ride in the carriages of a real steamie. Oscar insisted it was Neville, but to us it looked like Donald or Douglas. Oh yes we know all the names 😱.

We actually got to ride in Toad the Brake Van! Photo by Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line

We actually got to ride in Toad the Brake Van! Photo by Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line

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Just look at these beauties! Neville or Donald and Douglas, they were superb.

We rode up and down the line a few times, which despite the few small delays we experienced Oscar loved. And I mean loved. I don’t know if it was the movement or the look and feel of the coaches but he seemed to just be happy to be on the train. We stopped off at various stations and at one he convinced us to add another train to his collection.

Diesel 10 joins the crew

We bought this TrackMaster toy from one of the stations. I was happy to see the toys cost no more than you would pay in any other toy shop.

Boy on train playing with toy train

Diesel 10 came along for the ride!

Oscar just had the best time. Once he got over the idea of riding on the footplate he really enjoyed so much about this day. He found so many opportunities to mix his two favourite things, Thomas and movement. We went on so many rides on the train but also on the small fair at the side on the tracks at Ropley. He’s not one for colouring and such, but was happy to look round all the activities laid on in the station buildings.

Boy lying on train seat

Feeling the movement from another angle – that’s my little seeker for you.

We loved it

It was such a wonderful family day out and very thoughtfully aimed at small fans of Thomas, but I can’t tell you how much Ben and I also got out of it too! For me it was the vintage details that won the day. The stations were beautiful in themselves but also helped create a feeling of being ‘on Sodor’!

vintage rail platform sign and the bunting

The signs and the bunting – gorgeous!

Vintage toilet lock

Even the details on the loos at Ropley were beautiful! Spend a penny anyone?

The staff were also very helpful and all obviously proud of what they were doing. Oscar knew exactly who this was. He waited patiently to speak to him then told him “Fat Controller, Fat Controller, Thomas is in the station”. Proud! I really felt for the chap playing the Fat Controller – it was such a hot day and he stayed in that outfit throughout! What a champ!

Oscar chatting to Sir Topham Hatt

Oscar chatting to Sir Topham Hatt

I would also highly recommend taking a picnic as we did. Not because there isn’t food available (there absolutely it) but having our own food with us mean we could eat whenever we liked, wherever we were, including half way down the line!

boy and mum on train

Hungry boy half way between stations.

All characters aside we all loved the engines, especially Ben. I think at times he was more excited than my actual little boy! I already know we’ll be going back. Not just to the Day out With Thomas (which I imagine we will be doing every time now!) but just to ride the trains and surround ourselves with the history and the magnificence of the engineering.

Oh and I’ve just noticed the Santa Experience. Oh good lord!

 

 

We would like to say thank you so much to The Watercress Line for our competition prize of a free Family Ticket to Day out with Thomas.

I was not asked to write about our time at Day out with Thomas, I just like to share the things we love.

I’m not sure when the next Thomas experience is scheduled for, but you can contact The Watercress Line via their website or Facebook 

Comments

  1. Such a gorgeous post Hun! What a wonderful day for you all. It sounds like Oscar had an amazing time and handled everything so well, I mean obviously a new train had to come home with you 😉 Thanks for the insight, we would love to take Sam one day. As for the Santa experience! Yep you are in trouble there, however probably just as excited as they are 😄 Xx

    • mrssavageangel says:

      Thank you so much honey. We had the best time despite it being a lot for O to take it and process! He just loved seeing the engines and actually told me who he’d seen that day when we got home. Something he NEVER does. Yeah not sure what to do about the Santa experience. I’d be waaaay more excited than Oscar! 😂

  2. So fun! We did A day out with Thomas when our boys were a little younger! They loved it. Such great memories you are creating.

  3. This looks like a great day think my Dad would love it as much as the kids!

  4. That looks great. I especially love toad the brake van, that’s really unusual. My son loves Thomas and has loads of trains! Looks like you had a fantastic day! #ablogginggoodtime

  5. Oh Hun I welled up too! So happy that you all got to experience this. We did it with our little man too in Utrecht. It was an amazing day and you have brought back lovely memories for me. Glad Oscar got to ride in Toad! ❤️ Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

    • mrssavageangel says:

      Ahh thank you my lovely! It was such a lovely day out and glad you got to do something similar where you are!

  6. Mud cakes and wine says:

    Looks like an amazing day and he coped so well. its so hard with ASD about preparing them but then understanding the time line to actually going, we have always found that. My boys would just love a Thomas day like that and it looked such fun. Picnic is great as you can do your own thing and we also find to give OB some time away from the crowds if it’s all gotten a little much #picknmix

    • mrssavageangel says:

      It was such a lovely day and he coped unbelievably well. I think we pitched it just right and didn’t try to push him to do things and left when we felt he’d had enough. The train carriages (except for Thomas!) themselves were actually fairly peaceful which meant we could get some down time doing what he loved 😀

  7. Amy @ Mum's The Law says:

    Aww, wow. It looks like Oscar had an amazing time. Congrats on the win (fully deserved with that lovely photo) and I’m glad you had such an awesome day! #PickNMix

  8. This is lovely, I’m so glad you all had a great day despite Oscar not being able to drive Thomas. We did a day out with Thomas at Eastleigh and Leo loved it. I’m already looking into the Christmas one at the watercress line too!xx #picknmix

  9. I’m glad you had such a great time even if the meanies wouldn’t let him drive the train ha bless him! Looks like a lot of fun 🙂

    Stevie x

    Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    • mrssavageangel says:

      It really was! Haha he would have loved it. They do do adult engine driving courses. Maybe when he’s older!

  10. How sweet! There’s nothing like seeing your children fill up with excitement. I’ve taken my daughter to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor a couple of times and would totally recommend. It’s a great day out! x

    • mrssavageangel says:

      Oh we’d love to go to Thomas Land. It’s quite a drive for us though. Maybe for his birthday next year!

  11. We’ve been meaning to do this trip for ages – you’ve reminded me! #picknmix

    • mrssavageangel says:

      Oh you really really must. It’s fab!! I don’t know when it’s next on but maybe next Easter I think? Check it out!

  12. Oh Lisa, it looks like you had a great time. I’m glad the driving Thomas thing got sorted ok, on some days that would have been the end of our day put, well done both on getting through it! We also always take food with is, it makes it all so much easier and it’s instant delivery! Thanks for linking up with #SpectrumSunday, hope to see you again in two weeks! Xx

  13. Oh it sounds like you hadsuch a wonderful day. My boy would absolutely love this. He loves trains – though not Thomas specifically – and has a strange obsession with bridges too! So glad it went so well. Thanks for linking with #SpectrumSunday 🙂

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