I have been so excited about this weekend as it was due to be a completely festive one for all of us!
Saturday morning started with the putting up of our Christmas tree. Now, I am writing this on Monday and the tree is still not 100% finished as I still have half the baubles to put on! The ones that we bought, whilst being really very lovely, didn’t come with any string to hang them with – and so I popped into Poundland to buy some festive looking ribbon and have been having to thread them myself – hence they aren’t finished!
So, on Saturday it was time to get our lovely new tree out of its box and it was all very exciting. It is so, so much bushier than our previous tree and even completely bare, it looks really lovely – huge but lovely!
Once it was all spruced out it was time to jump in the shower and get out to get Oscar to sleep and pick up some lunch. Oscar only napped for half the time he normally does which left me a little worried as I was due to go out but he woke up pretty happy and it was Zach that once again caused the most chaos when I was needing to leave the house!
But, off out I went and left the boys at home with Daddy for a few hours.
My friends have started a bit of a tradition where we have a Christmas crafting session each year. There is usually mulled wine, unlimited tea and nibbles, Christmas music, and just a bunch of friends having a catch up whilst making pretty things. Last year was wreath making and I didn’t really get to do any because I had a very tiny Oscar with me. This year one of my friends had ransacked Hobbycraft and bought a whole heap of things to make. I took full advantage of this and made one of everything. It was such fun!
There were a few of our male friends there as well – looking after the children who weren’t able to be left by mumma and I did feel a bit bad for the other half missing out on a bit of a catch up. But not too guilty because it’s so rare that I get to sit with my friends and have a really good catch up without being interrupted by a chattering Zach or a hungry Oscar! I had a wonderful time and went home in time for bedtime (although I could have stayed there all evening if I’d been able to!).
Sunday was all about Christmas and all about the boys having maximum fun. First thing I was up with Zach and so I started the task of tying the ribbon onto the baubles. Then when the other half woke up, he went into the loft to grab the lights down and other decorations we have (although we have hardly used any of it because it doesn’t go with my my new theme!!). We decorated the tree as best as we could and made it look really pretty.
And then we wondered why on earth we had bothered because Oscar wanted to take off the baubles. I must have blanked this out from my memory when we had Zach because in my head I hadn’t remembered any issues. As soon as I saw Oscar trying to pull them off though, I suddenly remembered, images flashing back into my head! And so, the bottom of our tree is being left very bare! Never mind!
It was then time for our afternoon adventures.
We had booked to go for lunch over at the pub at the end of our road at midday and we all enjoyed a very tasty carvery. With eyes bigger than our bellies, the other half and I opted for a large portion (should have gone medium!), and then had chocolate fudge cake for dessert.
With seriously full bellies, we headed back home for a quick stop to feed Oscar his lunch (he had been asleep in the pub), do a nappy change and then jump in the car to drive to where we were taking the boys to see Santa – on the Epping to Ongar Railway.
This railway backs onto the woodland burial park that my dad is buried at and we have spent many a time watching it go past. It is a proper steam train and Zach absolutely loves it and it has been a dream to take him on it for a Santa special. This year felt like the best year and I managed to get a discount on Wowcher so booked it up.
Zach was so excited.
Oscar screamed the whole way there!
We chose to go to Ongar station (rather than getting the Santa special bus from Epping) because it meant Zach got to ride on another train (a diesel one this time) and so we drove the 35 or so minutes and parked up in town, walking the short walk down to the station.
Ongar station is such an old station and it isn’t used as a proper railway – there was talk of reopening the line for commuters but I am not sure what happened with that! There was a slight delay with the trains (just my luck) and we had to wait around for a while. Oscar had got into such a state in the car that I had to breastfeed him when we arrived and whilst we were doing that, the other half and Zach had a little explore. In came the chugging Santa train (delayed as it was only stopping to go back to the other station!) and then shortly after it left again, the diesel train took to the station and we were able to board.
We set off on the short journey to the next station (North Weald), where we were greeted by a little band playing festive music, loads of gorgeous lights, and the Santa train ready for us to board. As we walked over the bridge to the other platform, steam chugging out of the train and the sky darkening in the late afternoon, I was just so excited for Zach.
We found our carriage and boarded the train. On each table, there was a little activity box with colouring in stuff and a little pinball game that Zach loved playing with. Oscar was a bit wild by this point but he was still doing really well. And then we were off.
The train basically runs up through Epping Forest, back down to Ongar and then back to North Weald again. A bit of a loop, long enough for Santa to get around and see everyone. And our carriage was first. Zach was so excited when he saw him, followed by his trusty team of helpers.
Santa stopped at each table and asked the children their names and ages. And then he handed each child a present.
Zach got a Spongebob version of Frustration and Oscar got a little cuddly toy. And then we said goodbye to Santa but promised to meet him at the end for a photo!
After that, we were just busily entertaining ourselves. Zach and I played Frustration (which was pretty frustrating because Oscar was also playing around with it).
And then more entertainment came into our carriage. First, a magician who mesmerised the kids with a trick and then he was followed by a visit from Scrooge and The Grinch. Well, I think that Zach was even more excited by seeing The Grinch than he was Santa. He spent the whole of last Christmas watching the movie and the first words he said to him were, “I love you”. What a cutie!
Unfortunately Oscar was a little less keen and The Grinch made him cry and come to mumma for cuddles!
Shortly after this, the train got into North Weald Station and we all departed, heading back over the bridge to find Santa for a photo.
We grabbed Zach some food (I had totally forgotten to pack any snacks!) and then it was time to board the other train back to Ongar station before heading back to the car and home. I gave Oscar another breastfeed in the hope that it would keep him calm enough to not cry on the journey home but he did spend the first 10 minutes or so screaming. And then he calmed down and then he fell asleep. As did Zach.
So once we got home we had to deal with two sleepy children, but they were soon tucked up in bed (Oscar in our bed as usual!) sleeping peacefully. Until Oscar woke up as usual!
Honestly, it was just such a magical weekend. And the railway trip was just amazing. The perfect way to see Santa.
The only problem now is that on the way to school this morning, Zach said to me..
“Mummy, after school can we go into the shopping bit and can I tell the Santa in there that I went to see the one on the train and that he was better”.
I best be avoiding Santa to save embarrassment!