Things have been that busy lately that I just haven’t had the time to record all of them. The weekend deserves a mention, however, as it was the hugely successful Thomas’ Birthday Weekend at the NVR. Although I was down for Booking Office and TTI, the Thomas crowd needed a hand with various activities – and as this entailed being outside in the stifling plus 30° heat it certainly beat staying indoors in the stifling plus 30° heat. There was an advantage somewhere, I think ….. Anyway, I was off like a shot.
Three trains ran on Saturday, all sell-outs, and were great fun to be part of. Sunday required a bit more work, but thankfully only two trains would run as the 3 pm service was cancelled due to a lack of bookings. Apparently there was some football game on TV, and rather than come out and enjoy themselves, people preferred to stay indoors and watch a ritual national humiliation that was only ever a matter of time.
The Thomas event was kept separate from the main line trains, and comprised of a 3 coach Wagon-Lit train hauled by Thomas to Yarwell where all the families de-trained for the birthday party. Here they gathered for photos around Thomas and the Wansford Controller (formerly the Fat Controller but his local Burger King closed down).
Then they all sang a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday whilst Thomas responded with blasts on the whistle. The children were given the opportunity to present the birthday cards that they’d brought with them; all of these went onto some large pin boards to be displayed throughout the weekend. Finally everyone trooped into the marquee where an excellent entertainer, Mark, performed some juggling and tricks. He had a great line of patter with the kids, and pitched it well – with just enough one liners that the adults appreciated to keep everyone amused.
And you thought that the original
Rubik's Cube was difficult!
One of several reasons why I'm
barred from the Kings Arms.
I admire any man who can do this with his balls.
At Wansford I generally did the meet-and-greet bit, before travelling down on the train to take pictures. Down at Yarwell I manned the birthday card boards, and there were some hugely creative cards coming in. This was an excellent idea and really got the kids involved.
Some of the many cards received from children at Yarwell.
Yarwell only has rail access, so the following morning three of us took the first service train out of Wansford to set up the marquee. As we rolled up the doors, a tidal wave of trapped heat swept out and engulfed us in seconds. My shirt was soaked through already, and the clammy heat outside did nothing to help much, either. The other removable walls were taken down, and everything set up in record time, which was just as well as the first Thomas was only 20 minutes behind us. There was just time neck a bottle of water (thanks Hannah) before the train arrived. I took photos and managed the birthday card boards again as I enjoyed the interaction of this activity.
Back to Wansford on the return Thomas, followed by a light lunch and several cans of Fanta. It said Fanta on the tin, but in the heat I knew I’d been tango’d. The 1pm Thomas was out next, so some platform duties to get people on board, then jumped on myself for the next part of the day – the really hot and sticky part. After the party, everything bar the marquee itself had to be dismantled, packed and stacked and returned to Wansford in the brake compartment of the service train. This was really not a day to be lugging plastic stacker chairs down gravelled platforms, but we managed it – with yet another Fanta as a reward once everything reached the platform. At Wansford everything had to be taken off again, and then returned to its rightful place. Finally, a group of us stripped the decorations and balloons from the coaches used during the party, and we were done! None of us were in any state to have done the 3pm service and all of this clearing up afterwards, so for once in my life I was grateful for the lads having a kickaround in South Africa. I bet it was warmer in Wansford, though!
Thomas was the only one of us who ended
the weekend as fresh as he'd started.
The weekend was a huge success, and as people got off at Wansford the railway received many favourable comments. Having seen what goes into these events first hand, I can say that Hannah, Bill and Paul put on a fantastic event that the public really appreciated. If the NVR organised the Ingerland Team – well, who knows!