1. I am admiring a tiny railway layout based on a Southern States shunting yard, all peeling paint, tattered posters and rusting metalwork. "It's scratch built," says the owner proudly. "Apart from that yellow building." Then he hands the controls to Alec. "Have a go. Press that red button."
Alec does, and the rusted little diesel moves jerkily forward and stops. "Press it again, Alec."
The look on my little boy's face as the train stops and starts its way along the track is worth double the entrance fee.
2. There is a tinplate layout which I like very much. "That's from 1955," says the exhibitor about his station. "And that's from before the First World War. German."
I am just marvelling at the very British advertisements that plaster the tinplate walls when a Thomas train comes racing past, whirring frantically. "It's clockwork," says the exhibitor. "So's this." He picks up a bus, "And this," a bright shiny taxi complete with tinplate driver. "There's something about tinplate. It gleams."
2. The Mother takes Alec off into the garden to pick blackberries and I settle down to some work. All of a sudden, there's a large golden dog in the room. I ask it where it came from and it trots out into the sitting room, the dining room and wanders round the kitchen before jogging on out of the front door.
Later my mother says she found its owners running up and down the road looking for it.