Note: I'm writing this sat in Toronto airport while my flight is repeatedly delayed, using the iffy Wi-Fi. It's 9:50 local time, I was due to fly at 11 and am very tired. Sorry for typos.
3700 miles. To take part in a show held on an ice hockey pitch. Well, it is Canada after all. Where else would you hold it?
Didsbury Green was set up as part of the Rapido trains stand and promptly embarrassed me by not working. Despite successful tests in the hotel room a couple of days earlier, the controller wasn't playing and I didn't get it fixed until the Sunday. However, that's for the write up in BRM, let's talk about the show itself.
Once I'd reached the "wandering around" stage of Friday night, I got a real surprise - one of the layouts I've always wanted to see, Roy Link's Crowsnest Tramway, was on display. Not only the O14 version, but the rolling stock and building for the unfinished 16mm scale version too.
As an operating model, the layout is a bit lacking, but then that's very much my sort of layout as regular readers will know. Of course this makes Crowsnest the layout I'd like to build from this event too.
Despite the distance from Blightly, the whole show could have been dropped into any UK town without anything looking out of place. The layouts were pretty good with models in 4 and 7mm including EM and P4 - working in the finer scales must be really tough in the land of HO!
Trade wasn't so hot, but only because the usual suspects can't afford to take the trip across the Atlantic. There was a good selection of local suppliers focusing on the UK prototype and while these might have been a bit heavy on the "pre-owned" rolling stock selection, many UK shows would be pleased to have all of them. I certainly found ways to spend money. In fact, only the thought of shipping larger boxes back slowed me down. If you are a Tri-ang collector, there were bargains to be had with several Canuck specific sets on sale for very modest sums. Most left pretty early on Saturday though.
With my Garden Rail hat on, I enjoyed the large scale test track. The volume's venue allowed any steam to dissipate too. We weren't that far away and couldn't smell a thing.
The biggest surprise were the opening times. 10 to 4 on Saturday and 10 to 3 on Sunday. I'm sure we could have managed another hour on both, although we did have to load a full-size Tardis onto the lorry at the end, and it wasn't as easy as you might think. There were people around at the end, numbers were OK and the organisers seemed happy enough.
I didn't notice the time as most of the Saturday flew by full of chat and banter. At least a dozen people over the weekend recognised me from either the magazine or even this blog. If one of those was you, thanks for dropping by and saying hello. I was slightly concerned about popping up at a foreign show and expecting people to know who I am. As it was, some did and those that didn't were (like all Canadians) very friendly and happy to chat.
Food - burgers and hot dogs cooked and served outside by a team braving the cold. Inside, there was cake and coffee in one of the dressing rooms. I managed to stay healthy, apart from one slice on the second day. Well, it was only polite and part of the Canadian experience.
By the end of the weekend, we were all tired, but happy. Didsbury Green now has a new owner - he was even good enough to come and collect the model on the Sunday. Handy, as I could explain how things should be plugged it, and get a photo for the mag.
Overall, a really nice event. Much like a friendly, local show, but further away - for me at least. Maybe I wouldn't normally go, but if you lived within sensible travelling distance, you'd be daft to miss it.