Monday 13 November 2023

An inspirational weekend

It has been a while since my last post which heralded quite a dramatic event for me. Initially, I was on sick leave but then decided to take my long service leave. Part of the reason for that was trying to make sense of everything that had happened since it was such a huge shock and the mental impact was greater than I expected. All good now. 

Anyway, the last few months has allowed me to do some travel here in Australia, mainly to Sydney, Melbourne, and one trip to North Queensland. I also managed a short trip to Wellington, New Zealand.

I was in North Queensland late October and it was sugar cane harvesting time. I didn't have too much spare time looking for cane trains but there were plenty of full cane wagons ready for collection and transport to the local mills. I was really impressed with the extent of the cane railway system.

I also visited the model railway exhibitions in Adelaide in June and Melbourne in August. Unfortunately, no reports were forthcoming as blogging wasn't high on my agenda.

I thought it was about time to get back into the blog, especially after two inspirational events over the most recent weekend. On Saturday I operated on a large NSW-themed layout and then on the Sunday I attended ScaleACT 2023.

The first experience was my first operating session on SJ's Kangaroo Valley Railway in its new home just outside of Canberra. 


We didn't run a timetabled session like they usually do but rather did a sequential set of train movements using a simple instructional card system. This enabled new people like myself to get a feel for the layout and where everything was located. I ran the suburban electric services for my first couple of train movements (see photo below) before moving onto other passenger train operations.

It was a very interesting session and the nine operators on the day all had a great time. Many thanks SJ.

On Sunday I went to the annual ScaleACT plastic kit show from the ACT Scale Model Society. This year it was held in a new venue - Thoroughbred Park in Canberra. This is a great venue for this type of show. There were over 700 entrants into the model judging display which I understand was the largest number ever for ScaleACT. Check out this video summary of the models on display. 

In addition, ScaleACT did some live streaming via Facebook for the first time. I went to the Clayton Ockerby session which was very informative. Clayton has his own Youtube channel which is worth checking out. I find military modellers offer some interesting model painting techniques that we can apply to the model railway hobby.

There were several traders selling model kits, tools, paints, and accessories. Burfitt Tools and Kerroby were there, as well as SMS paints (all familiar to the model railway scene). There was also a second hand stall which was very popular. 

I spent more time than I expected talking with different people (had a good chat with Clayton later in the day - top bloke!) which I guess is similar to my experience at model train exhibitions!

Anyway, there was one model on display (a helicopter lettered for the Ukraine airforce) that I really loved. The two photos below show you what I mean.

So, the weekend was very inspirational and I hope this energises me into getting back into my layout and moving the layout forward.

Monday 27 February 2023

My early 2023 update and unforseen twist

It has been quite a while since my last blog post for varying reasons. The good was a trip overseas last September-October which ended with a visit to the Great Electric Train Show in Milton Keynes on 9th October 2022. I had planned on publishing some photos with a couple of blog posts after that but family and work commitments got in the way. And then it seemed the timing had passed.


I also had a wonderful visit to the home of legendary British modeller and author, Tony Wright. I must say this was a real highlight seeing "Little Bytham" in person. Tony was a most accommodating host and he and his wife made me feel most welcome. I also bought Tony's book about the building of this exceptional layout which is both informative and captivating. Again, I was slow to get the photos from my phone to the computer, albeit it takes me several goes to get the actual transfer to work!

I had lots of plans and intentions for 2023, starting with some long service leave in March and possibly additional leave mid-year. I am still working on my US layout and had plans to accelerate things in 2023. There are several upcoming model railway exhibitions I was planning on attending: Forestville (4-5 March), Canberra (26-27 March), Sandown (11-13 March), and the Australian Narrow Gauge Convention over the Easter weekend in April, and the Epping Club's exhibition at Rosehill (6-7 May). And then there was possible travel in the second half of the year. However, these plans are in disarray for the moment.

Alas, I ended up with a heart attack. Fortunately, the attack itself wasn't too bad but the discovery of blocked arteries was a real shock. I spent all last week in hospital and had my first two stents put in last Friday. Got a couple more to go in the coming weeks. At age 61 who never smoked, was never overweight, and had a reasonably healthy diet (but not enough exercise), I have been rocked to my core.

Amazingly, I am back home but instructed not to do anything (well, I can type a bit as long as I can keep my concentration) for at least two weeks and then to take further direction from my cardiologist. The next couple of stents can't go in for a few weeks apparantly. Funnily enough, you'd think that having permission to do nothing would be a good thing, but it's not: just leads to more thinking and worrying!

I am lucky to have an engrossing hobby and friends in model railways that will help move my mind into more positive thoughts and activities. Thanks to LF, DL, DM, JP, and a couple of other people who helped ease my mind over the past week. Thanks also to MD who shared his story with me, and my local NMRA club members.

I hope to get to the Canberra Exhibition but this will depend on the date for the next "procedure". And I'd like to think, at the very least, I'll be all set to go to the Epping Club's exhibition in May.

My 2023 is now a lot different to what I was looking forward to at the start of the year. But at least I am able to pen this blog post and hope to pen a whole lot more (plus modelling) throughout 2023.