When I wrote about the planned BigJigs World Record attempt I was looking forward to going along with Little Miss C, but I have to admit that I had absolutely no idea what a fantastic day we were going to have, or just how much I was about to completely fall even more in love with the BigJigs brand.
LMC and I have already seen two Guinness World Records broken this year thanks to this blog and as soon as we arrived and met the BigJigs team I was pretty sure that this was going to make it three. Having taken over one of the slips at Chatham Dockyard the BigJigs team started laying track at 9am and it looked as if they were carrying out a military operation rather than "just" playing with toys! Plans had been made as to how to lay things out and the track builders themselves had also developed their own systems of how to get the track down as efficiently as possibly whilst saving their knees and back as much as they could.
What the wider team had done superbly was make sure that all their young visitors were entertained properly. In addition to the main activity and plenty of balloons they had also set up a couple of play areas for children alongside their track building efforts. There was the expected BigJigs Rail play table in action (where LMC shocked me by going straight for the pink train set that I had assumed she'd have no interest in) and also a carpeted area where the wider BigJigs range was on display. What I hadn't properly realised until quite recently was just now many non-train things BigJigs make and sell. If you can think of a wooden toy then there's a pretty good chance that it's in the BigJigs catalogue. LMC was completely in her element - as well as ride on toys there were easels, a huge dolls house, building blocks, a cleaning set and a lovely orange wheelbarrow.
I also hadn't realised that the BigJigs catalogue includes a lovely little table and chairs suitable for toddlers, but they'd got a number of these set up and loads of colouring paper and crayons to run a colouring-in competition. LMC didn't quite get the hang of the concept of colouring something in and then leaving it there so it could be part of a competition so our colouring had to come home with us instead.
After a trip round the rest of the dockyard (including three trips round the lifeboat section that she was fascinated by), an opportunity to see Peppa Pig who was visiting that day and a picnic lunch we headed back to the BigJigs slip and were amazed by how much progress they'd made.
A very tired toddler meant that we had to leave before they'd completed the track, but I'm delighted to say that they did indeed beat the current record (which was 1650.14 metres) and also smashed their target of 2012 metres. In total 2169.4 metres of track were laid - using over 12,000 separate pieces which all had to be joined together. All completed within 7 hours by using 4 main track builders and 2 runners - as I said quite a military operation. By asking people to sponsor pieces of track they also raised over £1,200 for Demelza House and the Locomotive Restoration Fund too.
As soon as we got home it was clear just how inspired LMC was by what she's seen. She ran straight over to the tub where we keep all her BigJigs train bits and started track building whilst chatting about how she needed to build a very very big track. There have since been complaints about not having enough track to make a "properly big" track and a track expansion set is on order from our local toy shop for just that purpose!
Even a week later she's still getting her train set out everyday and making up new track configurations. This morning she was determined that she needed a tunnel for the trains to go through - not something we have, but we didn't let that stop us - it's amazing how much you can do with the other toys in the toy box.
Disclaimer: I have received no payment for this post or expenses for visiting on the day, although the lovely BigJigs team did keep their promise and provided me with a seat, a lovely cuppa and a cupcake whilst LMC and I were there. They also provided a ticket for LMC and I to go into the rest of the Dockyard and see a certain Peppa Pig who was also visiting that day!