Back in October we visited Pontypool and Blaenavon Heritage Railway for the Halloween train. It was an experience like no other; zombies, ghoulies and best of all, excited (and slightly scared) children. We decided then that we would visit for the Santa Train. I managed to book in for the 22nd December and knew it would be exciting (and busy!).
The morning dawned wet and windy, not a great omen when you’re having to travel to the highest point for miles around where the scenery is barren and unforgiving in relentless rain. Barren though it may be; it is most definitely beautiful.
I didn’t tell Boyo and Princess Pants where we were going. It was one big surprise and Boyo was a little apprehensive, preferring to do his usual and play on the computer.
Pontypool and Blaenavon Heritage Railway charge £8 per person for their Santa Trains. This includes a mince pie and sherry/apple juice for the adults, unlimited train rides, a visit to ‘Pappa Christmas’ and a present for each child. Not extortionate in my opinion.
Sitting on the train is always an exciting experience and a rare opportunity for the children to feel how a real steam train moves. The sounds, the smells are all unique to a steam engine. Decorated with tinsel on this occasion, the carriages are authentic. The train ride involves a stop off at Big Pit (you could get off if you so desired, however we remained on the train). Then we headed up to the Whistle Inn. A traditional pub set high above the Garn Lakes.
The traditional setting of the Whistle Inn made it the perfect place to see ‘Pappa Christmas’. Homely and warm; the man of the moment was nestled quietly in the corner surrounded by adoring children.
The magic of the moment was not lost on me, and my Mam actually cried. He was the most authentic Pappa Christmas I’ve had the pleasure of taking my children to see. He knew their names. He knew how old they were. He had plenty of time to talk to every child. My pair just sat there staring at him, completely transfixed.
The one thing 7 year old Boyo noticed was when they received their presents. His sack was empty, but when Pappa Christmas asked if they were ready for their presents, his sack was no longer empty. There were 2 presents, one labelled for Boyo and the other for Princess Pants.
I can’t wait until next Christmas when we can do it all over again. However, I fear that an 8 year old may not be so believing.