Monday, September 26, 2011

Day Out With Thomas

Day Out With Thomas - 01

On Saturday 24th September we visited the Bo'ness and Kinneil railway for a special Thomas the Tank Engine themed event. Ethan has been showing an interest in Thomas and Trains so we especially took him along.

We thoroughly enjoyed the day, parking was well thought out by directing people to the nearby Lidl carpark (which was useful for augmenting our picnic). Our booked tickets were on the 13.30 train, but we arrived at 11.30 so we had plenty of time to explore the area before travelling to Birkhill.

We started off by collecting a bucket of water so Ethan could help fill Thomas under supervision of the Fat Controller (who incidentally wasn't that fat, but kept in character very well) and his engineer. We then bought some goodies for Ethan from a station vendor.

Day Out With Thomas - 10

We joined the queue to show Ethan inside the driver cab of Thomas and have his photo taken; Louise asked the driver if she could toot Thomas' horn to be told only if coal is added to the boiler! The driver showed Louise where the shovel is kept and in to the boiler went some fuel and thus permission to make some noise! The driver kindly took a family photo of Louise, Ethan and myself inside the cab which was great!

We then sat down for some lunch where the Fat Controller came up to use and spoke to Ethan giving him a sticker!

During lunch the goods train 'Robert' travelled back and forth and we then made our way to our carriage.

Day Out With Thomas - 28

Day Out With Thomas - 53

The journey to Birkhill was enjoyable and I think it may have been the first time I've travelled on a full size steam train. There was no electric lights on, so when the carriages passed underneath a road bridge we were plunged into total darkness for a few seconds. We emerged to a series of whoops from passengers and Ethan's expression was priceless - as if the world had suddenly ended and then played the worlds largest game of peek-a-boo! Eyes and mouth were wide open!

Day Out With Thomas - 37

Birkhill was a scenic station, although there wasn't really that much to do, we bought some home baked cakes, avoided the entertainer show and found a picnic bench on the railway platform - we bought some tea and waited...

Day Out With Thomas - 35

After arriving back at Bo'ness we could tell Ethan was becoming tired so we made our way back to the car, we stopped at the imagination station to pick up some colouring leaflets and Ethan was given a Mega Bloks Thomas. I took some pictures of the passenger train leaving for Birkhill and drowning the bridge onlookers in black soot!

Day Out With Thomas - 62

We'll definitely return! Although will probably stay on the train at Birkhill.

Day Out With Thomas - 57

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Highland Cattle Show 2011

Today we visited the Highland Cattle Show in Pollock Park, Glasgow and thoroughly enjoyed it! We arrived around 11am where we drove in to the park without any significant traffic issues, Glasgow City Council excelled in organising parking and traffic, we were quickly directed to park on a football pitch where minibuses were waiting to ferry us directly into the event!

We arrived to a slightly muddy, but still very passable field with some rides, stalls , 2 arenas and a brass band. We bought Ethan a woollen blanket, 2 lucky dips (paintbrushes and a teddy bear) and a book (Hungry Hettie).

Highland Cattle Show - 02

Then moved on passed the cow enclosures to walk around the arena where about 15 cows were being judged; quite interesting spectating this as the judge explained to the public exactly what they were looking for and why.

Highland Cattle Show - 05

After this we wondered further to find a Clydesdale Horse being rehoofed by farriers and decorated, the same handlers who rode us in the dray at Hogganfield Loch were there.

Highland Cattle Show - 08

Behind a kids competition was taking place to milk a cow the fastest! It was a wooden cow, but still very much 'Father Ted'; the boys won. At this point the 'Drakes of Hazard' was about to start which is a dog and duck display team with two Border Collies herding Indian Runner ducks (from Malaysia) around an obstacle course which was fun to watch. The announcer was very, very good.

Highland Cattle Show - 11

On the way for food, we stopped to watch more cattle judging where I found amusement in the brass band playing the Imperial March at the same time the cows were parading around the arena.

We then went to have something to eat, where we had some Aberdeen Angus burgers which seemed oddly fitting for a cattle show...

We then wondered back to watch the bird of prey show to see various birds in a display. In particular we saw 'spike' the Hawk, 'bungle' the Bateleur Eagle and an Owl whose name I never caught. Very impressive birds, although the Owl became uneasy as a hot air baloon or other craft flew over a very long way in the distance and the Owl impressively became focussed on it.

Highland Cattle Show - 18

On the way back to the minibus we stopped off at the Ranger's tent for information about Glasgow's parks and events, then visited the 'fur and feather' tent where an enormous range of pigeons were on display along with information about the country code.

A lot to do and will look out for this next year!

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