Well the time was finally upon me to pack up my tiny car and make the 2 hour trip across to Taunton for the RMweb SWAG (South West Area Group) event. Up at 6am, I somehow managed to fit the layout and all its associated gubbins into the car first time with a few cloths and a remnant of carpet to give a bit of cushioning. As you can see, it was a tight fit; but I could still see out of my rear view mirror which was my primary concern:
Whilst I was late in heading off, I still managed to get to the venue with just enough time to spare to set-up before the visitors came. The wheeled trolley that I had built at the beginning of April really came into its own when setting up; as it meant I could put everything onto the layout and still be able to make adjustments to the siting of the whole thing. This saved a lot of back breaking moving!
The backscene was hastily attached with double sided sticky pads, and the whole ensemble was then ready for showtime, and backscene bulges aside, I have to admit, I'm very pleased with how it looked:
The stretchy grey layout drape that my mum had sewn for me really finishes off the layouts presentation very nicely indeed; as does the driftwood sign which saw quite a few compliments. For those wondering, I used the laptop on the stool to occasionally show people some of the construction methods and sketches.
I've said this elsewhere, but I cannot believe the amount of compliments, praise, and warm comments (as well as useful suggestions, and jovial discussions) that were had at the event. In fact, I had been talking to so many modellers in front of the layout all day that by mid-way through the event, the lovely kitchen helpers (in this case; Graham Muspratt of Fisherton Sarum fame!) had to bring me cups of tea as I couldn't get away from the layout!
Admittedly, the above photo is the only one I took of Sandy Shores, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait until Monday for any close up photos. However, if you really can't wait, Andy York has an absolutely cracking photo of it over on RMweb. There's also a lengthy interview with me flapping my arms about as I explain to Phil Parker (of BRM) various aspects of the layout; along with some great footage filmed by Andy. You can watch that here over on the BRM Facebook page.
As to the event itself, I've said it elsewhere, but I'll say it again; it's probably the most relaxed and enjoyable exhibition you could ever hope to attend. There was barely a minute that went by where I wasn't inundated with eyes gazing at the layout, and fellow RMweb members asking questions, giving lovely compliments, and generally just having interesting and humourous discussions with them. I spent way more time chatting to people than I did operating the layout; but that was actively encouraged which was a refreshing change from every other exhibition I've attended. It really was a friendly show; a real credit to all those involved. And what's more, they raised £500 for Macmillan Cancer Support which is a cracking result for a 1 day show.
The amount of interest the layout received was absolutely unbelievable. I'm still taken aback by it all; it was completely overwhelming (but in the best way possible!). I've had numerous invites to shows far and wide, and may even get the chance to feature in a publication in the summer somewhen.
So yes, I could not have asked for more!
And so, to finish off this entry, I realised I had never posted about my recent acquisition. During a few email exchanges with the talented James Hilton, I was looking for another loco commission when he offered for me to purchase one of his first creations. Naturally, upon inspection I immediately had to buy it off him; so I am the proud owner of a Bagnall Saddle Tank; wonderfully painted, weathered, and finished off with details and a driver: