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I love to surprise people for their birthday. When it is a special birthday I like to give them something that will leave an imprint on their heart or a memory that will last a lifetime. This week I was lucky enough to also be part of that birthday present. A surprise trip on a very special steam train charter to the Welsh Mountains which I managed to keep a secret until this very moment. The look on the face was a real pleasure to see. It has been a long time since I saw such a big smile.   IMG_1211The whole day was built around the train ride with just a couple of stops to get off and stretch our legs. At each stop there were lots of people waiting to see the engine which was a real excitement in itself. I likened it to being out walking with Moo when we can’t get very far without being the centre of attention. IMG_1247 The Great Marquess it would seem is a very special train according to all those people waiting to see it. I felt very honoured to be part of the day after hearing this. A quick stop for taking on water in Frodsham and then onwards to Chester where we stopped for an hour and was able to potter around and talk to our fellow passengers. So many enthusiasts on the train along with people on their maiden voyage. IMG_1244     The stop in Chester gave the chance for the stoker and the fireman to have a quick chat (oo I sound like I know what I am talking about. hooray for wikipedia) IMG_1249I loved how dirty the stoker was by this stage and couldnt resist asking him to pose IMG_1324 what a great job he has. I love getting dirty but rarely get the chance. He was three times dirtier by the time we reached Blanau Ffestiniog but was just too busy to catch another photo. IMG_1232All of the staff on the train are volunteers from the driver to the stewards. All of them are enthusiasts and without them the train would not be running. The train is chartered by Railway Touring Company which helps to keep it running too and is the company that I booked with. So much dedication and what a happy bunch they were, even when there were a few hiccups. Onwards we went crossing into Wales and heading along the coast  to Llandudno Jct where the train turned around in the opposite direction and headed into the mountains. IMG_1258 I wasn’t brave enough to lean out of the window. Besides which I wasn’t as prepared as some of the other passengers who all came equipped with ski goggles to lean out. Elf and Safety in full flow. I didn’t feel it right to ask them to pose when they had so much more important stuff to do. I did keep thinking of minions though. IMG_1281Of course a picnic with bubbly was involved and very nice it was too. A final stop in Blanau Ffestiniog and a little chance to do some shopping. Due to some issues with the steam and poor grade of coal we arrived late so the second part of my surprise to visit Llecwedd Slate Caverns had to be curtailed. Such a fantastic place we will have to go back another day. I know that Nic who reads this blog has the underground trampoline on her to do list. I would also love to do the zipwire. Having done the mine tours before I think it is great that this little town is moving with the times and coming up with new ideas to make use of the place that led to the growth of this little town. Finally we were off again and what a great trip back we had despite all the issues with the steam and t/he coal. IMG_1301


Another birthday surprise seemed to go well and is still being talked about which is always a good sign.


What kind of thing do you do for special birthdays?