We didn’t find Thomas, but we climbed on some of his friends

Paula, Jemima and I went on a day trip to Didcot Railway Centre today, mostly because we wanted to get out of London for a day and not because we’re really into trains or anything. We had thought Roman ruins might be fun, but it turns out they’re all Up North.

I thought it was marvellous. It’s almost all outside, which was great with the lovely weather, but it would have been a short visit if it had been raining, I think. We walked around and climbed about on engines in a big shed, and discovered how they loaded coal into the engines, and looked at signals, and all with a few signs and some knowledgable people who told us about the air raid shelters and stuff if you asked them, but basically we were left alone to work it all out for ourselves, rather than being spoonfed information.

Old steam trains do look much more impressive than modern trains – the mainline runs alongside the Railway Centre, so you can constantly compare and contrast – they have a sense of tremendous weight and power about them that modern trains seem almost embarrassed about.

We did look for Thomas the Tank Engine, but he wasn’t there today. You have to go in June to be sure of seeing him. Shame. But we did get pictures of a demonstration of how trains used to pick up the post.

Anyone know of any Roman ruins near London that are easily reachable by public transport for our next outing?