Puffing Billy: a steam train adventure

Last night I stayed up until midnight reading through blog posts from previous years  - getting lost in the memories and the photos and the stories that make up this big little life of ours. I didn't blog nearly enough last year - so many adventures and small everyday moments that have gone undocumented in this space.

We're two weeks into the new year, and I've been thinking about my intentions for this year. How I'd like to shape my days and weeks, doing more of the things I love and less of the things that siphon off my time without any return for the investment. Blogging is so important to me - taking photos, choosing the ones I'd like to form a story, weaving the words in and around them. I've missed it, the creative release that comes with hitting the 'Publish' button, knowing that another chapter in our story has been preserved for a time when memories will have faded and details will be a hazy blur.

I've decided to blog all the adventures that we had last year, the ones I missed out on, the ones I was too busy/tired/lazy to finish. They'll be in-between our current adventures, and that's okay. Because at the end of day, it matters less that everything is in the correct order, and more that I can look back and and remember the love and adventure and moments that make this life of ours so extraordinary.

And so, to start: a steam train adventure. On a cold, blustery day at the beginning of April 2017, we bundled up and headed for Belgrave station, headquarters of the Puffing Billy railway and the start of our train journey from Belgrave to Lakeside. The locomotive steamed and hissed, while the conductor checked our tickets, rang his bell and made sure that everybody was safely on board.

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:: Trestle Bridge. This is the must-have Puffing Billy picture, hands and feet dangling out of the carriages while the train curves it's way over the wooden bridge, billowing steam.

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A quick stop at Menzies Creek, where I almost missed getting back on the train because I was waiting for nine thousand people to take their photos and get out of the way so that I could get a picture of the front of the train. I was in trouble with the conductor, and my mom thought I would be sleeping there that night, but it was worth it for this.

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:: Train snaps along the way...

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Every person who works on the Puffing Billy railway is a volunteer. Station masters, engine cleaners, conductors, signalmen, guards - the list goes on. I read up on some of the stories, and discovered that some of the volunteers have been there since the 1950s. Entire families that volunteer, married couples, old (one volunteer has been there for 61 years!) and young.  I loved reading about every single one of them (if you're keen, you can read some of their stories here).

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We ended our journey at Lakeside, where Rob and I took Immy to the miniature train exhibition. It's basically one huge room filled with miniature train tracks running through different scenes: city to town to pasture to hills, trains zooming around over and up the tracks and through the tunnels. Tiny chickens pecking at the dirt, little water wheels turning, a thousand small things to look at and enjoy.

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And so back to Belgrave, and then to lunch. We found a cosy cafe close by, where we sat - half-frozen and starving - in a warm corner. Immy befriended a massive dog on the porch, and ended up eating lunch with a stranger in the gardens while I wandered around taking photos.

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We're halfway through summer, and my parents' visit. We've enjoyed hot weather, lazy days, movies, swimming and bike riding. Next week - a holiday at the beach, in a beautiful airy house with wooden floors. I plan to catch up on blogging, reading, long walks, and quality time with my girl who is just getting so big.

To end - words to live by (and a good way to kick off 2018)...

Read good books,
have good sentences in your ears.
Be by yourself as often as you can.
Walk.
Take the phone off the hook.
Avoid too much noise.
Protect your time.
Feed your inner life.

-- Jane Kenyon

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