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The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

Keiss Primary School Pupils Head for Pitlochry

Keiss School Primary 6/7 travelled by train on January 30th to Pitlochry to see Jacqueline Wilson, Children's Laureate, the author of Tracey Beaker. Primary 7 pupil, Gemma Robertson said, "I was ecstatic when I heard that our class had won a trip to go to Pitlochry and meet Jacqueline Wilson."

We caught the 12.37 pm from Wick Station and for most of us this was our first experience of the Far North Line and we were thrilled to see deer in fields from the train window. Sadly the trains were running late and with the train having to stop for a while to let another train pass this led to us missing the connection with the train from Inverness to Pitlochry. Fortunately the staff at Inverness station organised a mini-bus for us to complete our journey.

One pupil said, "I felt disappointed when we missed our connection and had to go on a mini bus but it didn't really affect the time we arrived. That was a big relief." We went to a restaurant to have supper after which we went to the Atholl Centre where everyone was shown to their rooms. We spent the evening playing a picture game, watching TV before going to sleep. One pupil said, "The night before Jacqueline Wilson's presentation I couldn't get to sleep. I was very tired but I was full of excitement."

In the morning the owner of the Atholl Centre cooked them a beautiful cooked breakfast to give them energy for the long walk over the dam. After breakfast we made our beds and packed our bags. We then went to the Pitlochry Festival Theatre where we had to walk past the fish steps and when we got there we saw Jacqueline Wilson drinking a cup of coffee and she came over to talk to us. We were amazed! We had an amazing conversation with her about her rings. She asked each of us how many rings she had on. We all suggested 4 or 5 but actually she had 10 big, silver rings, one on each finger. Primary 7 pupil, Mikie Freeman said, "I got a bit of a surprise because I didn't expect her to look like she did, but I thought that she was really, really nice."

Then we went to take our seats and Jacqueline Wilson told us and the other schools about her new book. The stage was filled with cardboard cut outs of Jackie's books. Jackie gave a very interesting talk and answered everybody's questions. Primary 7 pupil, Mikie Freeman, asked his winning question, "How do you develop your characters?" Jackie answered, "I try to think of my characters as imaginary friends." When the presentation was finished all the children had their books signed by the famous author.

The group then walked back to the hotel by the riverside and had lunch, after which we went shopping for little souvenirs to remember their sensational trip.

Then the group walked to the train station and waited for the train to Inverness. The children then made the 6 hour journey back to Wick on another train. Primary 7 pupil, Sara Banks, said, "I felt upset that our trip was over but I was excited to be coming home. I don't think I will ever forget this trip. It was the best ever!" A Primary 7 pupil said they thought the journey was "really long, but exciting!" Primary 6 pupil, Oliver Scott, felt that the trains were "really, really slow".

On their return to Wick Primary 6/7 thought the trip was really excellent.

Reporters: Master Oliver Scott and Miss Sara Banks