29 May 2013
“As you may have realised, Flat Kathy, Morton loves trains and railways,” remarked Paula, as we pulled into a parking area at a garden centre in the middle of the countryside. And indeed, I could hear the phhooot-phhooot sound of a steam train, off in the distance.
“This is the Pulborough Garden Centre,” explained Morton, with an excited gleam of anticipation in his eye, “and it is the home of the South Downs Light Railway.”
We walked across to a lovely little wooden building, right next to a railway track. A sign indicated that this was the Stopham Road Station. A couple of people and their children were standing around on the platform, waiting patiently and chatting with each other to pass the time.
Suddenly, there was a piercing whistle, ffweeeeeeet! And we could hear a train coming down the tracks, still far away. Shoofff-shooofff, it went, shhooff-shoooff.
“It’s a little steam train, Flat Kathy,” said Paula, who had stayed by my side, while Morton had walked off to chat to one of the people working at the station. “This place is run by volunteers who are all passionate about trains. They’re constantly making improvements to the tracks, and adding things, like a tunnel, and a traverser, which will allow them to move the engines into the shed for maintenance etc.”
“They also have special events for Easter, and Santa Claus comes to visit at Christmas time, and there’s even a Teddy Bears’ Picnic for the children.”
“That sounds like such fun, Paula!” I exclaimed. “I would love to have a Teddy Bears’ Picnic. I think I shall add that to my wishlist.”
“Yes, that’s a good idea,” said Paula, “why don’t you do that.”
Just then, the train appeared. It was drawn the most adorable little steam train engine, proudly shoof-shoofing and chugga-chugga-chugging down the tracks towards the station. Its name plate identified it as ‘Peggy’. Despite its small size, and the fact that the driver could just fit into his seat, Peggy seemed to be very strong, because she was pulling a long train made up of all kinds of interesting carriages. Some were open to the sky, some were roofed, and all were just perfect.
I was soo excited when we all climbed aboard and went for a trip around the garden centre. What a wonderful experience it had been!
I found a YouTube clip for you of Peggy the locomotive drawing her little train: