In mid-December I guessed something was about to happen because the owner moved me from my draughty corner resting-place in his garage to the middle of the floor and started to polish my body all over. That was after checking the fluids that keep me in tip top condition were all OK.
How would you like to have somebody poke their grubby fingers in all your bits and pieces, then rub you down with an oily rag?
I must have done me good, because when he pressed my start button my engine started first time and quickly warmed up - it was nice to feel alive again.
Later he moved me out and on to his trailer and I heard him muttering that 'it's an honour to be invited to be part of the locomotive team for the 2013 Santa Specials in Royden Park'. Soon after it went dark in the trailer and I was left to reminisce on my experience of last year when it had been cold and wet some of the time - I just hoped it wouldn't be the same this year!
Next day I woke to realise that I was on my way to Royden Park and quite a few bumps later, and some strange grunts from the owner, light flooded over me and I was being pulled out onto the track. It was a wonderful feeling when my engine started and I rolled over the well remembered tracks to where I was to be stabled with my fellow workers. On the way inside I noticed that preparation of the Grotto was almost complete and looked splendid. Santa's sleigh, under repair, looked well but to my eyes was missing something - I think it was wheels.
Did I say there was lots of noise and general fussing about? I gather there had been two weeks of banging, sawing and drilling. The boilersuits seem to have changed their minds nearly every day - something to do with the sleigh'.
The day arrived with lots of people in the workshop who started to push us locosl outside. Just as we were leaving there was a delicious aroma of frying bacon, I think. Some of the people were saying bacon butties but I don't know what it/they may be.
I got my brassy bits a bit of a rub with a Brasso cloth. I felt quite posh - makes a difference when you are rubbed the right way.
People were rushing about placing lots of boards with Snowmen on them, and tinsel was being draped about on the bushes. I was festooned with small lights. I believe they were called LED lights - something high-tech I suppose. I must admit they all looked pretty. 'Royden', driven by one of the young members, did a test run of the track to ensure all was safe. Soon it was time to start running in earnest.
So, off we went, taking it in turns to haul a train of children
(of all ages) from the station down to the meadow, some of them singing and
dressed in Christmas hats. In the meadow just as we were leaving it, there was
a surprise. The children spotted a couple of reindeer hiding in the trees, one
of them appeared to have a red nose - they said it was Rudolph though I
wouldn't know. I went slow so that they could all see this strange sight.
Then, when we got near the workshops a controller wearing a bush hat stopped my train and asked everybody to get off to see Santa. They all seemed very excited and were greeted by elves who took them inside the buildings where I presume they must have seen the sleigh. I hope they were not disappointed, like I was, that it didn't have wheels.
My train was then filled with people who were returning to the station - little ones excitedly clutching paper bags which I presume Santa had given them. My driver was given a stick with strange brass rings on it and the station controller gave a green light, my engine was revved up and we made the return journey uphill to the station. The strange stick was given to the controller who then passed it to another train leaving the station.
When we met each other on the track we tooted and whistled as we passed. The whole afternoon passed in that way.
Time passed quickly and it didn't feel long 'til it became quite dark and the small light festoons shone very prettily. When all the people had gone there was lots of activity in putting everything away until it was time for me to be ushered back into the workshop. Finally left alone in the dark,the only sound was a soft click now and then as metal cooled down.
This sequence was repeated for the remaining three days of Santa Specials. A Christmas experience that I thoroughly enjoyed