Saturday 30 April 2022

Somerset Snail Culinary Society

Saturday morning at Polbrook Gurney, as the Frome to Bath via Chilcompton service slows. Barry Bullhead and Deliberating Derek are heading for a lunch meeting in nearby Nettlebridge, they’re both key members of the Somerset Snail Culinary Society. Cooked snails are actually a thing up on Mendip - true! Bungalow Bert is daydreaming about gnomes, a miniature working windmill and that garden railway he wants to build for his recently purchased retirement dwelling. Doug is trying to chat to Clive, but as usual Clive on his latest notepad. He never gets off the darn thing, so rude. And finally outside The Pedant & Armchair waiting for it open, Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) has a date with Beryl. Ahhhh, bless. 

As always, flick, tap, bash, wiggle or whatever you have to do to zoom in. And if you really like it, I’d love a Saturday pint

Friday 29 April 2022

Warm Hands

With warm hands deep inside his special heated pockets, Nasal Nigel enjoys the warmth of his bus-spotter green flasher-mac whilst watching the 9am goods from Frome trundle between the pub and the colliery. Mother will be pleased.

Thursday 28 April 2022

China White

Clad in dandy high vis, former estate agents Toby and Timothy plan their next TikTok video, as trainspotters’ champion 37422 rumbles past with a bulk trainload of finest China white destined for that there London.

Wednesday 27 April 2022


Wednesday morning, and here we have the 09.35 to Evercreech departure. A scene on my Combwich layout that I started around 1981. Apart from 15 years or so when it was stored and wrapped up in my parent’s attic, it’s been in my possession ever since. It’s much modified and enlarged since its original incarnation, but the track is original. The soldered construction is a little dated now, but it very much has stood the test of time (and no, I’m not going to relay it). Only tie bars for the point blades being replaced maybe 20 years ago. 

As the layout has evolved it’s had several names, it was initially called Churchstanton, then Stogursey, and finally Combwich when I resurrected the layout around 1999 from its polythene wrapped incarnation. 

Combwich never had a railway, but in my make-believe world it grew in to a town which warranted a railway, an extension of the SDJR from Highbridge. A ridiculous idea, but that’s half the fun of the parallel universe. 

But people in the real world have been taken in, several years ago I received an email from a resident of Combwich saying that they know where the station used to be. I didn’t reply, for I didn’t want to spoil their joy. And whilst the layout is completely fiction, the last bit is completely true.

Tuesday 26 April 2022

Duels & Zimmer Frames

It’s a lovely late April morning at Combwich, as the 9.30 to Bridgwater and the 9.35 to Evercreech Junction via Highbridge prepare to depart. These services are usually quiet, the earlier trains carrying the few commuters, for in the old days people tended to live close to their employment. Passengers on these later no doubt soon to be axed services are mostly shoppers and old folk out on a jolly, walking stick and zimmer frame duels very much a thing after consuming too much rough farmhouse cider. 

Saturday 23 April 2022

St George & Prize Cabbage

Every St George’s Day, Nasal Nigel swaps his trusty sticky green bus-spotter flasher-mac for a brown suit. It dates from his office days working for a company that manufactured sprocket holes for 16 and 35mm film. Every Friday the boss allowed the minions to ‘dress down’, Nigel confusing this with ‘dress brown’. Next to the gates is our loveable little chap (well, mother loves him anyway) chatting to Daphne Dando the crossing keeper about her prize cabbage. Daphne is a keen gardener, and between trains attends her vegetable patch, giving it much love and attention growing runner beans, sprouts, carrots, hemp, cabbages, weed, magic mushrooms and marijuana. The latter of allegedly being very popular in nearby Glastonbury. 

