This great model train layout is set up by the Charleston model railroad club every year. It us in the grand lobby of the Charleston Place hotel. Going to visit it is an annual tradition for many families – including mine.
I have no idea why, but there is something about the holiday season that always makes me wistful to be in London. The really odd thing is that I have only been there once and that was in the Spring, so I have absolutely no idea what London is actually like in December. But I want to be there none-the-less.
Maybe it is from seeing and reading Dickens’ A Christmas Carol too many times. Or maybe it is my love of trains and model railways that seems to be easier to exercise this time of year. I have visions of shop windows, or at least Hamleys or Harrods, filled with toy steam trains, big dolls, and overstuffed teddy bears. By the way, if you are a toy fan and ever get the chance to visit Hamleys, you absolutely must. Floor upon floor upon floor of every type, size, and age toy you can imagine.
For now, at least, I will remain here in Charleston though. That is really not so bad seeing as the weather is mild, my family is here, and the Charleston Place Hotel downtown has a great train setup. What is more, my son is starting to show a real interest in model trains, so maybe sometime in the future we will be able to bring them out more than just the few weeks around the holidays.
Still though, it would be nice to be in London. To take the tube into the city from a nice bed and breakfast. To stroll the streets and take in the sites and sounds. And of course, to visit the toy stores.
I just wanted to pause for a moment and wish you all a Merry Christmas. One of the things I have associated with Christmas since I was a small boy is trains. I love railroads and model railways, but as with a lot of folks, that pull gets even stronger around the holidays.
So, my off way of wishing you a happy holiday is to post a couple of model train pictures. The first one above, is of the OO British train that we have around our Christmas tree at home this year. I have been collecting British engines, cars, and buildings for years from makers like Hornby, Bachmann, and Lima, but this is the first time I have actually put them out. Maybe one day I will have a full layout, but until then under the Christmas tree will have to suffice. My son the layout work and test all of my engines to find the one that ran the best and most consistently.
The second picture, below, is from the Charleston Place hotel in downtown Charleston. Every year this grand hotel, owned The Orient-Express Hotels, puts a huge display up at the base of their main staircase. This layout is always a favorite with visitors and especially children – no matter what their age. This year the layout was created by the Charleston Model Railroad Club. It is, I am guessing, twenty feet by fifteen feet and probably eight feet at its highest point. With many different engines running at the same time, all automated, it is quite an impressive display.
So there you have some of my favorites for the season. Two things that both bring joy to my family and me currently, and bring back memories of things I loved when I was a boy. I wish you and yours a joyful and memorable holiday as well.