Monday, 19 March 2018

The Joys of Spring

Spring,  whether meteorological or astronomical, is upon us. This was abundantly clear during the weekend's trip back from Shropshire to the Fens, as we passed through Rutland.

At least The Beast from the East 2.0 wasn't as bad as the original one when I was one of the few lucky people who eventually managed to fly back from Schipol to the UK. With the new season, I've said arrivederci to Milan, and my weekly commute now takes me to Eindhoven. Travelling on the double-decker trains the view is actually, and perhaps not at all surprisingly, not that unfamiliar compared to home.

So I'm still not getting much time at home, and what free time I have is focussed on the vegetable plot. Even Teddy is yet to turn a wheel this year, although hand traming has been much in evidence with the ELR earning its keep on agricultural services.

Still, with the lighter nights, a week working from home, and prompting from a number of recent articles I'm beginning to consider what modelling I might get down to, given a fair wind. Another factor in this is finally being able to reach the baseboards intended for TAoC. They seem to have stood up to storage in the shed better than expected, and a rearrangement of the home office means I might even be able to find a semi permanent location for the scenic boards at least.

Chris Ford has, of course, beaten me to it when it comes to completing a  version of TAoC. Dare I say I've actually found that quite useful because I now feel a bit freer to interpret it slightly differently now he has proved a more or less authentic version is possible. Given the number of brand new OO gauge locos that have accumulated in my desk draw whilst the boards are in storage I've also decided not to build this version in EM. What I still haven't quite decided is whether it will be based on the Tanat Valley or if I'll use updated versions of the structures originally suggested by Roy Link.

Meanwhile, I'm doing some sporadic work on the Cadeby cameo, with work focussing on tree building.

Monday, 15 January 2018

CMRA Exhibition

The Chiltern Model Railway Exhibition  has never attracted my attention before, but when I looked at this year's list of layouts a number stood out, especially Arun Quay.

And so last Sunday I caught the slow train to Stevenage. 

First impressions were not good, with no signage to the appropriate entrance, apparent chaos in the the ticket office and crowds around the first few layouts. On the plus side the volunteers were all friendly, and the exhibition guide was substantial with decent layout track plans in colour.

One of the layouts near the top of my "must see" list was the 3mm scale Lakebank. I do like 3mm scale and Lakebank is a good example of it. I did struggle to get any decent photos of it though. Actually, I struggled to get decent pictures of any of the layouts despite using my trusty Fuji XM-1 which is normally ideal for exhibtions. Partly that was down to the lighting, both in the halls and on individual layouts, and partly, if I'm honest, down to me taking a risk and using different settings from normal. Lesson learned

Next to Lakebank was Addison Park, another 3mm layout but this time of an LT station. Perhaps a little impressionistic it still rewarded a few minutes of my time, and by then the crowd had started to thin a little.

Those who can remember that this blog started out being based around the Tanat Valley Railway will know I have a soft spot for the Cambrian, but not for unpronounceable names like Llangerisech. This was one of the many excellent 2mm layouts at the show. Not the easiest line to photograph under exhibition conditions, a tripod and focus stacking would do it a lot more justice.There is something jewel-like about a really well-modelled 2mm coach.

And talking of jewel-like, what about this exquisite 2mm narrow gauge WIP?

Staying with a Welsh theme we come to Ynysbwl. Oh if ever a layout would be greatly improved by even a simple white backscene!

I've got mixed feelings about Shelvington and Rydes Hill. I like it, but I think the narrowness of the baseboards makes it look slightly artificial The really well-modelled CLASP station building also brings back too many memories of waiting on Sunningdale Station for the last train, which often never turned up. The bridge and the disused platform track are nice touches, as is the use of technology to display what it going on.

Bridges were one of the themes of the show, along with wartime settings. A layout that brought both together was The Bridge at Remagen, though you wouldn't know it from this picture of the paddle steamer 

Now I come to think of it  a lot of layouts featured ships, as well as a wartime setting, so I guess it is time to talk about Kingswear. If golf is a good walk spoiled, then Kingswear is, for me, a good layout spoiled by the WW2 element. Having said which it was clearly a popular aspect of it with the public, and it is quite well done.

