Tuesday 31 July 2012

Earthly Powers, yet again.

Began fiddling with my paper building based on a corner block on the Boulevard Haussmann, Paris.

Sketching things out on a sheet of hotel note paper. Found it to be quite repetitive work so have taken a break to write this blog. (At this point, the sketch is smaller than HO scale.)

Last night's dinner:

Fish terrine.


This morning's breakfast:

2 poached eggs and smoked haddock.

Currently reading:

For the umpteenth time, "Earthly Powers" by Anthony Burgess. My wife bought me this new copy last Christmas because my original one was falling to pieces. Quite my favourite novel.

My new one - what does the cover mean?
The original.

Monday 30 July 2012

HO Scale Buildings

I've raised in earlier blogs this topic of judging the heights of buildings one wishes to model in HO scale. 

I've already manufactured my version of the Gare du Nord, so everything has to fit in with that. Although, in reality, the Gare du Nord is surrounded by buildings, it is difficult to find photographs on the web showing the station and these surrounding buildings in the same shot.  If I could find such a definitive picture then I would use it to determine the heights of  my models of the surrounding buildings.

The best I can come up with at the moment is this collection:

To me, these picures suggest that the surrounding buildings are not as high as the central portion of the Gare du Nord but more in line with the lower end sections.

On my model the central section is 25 cm tall (30cm including the statue on top).

I'll look for another angle on this height business tomorrow, but for now I'll aim at a  height of about 20cm plus the roof for the surrounding buildings.

Last night's dinner:

Sausage rolls, beans and chips in a very badly lit pub in Hull.

Pint of Bombardier English Bitter.

The pub was in the style of what now passes for a traditional English pub: poorly lit; urban R 'n' B musak from the hidden speakers; a line of highly illuminated, hi-tech draught beer taps along the counter - I use the term "beer" loosely - and 4 or 5 massive flat screen TVs showing sports.

The place was populated with locals: bored looking women with fake tans and tattoos; and men of all ages also with tattoos. Later on, a party of older couples trooped in. But even then, I was the only male who had tucked his shirt into his trousers.

Very congenial atmosphere.

This morning's breakfast in Hull:

They'd run out of bacon.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Boulevard Haussmann

The main building on my diorama, in addition to the Gare du Nord, will have a wedge-shaped footprint and be approx the same size as the Gare du Nord. I have in mind something like this corner of the Boulevard Haussmann in Paris.

This is going to constitute quite a challenge for my evenings at the ceramics class come September. So, I'll need to do some considerable preparation before hand.

My task for this stay in Norfolk will be to build a paper model which can be used as a guide. In particular, it will assist me in that artistic decision as to what features/details are the key ones to incorporate into the model ie the defining features. And, obversely, or is it conversely, which details can be omitted. My watchword is "impression"; I want to create the impression of a French city.

Last night's dinner:

Take-away chicken chow mein. The restaurant in Partick, Glasgow, was packed.

An extremely drunk (or "pished" as he put it) young man - shaven-headed - was sitting next to me waiting for his take-away. He told me he was a butcher but his drunkenness and my deafness made it sound like "bisher". I asked him to repeat himself and after my guessing "fisherman" and "bishop" - I kept the "bishop" guess to myself - he decided to guess what my occupation was.

"You've got to be trusted. You look very trust-worthy with that corduroy jacket. Are you a doctor?"

"No, I'm afraid not. Why, do you need one?"

"Naw. I'm just guessing. A lecturer, you must be a lecturer!"

"Must be the corduroy jacket." said I.

After quite a bit more of this and everyone else in the queue staring fixedly at the ground and nobody speaking a word, the drunken butcher guessed correctly.

"You're Gordon Brown. That's who you are. F***ing Gordon Brown."

His parting shot was to tell us that David Cameron's wife was worth £7 million.

Saturday 28 July 2012

Maigret and Les Batignolles

Following on from yesterday's blog, I did a bit more research into the area of Paris known as Quartier des Batignolles. It lies in the 17th arrondissement which is where the Maigret novels are set. This is good news because I want to give my layout the murky feel of the Maigret novels.

Here are some pictures of the quarter downloaded from the web - mostly set in an earlier era.

