From the moment you have a child, you, and they, are bombarded with branding and characters. From clothes plastered with Disney creations, to CBeebies merchandise, to the characters from popular books being brought alive in a myriad of other ways, it’s impossible to escape entirely. We’ve not really actively sought out any of this stuff, but from what we have, it’s funny that the only character Thomas has gravitated towards is his namesake: Thomas the Tank Engine.
Perhaps this is because people have understandably tended to buy us items related to this particular character. Perhaps I’ve subconsciously encouraged it, especially because he adores trains (“toot toots”) in general. Thomas (the boy) is not all that bothered by television at all, but put Thomas (the Tank Engine) on, and it will captivate him enough that he actually sits still for as many a five minutes in a row!
When I realised that the real Thomas was paying a visit to a local steam railway just a couple of miles away, we decided to join him for a day out. To be honest, I was a bit concerned that Thomas might be too young to really appreciate it. We did take him for a ride on a steam train last year whilst we were away in the Cotswolds, and he certainly enjoyed himself then, smiling and clapping. And obviously he loves Thomas, but I wasn’t sure that he would understand the idea that this was the real Thomas. But we decided it would almost certainly be a fun experience anyway, and since it was so local, it seemed silly to miss out. (I will also confess that we sneaked Thomas in for free – the cut off for free tickets was 18 months, and Thomas turned 18 months two days before we went. You’d have done the same, right?)
It turned out that he had a blast, “toot tooting” and “peep peeping” to his heart’s content from the moment we arrived.
Meeting the Fat Controller.
The balloon modeller on the train was a hit.
Snack time on the train.
Captivated by Punch and Judy. He stood here for ages, giggling and pointing, which completely surprised me as I thought he would have no interest at all.
Up close with Thomas
We had so much fun seeing him having so much fun. I have to be honest and say that before I became a parent, doing this sort of thing was one of the things about parenthood that I was really looking forward to. Enjoying days out and activities in the same way that I fondly remember doing as a child myself. What I didn’t anticipate was just how much joy I would get out of simply watching my child discover, explore, learn and enjoy these things, nevermind what the actual event of activity is. I thought it would be fun, but not this much fun!