Saturday, 3 December 2011

Tinsel Train at Trago

Ever felt ripped off after a trip to see Father Christmas like those people last year who tried to live a dream  and paid a fortune to visit a place with a name like 'Elfland'? They were confronted by the white haired bloke fagging it in a shed in a muddy field.Well, Trago Mills at Newton Abbot, that weird shopping centre cum leisure park on my doorstep  provides a rather special experience in the scheme of things.  A ride on their extensive miniature railway takes visitors to Santa's Grotto where the kids get a chat from the big man himself and a reasonably nice present.   This year there was an extra surprise.  The fare (£3 for the children and £2 for adults) included tokens for a cup of tea for the grown ups in the self service restaurant AND free entry to the model railway, one of the biggest in Britain which has allegedly been featured on that stalwart of UK's children's television 'Blue Peter'.

Even though these miniature transport systems are thought to be the preserve of introvert old geezers who build mini metropoles in their loft, I'm somehow drawn to them.  I love the incredibly detailed scenes of bygone days in a perfect twee world.  Who could resist this wonderful coastal stretch with its line of indiviudualist beach huts?  Not me for a start!  This conjures up pleasant memories of the beaches at Southchurch and Thorpe Bay in Essex,  where we spent the majority of our summer holidays. as it's they're just walking distance from my childhood home.

Around the edge of the railway there's more to evoke memories of a seaside town forty years ago just before the electronic age changed things forever.  There's slot machines where, for a penny in the old days or 10p now (an incredible 2400% rise in inflation terms), puppets will perform.  Animals will play instruments in a stilted way, mummies and corpes will rise from the grave and bellringers will perform tinkly rounds in a tiny bell tower.  And this  Jolly Sailor  will disconcertingly laugh his socks off.  He looks like a psychopath expressing pleasure after committing a particularly loathsome crime and in some ways he's far more creepy and nightmare inducing than a lot of the sci-fi creations in the virtual world!


  1. Oh gods, that mannequin is dreadful! There was one similar in Barry Island when I was a child and I simply could not go near it - it seemed to reek of malevolence.

  2. I love model railways (and model villages too), and I even like that creepy laughing man. Shame it's a bit far for me to pay a visit.