I’ve just spent a few days in Wales. I travelled just over two hundred miles north-west of where I live in Sussex, to stay with a relative in Swansea in South Wales. I am sleeping in her attic, but it’s no ordinary attic. There is a steep half spiral staircase up into the attic, and in the middle of the room is the bed, and the bed is surrounded by trains! All around the room on a deep wooden shelf, is the most amazing layout of model train track. To one side of the spiral staircase is a viaduct and an iron bridge, the track then passes over the stairs, and on the other side is the signal box, and a tiny town with a hotel, a post office, a cinema and shops. In front of the town is an army base, complete with a Nissan hut and various army vehicles. On the far side of the room is the station building, with five lines of track going either through or past the station, with lots of other sidings and railway buildings. In the opposite corner of the room is a fire station with a fire engine. At the end of the bed is a windmill, and a war memorial, and behind me there is a farm with tractors and an orchard. I don’t know how much track there is but it must be a many hundred of metres, with a myriad of signals. And then there are the trains; goods trains, passenger trains, Pullman cars, observation carriages, mail trucks, logging trucks. Behind me there are Esso and Castrol oil trucks, further down the track are diesel engines, and steam locomotives. I can see the Mallard, the Coronation Scot, and the Waterloo to Plymouth Devon Belle, to name but a few.
Last night when it was dark, we turned the lights off and I watched fascinated as the trains chuntered around the room. The trains and carriages were lit up, and you could even see the tables all laid in the dining cars. The lights were on in the signal box, clearly showing all the little levers and controls. It was just amazing.
And then the spell was broken – incongruously standing in the orchard of the farm was a tiny giraffe eating leaves from the tree – bizarre!