Saturday, 2 November 2013

Half term highlights - Dressing up


Where do you stand on the nature / nurture debate? Is it something we do as parents or is one of my children naturally designed to lose everything whilst the other has the innate gift of destruction? Why were sticks always wands for my daughter when she was little and for my son they have and always will be weapons? I was quite surprised after what seemed like a never ending journey through the land of pink where princess dresses, wellies, wings, tiaras and all the hair accessories in the house were normal daily attire, that Charlie didn't want to wear his Spider-Man pyjamas to the supermarket. He has never ever wanted to dress up whereas I had to introduce the notion of black shoes long before Josie's first day at school as I knew they would be "too dull - too boring - too black".




When Charlie showed me the zombie costume he wanted for Halloween, it didn't take long to establish that is was the camoflauge fabric he liked and that he wouldn't actually wear it. He was happy with me buying him a green coloured top printed with skulls and camoflauge welly socks, which worked out cheaper than the costume and he has worn every day since then (apart from when they are washed).

Josie's costume was also based on less purchasing and more using what we had or what she actually needed. She chose the Neil Gaimin character Coraline. The transformation required a fair amount of makeup to create the button eyes and me quickly whipping up a crocheted Coraline doll.


Not wanting to be left out on the make-up front, Charlie (who usually avoids face painting) decided he would like a half face zombie makeover. I wondered whether his decision was influenced by our journey on The Train of Terror or perhaps he is beginning to change his views on dressing up.



Friday, 1 November 2013

Half-term highlights - Train of Terror

Josie has always enjoyed things a little scarry: the dark, spooky stories, Halloween. She is a bit of a thrill seeker and likes to go that extra bit higher / faster / scarier. I had to tell her off when she was six for frightening her friends by showing them the scariest part of Jaws the movie. Charlie is a very different and up until this year, he would have made all number of excuses to avoid going near something called The Train of Terror.

The Tran of Terror is a special from East Kent Railway, an old mining service that has been kept alive after the death of the coal pits in Kent at the end of 1980s. The old style carriages with very bouncy seats and windows that actually open took me back to my own childhood train rides.

It does make me laugh that both children have developed a penchant for drinking tea.


The journey started with a short film to set the scene and start the story which continued on the brief journey from Shepherdswell to Eythorne. The carriage was filled with eerie smoke, spooky flashing lights, classic Halloween hits and scary shadowy figures.

There was a brief stop at Eythorne where the children turned into Zombies and Charlie had us in fits of laughter as he launched himself at his dad and started eating him.

Back on the train things got even more frightening so much so that Charlie did want to confirm that they were actors from Pheonix performing arts college and not the undead. I don't wish to ruin the narrative for anyone who might head off up there this weekend, but it was a fantastic performance made even more realistic by the use of a real train and features of the original train track.

It was a beautifully sunny Autumn day and the staff at the East Kent Railway are a credit to the memory and romance of rail travel. The station master was happy to proudly pose in front of the ticket office.

There was a mini museum where the children were to get their hands on ancient levers and learn about a life which is a long way from their own.

The Train of Terror runs for two more days 2nd and 3rd November and if your children are as grown up as Charlie (age nearly 7), it comes highly recommended from our family. Get there early though as our train (11.15: the first of the day) was packed.