Thursday 5 April, Day 6 of the Easter Holidays
So the weather forecast changed again. Quelle surprise. And I realised I’d been reading the train timetable wrong. (Don’t ask… my excuse is that I’m chronically sleep-deprived. I no longer eat with sharp knives or forks). Both of these conspired together to mean that we went from chilled to argh-get-out-the-door-right-NOW in the space of 2 minutes! The Boss hurriedly threw a packed lunch together (today was going to be a very expensive day) and I unpacked and repacked the cold/wet weather crates for the car. But paused long enough to find 2 old CDs for the car: Air’s Safari and the Bookbug CD with the incredibly toe-tapping drums & bagpipes of ‘The Meeting’. I was pretty overjoyed to find the latter, as all 3 minxes like to sit in the back, pretending to play bagpipes or drums along to it. Hugely entertaining for me and The Boss.
Then we set off on a looooong drive to Aviemore. As we went past Forres, the snow got thicker and thicker. We got caught behind a Glasgow lorry doing 35mph. For some reason The Boss wouldn’t overtake. I pointed out that if he tried another gear – perhaps reverse – we might get there faster… Then I really got snippy. I’m a grumpy sod, me, especially when I see time ticking away for no good reason. Life is *short*! Don’t waste a single second! I waited, though, until we finally reached Aviemore to completely explode and roar at him when he floated ineffectually around Tourist Information instead of simply asking the right direction to the train station. I’m ashamed to say that both Maxi and Midi burst into tears when I hysterically announced that we were unlikely to get on the train after all because Daddy was being an air-head. The sight of those sad little faces burst my anger-bubble instantly.
But 2 lucky things: a very lovely man knocked on the car window as we parked and gave us his parking ticket until 1500hrs. He refused to take any cash for it. What a kind soul! And secondly: we ended up waltzing up to the train station ticket office, bought tickets, strolled to the platform and straight onto the train. The Boss had actually timed it to perfection. I did apologise profusely.
So: why were we going to Aviemore train station? To go a trip on the Strathspey steam railway! We’d budgeted for a very, very flash outing, going First Class. For that, we got our own compartment, so we could let the minxes take their wellies off and let off a bit of steam themselves without disturbing anyone else. It was also very comfy and toasty warm, with plenty of space to pack away a mountain of down jackets, fleeces, 5 hats, 10 gloves a change bag and a picnic bag. The complementary coffee, Fruit Shoots* and shortbread biscuits went down very well, too. And it was spotless. Actually, the entire train was spotless, even the Tardis-like toilet (in a tasteful mustard. Ahem!)
* Honestly, I’m relaxed about the kids drinking stuff like Fruit Shoots – so long as it’s not more than twice a year 😉 Maxi made me laugh when she gasped and whispered in horror, “But Mummy, we’re not allowed these!” as I’ve never actually forbidden or discouraged them.
So, why go on a steam train? Well, with the snow lying on the ground, it made the very beautiful journey from Aviemore to Broomhill (Glenbogle in Monarch of the Glen, apparently) via Boat of Garten even more spectacular, especially as we chuffed past the lazy rolls of the River Spey. The journey was long enough to see different views – ogling big houses, farmland, river, mountains – but short enough to keep the interest of the kids. At Broomhill we got out for a leg stretch and all the children lined up to look inside the engine and the fiery boiler. The driver and stoker happily lifted toddler after toddler up into the engine, showed them round, then perched them at the window with a driver’s hat on for a cute opportunity. Maxi and Midi were delighted!
Back in Aviemore we decided to squeeze in a little walking before the rain came down, so drove round the corner to Rothiemurchus. Well, the carpark at Loch Eilein. And hit that nightmare of all multi-child parents: Midi wanted to stay in the car, Maxi wanted to plough on to see what she could see and Mini wanted to pick up every stone in the lane. And play in the carpark. Then zigzag back down the track in the opposite direction to her sisters.
We maybe managed to walk a mile round the loch. The girls played Pooh Sticks/Stones together a few times but I gave up trying to herd them together after about 2 hours. Maxi pointed out to me that she’d not whinged once, despite being tired. My God, she was absolutely right! She’d been good as gold, keeping up with her sisters, happily letting Midi answer all my questions of “What signs do we see when it’s springtime? What will we maybe see round the corner?” despite knowing all the answers. What a girl! I think our fellow walkers thought we were mad standing in the drizzle, applauding her wildly.
Giving up to go home, I put Mini in the sling, especially as she’d asked, ” ‘Ling?” Strangely, she then protested long and hard at actually being put in her sling. No, before you suggest it, her nappy was fine. So I’ve no idea what was going on. Over-tired from missing her nap? Actually, I think we were all a bit over-tired from the past week of tearing about. Everyone happily agreed to have an at-home-day the next day. Except for me – I’d have to go into overdrive washing all the muddy outdoor kit, get out to do a week’s food shopping and catch up with the housework. Yawn! But it needs to be done, so we can have more fun later in the week!