Haven't done a blog for a while, but decided the trip to Cultra was worth it. Have been looking forward to it since I first got the invite over a year ago, though at times I will admit to questioning my own sanity! Nearly 1000 miles of driving, two ferry rides and four nights away - for just a one day show - certainly make you wonder. Equally, it is a chance to bring a properly broad gauge layout to its spiritual homeland, while the chance to exhibit in the truly wonderful venue that is Cultra all make it worth the effort. Am also looking forward to meeting some of the people on this website too & putting faces to names.
As I've written before, a lot of preparation goes into any exhibition, so Arigna has been given the once over during the last couple of weeks. Tracking cleaning and dusting, plus servicing all the locos and stock. A couple of pick ups needed adjusting on the motive power, while one or two bits of scenery were freshened up as well.
Whether everything will still be alright when I get there is another matter. By the time it gets unloaded and set up on Friday afternoon, the layout will have spent two nights and close to 500 miles in the back of my car, with the small matter of a couple of hours on the Holyhead - Dublin fast ferry as well. The BBC weather app on my phone has been checked several times daily over the last week - and so far all it has shown is that it is not exactly reliable.
At first, Friday's crossing was looking fairly smooth, then got progressively rougher until on Tuesday it was showing 40mph gales off Holyhead. Seasickness is not something I usually suffer from, but my experience of fast ferry is that they bang and bounce across the waves, rather than roll - not exactly ideal for a car full of layout. Since then, things have improved a little, though the next problem seemed to be a full on 'soft day' in Belfast. Unloading a layout in pouring rain is not something to be enjoyed, but again [for now at least], the forecast has put the rain back till after 6pm. There are still two days for that to change, so for now, I will just have to cross everything, make sure everything is stowed properly and hope the weather and traffic gods are kind. For the latter, certainly glad I am not travelling today, or would be spending most of the day just getting out of Kent, if the traffic reports are anything to go by.