The day of trains, tears and not enough coffee.

Today is a bad day. It started bad, it continued to be bad, and now my mood is bad. However, Warwick finishes work in 7 minutes and I will breathe a deep sigh of relief when he walks through the door.

Ironically the first “bad” thing that happened today is pretty funny. At 6.45am, my dad (“Pop”) was dropping Warwick off to work so that we would have use of the car today. At the last minute Briar decided she was coming for the drive and so Warwick hurriedly changed her. The funny thing being, somehow he managed to forget to put a nappy back on her! So a few hours later, when I noticed she was all wet, I was perplexed when I found her nappy-less. I first thought she might have taken it off but on second thought that seemed impossible seeings as her onesie was rebuttoned and she wouldn’t be able to do that!

I asked Warwick if he somehow forgot to put a nappy on her when he dressed her and he sheepishly replied “I did notice her clothes seemed a bit looser than normal!” Whoops.

Although I can find humour in an overtired dad forgetting to redress his toddler properly, I lost my sense of humour pretty fast today. We unfortunately had a tough start with Briar not her cheery self. A full melt down had occurred by 8am which upset Pop a fair bit and that in turn upset the rest of the household. But after a big cuddle, I managed to distract Briar by getting her to choose her daily hair bows. She was soon cleaned up, wearing her sparkly shoes and had picked some pink Wiggles bows for the day.

As for gorgeous Gabriel, he looked as cute as ever rugged up in his new beanie from the Weightmans and one of his warm flannelette tops. I thought he was channelling a bit of a hipster lumberjack but Pop thought he looked like a thug. That’s okay though, he’s the cutest thug I’ve ever seen.

So I had today all planned out and just as I’d held such high hopes for the Build-a-Bear day, I was sure today would be full of delight. We were going off to visit the Miniature Railroad and have some rides, and on the way we’d stop by the markets for a coffee for a cause.

Whilst there have been happy moments, overall today there have been far more tears than triumph.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue and an autoimmune disorder. Whilst a whole of rest and big lifestyle change has led me back to living a full life again, I still have a dreadful immune system. I seem to pick up every cold and flu that goes around and I don’t bounce back quickly. Each time I get a cold, it goes to my ears and I get huge infections and pain. This week I also got a bout of mastitis.

But with Grans funeral and then the Dobles and my dad visiting, I’ve really felt I had to keep on going, and there has been no chance I can have a few days rest with an energetic toddler and a husband working so many hours. But it means I’m getting sicker not better.

Pop suggested we not bother about going out today but I insisted, thinking that Briar would be bored and therefore hard work if we stayed home. In retrospect, I wish I’d admitted defeat and turned on a dvd and spent the day at home. But we didn’t. And so this was our day!

I like dropping by the Queanbeyan markets on a Sunday morning if we’re up and about. It is only small but in Briars eyes it has everything a girl could want: a sausage sizzle, a bow stall, some ducks to feed and a slide. For me, it’s missing a very key element: a coffee stall. But today was to be different!

Per the Queanbeyan market page: “For THIS SUNDAY ONLY tiny house traveller Lorie is bringing his 70 year old double decker Twice as Nice Gallery Cafe to the Queanbeyan Market!!!

For a $5 donation to children’s charity Eli’s Gift Foundation, Lorie invites you into his magnificently restored home on wheels and shouts you a delicious beverage. That’s right – your donation goes directly to where it is needed most, and the coffee is on him!

What a champ. Let’s show him some big love in Queanbeyan as he makes his way around Australia.”

Briar loves buses. Pop loves a chat. I love coffee. This seemed just the right way to start our day. But alas, it wasn’t to be.

Gabe is feeling as sick and miserable as I am and his congestion is making it hard to feed. So instead of his normal, sleepy, cuddly self, Gabe cried and cried as soon as we got to the markets. We got Briar her normal Sunday markets sausage, which she promptly dropped in the dirt under the slide.

I stood under the shade and walked in circles with my screaming baby whilst Briar had a few brief slides, and Pop headed in to get coffee. He returned empty handed.

Lorie has an excellent set up and loves to chat as he makes coffees. So it’s no suprise (and no criticism) that there was quite a line up and a bit of a wait. This is no worries if you’re up for a cruisy morning, but with a screaming baby, a toddler on a short fuse, a sick mum and a stressed Pop, waiting was not to be.

So we decided to head on to the train rides, sad to not experience Lorie’s awesome little cafe on wheels but I’m genuinely pleased he was busy and therefore getting well-deserved support. Next it was on to the Miniature Railroad, where surely our day would improve.

