2020 has been a difficult year so this Christmas why not spoil yourself (or a friend) with some wonderful presents. I have the following suggestions to help you (and Santa) on your way.
1. Take out or give a subscription to the Australian Model Railway Magazine
A subscription is a geat present, especially if you are giving it to someone who may just have a kindling interest in the hobby and who wants to find out more. A subscription helps the magazine as well so that it remains on a sound economic footing for the future.
2. One of a number of how-to books from Kalmbach Publishing
Kalmbach Publishing (USA) has a bevy of how-to books across a range of model railway subjects. This book, Applying lessons from the prototype is from renowned author Tony Koester and it's a beauty! You can buy these books direct from Kalmbach in the USA but try your local model railway shop in Australia first.
3. Another how-to book, this time from the military modelling fraternity
For those railway modellers who are already advanced in the hobby, taking some great tips on painting from the military modellers is a great way to develop new skills and improve your painting methods. How to paint with acrylics (first published in 2017) is from a well-known stable of military modelling, Mig Jemenez, who you may be familiar with from his line of paints. Sometimes, if a book is unavailable, you can pick one up from second-hand bookstores or a search of AbeBooks.
4. Books on the prototype are always interesting. The Byways of Steam series is fantastic!Byways of Steam 33 is the latest in the series and features some great articles and photographs. The steam depots of Cootamundra and Tumut are featured in this issue from noted rail author, Ray Love. You can buy this book from the ARHS Bookshop, Eveleigh Press, or from hobby shops.
5. And if you want railways intertwined with history, then this book is for you!
Neville Pollard has been a prolific author of articles for Australian Railway History and its predecessor, ARHS Bulletin. In this book, Neville has written a wonderful history of the Temora Region railways (encompassing many rural branchlines that included Lake Cargellico, Naradhan, Rankin's Springs, Burcher, and through the northern part of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area all the way through to Roto which joins the transcontinental line to Broken Hill and beyond). I highly recommend this book if you want to understand the importance of railways to the historical development of New South Wales. My copy came from the ARHS Bookshop.
6. In keeping with railway history, you can't go past author, Christian Wolmar, for a great read.
Fire and Steam (first published in 2007 but still available) is a wonderful account of the birth and development of the railways in Great Britain. As the book jacket says: "From the early days of steam to electrification, via the railways' magnificent contribution in two world wars, the chequered history of British Rail, and the bouyant future of the train, Fire and Steam examines the social and economical importance of the railway and how it helped to form the Britain of today". My copy probably came from Dymocks or Book Depository - try your local book shop first.
7. Lastly, you can never go wrong with a calendar for the coming year!
I purchased this NSW Rail Museum/Transport Heritage NSW 2021 calendar as a present for a former railwayman, now well and truly retired, but who maintains his interest in the railways. My copy came from Casula Hobbies in Liverpool, Sydney, but you can buy this calendar from other hobby shops or direct from the NSW Rail Museum.
There you have it - some great ideas for some great presents. But I think you'll need to act quickly because the mail deliveries this time of year can be a bit slower due to the sheer volume of mail. And, in case you're wondering, these suggestions are personal recommendations - no payments received!
Merry Christmas and a Happy (and healthy) New Year to everyone. Let's hope 2021 is a good one.