Like many tyros, I get frustrated by choices and I certainly don’t have all the answers but I do know what I prefer – small intimate railways to which I can relate. This allows me to create a scene that speaks to me about my interests and provides an achievable outcome whilst challenging me to stretch my abilities.
For example, I know that I do not have the ability to build stock or motive power but scenery is within my comfort zone therefore I carefully choose those items which will allow me to build a layout that has a fighting chance of getting finished whilst I built the setting.
The first constraint is the available time, although I am retired I need to face the facts - all my efforts need to be productive and no time wasting, a formidable challenge at 65+ moreover I want something that would be satisfying with a simple, tiny station and stock that was both appropriate and would not dominate the scene.
My favourite short line is the area that is better known as the Fränkische Schweiz, an area about 40kms north of Nürnberg. Rather than copy the modern system, my railway is set at the end of state ownership in the 1920s which allows me a little more leeway in the stock that I can run, the line still used small steam locos with four wheel lokalbahn coaches in everyday service.
Other less obvious pleasures are occasional* field trips to Fränkische Schweiz and the Fränkische Freilandmuseum plus great friendships with the guys on the ground who constantly help with information.
*Just a short drive and a trunk full of beer on the return journey.