The prize was in fact a 'day out with Thomas the Tank Engine'. God knows why I even entered the competition. I don't even like trains. I must have been drunk.
Anyway, last weekend the fateful day arrived and I had arranged to take Izzy and her friend to the Buckingham Railway Centre where the event was being held.
My friends reacted with sympathy when they heard where I was going; "Ha ha ha ha ...... you're turning into a trainspotter you raving geek!" one of them guffawed. Several more made oblique references to the fact that it wouldn't be long before I began donning an anorak.
Nevertheless, Izzy and her friend were incredibly excited by the prospect of meeting Thomas. Kids, I just can't figure them out.
Pic.No.1 Izzy was so excited by seeing Thomas, that she put a teddy on her head
It was with a heavy heart that I levered Izzy and her friend into the car and we set off on the 25 minute journey to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre ......... here goes ....... the day out in all it's glory.
Pic.No.2 Izzy and chum at the entrance to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. They both took stuffed toys, both of which I ended up lugging around
As we entered the Railway Centre, I have to admit, that my preconceived notions were pretty much turned on their head. I was expecting a piddling train track with a plastic-looking train driving back and forth, laden with kids.
What we actually got was an enormous museum with scores of magnificent trains at various stages of renovation. And it was also apparent that these trains represented incredible feats of engineering. Engineering ......... rarrrr ....... I dribbled a bit and itched my thigh. Things were looking up.
Pic.No.3 This is the main station at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. You can see some of the trains lined up in the background. But that was only a small fraction of the exhibits
Pic.No.4 The station building had been renovated to look as it would in the early 1900s. Nice hanging baskets .... I tried to grow some once and they went crispy
Pic.No.5 This was my favourite train out of all the exhibits. Not for any technical reason, purely because I like the colour
Pic.No.6 This is the cockpit of the train. See that man? He was getting well into how the train worked ..... why do trains do that to middle aged men?
Pic.No.7 As well as looking at the restored trains, we also explored the area where the trains were lined up waiting for their own makeover. Think 'How to Look Good Naked', but for trains
Pic.No.8 An abandoned bicycle on the back of a derelict train
Pic.No.9 A train currently undergoing a makeover. They needed another £60,000 to finish it off. Lord knows how much it had already cost them
Pic.No.10 After exploring the train museum, we had lunch in the cafe. The walls were peppered with train memorabilia
Pic.No.11 After lunch, the 'fun stuff' commenced, starting with a ride on a miniature railway. The tiny train you can see in the picture is actually a properly functioning steam train. I want one!
Pic.No.12 We sat in tiny carriages and were pulled along the 1/2 mile track by the steam engine. Izzy and her chum absolutely bloody loved it. They whooped like Americans and laughed their heads off (ha ha bonk) all the way round
Pic.No.13 They were particularly enamoured with this miniature railway station which we passed on the final leg of our journey
By the time we disembarked, they were both shouting, "that was awesome!"
That'll be Brownie Points for me then.
And as if that wasn't enough, I turned to them and said, "right, who wants to meet Thomas now?"
They both yelled, "MEEEEE!" and I was surprised that they didn't puke right there and then from excitement.
In the guide, it said that Thomas was located on Platform 4, so that is where we headed and we weren't disappointed.
Pic.No.14 Izzy and chum pose by Thomas the Tank Engine. Behind it, there was also another train called Percy, and a feature of the day was that you got to ride on either Thomas or Percy and they staged a race along the tracks. Izzy and chum decided that they wanted to ride on Percy (but I forgot to get a photo of it)
Pic.No.15 As Percy the train left the station pulling us behind in an open-top carriage, I took this picture of the station
Pic.No.16 Izzy and chum waving at the children in the Thomas train as we raced along the tracks
Pic.No.17 Eventually our Percy train pulled ahead in the race, whopping Thomas the Tank Engine's blue ass
I must admit, that it was all pretty good fun, in a childish way. Not that I have ever minded childish that is. But alas, all good things must come to an end and I announced to the lasses that it was time to depart.
As we made our way towards the exit, they both suddenly started shouting, "look! The Fat Controller."
I think that they viewed him as a Father Christmas-type figure, because they ran over to him and started babbling about how they had been really good girls. Baffling. And they insisted on having their photograph taken with him.
Pic.No.18 This is the Fat Controller ....... apparently. I had never heard of him, but he didn't seem to mind being called fat which was a bit odd
So, I have to admit that I stand corrected. Despite the fact that I wasn't into trains, and didn't like Thomas the Tank Engine, it was in fact a fabulous day out. In fact we could have stayed there another couple of hours because we didn't do everything there was to do. Who'd have thought it? I can't recommend it highly enough.
Anyway dahlink, have you ever been anywhere that you thought was going to be crap but turned out to be fab?
Tell me what you think by leaving me a comment or you will walk into a lamp-post.