As always, click, swipe, tap, lick, wiggle or whatever you do to enlarge. Buy me a magic mushroom to keep the nonsense flowing

Friday 22 April 2022

Pipe Organs & Spam Fritters

It’s front end Friday again. Little Peter Peckett pushes his wagons under the colliery loading screen. Once loaded it might be a slight struggle pulling the wagons forward up the steep grade. But Peter Peckett and his partner in crime Noddy Nobhob make a great team, extracting every bit of power from their tiny engine. On days off, Peter Peckett plays his full sized pipe organ literally built into his ‘two up-two down’. It’s taken him 20 years to build it from plumbing spares and old engine boiler tubes. Noddy Nobhob, on his time off is building a huge website in his garden shed for his dead spider collection using those woven nylon string bags oranges come in. Noddy also collects model buses and loves a sunday fry up with spam fritters and mushy peas garnished with a whole raw sliced onion. Much to everyone’s surprise, Peter Peckett and Noddy Nobhob are currently single, but are actively seeking free and single ladies for fun nights in and maybe marriage. A working pulse not necessary. 

Thursday 21 April 2022

The Man From the Ministry

It’s a lovely sunrise at Combwich West (not many know that Combwich has 2 stations, but that’s a story for another day), as the first train of the day departs. To the left we see lights are on at The Thong & Flasher, well that’s what the locals call it anyway. The pub has 2 letting rooms, they’re popular with crab fishing types and trainspotters, also Cindy Proper-Job the landlady attracts a certain type of customer. As our train trundles over the crossing, we note that the lights are on in the loco shed office. It looks Barry Bullhead’s powder blue Morris Minor is parked outside (he wanted a Vauxhall Cresta as a company car really). Barry, the former time and motion man from the Ministry of Misery has just started his new position under the infamous Dr Beeching. We all know what that might mean for the railway. The good people of Combwich have been expecting Barry Bullhead’s visit for some time, and have been putting clothing shop display dummies on all the trains to give the appearance of more passengers than there really are. It’s hoped that Barry won’t actually want to travel on any of the services, shop dummies aren’t exactly known for their conversational skills. Fingers crossed. 

As always, click, swipe, tap, lick, wiggle or whatever you do to enlarge. 

Donate help to keep the railway open

Tuesday 19 April 2022

Andrew & Barclay

Andrew and Barclay are chatting to the engine crew, favourite subject being  beer and OO gauge checkrail flangeway clearances. Poor old Dave is desperate for the loo, and wishes they’d hurry up and move the engine nearer to the water tower so he can fill the tank. Spotting the crate of beer at their feet, Dave moves it closer to the water tower. Magically Andrew, Barclay and the engine follow. Result.

As previously seen in my regular spot in Model Rail magazine. 

Sunday 17 April 2022


Sunday morning, and Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe finds his beloved Triumph ‘babe-catcher’ balanced on some ale casks. The cad and bounder finally gets comeuppance for his regular cheating ways which are often at the expense of those closest to him. Many of our regulars have come to witness the amusing spectacle. Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe (aka TTTS) demands the crane is used to lift his pride and joy off, but despite bribery with a crate of out of date bottled beer, the key for the crane has gone missing. TTTS will have to try harder if he wants a favourable result. From left to right… Derek would like to borrow TTTS’s ‘babe-catcher’ next weekend. Dennis (on the loco) wants a nice new shiny diesel. Doug wants a new shovel. Arthritic Arthur wants a new hip. Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) would like a date with a lady who doesn’t come with a puncture repair kit. Clive would like a new notebook (he’s always on the darn thing and he’s been after an upgrade for ages). And finally, Nasal Nigel wants some well-soiled latex gloves, we’ll leave that bit there…. 

As always, tap, click or pinch, or whatever you do to zoom in. 

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Saturday 16 April 2022

Photo in the making…

 Apologies for late post today, real life and all that, and it’s a lovely day to be outside in the UK. But I did pop the lights on earlier and woke the little people up. As usual they’ve all been up to no good overnight. I turn the lights on and they freeze. Sneaky….

Thursday 14 April 2022

Customs & Exorcists

Thursday morning and our much loved Beryl starts her new job in Customs & Exorcists. There she’ll be investigating illegally imported ectoplasm and other illicit spirits. Her old Austin Seven isn’t really up to the windy country roads to take her in to town, so she’s travelling by rail. As the train arrives, she spots the spooky looking exhaust being emitted from the engine. Something doesn’t look quite right, it looks slightly odd and supernatural. For our Beryl, it looks like the the beginning of a long day, for she also notices that the engine doesn’t have a crew 👻 

As always, tap, click or pinch to zoom in. 

