It Started With An Itch – Part VII
Part VII Of Gary’s Blog
In my mind’s eye, my trains were going to run through a mixture of scenes. Certainly, a railway station and a goods yard but also through mountainous rugged terrain complete with a river and a lake. Oh, and there had to be a tunnel too! But how was I going to achieve all this upon an 8 x 4 foot board?
My attempts at making Airfix models as a child had been sad to say the least. The planes had wings, possibly a complete propeller, but the way the pilot was sitting must have been uncomfortable and as for landing upon an undercarriage arranged quite like that? So, making my own buildings was a complete nonstarter. Or so I’d thought. Hornby though had other ideas !
More than a mite startled by the price of everything, and also knowing nothing at all at this time about the plethora of online model railway sites available, I had visited Amazon and so ordered the cheapest railway buildings that I could find. They turned up a few days later and I was puzzled to see that they were apparently flat packed. Either that or I had mucked up this scale thing completely !
Gingerly I opened up the boxes, still hoping to find ready constructed buildings. But my heart sank as I realised that not a little glue was going to be required before my passengers had somewhere to buy their tickets or to sit and read their morning papers. The words ‘pool’ and ‘deep end’ tele were texting across my brain as I gazed down, more than somewhat disheartened, at all the plastic pieces that, somehow, I had to arrange into a logical order.
Then, deciding that all that stuff could be accomplished tomorrow, or may be the day after, by the weekend certainly … I decided to have a go at creating the landscape instead. But here again I ran straight into a brick wall. Where, and how was I to begin?
The scenery in all the magazines, although incredibly inspiring, looked very daunting to achieve. However, whilst flicking through all those UTube videos seeking answers to my running problems, I had noticed some tutorials relating to landscapes and the like. So, popcorn in hand, I relaxed back into my armchair and let the remote control do all the work.
England is supposed to be a nation of shopkeepers, but on this evidence, everyone was either a superb artist or a craftsman. Equally everyone apparently had enough tools to open up a hardware store whereas I was only armed with a hammer and a saw. Gee!
But the sun was shining, I had enough insulation board left over from building the baseboard to at least make an attempt at a mountain and hey, everyone has to start somewhere. So, clutching an old kitchen knife, some spray cans and a few lumps of insulation board I ventured out into the garden. My air brushing career was about to begin.
Not really having an idea at all what I was doing, I began making a number of shallow vertical cuts into the sides of the Insulation board. These were then soon joined by a series of equally shallow horizontal slices
This was fun! Bits of insulation were flying around everywhere and had I been doing this work (Surely this counted as work!) indoors, certain problems would quickly have arisen. But as it was, I could cheerfully hack away at the insulation board until my heart was content.
Sometime later and surrounded by heaps of ‘snow’ I looked down proudly at my workmanship. No four-year-old could have done a better job. Or enjoyed themselves more! However, rugged as the sides of my ‘mountain’ now most certainly were, unless the cliental for my railway was to be confined to just polar bears and the odd eskimo, something had to be done about the whiteness of everything.
The spray cans were just sitting there doing nothing. So, grabbing the nearest, it happened to be black paint, I sprayed all the way down one side of my mountain. Then, out of literally nowhere, inspiration hit me. If I sprayed in the opposite direction, employing the other can (Grey paint) then it would add some relief to my artistic efforts. And so, it duly did. The success of my efforts only being matched by my amazement. Slartibartfast eat your heart out!
The top of the mountain then underwent the same treatment and hey ho I had myself a landscape. Just one thing though, what had been all white was now just black and grey. I was after an effect that only the Lake District or Scottish Highlands could match. A touch or two of green was therefore definitely going to be required as well as possibly a few trees and bushes.
Woodland Scenic scatter came to the rescue here. Many methods are expounded for using this and similar materials but, lacking any of the proper tools, I just went for the very well tried and tested (My waist line is an unbiased witness) approach. Namely the ‘adding of salt to a meal with your fingers’ method and, even I do say so myself, the results didn’t look at all bad.
To my utter astonishment (I have never ever been at all artistic) I was discovering that I did after all possess some sort of talent in that area. Ok, employing a couple of spray cans and sprinkling some green coloured sawdust might not quite rate up there with the brush strokes of Rembrandt and Co. But nevertheless, I now had a mountainside within which to position my river and lake. The game was on!
Some other Woodland Scenic’s products therefore got added to my masterpiece. And, even though I might possibly had over reacted to their suggestion to leave the water undisturbed for a period ( I dared not enter the station master’s office for two days), again the results were very satisfying. The scenery part of this hobby was proving, by miles, to be the easiest challenge that I had undertaken so far. Equally, by obvious inference, it was the bit that I was enjoying most. But all those pieces of plastic were still waiting inside their boxes. Would my efforts with them echo only the disasters of the past, or with age and wisdom, had there also come the patience to do them properly?