The 50th York Model Railway Exhibition. We wanted to visit this so much. For once we actually dropped hints in several quarters last year that we'd really like an invite. After all, we'd done the 40th and several others before that so we weren't exactly newbies. When the exhibition manager, Mike Cook, rang up and said "I understand you'd like to come to the 50th", we were well chuffed.
Sadly, Mike didn't make it to his 50th show - but we did and were determined to do him proud.
Flockburgh was titivated with several new details. I finally finished a number of jobs that I'd been meaning to do for some time ! We pitched up at the Racecourse and set out our stand. It turned out to be just below the exhibitors tea bar which meant much abuse from people hailing from Hull who refused to lower us refreshment on a string all weekend. Not to worry, all went OK after the hasty repairs and we departed for the B&B.
Now I know that most bloggers will write about the train sets on display, or bemoan the trade support. Not me. I know what you want, the behind the scenes stuff. Well, here it is. The food was a bit rubbish.
You might look at me and think "There's a man who has a spoonful of All-Bran for breakfast and then goes out for a jog" but you'd be wrong. I like a plate of bacon, sausage, egg and beans occasionally. Mainly, when I'm staying somewhere where they will cook the stuff for me. I'm far too lazy to do it myself and anyway it's not special then is it ?
It certainly was this time. Delivered on a tea plate, which should have been a warning, one bite of the sausage restricted me to cereal and toast for the weekend. A discussion about the "Harvest Mom" cereal with another exhibitor revealed that although they are decorated to look Kellogs, they in fact hail from Aldi. The bacon tasted cheap and like the egg, was undercooked.
You might reasonably suggest I should shut up. After all, the other guests ate the stuff happily enough but then maybe I was still getting over the sandpaper towels after my shower...
Not to worry, we thought. We thought we'd eat at lunchtime, the restaurant has always been pretty good.
It is. So good it had run out of food at half two on Saturday and an hour earlier on Sunday. We ate at twelve on the Monday...
On the other hand there was a shining light in the comestibles. Sunday evening saw a celebratory buffet at the National Railway Museum. It was the 50th anniversary show, not something that many (any ?) other model railway exhibition can boast. Sadly, it was also a memorial to Mike who had booked the thing with the intention of attending himself. Glasses were raised to his memory. And before you moan, we had to pay for the beer ourselves. Nice pint too, if a bit lively but at least we could discuss the roof detail of LSWR coaches while we waited for it to settle.
The light but delicious buffet was followed by a truly delicious ginger and rhubarb syllabub. Not exactly the sort of food you associate with the railway museum ! Wandering around the hall with the place to ourselves was great, but City of Truro in light steam outside was magical. A nice meal, excellent company and the smell of steam engine, what better way to spend an evening ?
Enough of the eating, what about the show ?
Excellent. Mike had booked layouts he enjoyed for the most part and his choices were pretty good. Opposite us was the Gresley Beat and through gaps in the crowd (number were up this year) we could see the delights of a well modelled 82 wagon long train.
Behind us was the "Layout I want to build" from the show. Easingwold East is a tiny (6ft long) EM gauge minor station. Not exciting to watch, or to operate I suspect, but lovely to build. The plan was simple with only 4 points but I could see myself producing it. In OO, you could kit-build the structures simply enough and it wouldn't take up much space. Pottering around with some small engines looked fun too.
Trade wise we had a good choice. I'm on the lookout for projects and picked up a couple. York isn't a show full of box-shifers, much to the chagrin on some on forums, you get some decent independents instead. I have a definite hankering for O gauge after looking at some of the models on display. My soldering iron trembles at the possibilities...
Our efforts seemed appreciated. All day, every day, there were interesting questions to be answered. The photographic backscene seemed to be the subject on peoples minds, closely followed by the couplings. And if I had a pound for everyone who said "What a lovely scale" I could have bought the Garratt off Baz that I resisted.
Not everyone was a happy bunny. If you insist on telling me everything that has gone wrong as it's going wrong then don't be surprised if I suggest you might like to go and look at another layout. And when I say that, I mean it. If you don't take the hint, be prepared for some of the dullest operation you will ever see. Not that doing this works, people like that seem to stick to the barrier like chewing gum to a good pair of jeans...
We drove back very tired but with the feeling that this was a show Mike would have been proud of. The racecourse floor is hard, even with a square of carpet to stand on, and three days is surprisingly long to play trains (I'm getting old) but all of this was worth it to be the owner of the plaque you see at the top of this post. York is a special show. It's old-fashioned in many ways but I would never turn down the opportunity to attend. I'll even have rubbish breakfasts and exfoliating towels and not moan. Well, not much anyway.
You want to look at some models, well here are the photos.