Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Tall things! A silo and a defensive structure!

Yonks ago I bought m'self a water pistol thingy. Well, there's no word for it, is there? Y'can't say, "I bought myself a water carbine." People look at you and ask what a carbine is. Hm. So this big ol' water pistol had a few big canisters for holding ammunition, er, water. The kerjigger died, as is their wont, and I ended up with leftover canisters. One got turned into a fuel storage doodah ages back, and two more are near me now. The one that ended up as a fuel silo was glued in place horizontally, so I messed with that a (really, really tiny) bit this time, and here's a vertical version. "Inspirational, Pete! You switched something from horizontal to vertical! You're a lion among men!" Well, thank you, Imaginary Audrey Hepburn. ;-) The first was in temperate terrain, so this new one will be in snow. Yeah, so I pondered doing something similar with number three, and then decided against it.

Instead, I grabbed a big ol' tub of protein powder, stripped off the enveloping paper and glued it to a bit of wood. I guess this will be a tall bunker or HQ or something along those lines. Er, with a fuel tank or water tank or whatever outside. I also grabbed some spare bits of polystyrene I had lying about for aeons. I recall asking for suggestions about what to do with them months ago, so to those of you who did not speak I say this: "Tut-tut!" So, anyway, this'll be a great tall kerjigger that blocks line of sight to a whole lot of stuff. The small fuel tank (and the roof of the lower floor) is about the right height to obscure GW AFVs. Er, and superheavies, I guess. But not more than titans' shins. On which tedious, hair-splitting note, I shall leave you to these pic-a-chaws what I done took. I think this is going well this week. Yesterday I recounted my adventures this last weekend, and today I'm babbling about how I'm making stuff from stuff. Mm, stuff from stuff - what a great line. Enjoy these pictures, Futurama fans! If you're no fan of Futurama, how the Hell did you end up here?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Trips and Travails, Wales and Wassails!

This weekend just gone saw two birthdays of great import to me. My father has long celebrated his at this time of year, and more recently my friend, Kev, decided to cash in on this, and be born on the same day. It being the former's sixty-second and the latter's thirtieth, the former kindly allowed me to visit the latter. I'll stop using former and latter now. Sorry. Kev lives in Wales. Oh, that's insultingly simplistic. I don't mean to talk down to my readers. See Spot run. Actually, we have a rabbit of that n- "SHUT! UP! PETE!" Erm, yeah, ok. Right, so I set off for Wales at half twelve on Friday. En route to Kev's I was to drop in on the mysterious Grey Wolf, a chap I've known for some years. I had misapprehended a communication from him, and so was laden with all the fresh vegetables I had been able to pluck from my fridge. Top Tip: if someone jokes that they're being forced to eat dog food, explore the possibility that they are actually joking that X, who was supposed to give them nosh, carelessly directed them to a cupboard, bidding them eat its contents, only for them to discover that all therein was dog biscuits.

Anyway, having given GW (don't get confused, wargamerinos) a spot of fresh nosh, I set about securing some windows. I think a rubber seal had never been installed, so I have filled the gap with some Tetrion powder I mixed into a paste. I also inspected the wall of the shower. Some kindly workmen had been the day before and applied tiles to the wall of Grey Wolf's bathroom. The plumber had thereafter arrived, and attempted to fit a shower . . . but there wasn't a gap for the water to come through. Impressive. I hear this has already been dealt with, though. We two (GW and I, not the mysterious plumber and workmen) had a chat for a bit, and then it was on to Port Talbot, City of Light! Someone might have called it that at some point. Maybe.

At Kev's I was reunited with Martyn, whom I knew at uni, his young lady, Vickie, the eponymous owner of the dwelling, dear Peter, and Mark - whom I have not seen in a month of Sundays! - and met his affianced, the delightful Amanda. The sense of humour of our group may be gauged to a degree from the sort of gibberish I come out with on here, so her sliding easily into dealing with it all is a credit to her and the future Mr Amanda. We then proceeded to drink. Amanda and Mark had recently discovered a delightful new recipe: tear some mint leaves, add rum, ginger ale and ice, and imbibe the resultant diluted inebriant. Martyn and Vickie departed first, having drunk little, as he, poor fellow, had a shift beginning at 6am the next day. Amanda and Mark sensibly sidled upstairs around midnight, and Peter, Kev and I were up till gone 2am consuming the concoction.

