I just checked the TV listings. The Railway Children is on ITV. Years ago, we drove over to Haworth and did part of the 6-mile circular walk that takes you past some of the locations for that film. It was a lovely day.
We had no money – everything was done on a shoestring - so we were grateful when my in-laws treated us all to a pub lunch. That wasn’t something we often enjoyed. My eldest was interested in learning French but developed a strong case of shyness when her Granddad tried to persuade her to converse with some French tourists.
Later the children bounced along and were much impressed when I fed an apple to a horse in a field – the sight of those enormous teeth was pretty scary for me but my eldest wanted to feed it and to save her losing any fingers, I did it myself. My mother-in-law was with us and actually praised me for my bravery – I can’t recall very many occasions when she said anything positive to me (before my marriage breakdown and my ex husband met his current wife) so it really stood out in my mind. Al later told his dad, “Mummy was very brave – she fed a horse.” I think it’s now pretty obvious that we’re born and bred townies.
The children were extremely familiar with the film plot and the characters – it was one of their favourites - I'd saved it on video for cold wintery days. Many pretend games revolved around it, which was why we were there that day. It was a walk we’d done before and had all enjoyed. We took in the tunnel where Jim broke his leg, Oakworth station – location for the big scene near the end of the film, Perks’ house, the main street where the children persuaded shop-keepers to donate birthday presents for Perks, the Bronte Parsonage which became the Dr’s house in the film, and a piece of track where the landslide scene was staged.
However, the highlight of the day, as always, was the house with three chimneys. As we walked down the road towards the house, my eldest ran on ahead. Al was about three at the time and his legs were no match for his seven-year-old sister’s so he chased her down the sloping road shouting, “Wait for me – I’m coming Bobbie.” The incline was just a little too steep for him. He was running faster than he could manage and fell and grazed his knee. We had no first aid kit and it wasn’t a bad graze but the sight of the blood was distressing him so with us so the only alternative was to cuddle him, and then distract him. We walked slowly down the road with him holding my hand. I haven’t thought about that day in years but I can still feel his little hand in mine as he chattered on about meeting Bobbie, his favourite character.
He wouldn’t be persuaded that Bobbie didn’t still live in that house until we met the current owner who told him that Bobbie had grown up and moved away. He thought that was a shame as he was sure she’d want to meet him so he asked for her address so that he could write to her. He could neither read nor write at that point but, as far as he was concerned, that was irrelevant.
He correctly identified the gate where Perks struggled with a bundle of newspapers – we hadn’t even noticed this but the owner confirmed he was correct - and then we all walked down the field to see the train line at the bottom of the hill. The children pretended to be the characters shouting, “take our love to Father” to an imaginary train. Only he couldn’t pronounced the th in Father so he shouted, “take our love to Fahzer.” I can still picture them both looking so happy and excited.
It was a lovely day. I miss him. Odd that a TV listing can evoke so many happy, yet painful memories.