Keeping with the South Western theme I really liked the 7mm broad gauge Teign House Sidings

Whilst maintaining the riverside theme was Lower Exbury

And then there was Sutton Wharf

So talking of quays...

Even Martin has enthused over Arun Quay . In fact I was expecting crowds around it and struggling to get a decent photo of it at one of its first public outings.

Far from it.

Why? It is undoubtedly wonderfully modelled, with some really good and different scenic ideas. The Wow factor is I suppose reduced for anyone who already knows Maggie and Gordon's work. It is exactly what you would expect from them. Phil Parker probably put his finger on it when we were chatting about it earlier today "We are all going to end up taking exactly the same photos of it" Now he also added, and I think he is right, that part of the fun will be seeing the detail that gets added over time.

Mers les Bain, in 1/32nd scale, is perhaps what Maggie and Gordon's Pempoul might have looked like if it had been built with the aid of shots of calvados.  It is rather good, though also rather populated. But look at the set piece of the boules players. It is a great example of figures in a natural looking static pose.

Staying with narrow gauge in France we have another wartime layout, Up The Line

And another intriguing narrow gauge line is the live steam Hambledon Valley. You really have to see this one running to appreciate it.

That might also be true of the Aerial & Pickles line that features working transporter bridge. I did take a video, but trust me, it is so slow watching paint dry is more exciting.

But at least it gives me a lead into the other American themed layout, Mauch Chunk

By now my ability to keep a narrative theme going is reaching its limit. So the last layouts to get a mention are fairly random.

Rannoch Moor, another 2mm line, supports my view that you don't always need a train in the picture

But if you do want a train it might as well feature my favourite little Tanat Valley 2-4-0, as here on Sandford & Banwell.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Travels with my Phone

It is one of the oddities of modern life that decisions about what mobile phone to choose rarely come down to how good they are at making phone calls. I don't tend to upgrade as often as many people, and when I do it is with some trepidation and the reading of an awful lot of reviews with particular attention to the camera. Even so, I've had mixed fortunes over the years. As with compact digital cameras, I've had some phones that punched above their weight and some, such as my last one, that have been pretty indifferent.

This time I've gone for a Huawei Mate 10 pro, for those who care about such things. So far I'm very impressed. So much so that my Sony compact camera hasn't been used once since making the change. In fact I'm still exploring what the phone can and can't do. It certainly has weaknesses but so far I can live with them.

So here is a selection of photos taken with it, first of all from the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, and the second set from its equivalent in Milan



Saturday, 11 November 2017

Spalding Model railway Show 2017

We recently had the sad news that there isn't going to be another Spalding Model Engineering Show. But at least we still have the Model Railway Show. And if today's crowds were anything to go by it remains extremely popular.  I suspect the time of year and the proximity to an outlet shopping centre help enormously in getting non-enthusiasts family visitors through the door.

At the other end of the extreme, it highlighted that shows really need to take into account the age, health and mobility of visitors. This is something the 16mm AGM  does really well.

This year the show also suffered from a lot of people stood in front of layouts pontificating and seemingly unaware that other people might want to see things. When taking photos I go out of my way to try an avoid making life difficult for others. This year just one person offered to move so I could get a better photo.

As for the layouts, well the usual mix, with everything seeming to be popular with someone. The disappointments in my eyes were definitely the N gauge and narrow gauge lines. Last year Tony Hill's 16mm layout showed what could be done by modelling the narrow gauge with the real thing as a guide.

The stars were the big name layouts, Hospital Gates and St Merryn, and Outwell Basin, which attracted a lot of attention for being both well modelled and a local prototype. In fact it would have looked very familiar to anyone with the Wild Swan book on the Wisbech and Upwell.

Uppingham was very well modelled, and I liked a lot of things about Wolfe Lowe

Hospital Gates

Earls Court 


Lee on the Solent 

Wolfe Lowe

St Merryn 


 Outwell Basin