Tomorrow we go to Norfolk for a few days and I intend, when there, making a paper model of a large French city building which will  eventually be used as a basis for a ceramic model for the layout. These pictures will provide a flavour of the kind of building I'll be aiming at. (Crikey, my use of the English language is abysmal - I know that that thought could have been expressed in a single sentence. It has always been thus.)

Roy Harper:

This morning was playing an old compilation of songs that I'd made years ago on a tape cassette. One of the songs is a great favourite of mine: brilliant jaunty singing; original melody and original lyrics.

"Nobody's got any money in the Summer", 1967

I taped it from what must be one of the most outstanding compilations of pop songs ever put together: The Rock Machine Turns You On, also from 1967.

Born 1941 and still going strong.

Friday 27 July 2012

Jouef 040 TA 28 Les Batignolles

Had a closer look today at my little Jouef shunting engine that I converted to DCC running by installing a tiny computer chip.

Decided to find out more about it's history.

"Les Batignolles" is printed beside the driver's foot-plate. Apparently this refers to an area of Paris which is to undergo massive regeneration. This locomotive was based there - St Lazare being the station.

The extensive sidings.

Artist's impression of regeneration.

The loco was built before 1920 and was in service as a shunter at St Lazare/Les Batignolles until 1970.

I came across this blow-up diagram of the Jouef model. Couldn't download it to blog directly so took a photograph of laptop screen.

Last night's dinner:

Unremarkable and forgot to photograph it.

Listening to:

At the present moment listening to Yevgeny Sudbin playing some Scriabin piano pieces.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Aerosol Spray Paint

Have ordered two different shades of matt brown aerosol spray paint from Humbrol - by mail order. See yesterday's blog about spray painting the sleepers of the tracks. Very surprised to discover that such products can be sent through the post. I thought that with all the change of temperature and shaking they would endure on such a journey that there would be a risk of explosion.

Obviously, I cannot take the track outside to spray so I'll have to set up some kind of protective hood to stop paint drifting onto the floor or the walls etc as I spray it in situ.

Ran out of cardboard sheeting.
Last night's dinner:

Whole sea-bream and spinach - utterly tasteless.

Ate it in the back garden because the evening remained warm until almost 11 pm.

And as the evening wore on, turned to Tricky for a suitable soundtrack.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Back to Ballast.

The visual effect that I want to simulate on the tracks is that found in this photograph.

The key features are, I think, these:

1. Take a look at my existing track which illustrates the necessity for lightening the colour of the sleepers.

So the first task will be to spray paint the whole area of the track with a mixture of different light browns.

2. But then quickly wipe the tops and inner flanges of the metal rails so that electrical conductivity isn't compromised and the shiny metal top surface is preserved.

3. The ballast is very light coloured, dirty brown in places and fairly thinly scattered.

In yesterday's blog I included a photograph of a layout in Chalon sur Saone. I think their ballast is in too great abundance and too evenly spread compared with the picture at the top of this page.

This is the ballast I will use and I'll have to take care not to spread it too evenly or too deeply.

From Woodland Scenics:

Finally, I will use a paint brush to apply patches of randomised dark patches of oil and other discolourants.

Pierre Boulez:

Yesterday I posed a question: and the answer is "Pierre Boulez". He is in his late eighties now, but yes, many consider him to be the greatest living composer/conductor.

I've got quite a lot of his recordings: both his own compositions (very discordant and avant garde) and him conducting the great orchestras of the world in a mainstream repertoire.

Last night's dinner:

Surprisingly delicious: sausage stew and mashed potato.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

R garlic M odélisme C halonnais

Found some good photographs on the web from a club in Chalon sur Saone, Rail Modélisme Chalonnais. When I got Google to translate it, it came out as "R garlic M odélisme  C halonnais". I think "ail" must be French for "garlic".

Anyway, here are some pictures of their HO layouts.

Divine Mercy:

This diary (see picture below) has been a source of comfort and encouragement to me for many years.

Written in the 1930s by a Polish nun, Sister (later Saint) Faustina, it records her visions of Jesus and what he said to her.

