No Christmas is complete in my household without a trip to see the man in red — and there’s no better place than the Santa Specials run by The Midland Railway — Butterley.
Santa and Christmas go together like ‘peas and carrots’, as Forrest Gump would no doubt say.
And at the Midland Railway you can add a dash of romanticism into the mix by seeing St Nick on board a lovingly preserved steam train.
The Santa Specials are the most popular from the station on the outskirts of Ripley and once you arrive everything has a festive edge.
Your entrance is via a marquee decorated with Christmas baubles and lights before you head out onto the platform to be called aboard.
If you have time you can always grab a cuppa and bacon sandwich in the on-platform cafe.
But once aboard you are whisked out into the Derbyshire countryside where children await the moment they are called in to see Santa in his own grotto.
There they get the chance to offer an insight into their wishes before being presented with an age-appropriate toy that is sure to bring a smile to their faces.
But don’t fear, for adults aren’t left out. For included in the price is a mince pie and miniature bottle of spirits.
It is then back to the original station where the children get to enjoy a show put on by Pinxton Puppets and the chance to have a whirl on the tombola.
All in all a festive day gift-wrapped in a wonderful family atmosphere.
I would wholeheartedly recommend it.
Oh, and I must not forget to give a shout-out to 2nd Swanwick Beavers who decorated Santa’s grotto as a log cabin this year with a woodland theme.
The Santa Specials are an annual event but Midland Railway also runs attractions throughout the year.
For more details or to make a booking visit http://www.midlandrailway-butterley.co.uk/home/
Alternatively, call 01773 570140.
Merry Christmas, Martin Hutton.