Sunday, 11 October 2015

'LOOK - MODEL TRAINS!' - Or, How Things 'Just Happen' When Least Expected.

Saturday was a change for me. Normally, when my wife makes her bi-weekly visit to Mum, I get a few like-minded souls around and we play some board games and shoot the breeze about whatever we think deserving of our scrutiny and/or ridicule.

But, as this week saw me take my Anti-TNF, Methotrexate AND have my flu shot, together with having had what seems to be a trapped nerve in my shoulder for 4 weeks, I was not feeling that sociable. More importantly, my concentration was not what it should be and it would be rude and indeed unfair to potentially spoil a day's gaming for my friends.

Thus, I had decided to just mooch around the tower and doze in a chair, perhaps with a book and one or more terriers, as befits a man of middle years.

However on Saturday morning, the mini-flu was all but gone and I was restless. I decided to ask my beloved to drop me four streets away at my own parents home and try to scrounge up some breakfast and leave some more dishes for my Dad, thus helping him stay active.

Over viands my brother, Andy and I decided that we'd go and check out 'Olivias' a model railway shop specialising in custom re-paints and sound-equipped locos. A mutual friend had been suggesting that this store was worth a visit, and boy was it.

I'll not bother you with technical details, but let's just say that when I decide to make the change to sound, I know where I will be heading.

But, before we reached Olivia's, serendipity was to strike in that unexpected way that makes the phenomenon what it is. We were heading up Prince Of Wales Rd, here in Sheffield, chatting amiably and slagging off Audi drivers, when Andy exclaimed 'LOOK! A MODEL TRAIN SHOW...' So we did a bootleg turn at 60mph, across two lanes, the central reservation and back into the opposite flow - in our imaginations anyway. In reality we went up to the next roundabout and retraced our journey with due care and attention - And located the sign. Sure enough there was the annual show of the Sheffield Model Railway Society being held at a former steel works social club. Of course we went in.

The entrance fee was steep by wargames show standards, but I have found that this is the way with railway shows, so didn't baulk too much, although I did hear my wallet sobbing softly in the night.

It was a small show - much smaller than when I last attended in the early 80s - but the atmosphere was brilliant. Friendly, informative and inclusive - wargames show organisers take note, because generally speaking you have the customer relations skills of an autistic orc.

Serendipity was to strike twice more in short order...

I managed to find a really nice Bachmann Class 08 'Gronk' ready chipped for digital use at a very reasonable price and my brother who, had not taken an old bag of assorted and battered Hornby stuff from the boot of the car since he brought it to show me a couple of months ago, remembered it was there and noted that a dealer was buying old tat, right there at the show. A few minutes later, and he had the start of his model railway fund in his pocket.

The displays were great, and surprisingly varied. As you may imagine I was taken by anything from North America or the blue era of British Rail. Andy was almost ensnared by model trams, but a few smacks on the nose with a rolled up catalogue, did the trick.

I was particularly pleased with the chat I had with the fellow representing the British 'Legion' of the NMRA who was exhibiting a lovely N scale North American layout and promoting the group exceedingly well. 

After a couple of hours we made our way via a scenic route over to 'Rails Of Sheffield' arguably the best model railway store in the area, where I did a little 'test' purchase of some PECO OO scale platform kits - which I have been fiddling with today and which I have purchased some more - and then we headed home to try to figure out just how to program the decoder in the 'Gronk' using my new NCE Power Cab system, which we did on the 79th attempt, spending another hour giggling like school boys as we tried out the various functions.

So, all in all it was a fun packed but non-stressful day, which allowed me to recuperate a little without just mooching about the family manse.

I also bumped into an old friend who I've not seen for a couple of years and had a good little chat and 'catch up', which was a pleasant surprise and a nice way to end the day.


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