If you like this post, buy Beryl a shot

Wednesday 13 April 2022

Mother Knows Best

Nasal Nigel in his new slightly sticky green bus-spotter flasher mac loves to watch the passing trains at the level crossing. But he really must stop putting his wiener through the wire mesh. He’s been here all morning shuffling to and fro with the gates as they open and close. Still, it’s okay, mother has some ointment to relieve any tenderness later. Mother always knows best.

Monday 11 April 2022

Jolly Farmer

Whilst The Pedant & Armchair is a popular pub with Hornby fanciers (other brands are available) and trackmat fiddlers, the newly opened Jolly Farmer is starting to be a hit with the enthusiast fraternity. The quality of the passing trains and engines is a cut above that if the grubby old Pedant, it even has proper outdoor seating and The Royal Mail can deliver those recent toy train purchases straight to your pint glass table. You might even spot a jolly farmer, but it’s said that they’re a thing of folklore, rather like Bigfoot or politicians who have your interest at heart before theirs.

Sunday 10 April 2022

Footplateman’s Fry up

Sunrise at Combwich, the warm radiant light illuminates an ex GWR ‘Small Prairie’. I’ve no idea how some of these names were arrived at in the pre war clenched buttock world of tight British stiff upper lip formality, but I’m sure Nasal Nigel will advise. A mile from Combwich, the railway split, with the S&DJR line to Highbridge and a GWR line to Bridgwater. The railway history here is complicated, much like the railways in Wells - the complexity requiring a book to explain. I’ll probably get it all wrong even if I try. The little goods train here is destined for Bridgwater shortly, the crew are in the cab frying their bacon and eggs on the firing shovel, this culinary delight being called a ‘footplateman’s fry up’. 

Saturday 9 April 2022


It’s a right old cavalcade down on the docks with further experiments of the new ‘Motor Railway’ car carrying service. With the cost of diesel at an all time high, Hubert (the conversational Latin speaking horse) is rostered the pull the short train. But Hubert is an old boy, and has suggested that the dockyard shunting tractor which runs on used cooking oil from the local greasy spoon is a far more capable tool. Hubert, being such a resilient horse, during the 2020-2022 Zombie Apocalypse of Doom, successfully completed the highly regarded online ‘Teach Your Horse How to Drive a Tractor’ course. And here is the clever chap demonstrating his newly acquired skills to an appreciative audience. And as we can see, all our regulars are here. From left to right: new boy Frank Twist with his crooked hip, Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head), Herbert (the conversational Mayan speaking horse) enjoying an elevated view, bullish charmer Barry Bullhead (the time and motion man from the Ministry of Misery), Derek on guard duty, our Hubert of course, local bounder and cad Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe, Clive and his notebook, and finally our favourite posh girls Liz & Margo who’ve borrowed Beryl’s bubble car for the weekend. 

As always, tap, click or pinch to zoom in. 

If you like this post, buy Hubert a carrot

Friday 8 April 2022

Alphabetti Spaghetti

And it’s that #frontendfriday thing again, the day we go all wibble about fronts with sticky-out pointy bits and bumps. 

These are the men who work on the track, all lining up in acknowledgement of the passing goods. From left to right we have Cyril Flagshaft, on days off he’s a pigeon fiddler, enthusiast and Piccalilli fanatic. Next we have Edwin Jones, originally from Caerphilly, he creates miniature tea clippers from matchsticks with sails from cut up pillow cases. He sails them on the local pond where they capsize and sink in finest Mary Rose style. Next we have Albert Clenchworm, he’s been digging a deep hole on his allotment for decades, no one knows quite why, but he keeps muttering about Australia after too much brown ale. Then we have Doug, we all know Doug, the 1954 gravedigger champion from Plymouth. And finally we have Harry Hi-viz, he loves everything orange. His favourite meal is a big bowl of tinned Alphabetti-Spaghetti washed down with a pint of Lucazade. 

As always tap or click to zoom in. 

