Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the name of a well-known Hollywood film featuring Steve Martin and John Candy but it is also a good way to describe many transport obsessed toddler’s obsessions with anything that has an engine.
It’s the weekend, watching various childrens’ tv channels or DVDs has prepared your little loved one for cars and trains that talk, what do you do?
If you want to find planes and the even more popular helicopters other than just looking up into the sky as they fly above your garden you can go and visit an aircraft collection/aerodrome that puts on public displays such as the Shuttleworth Collection, near Old Warden in Bedfordshire.
Make sure you check the website of the place you are going to visit to make sure there is a display planned. The Shuttleworth collection also has a large cafe and the essential large toilets needed for any toddler visit if they have not yet been potty trained.
Other suggestions include air displays at places such as the Imperial War Museum Duxford, but remember that large displays can involve large crowds and limited opportunities to sit down over a period of hours and so are likely not to be toddler friendly.
Other options can include going to a site near a local airport (some airports have viewing areas) or aerodrome, but remember one golden rule: look at the size and scale of the place, because it may be that if it is too small little will take off and your toddler needs to see lots of planes whilst they are there.
For trains you could find a railway museum like the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton near Aylesbury. Under 5s get in for free (although this doesn’t apply to adults!). Make sure you go on a day when they are steaming up one or more of the engines, so that your little person can go on a ride.
At the Bucks Centre the trains run about every twenty minutes and the engine drivers and other staff are all volunteers who are very happy to show both young and old the working steam engines under their care.
For a more exciting open air ride you can also go on the miniature railways which are usually featured in open air railway museums, at the Bucks Centre your little one can relax back whilst being held by you and go past the Tweenies, Postman Pat and many other childrens’ favourites. There is also usually a nice cafe and the chance to buy your child a Thomas the Tank Engine related gift.
The automobiles could simply be to go and eat lunch at a place where the little one can seen lots of lorries and big engine motorbooks park and leave. Although this may sound like an invitation to a motorway service station you may find these places just by chance and as an unexpected bonus, for example visiting the Cafe Gondree at the D-Day site of Pegasus Bridge in Normandy, which also happened to be a stopping off point for many of the pretty respectable bikers who tour Normandy during the summer.
Each time a motorbike roars in your little one will love it. Most motor museums are frustrating to the toddler, as they are often not allowed to climb all over the exhibits which they would love, although at the Sammy Miller motorcycle museum near Christchurch in Dorset little ones have been known to climb into the Sinclair C5 on display!
Other than this type of venue it is going to need to be visiting motoring events but on for older children and adults such as those ran by the Eddie Stobart Fanclub or the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. Depending on your pocket and ability to keep your toddler entertained whilst waiting for a race to begin, watching racing at a track such as Silverstone is an option, there will certainly be lots of noise!