It's not everybody's cup of tea, and even within the Catholic Church the Devotion to Divine Mercy is not welcomed by all. Nevertheless, I have frequently been surprised to see evidence of groups meeting in churches all over Europe. The tell-tale sign is this painting being on show (usually perched on an easel) somewhere in the church. And the motto, "Jesus I trust in You."

Nowadays, I simply open the diary at random. Last night, I alighted on this entry:

"7 July, 1937. In times of doubt; that is, when the soul is weak, let it ask Jesus himself to act. Although it knows that it should act by the grace of God, nevertheless, at certain times, it is better for it to leave all action to God."

That entry reminds me of the end of Pilgrim's Progress when the hero, at the very last step of his journey has only the river to swim. And he feels the waters drag him down and he chastises himself for having let God down by not having enough faith to reach the other side and Salvation. But, of course, it is this very acknowledgement of weakness which is a sign of the deepest faith and it is this handing over to God of one's life that leads to his Salvation as he finds himself lifted up and arriving at the other side; his journey complete.
Last night's dinner:

Cous-cous, sea bass and avocado.

On the way home in the car today was listening to Radio 3 at the beginning of a recorded concert. The compere said that we were about to hear a piece by the greatest  composer and conductor alive today.  I wondered who he was going to name? James MacMillan was the only one I could think of. But it wasn't him. Answer tomorrow.

Monday 23 July 2012

Colinter Productions

Came across this manufacturer on the web. Cut and pasted their blurb (translated by Google) and also an example of one of their models, albeit in N gauge.


Our company is based in Verdun , in the heart of Lorraine .
We specialize in various models of buildings , mainly in HO scale (1/87eme) and N (1/160th). We also offer some pieces in O (1/43EME) and 1:72.
Our models are produced in plaster and / or synthetic stone .
These materials allow to obtain results strikingly realistic.
Colinter Productions has been around for 10 years now.
Our range is very strongly oriented towards the traditional architecture Lorraine , but we also offer a series of buildings more "go anywhere".
We create, produce and disseminate our work ourselves.
Our products are particularly popular with model railroaders, the "war-gamers", players of RPGs or board games, as well as figurine or "dioramistes" military.
Our models are easy to assemble and very affordable prices: in most cases they are significantly less expensive than their plastic counterparts!
Note : our models are intended for a customer modeller adults: they are not toys!

I hope to achieve this finish with some of the ceramic buildings that I'll be making when my Ceramics class starts again in September - really looking forward to it.

Last night's dinner:

Scallops in a tomato sauce and cous-cous.

Asked the fishmonger to keep the roe on - the roe is as succulent as the scallop itself.

Today's music:

In need of something soothing.

Sunday 22 July 2012


Whenever I've no activity to report on this French Model Railway, I usually post some trivia about France or about railways. Well, today "model" is the topic; at least, Keith Waterhouse's brilliant novel from 1990, "Bimbo".

Here's the cover:

No idea when I bought the book, but in desperation for something to read took it down from the shelves last night.

As you would expect from Keith Waterhouse, it is brilliantly written. But it is written in the vernacular of what one might expect a page 3 girl originating from the Thames Estuary to use.

Not at all patronising. And despite the subject matter being of zero interest to me (that's probably why I have never given it a proper chance) it is not only hilarious, but actually quite gripping.

Africa: the magazine of the St Patrick's Missions

This monthly magazine is always full of interesting and well-written articles about missions in Africa and South America. I really look forward to its coming through the letter box.

In this month's issue there was a shocking description of some of the horrors that took place in the Rwandan civil war.

I'll quote from the article by Father Nicholas Hennity who had returned to Rwanda recently:

"The Nyabarongo river just outside Kigali brought back many sad memories. Here thousands of Tutsi people were tied hand and feet and thrown into the river during the genocide, so that their bodies could make their way to Ethiopia where it was believed that they originally came from."

Last night's dinner:

Continuing on the economy drive and used up stuff from the freezer: cod, sea-bass, asparagus and cous-cous.

Washed down with wine from Cahors. Was determined to give Cahors wine with its Malbec grape another chance after the failures when drinking it in France itself recently.

Very acceptable this time. Perhaps the problem is that the French serve and drink their red wine at much lower temperatures than I'm used to.


After my recent deluge of drum 'n' bass, went back to listening to the more settling tones of Radio 3 this morning.