A layout I've seen before (at NG South) but had a little more time to look at this time, was Castle Wharf Kendal - a superb 009 layout by Ian Kirkwood. The scenic setting and surrounding buildings appear so natural and all blend together, with understated but well observed details. The trains also blend in well, the locos and stock looking at home on the layout.
Not many layouts can have so much character in a view without any trains - or indeed track - visible. This layout was awarded the Reinier Hendriksen Trophy, well deserved in my opinion!
I have been following the building of Giles Favell's new layout, "End of the Line", with 014 and 0 standard gauge, on the NGRM forum. Giles' last layout - The Loop - was a favourite of mine, and his latest work already is too! In principle it is a simple layout, showing a 2' gauge railway transshipment to standard gauge, but the "USP" is the road lorry. Yes indeed - this is a fully working, radio control truck. Watching the little Lister tip its skips of coal into the (working) conveyor, which loads the truck, then both truck and train depart the scene - the truck of course reversing onto the weighbridge on its way - is simply sublime. And quite hard to actually see through the crowd! Giles won the David Lloyd trophy with this layout.
One thing that EXPO-NG does well is to bring excellent layouts from Europe. Briquetterie St Aubin in 1:24 scale, 16.5mm gauge by Jacky Molinaro, is a great example. I really like the simple but interesting track plan and operation, and the "vertical" element offered by the track zig-zagging up the hill. The backscene blends well, and of course the scenics, buildings and stock are well done and natural. I'm getting lots of inspiration from this little layout!
Another European layout was Vroonen, an HOe Dutch tramway layout by Dick Van Beek. Dick has modelled the town buildings and street scenes full of detail and with interesting viewing angles, such that for me, the trams were only minor actors in the scene.
You can see the whole set of my photos here - be warned, there are quite a lot! For once I got some good shots, and there were a lot of good layouts to photograph. I've not even mention the "Pizza" challenge layouts - perhaps another post!