Sunday, October 02, 2011

Let's Go!

Friday 9am - James had the day off work.  All week Ted had asked me where the frog was from the pool was and was finally thrilled to hear it was Friday and the frog would appear today, yay!  Harriet was excited about learning backstroke on her final day in swimming lessons. I was going along for the ride and looking forward to a day of shared parenting.

Friday 10pm - James had been called in to work at 1pm and was still there (he ended up staying at the office until 1am).  Harriet had finally succumbed to sleep.  Ted's absolute white-line-fever-styled hysteria over seeing the frog had finally subsided. Ted also, after having done a wee on the front bed quilt, the padded dining room chair and the lounge, was finally coerced by a very frazzled and exhausted me into bed (and now with three surprise loads of washing to do.  Have I mentioned before how I loathe washing?).  There had been hysterics, tears, meltdowns and disasters.  The children were no doubt picking up on my stress and internal mayhem but I was really incapable of stopping it - chronic sleep deprivation had rendered me little more than a whimpering mess.  I settled down to watch Saw (because James doesn't like horror movies I have to save them for when I watch movies by myself - as you can see, this has taken me about ten years to do).
So come Saturday morning I wasn't expecting much from our family as a whole.  However I woke up with an odd feeling - I think I felt refreshed!  I had only ventured out of bed once (to go in to Ted) and then only fed him the once (I think) that night.  Miracle!  And then here I was rubbing my eyes at 9am!  Woot!
And surprisingly, James was already up and at them and telling me that if we still wanted to go to the ZigZag Railway then he was up for the drive.  Woot!  So in the space of one hour we were all showered, dressed, packed with food, car entertainment, eaten breakfast and on our way!  Now as anyone with child/ren can attest, such a feat is almost unheard of, so I state it here with much pride.  We left Sydney, me in my jeans and Birkenstocks, Harriet in some jeans and a t-shirt (made by Grandpa no less) and off we drove.

We hit some heavy traffic midway up the mountain (with Ted constantly asking "I want to be in the Blue Mountains" - I think he was expecting an Emerald City type colour transformation) and decided that we'd miss the 1pm train and instead go past the railway on to Lithgow, have lunch and then head back for the 3pm departure (the last one for the day).  We drove down to a cafe and drove past a little town hall that had an electronic temperature reading displayed.  I don't know if I really wanted to know it was only 8 degrees, but hey, I could run around a little to warm up.

When we emerged from the cafe, sated and warmed, I was hit by the freezing ice winds of Lithgow with full force.  There was thick rain lashing the deserted main street and, all in all, it didn't look like the afternoon was going to pan out that well for the train ride.  Oh and did I mention I was FREEZING?!  I don't have a great tolerance for cold at the best of times, but this was a little beyond the pale.  When James starts pulling at his hoodie and talking about the cold wind well you can bet your boots I'm huddled behind using him as a windbreak and turning blue.  And I had my toes exposed!!  So I made a dash to the local Go-Lo because everything else was shut (long weekend commerce is obviously not an appeal for Lithgow tradespeople) and grabbed three pairs of socks.  They were thin and horrid and I had to use them doubled up but it did make for a lingering illusion of warmth.

As we drove out of Lithgow we passed the temperature again.  *ahem*  It was now THREE DEGREES.  Oh yes.  3.  Single digits.  Low single digits.  I tried not to think about it.

the tickets were way cool - thick cardboard and the genuine article
Now if I had known that the train was going to cost nearly $80 for all of us I may very well have never suggested it in the first place; I just didn't know how interested Harriet was going to be in some old train ride.  


Harriet loved it.  Like totally and utterly and completely loved it.  She sat enthralled throughout the whole ride, entranced by the passing view and captivated by the details of everything going on around her. 
Unfortunately meanwhile I was trapped underneath a sad, crying, unhappy Ted.  Not sure what this phase is about (I suspect teething those big molars because he has been sucking on his fingers a lot) but I shall be very pleased when it's over and Ted-Ted smiling monkey is back to play.