Hobby fund

Thursday 7 April 2022

Airfix 4F

A short ballast train trundles over the crossing at Catcott. The engine is an Airfix Midland 4F 0-6-0, bought from Beatties in 1982. Originally tender drive, around a decade ago I got ace loco fiddler Philip Hall to re-motor and re-chassis it to loco drive with Comet components. Phil did the clever bits, whilst I detailed up the loco, chopping off moulded bits and replacing them with bits of wire and brass followed by a repaint and light weathering. It’s a seriously great runner and has impressive hauling power, much of that being due to the fully compensated chassis, for every wheel touches the rail fully irrespective of how wonky my track is. Anyone spot the cat? 

Wednesday 6 April 2022

Wibble Wednesday

It’s Wibble Wednesday! That’s right, your chance to wibble away to your heart’s delight! I’m sure there’s much here to bring out even your most Nasal Nigel hidden within! Please don’t comment when driving though. Off you go…..

Tuesday 5 April 2022

Winkle Raffle

Combwich quayside next the The Star. This rough old pub is popular the local rowdy types, with the weekly ladies’ wasp chewing competition being one of the many highlights on the event calendar. On Wednesdays there’s the popular ‘open mic’, where anyone called Mike is invited to open his gullet and drink a pint of fish bladders in one go. The winner gets a quart of fish bladders mixed with old ale to take home. And on Sundays there’s the hugely popular pickled winkle raffle, the winner getting his or her choice of supersized winkle for their Sunday supper, or sliced for sandwiches during the week. 

As always tap or click to zoom in. 

Pickled winkle fund

Monday 4 April 2022

Crane Loco

It’s a misty Monday morning. And we have the arrival of a former Great Eastern Railway J15 converted in to a crane loco. The complex mechanism lives inside the modified tender and is operated from a control room in the box van behind. The loco is now oil fired, the oil being stored in the tank wagon. Derek & Clive have a few choice words, starting with “how the £¥€$§^ is that going to get through the £&#+% archway to the right?”. Barry Bullhead (the time and motion man from the Ministry of Misery) is concerned about all the extra crew required to operate the new contraption, it replacing a Ruston crane which can be driven everywhere and operated by just one bloke called Bob. 

Sunday 3 April 2022


Sunday at Windmill Sidings - in a part of forgotten Norfolk which cannot be found on any maps. It’s first thing, and not a soul is yet to be seen next to the ancient disused windmill, which last saw traditional use 100 years before the railway came. However, the locals maintain it for pagan correction rituals; those with eyes too close together, witches, vegans, tee-totallers, Prius owners, those who wear spandex sports attire, Lambrini drinkers, shandy drinkers, young men who wear their jeans too low, latte drinkers, those who leave half a pint of beer undrunk, couscous eaters, trainer wearers, politicians, despots, local government officers, those who order posh coffee in busy pubs, pot noodlers, virtue signallers, those who demand sprinkles on their ice cream, shouty people on mobile phones, Candy Crushers, smug app users in pubs to order food & drink, banjolele players, and anyone from out of town. These often lost souls are attached to the windmill arms and spun around until they repent. Other than that, it’s a lovely spot to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Saturday 2 April 2022

Afternoon Tea

Hemyock in deepest East Devon, a showery July day in 1956. The little loco has just run around its single carriage and collected a milk tank full of Devon’s finest from the creamery in the distance. As usual Barry Bullhead (the time and motion man from the Ministry of Misery) and Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe are plotting some semi-legal business, very much in their own collective favour of course. Colin is checking the vacuum pipe between the engine and the milk tank, it’s been playing up most of the day. Hopefully it won’t delay departure for the 7 mile run to Tiverton Junction, for old Mabel, the only passenger needs to connect with the Bristol train for her afternoon tea with ‘a nice young man’ she’s been a pen-friend with since before the war. 

Hemyock is my current project in OO (Hornby sized) and very much a work in progress. More images will appear in due course. 

You can buy Mabel a tea here

Friday 1 April 2022

April Fuels Day

Down at the docks in Little Britain, Customs & Exorcists welcome the arrival of the new ferry service, (P&O having had their operating license withdrawn). From now on, due to zero customer demand, only small ferries will be required - for fully working unused fishing boats are easy to source. They discuss between themselves what a ridiculous April fool the government are playing on the little people of Little Britain, ”54% on the price of an average household fuel bill, that’s even too unbelievable for the 1st of April!”