The runaway train came down the track and she blew

NB: I'm afraid I don't have any relevant photos for this post. I did take some pictures on the day, but they have my friends little ones in them and I haven't asked permission to include them. So, here's one of the kids on a different train, just because!

A couple of Fridays ago I had arranged to meet some friends from the old house at Didcot Railway Centre, and after a tiring and reasonably stressful week with one thing and another, seeing some friendly faces was exactly what I needed.

We decided on the Railway Centre as it is pretty much equidistant from all of us. I hadn't read anything about the centre so didn't know what to expect. It was one of those occasions where who I was meeting was far more important than the location so I was happy with wherever.

To be very honest, the visit didn't get off to a good start. Despite setting off in plenty of time I was half an hour late, as were my other two friends for similar reasons. The sign posting wasn't fantastic and I had to do a couple of u-turns. When I did get to the recommended car park I had to pay £6.50 to park there. I then had to go over a horribly high and rickety railway bridge with a 1 year old in a sling, and a 3 year old on foot. Once over the bridge, and at the front of the train station, I could see that there were plenty of other car parks, so if you're planning to visit I'd say do a little bit of research into parking rather than just following the signs! To be fair, all this is outlined on their website, but I had just stuck the postcode into my sat nav and gone on my way!!!

As it was midweek the centre's usual entrance was closed so I had to go through the barriers at Didcot Station. This was no problem. I just waved down a member of staff and they let me through. At this point I was pleased to have the sling and not the pushchair. Once I'd walk under the subway (to get under the railway line I'd just bloody walked over) there was a flight of stairs to get up to the ticket booth.

I paid £9 for myself and Charlotte to get in (Benjamin was free) which I though was steep to say it wasn't a day trains were running, but I also understand they are charity run (under the Great Western Society) so wasn't all too worried.

To be perfectly honest, things to do there were thin on the ground. The "museum" was a small room with a couple of model trains and a display with a small train track and random figures such as Mickey Mouse. Despite the room being empty, of both interesting displays and visitors, the woman on the desk walked round to glare at us, fold her arms, and tut at the kids, even though they were just stood on the small step provided to have a closer look at a display.

The playpark was nice, and obviously very new, but it was essentially a couple of wooden trains and small huts. We did wander over to the Learning Centre which was a train carriage situated behind the gents loo, with a few toys, books and colouring in. Despite first impressions we did spend quite a long time in here, mainly due to the fact that the kids were all playing really nicely and just having fun together.

I think if you were looking for a big day out, this isn't it. We had a really lovely day, but that was definitely due to the excellent company rather than location. I would give the railway centre another shot on a running day, or one of the Thomas days they hold, but overall I wasn't particularly overawed with it. There was one fantastic staff member who chatted to us the couple of times she passed us but other than that...meh!