A Tale of a Toad and a Train (& Richard Armitage)

richard armitage1(We’ll get to him in a minute but for the time being he’s just there as decoration.)

We have a model railway in our garden. ‘Doesn’t everybody?’ I (probably) don’t hear you cry. Not only that, we also have a model village.

I blame the Resident Engineer’s father who once concocted a plan with his Best Man to buy adjacent semi-detached houses so they could knock the attics through and have a massive railway layout. Inevitably, his son went in for the full Hornby but when he reached sixteen he sold his entire collection; he thinks he bought a tennis racquet with the proceeds.

Over the years the Engineer’s gradually bought new engines and track and so on, and tried, but failed, to get our children and grandchildren, (and me), enthusiastic about it. When we moved to Hampshire he decided to build a new layout and very few people believed me when I told them we had a twelve foot stretch of railway track running the length of our bedroom. Nor did they believe me when I said the track went through a hole in the wall, followed a loop in the attic above the garage, and returned to our room. Only those who know him well had no trouble in accepting this, particularly when I mentioned that in winter the hole in the wall was blocked up with a pair of socks.20160730_110847

After a few years I went on strike and insisted that a railway in the bedroom wasn’t acceptable so it was moved to the attic and abandoned until he had the idea of building a garden railway. The track now circles round the conservatory, crosses the (very small) pond via a purpose-built viaduct, follows the line of the path until it reaches the rockery which it meanders round. A recent development sees the track crossing the paving stones to join a new stretch that will eventually climb up another viaduct (no water under this one) and into the shed through a train/cat flap. When inside the shed, only the Engineer knows what mysteries will be performed. Lest anyone thinks I just poke fun at him and his trains, I can tell you that the track is 0-16.5 and the whole is a model narrow gauge railway. See? I do take in some of it.

As for the village, that’s my preserve – it started as a joke and is composed of more-or-less 0 gauge-sized buildings though that’s not a requirement. My criteria for purchasing are less exacting – most of the buildings started life as ceramic biscuit barrels in M&S and other stores, along with some stoneware buildings, the first of which was made by Duncan (our eldest) in Pottery class at school. Almost all of the buildings have come from charity shops and the animals that inhabit the village must have been genetically modified because a lot of them are nearly as tall as the buildings. (The Engineer is too laid back to be obsessive about it all and I still think it’s funny.) Since an oak tree landed on the village in an April storm 20160328_081841there’s been some renovation and rebuilding and the village is now sitting comfortably on its tasteful Astroturf village green. At Christmas, if I remember, there are lights strung round but so far I’ve resisted the suggestion from a daughter that we have a tape of carol singers playing, speeded up to suit the Borrower-sized villagers. (Not that we have any left, not since the nativity scene was ruined and Baby Jesus was washed away in a sudden downfall.)20160730_110911

Anyway, there’s still the toad. More complicated electronics are being invented/installed/cursed so the inside of the station is full of wires and plugs and things. It was also full of ants until recently; they colonised it and filled it with their recycled earth, which is when the toad moved in. We’ve always had at least one toad in the garden so I was delighted when it turned out he was living in the station until the Engineer lifted the building up and found one stuck toad! The innards (of the electronics, not the toad) had to be dismantled and one mildly irritated toad decanted into the crocosmia by the pond. We haven’t seen him lately so I suspect he’s still sulking under a stone somewhere. Pic: Front and back views – stuck toad.

20160718_141716
20160718_141643The railway was reopened a year or so ago – after years of neglect – when the Engineer’s birthday happened to fall on August Bank Holiday Sunday. (Can you believe that when I met him he had no idea his birthday was the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth? Unlike Richard Amitage who has the same birthday and knows all about it because he was named after Richard III.) And here he is again – just because – sometimes it’s nice to have wall-to-wall Richard Armitage.

richard armitage1

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11 thoughts on “A Tale of a Toad and a Train (& Richard Armitage)

  1. Lovely post! If it matters to you — that is not a picture of Richard Armitage. It’s a mashup of his face with Hugh Jackman’s that a fan did about five years ago.

    • Oh I would love to go on that, parentals went on it once many moons ago. How fabulous. What a tale. I do love riding on steam. Miss it a lot but not the British Rail smell in the carriages.

  2. Oh fabulous. I know what it is like to have an engineer – well several – in the family….all little boys at heart. My great uncle – was an engineer in Borneo in the 1920s – was an inventor too. One of the things he invented and had pinched was the drop down record player and integrated music centre, but that’s another story. Anyway his kids were born in the late 1920s and he built then a huge railway with carriages and an engine in their back garden in MIddlesex – gentrified back then – and you could sit on it and ride round the garden and stop off at stations, see the water going on board and hump the coal. It was there throughout my childhood and teens, though no-one rode it any longer. He had gadgets all around the home which never failed to fascinate. People visited to see them. A bit like your wonderful garden railway too I should imagine. Thanks for reminding me of Great Uncle George who also journeyed up the Orinoco in a canoe with my Great Aunt in her finest with her Ascot hat on and the locals watching in amusement as the wind took her hat off all the way down the river. Here’s to railway men wherever they might be 🙂

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