Unfortunately, the day did not improve.

Now, let me preface this next bit by saying that the Miniature Railroad itself is fantastic. It’s volunteer run and I can’t wait to go back. The misery today was simply because my little family was out of sorts. I have my fingers and toes crossed that it will be open when my nephews are in town as they will love it!

So we arrived at the Canberra Miniature Railway and there was quite a line up. The optimist in me was really pleased to see it so popular, but the pessimist voice in my head wondered how my toddler would cope with long waits.

The Railway is run as a not for profit organisation set up by the Canberra Model Engineers club. The trains and tracks are built and maintained as a labour of love.

On the days they’re open to the public, it costs $3 a ride or $15 for an armband entitling the wearer to unlimited rides. Kids under 3 are free. We bought a $15 armband and I strapped Gabe to my chest. I anticipated the day to be Pop and Briar riding the trains whilst I drank coffee and held baby Gabe.

Problemo 1: Although the facebook page advertises “loads of food and drinks from dining car”, the reality was that my definition of “loads of food and drinks” was a tad different to theirs. I didn’t quite expect a little demountable caravan with sweet older ladies making instant coffee, to which you add milk yourself from a selection sitting on a table outside the server window. They had two options for milk: Long Life full cream or Long Life light. No dairy free options. Since we’d skipped the coffee bus at the markets, there would be no coffee for Carrie.

Problemo 2: There was very minimal shade and very few places to sit with a baby. There are two picnic and BBQ areas however they book parties in those areas on the days they run, so they aren’t accessible to others. I was wishing I’d brought an umbrella.

Problemo 3: When it came time to board the trains, Briar loudly and clearly wailed “I don’t want to ride trains with Pop. I ride with Mummy.”

So, Gabe was handed to Pop and I boarded the train with Briar.

I was honestly pretty crestfallen that Briar was behaving so out of character. Pop has a real love for trains and I’d picked out this activity as one for him and Briar to enjoy together. I felt terrible she was refusing to ride the trains with him but when I tried to convince her to go with Pop, she started to cry. She really wasn’t herself. The Briar we know loves her Pop and adores special outtings with him.

However I figured she might just need some extra mum-time and would take some rides with Pop later on.

The rides were great. There were two different circuits, the main track (7 ¼ inch) running three different trains and then a second track (5 inch) running two smaller steam trains. The big line up was primarily for the 5 inch track as the trains could only take four or five passengers at a time, whereas the three bigger trains on the 7 inch circuit could take many more. We soon discovered that if we were happy to ride the 7 inch circuit, there was little waiting time. I was chuffed to discover the first train we rode on was a mini Ghan, which is the train that runs through Alice Springs and that holds many significant childhood memories for me.

The novelty of riding the same track over and over didn’t wear off on Briar, and she actually grew more excited each time. By her third ride, she was singing at the top of her lungs the entire ride.

Gabe was awake and alert and having a great time in Pops arms, and since he enjoys the soothing movement of riding in the pram or on the bus, I thought he might like a ride on the trains. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He got a fright when the whistle went off and started to cry but by then we were stuck on. My poor little boy screamed the entire circuit. I felt very guilty. Not only had I scared my baby, the other passengers wouldn’t have enjoyed a train ride with a screaming baby. When we got off, I told Briar she would need to ride with Pop next time because I needed to settle Gabe, but that made her burst into tears so clearly that wasn’t going to happen.

Instead we took a break, during which Briar stuck her finger in a hole on an exit sign on the fence. Her finger got it very stuck and lost a ring of skin when Pop extracted it. Briar cried, however Pop thought it was hilarious and Briar stopped crying and laughed with him. Unfortunately my sense of humour was well gone by this point of the day.

We headed off soon after that, not staying to the end. Briar would have kept riding (as long as I rode with her) but by this stage I needed coffee like never before, Gabriel was miserable and poor Pop was well and truly over it.

We will go back. I will know what to expect. I will bring my own coffee. We might go on a cloudier day or bring a picnic umbrella. The ladies auxiliary who run the food van have a small menu they cook up that looks delicious and if we weren’t all in such terrible moods, we’d have enjoyed a picnic lunch and more train rides.

I think that if we were better prepared and not having such a miserable day, this outting really would have been delightful and I look forward to returning.

In the mean time, I’ll appreciate the joy on my daughters face in the happy snaps of the genuinely enjoyable rides we had, and try and forget the miserable moments.

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