I had intended for us to travel over to one end of the line at Rawtenstall and then travel to Bury by steam train but of course, we set off horrendously late, so instead we had a change of route and picked up the train further down the line at the interestingly-named town of Ramsbottom.
It was absolutely freezing waiting on the platform, but OB was suitably excited to see the steam train appear and quite enjoyed the bustle of activity involved in actually getting on the train and finding a seat. From Ramsbottom, the journey to Bury was actually a bit too short, barely giving OB time to make a proper dent in his picnic, but I preferred to leave him wanting more rather than having it drag out so it was all good.
As we waited to set off, I asked OB what he thought he'd see out of the train window as we went along.
"Teddy bears!" was his immediate and confident reply.
Well, OB is only three, so he does occasionally come out with some odd things, but this one was even further out in left field than usual. I replied brightly and encouragingly, but indicating that I thought teddy bears weren't destined to be one of the attractions of the journey.
"Yes Mummy. Teddy bears over there. Look!"
And lo and behold, there were three giant stuffed teddy bears sitting on the station platform amid some old-fashioned luggage. Another reminder not to under-estimate my son!
Arriving in Bury, I checked the timetable for the return journey and then we hopped across the road to the rather cute little Bury Transport Museum. It wasn't exactly the British Museum, but there was a goodly number of beautiful old buses, trams, fire engines and the like to wander around, as well as several interactive transport-themed activities that OB would probably enjoy more if he was older. The star attraction for him was a front end of a bus that he could sit in and pretend to drive. We spent around an hour in the museum and at least 20 minutes of that was taken up by OB playing bus driver, making me open the doors repeatedly to get on and off, issuing fake tickets, and play driving the bus to all sorts of exciting destinations including his friends' house and the moon!
I had intended to get back to the station in time for the 13.20pm return train so that we could finish our picnic on the way back, but in the event, having exhausted the museum, we were back early. I thought we could get a coffee and biscuit at the station cafe and perhaps look in the little shop to pass the time. So imagine my surprise when, while browsing the souvenirs, I heard the 'peep peep' of the steam train's whistle, and the unmistakeable sound of the very train we wanted to catch leaving the station below us 40 minutes before I thought it was due.
Yes, inexplicably, Mummy had catastrophically misread the timetable! And the next train would be due at 14.25.
It's not that Bury isn't an exciting place to be on a Wednesday afternoon - I'm sure it's delightful - but by this time it was blowing a gale, freezing cold and raining steadily. I wondered how to fill the time until the next train.
Thankfully, on the way to the Transport Museum, I had spotted a brown sign pointing to another museum close by. I thought we'd have nothing to lose, so we set off and ended up at a little museum and art gallery which was free to get in (important point!). Sadly, the main gallery was closed as they were changing the display, but I did actually manage to get OB interested in a few of the paintings in the side gallery for a couple of nanoseconds, and, more importantly, there was a cafe!
|OB blurs his way past some art at usual breakneck speed!|
With surprising foresight, I had purchased a rather lovely tractor for £3 at the train station, so OB and I spent a happy half hour in the cafe - me mainlining hot coffee while feeding Baby Girl, and him playing out all sorts of farm-related scenarios with his lovely new tractor.
On our second attempt, we managed to catch the return train (which, as OB pointed out to me, was a diesel!) without a hitch. The journey back was considerably enlivened by OB's anticipation of revisiting the tunnel we had been through on the way out.
And on the way home in the car, he fell into a beautifully deep sleep so I could listen to Radio 4 for the whole journey home instead of his ear-curling kids CD. Perfect!