Sunday, October 27, 2013

National Festival of Model Railways 2013

ExpertsThis is a bit different. I'm used to turning up at shows with an exhibit, arriving at one AS an exhibit if a new thing. OK, I've done a few Hornby Mag shows with "Parker's Guide" models where I sit around talking about things I've made. This has all been pretty low-key. There would be a mention in the mag a month before that I'd be there and the stand would get a listing in the programme. To be honest, I could sit a shaved monkey behind the table and people would happily believe its me.

No chance of that with British Railway Modelling - plastered on the stand were huge posters featuring what someone described as, "The ugliest boy bank in history." No need for a badge to identify me this time.

Much more impressive than the mug shots were the pictures of tools above our heads. I took these using a flatbed scanner and the results are really good even when blown up 20 times full size. I'm glad I used hard-working tools, they add some authenticity to the look. Brand new ones would have looked like clipart.

Anyway, out of the back of the car I unloaded some of the projects that had appeared in this magazine (yes, when picking them up, I did have to think hard to remember which was which) and a part-built layout (more on this another day). These were laid out on the stand with me taking up about 2/3rds of the demo area before I cleared off the the hotel on the edge of the site via a tasty burger in the pub sat next to a family whose kids were filling the tabletop with ketchup.

A good nights sleep later I headed down for breakfast aiming to get there when it started at 7:30am only to find the eatery was standing room only! Everyone else had decided an early start was a good idea despite the show being 2 minutes drive away. Add to this the desperately slow set-up at a Holiday Inn Express and I only bagged a bowl of cornflakes. To be fair to the hotel, their normal trade isn't entire shows of exhibitors who all want to eat at once. Toasters that work to geological timescales aren't an issue for sales reps who turn up in 1s and 2s at a variety of times.


Saturday flew by in a blur. The show opened, people turned up in front of me and I talked about making this solidly until about half past one. The crowds were good, often a dozen people listening to me expound on plywood baseboard construction and making little buildings. I only stopped at this point because I was due to do a turn in the lecture theatre at 2 and was flagging a bit.

Lunching on a Snickers bar, I headed to see if my presentation worked on the screen to discover the place was full. Presumably the post-lunch slot encouraged people to come for a nice sit-down.

My crowd on Saturday

The talk went reasonably well. Only half a dozen people wandered off. My topic was "Building your first layout" which I tackled by looking at the various layouts I've built and the lessons learned along the way. A few questions at the end and it was back to the demo stand for more plywood chat.

Chucking out time arrived and it was back to the hotel. Past experience tells me that the Harvester next to the showground is the most popular place to eat in Peterborough and I was feeling the effects of a day on my feet and not really enough to drink so I crashed out without bothering to be turned away at the door for dinner.

Sunday, I was prepared and feeling great. Breakfast was leisurely and I made up for missing out the day before. Half a gallon of orange juice, toast, sausages, scrambled eggs, cornflakes, yogurt - a good start.

The show was quieter - Saturdays always are - but there were still plenty of people to talk to. Oddly, we seemed to have travelled back to 1954 as three visitors seemed very keen on using Sundeala board for baseboards. It takes track pins well apparently. It also sags over time, expands if it gets wet and costs a fortune. I think I persuaded most that plywood, still as good for the Melbridge Dock baseboards as it was when be built them nearly 30 years ago, is a much better idea.

Lunch was purchased before opening time so I managed to bag some chocolate cake. Peterborough showground used to do the best choccie cake in the world but sadly the supply seems to have changed and while it's still good, the crown has been lost. Mind you, eating the first bite at 11 and the rest about 3pm might had had something to do with this!

My talk went better than the day before. Remembering to mention the Q&A at the start ensured a better selection of Qs at the end. The crowd was about 30 strong when I started yakking but filled 3/4 of the seats by the end. My ego tells me this is a good thing even if it was really just more people wanting a seat.

What I didn't do was look around the show. Flying round to buy some building kits at the end I saw a couple of layouts. There was a lovely little one with it's lights on before opening and that was it. Pity, as I think there was some good stuff on show.


Packed up, I was on the road an hour after closing. Tired but happy. An excellent weekend.

If we chatted, I hope I managed to entertain you. If you came to one of my talks, I hope I didn't disturb your snooze too much. Don't forget that you can hit the "Ask Phil" button on the right if you want to know anything more.

A few photos on Flickr.


Andy York said...

Judging by your Saturday crowd in the lecture theatre people need to get there early to get a seat at future shows, it was certainly popular Phil.

In fact attendance should be made compulsory for some. ;)

Michael Campbell said...

I do find it amusing that once you "retired" from exhibiting, you get yourself a job where you have to go to exhibitions!

Sounds like it went well, but you should really take food next time...

Phil Parker said...

The irony of the situation hadn't passed me by...

And yes, I will take more food next time. Not just chocolate either. Well, most not.