Letter: Train thrill in the pouring rain

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I thought you might be interested in a small story from the miniature railway at Beech Hurst Gardens.

At the weekend my partner and I drove with our two year old son from London to have lunch with old friends in Haywards Heath.

Number one event of the afternoon was to have a ride on the miniature railway at Beech Hurst Gardens and our son was very excited. By 3pm it was raining cats and dogs but we set off on the twenty-minute walk through the woods in the hope the railway might still be running.

It was torrential by the time we arrived - hardly a soul in sight and certainly no trains. Our son was looking high and low for any activity on the line so we took him to the work shed where the volunteers were drinking tea and mending engines.

Knowing the answer full well, I asked them hopefully if they would be running any trains and said we’d come all the way from London. The answer came back that the trains had been in action at 2pm but hurriedly closed down once the heavens opened half an hour later.

We had a nice chat, showed our son one of the trains and turned to go. As we began walking across the garden it suddenly dawned on him that there would be no trains to ride. His face crumpled. At that moment one of the volunteers, Steve, came running from the building and said he was going to start up an engine.

We could have a ride on the electric train torrential rain or not! It took a short while to set things up, we all piled onto the back and off we went, umbrellas up. The rain was horizontal. My son was smiling and grimacing while gripping the bar in front of him with bright pink hands. Each gust of wind blew our umbrellas sideways and we had to tuck them in as we rattled through the tunnels. Steve was soaked to the skin, not even wearing a hat. He said, ‘Once you’re wet, you can’t get any wetter’ and offered us a second circuit of the track.

We were bowled over by Steve and his fellow volunteers’ generosity and spirit of adventure. We had a wonderful time and it’s not something we’re likely to forget in a hurry.

Camilla Wilkinson

by email