Monday, January 31, 2011

Southampton Exhibition 2011

Melbridge DockSatnav programmed, bags packed, model railway layout loaded in the back of the car and off we went to the show. A couple of hours later, after a pretty much clear run down the motorways, we arrived at the show. Specifically, at the back of the show. And then we realised that we had meant to go to the B&B first as we were too early and the exhibition team were still marking up. That's what happens when you have two postcodes and put the wrong one in...

Anyway, we hung around for a bit and our space appeared in the cafeteria between two pillars, The layout fitted nicely and everything seemed to be working so we headed off to some excellent accommodation for a good nights sleep.

In the morning the shows started in earnest. Truth be told, it started a bit earlier than we expected. According to the guide, doors opened at 10:30 but from about 9:45 it seemed that the public were being allowed in, at least to sit in the cafe area. That's fine but while we were ready, plenty of others weren't. The N gauge layout next to us had a curtain hanging from its fascia to allow the owner to prepare stock without interruption. We hung around but didn't start operating until 10:15 when the numbers at the front of the model were too large to ignore.

Numbers were good though. There were plenty of people (the show numbers were up on the Saturday) and best of all they were chatty. We had lots of questions which is brilliant and quite unusual for a Saturday morning. By the end of the day, neither of us had seen much of the show but were pleasantly tired. Like we'd done a good days work but not knackered. The rubber floor surface helped of course, much nicer than operating on concrete.

PortchullinSunday dawned and since the hall didn't open until 9am we headed to the coast for some ship watching. I'll mention this later in the week as there were some interesting sights.

Day two was quieter but not by much. Visiting the rest of the event was easier though. The venue is a FE college which means the layout covers several rooms. The layouts in the "performance spaces" seemed to have the best lighting conditions as these were blacked out rooms so those who had brought a rig with them, got the maximum benefit from it.

Elsewhere the mix of layout and trade was good. Not too much RTR or diecast vehicle and a nice covering of interesting specialist suppliers. The layout quality was very high and so I'd think that the entry cost of £6 for adults, very reasonable.

Blueberry MuffinsThe absolute highlight of the weekend though was being presented with a pair of muffins by a reader of this blog. I didn't get your name but thank you very much. The cake was excellent - the top was crispy and pulled away from the lower part beautifully. The main body was properly gooey and being a blueberry muffin (a "Superfood" apparently) very healthy I'm sure. This isn't to suggest that presentation of cakes to us should be a regular occurrence but if you want more cake review on these pages, then you all know what you have to do !

The thing with being in a college is you realise how much education has changed since I was at school. Who, for instance, decided photography was a suitable subject for an A level ? No one offered me that one and I'm sure it would have been more interesting than the ones I did and failed. Also, there were elections for the student committee and so our area was plastered with posters advertising the candidates. What I want to know is, exactly when does "Jen makes monkey noises" as her manifesto posters proclaim ?

The trip back was uneventful and we were back in Leamington by 8:30 even allowing for the traditional stop at the Little Chef. A few further invitations were brought back so it looks like our little layout, now 23 years on the circuit, has a bit more life in it. Which is good since I've several loco kits to build for it...

More photos of the show on Flickr


neilart2 said...

I worry for your health at these shows-cake and the Little Chef? Do you eat any real food on these jaunts?

Phil Parker said...

Hey don't knock the short chef !

Anyway, I had a very nice jacket spud & chilli for lunch - with trifle for pudding ! That counds as real food doesn't it ?

Greg Sloman said...

I confess I was the muffin(s) donor - it was just a small thanks for all the humour, tips and general modeling-related interest in the blog which is always a welcome stop-off in the day. Glad you liked them. Cheers!

neilart2 said...

Apologies to the chef. Nice pics.