The train stops at Bottom Points and you can get out and walk up a little bridge to see a lovely view.  Apparently.  Harriet didn't want to leave the train and I couldn't get through the flooded ground to the bridge (remember the Birki/sock situation) so we hung around at the station.  They take off the engine and reattach it at the other end for the return trip.  SO while Harriet and James went to watch that, Ted and I hung back (because it was loud and scary).
I'm not too sure why, but when we stopped at the station Ted suddenly changed into SuperTed and was hilarious and crazy and running around like a loon.  Go figure.

So we got back into the train amidst the drizzle and headed back to Clarence (where our journey had started).  However we were told we had to disembark at another station on the way back because the drivers had to take a different train back to Clarence for the evening's ride.  It was a bit of a bummer, but we got out again and hung around watching the diesel train pull the old carriages away in a flash and then the new train pull up to the station.

And oh my goodness.  What a train it was!  We were lucky enough to get a ride on the Wizards Express!  (Also known as the Hogwarts Express of course, but Rowling would not approve of trademarks being used in such a haphazard fashion).

There were carriages that were just like the ones we had been on in the first train, but with more plush seats.  But as they pulled past we decided instead to head inside the empty white carriage in the middle of the train. Hooley Dooley!  These were old style compartment carriages, just like the ones seen/written about in Harry Potter.  Honestly, they were magnificent.  Loads of snug little dark wood compartments for all of your luggage, a pull down sink, pull out table, bed above and pull out bed from the seat.  Totally amazing.  Ted and Harriet went into overdrive with excitement (as did James and I - seriously, this thing was amazing).

Harriet kept asking if there was going to be a trolley.  Ted kept running up and down the corridor.  I kept sniffing the smoke wafting through the windows.  James kept marveling at the storage and woodwork.  We were a family in heaven and unable to understand why everyone else was all crowded into the other, much more mundane carriages when there was this carnival of train experience to be had in our carriage.  
Notice how I haven't mentioned the cold?  It just seems a shame to bring it in to the conversation.  But oh my god it was bitterly cold.  As we got out from the Wizards Express we found that they had hung these little tin 9 3/4 signs all up and down the platform and also hung a big curtain that they'd painted bricks on to and you had to walk through it to get into the ticket office.  Like ducks to water and like children to a novelty, Harriet and Ted ran through again and again and again.  Ted was shrieking with laughter, Harriet was breathless with excitement and James and I were laughing at their madness.

But all good things must come to an end and so it was that the cold had rendered me incapable of moving.  In fact the mere touch of my clothes against my skin was sending shockwaves of cold through my body.  And when Ted wanted to start a running game in the opposite direction to the car I just couldn't entertain it, no matter how excited I was to see him happy.  I had to get warm. 

And so we drove to Katoomba, had dinner, bundled everyone into pyjamas and into the car and back home.  And so endeth the day of much fun. I have a feeling I know what Harriet will be talking about on her News day back at school. (In fact she wrote it out in her project book today, she couldn't wait.)


Lou said...

yay, you pulled off your Zig Zag railway adventure! Could have done without the freezing temperatres I'm sure but hey! That's Lithgow for you. I've seen it snow there in December, truly I have.

(My folks have had their fire going all week in an attempt to warm up their house to a temperature I can handle when we visit next week)!

jay said...

it was such a treat to see the pics, after talking to harry the other day. i loved the amount of detail she gave to each ticket, i loved hearing her find and read out each one, including the individual numbers etc. poe was delighted and can't wait til he gets to go on the zig zag railway as well.
personally the post left me cold, friggin freezing in fact, i don't know how you managed.

casso said...

Oh dear, yes you were left with a rather overdetailed description! :)

I almost forgot to post the ticket photo. I posted the entry and then remembered - I can't let Jay down! Must post ticket photos! So came back to put them in. ;)