After The Best Part Of A Century


This afternoon we travelled to Elizabeth’s home at West End where we lunched with her and Danni.

After a certain amount of reminiscing Jackie and I drove a few minutes away to Mum’s where we spoke for a while in a largely similar vein.

Mum's train set

Among the myriad of ornaments that our mother has accumulated over the years I had not previously noticed her train set.

This had been her Christmas present from Elizabeth the Christmas before last. Mum has provided it with passengers and livestock, and placed a station building beside the track. Numerous prospective passengers surround the display. The blue octopus was crocheted by Elizabeth. The photographs behind are of Adam and Thea, and Danni and Andy on their respective wedding days.

There is, of course, a story behind this. As, Elizabeth says, what can you buy a woman who is in her 95th year? Well, Mum had often told the tale of her brothers’ train set. Ben, now 96 and Roy, now 94 had been given the treasured toy by their father. It was added to at subsequent festive occasions until it could stretch along corridors and between rooms. It could only be played with under supervision. Whenever it came out little Jean (Mum) was sent with her mother and 6d ( a considerable sum in those days ) to the shops. Mum says she cried all the way. She didn’t want to go shopping. She wanted to play with the trains. She was not allowed to, because she ‘would walk on the track’.

So, after the best part of a century, she has her own train set.

From Mum’s, we returned to Elizabeth’s just as Danni was leaving.

Farmers Home 2

Later the three of us dined at Farmers Home pub in Durley. Jackie and I both enjoyed succulent gammon steaks, while Elizabeth did the same with a chicken dish. Desserts were Eton mess for me, and sticky toffee pudding for Jackie, and creme brûlée for Elizabeth. My sister and I each drank a glass of merlot, while Jackie’s choice was Amstel.

Farmers Home 1

Jackie couldn’t resist nipping out to photograph the pub’s hanging baskets. This gentleman, smoking an e-cigarette outside offered to move out of shot, but, quite rightly, the photographer invited him to remain for human interest.


  1. The train was a thoughtful gift, and it made for a good story–an old story that was finally reversed after almost a century.

    1. My Dad had 3 daughters (no son) asked us all if we would like an electric train set, we excitedly replied “oooh yes” , of course it became so elaborate that we weren’t allowed to touch it, but could watch Dad play with it for as long as we liked!

  2. My father served the Indian railways and for many of my childhood years we stayed next to railway tracks. Steam engines chugged passed our abode hauling a string of bogies with faces framed in their windows. The adventurous among the travellers posed full frame in the gates, although my father swore it was not legal. Father also told me about different makes of engines made in USA, Canada, Poland or locally, and their varying mights in hauling, gathering speed etc. No wonder I hankered for a toy train set all my childhood which he kept postponing to an unknown future. So, I do envy your mother. I hope to get to play with a toy train complete with stations and passengers when I get older, with nary a care on the Earth.

    1. Absolutely – That’s Jackie’s version of Derrick’s rakes and watering cans and whatever refuse he leaves in his garden photos. Wasn’t that an issue back in the day?

  3. Love the train set and ornaments Derrick and train sets bring back many happy memories both in my childhood and for my children too.. 🙂 Lovely post Derrick.. 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing the story about your mom’s train (and the photo, too). My mom will be 95 later this summer.
    The flower baskets are lovely.

  5. What a delightful story. I also love the crocheted Octopus. I wonder if one plans to crochet an octopus or if it is a wholly impulsive thing to do. Either way, it is very clever. I cannot crochet a bean.

  6. A charming story about the train set. It is always amazing to hear stories in which the tiniest details are remembered! I can visualize young Jean craving a turn playing with the train. Deprived of that pleasure has obviously loomed large in her memories. Psychologists say that some hurtful childhood memories never recede until confronted. Maybe now that she has a train set, your mother can lay this one to rest!

  7. Wow – the train set story is amazing. So great that people listened to the actual stories your Mum was telling and were able to give her something that she obviously treasures. Parenting is dicey work. My goal was to do the least damage possible. And I tell my kids “My job is to do my best job, and your job is to forgive me.”

  8. Never too old for a train set! I love setting up my son’s one with him. Looking forward to when he (we) will graduate to a proper electric set ?? toot toot ?

  9. The Farmers Home building with hanging plants is lovely and such a charming pub. Tell Jackie thanks ever so much for capturing this pretty image!
    I would love the sticky toffee pudding, as often I pronounce this my favorite choice of many ones you have featured.
    Your Mum’s knick-knacks remind me of my own Mom’s old, nicer collection. There’s a sweet accordian player and looks like Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail bunnies. 🙂
    The train ? is the only part Mom doesn’t have anymore. She used to have one which she would have Dad put up around under the Christmas tree. Your mother’s special story of her wanting to stay home as a child, to play with the train, was a cherished memory. ❤
    We did sell most valuable collectibles and saved money in my mother’s bank account just in case of emergencies.
    We felt better to put out her less valuable pieces at her apt, safe from wandering elderly neighbors or at least dispensable. We all tend to become practical as time marches on. . . 🙂

    1. Many thanks, Robin. Mum has all these items labelled for who gave them to her in the first place. Some years ago I said I wouldn’t give her anything I wouldn’t want back at the end 🙂

      1. That’s a lot like my Mom. Seriously, under each item there is a piece of masking tape with a name on it. The grandies and my children included in the items. If you admire something a lot she’ll ask you to, “Just take it now!”

  10. Lovely story about the train set. Parents can be very hard to buy for. I tend to buy my Dad my favourite biscuits as presents. It seems to work quite well.

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