..Or twice, if you’re down here at Steamworks.
The above image isn’t a recent one, I have to admit- hopefully the weather will be a little more conducive to railway operations- but it seems an appropriate one as we gear ourselves up for the first of our two Santa Special events. This is something we added to the calendar in 2021, and has proved very popular. The BVLR is pressed into service to transport children and their families to Santa Halt, which is of course the station one gets off at if one wishes to visit Santa (or Father Christmas, if you are at heart a traditionalist) in his Grotto. Neither of these are regular fixtures at Steamworks, and it’s a mystery to us how they materialise at this time of year..
The children get to have a chat with Santa and to receive a gift and card especially for them, before the train returns to collect them again. One of the nice things about this is that each family get to visit the Grotto on their own, without waiting in a long queue or jostling in the melee- which helps to make the visit a special experience. Thanks to this we are establishing a small core of ‘regulars’- repeat custom is always pleasing, as it means we are doing something right- and some families have come for all three years, which is really lovely to see.
We start at 16:00, making the most of the darker evenings, which means we get to light the site up and generally make things rather Christmassy. Naturally this last has been keeping us pretty busy over the last week or so to make sure everything is ready and looking smart- the cafe of course getting the festive treatment too, a small festive refreshment being included in the ticket price, although the usual fare is also available in case the journey to the Grotto and back renders our guests more than usually peckish..
Of course the dark evenings mean night-time running, which can be quite atmospheric- see above. This was taken during disposal last year, when we were all bitterly cold by the end of the evening! One of the extra jobs this brings is the necessity to prepare, fill and trim all the lamps- both full-size and miniature, hence this rather charming assembly all ready for Saturday, which I found rather entertaining- rather like a set of Russian Dolls. And all functional, even the smallest one!
It looks like we’ll be fairly busy on Saturday, but there are a few spaces left for the second event on the 16th- so if you know of anyone in the area who has small children and might enjoy an evening visiting Santa on the miniature railway, then point them in our direction, we’ll be very happy to see them. Prices remain at £10.00 for children and £7.00 for adults- we resisted the temptation to put them up this year, as everything else seems to be going up and parents can feel rather put-upon at Christmas, fiscally speaking! Give us a ring on 01502 725422 if you’d like to book one of the remaining slots.