The Beamish Open Air Museum is, of course, one of our favourite places to visit – we went twice during the summer holidays, and booked tickets for a special evening visit before Christmas. We went last night…
We arrived just after 5pm and immediately went to queue to see Santa Claus in his grotto – we thought it best to do that part of the visit as early as possible and then see everything else at our leisure. Even so, it was a hour and a half of waiting. Still, the good folk at Beamish had put together a whole host of activities to keep the kids entertained while they waited for their five minutes with Santa Claus, including plate spinning, juggling, various crafts, a quiz, posing for a photograph on Santa’s very own sleigh, and writing a quick letter to Santa.
Eventually we made it to the grotto and were led into a cozy room warmed by an open fire, where Santa sat waiting to greet every girl and boy. Tadpole handed over his letter in which he very politely asked if he might have a metal detector for Christmas (I’m proud to say, he was one of the very few kids who included a “please” in there and said thank you as well!). He only wanted to ask for one thing for himself, although he then verbally asked for several other things – for his little brother! That kid is all heart, I tell you!
Santa then handed them each a little gift and also a bag of lichen to feed the reindeer outside. We said our goodbyes to Santa and headed back out into the freezing cold where Tadpole was delighted by the velvety noses of the reindeer as they snuffled the lichen from his hands.
We then headed into the town where we were delighted by carol singers in the street and music hall entertainment in the Masonic Hall – she was a real dilly and we stayed for several numbers, singing along and applauding wildly at the end.
In the town park, there was a brass band playing and a number of stalls selling craft goods, food and drink.
We then headed to the pit village, in the hopes of giving Tadpoke his first ice skating experience, but the queues were so long, we didn’t fancy another lengthy wait, so we promised that we will take him skating soon after Christmas. We headed into the school house where Tadpole very neatly wrote his Christmas wish using a dipping pen and ink, then handed it to the teacher to put in the fire so the smoky wish would fly up the chimney. He again wished for a metal detector – I guess he really wants one!* A brass quartet had come into the school house to escape the cold and they played carols while we warmed up.
Finally we went round to the 1940s Home Farm, where Tadpole made a Santa finger puppet. When he sneezed I made the mistake of saying “Gesundheit!” before realising that speaking German in a little 1940s farm in England really wasn’t the wisest course of action, and the man in costume jokingly called his neighbour to report the possibility of his finding a German spy in his home!
And then it was time to go home. Tired, but happy, we piled into the car, where both the boys almost immediately fell asleep.
There was one terrifying moment when we took a wrong turning in the dark and ended up going through the Tyne Tunnel (one of my biggest phobias) and I had a tough time controlling the panic (alright, I failed miserably and had a bit of a panic attack), but we came out the other side and I was still alive, so that’s all to the good, although I had to make Hubby promise me we would never, EVER go through that tunnel again! Even that didn’t take the shine off the evening though.
We had such a magical time – I can hardly wait for our next visit to the past!
* He will be very pleasantly surprised on Christmas morning!