The following morning I was surprised to learn that over the course of the evening we had gone through three bottles of rum (two of Mount Gay bought for the cocktail, and one of Captain Morgan, which I had brought with me). It rather explains our (or at least my!) somewhat delicate state the next morning! We trundled out for a brief walk with Kev's dear dog, Jess, then pottered back to see Ireland defeat Italy at rugby. Well, we saw about a third of the match at Kev's, then strolled into town and caught the last third. We had set out in (not quite) good (enough) time to get enough seats for the England-Wales game that followed on its heels. I have to say that team sports have never done anything for me. I dig (but do not seek out) martial arts (boxing, fencing, Judo, &c), and will equitably (see what I punned there?) watch showjumping (though horse racing does nothing for me).

Despite that, and the resultant staring at a screen of muscular chaps
running hither and thither, I rather enjoyed the end of the game. Wales and England seemed evenly matched (to my admittedly unaccustomed eye) for the greater part of the game, but toward the end Wales leapt forward and then in a separate incident, prevented England's attempt to claw back her way to victory. The pub in which we sat erupted with cheers. I recall as a teenager being thoroughly startled when a classmate erupted with a scream of joy at England beating someone (Germany?) in a football match we were watching in 1997 or 1998 or 1999. I'm older now, and I burst out laughing, which was an excellent reaction to have. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear at having defeated the villainous English, and so I fit right in. :-D There then followed a traditional Welsh song. I couldn't follow the words, so remarked to Kev that I would imitate his practice of thumping my palms on the table. He told me I'd soon know the words, and it was true that "As long as we beat the English!" are pretty easy to recall!

The villainous Saxons and Angles having been defeated, we retired to a lovely local eatery for a spot of nourishment. Mm, curry. Thus restored we returned to town, where we stood on a very sticky floor with lots of people bumping into us. We circled the wagons around Amanda, as she was more susceptible to buffeting than were we. It was an odd Wetherspoon's, resembling rather a club in Newcastle-under-Lyme than any Wetherspoon's I've ever been in before. After one drink we headed over the road. The volume of music was about the same, the floor slightly less sticky, and there were fewer people. Er, result! Then we pottered home, temporarily collecting a young couple. The feminine half of which was very happy about the rugby result, so I tactfully (and pointlessly - what would she have done? Stabbed me with a grin?) covered my Englishness by laughing in agreement rather than speaking.

Right, er, so we got back, collapsed into our beds (settee in my case), and woke up the next day. On the Saturday Jess the dog had kindly woken me at half six in the morning to see if I wanted to play. I misapprehended this, and tried to let her out into the garden and then into the kitchen. Happily, on the Sunday morning she was asleep upstairs, so I didn't wake until a little after ten, and dragged myself out of bed about twenty minutes thereafter to bid good morning and bye to Mark and Amanda. Poor Martyn, having had to get up for a shift starting at 6am the day before, was today bound to start a shift at 2pm. I'd never be a nurse. My uncle was tried to persuade me to become something in the City, which involved several years of sleeping for perhaps as much as six hours each night. That at least had the benefit of being ordered sleep, albeit insufficient. Looking after people seems to involve neither regimentation nor enough!

Peter, Kev and I thus drove into Swansea. I hoped that a small Hare Krishna restaurant would be pen, while suspecting this would not be the case. We arrived, checked, and ended up at Pizza Express. Lovely pizza, and oilier than normal.! We trundled over to Watserstone's - or whatever they're calling it these days - and I picked up a Richard Morgan book, Market Forces, on Peter's say-so. Then I decided we would treat Kev by watching this new Muppets film. He had been unable to justify it to himself, assuming it to be a kids' film. It is not. Or it is at least enjoyable by all ages. We three enjoyed it greatly!

I quickly dropped Kev and Peter off at Kev's, collected my accoutrements, and darted off to visit my friend, Mark. He's very kindly asked me to be his Best Man at his wedding in May, but owing to my erratic visits to Wales, I've never met his wife-to-be, Marie. I had intended for this to be a chance to say hi, but their wee Lily, who is only some weeks old, was poorly, and their dog, a somewhat less wee hound, was a bit shouty, so Mark and I adjourned upstairs instead. I hope to remedy that omission next time I'm in Wales! I then fixed a dead headlight, as I happily chanced to have a spare in my glove compartment, and set off home again.

On my way down I had stopped the car. It seemed that my Tom-tom was directing me a way that differed from that which the AA's internet service had suggested. This turned out to be so. But on stopping the car beeped and pinged at me, flashing that there was a problem with the oil. I checked the oil. There wasn't a problem. I continued my journey down. On the way back it pinged and beeped and flashed at me again. I checked the oil. It was fine. I very, very cautiously checked the radiator's adulterated water, not being desirous of covering myself with hot steam or boiling water. It was fine. I decided that the car was lying to me and drove back without any trouble. Bonza!

On the way back I saw a bunny sat on a verge, somewhwere on the road between here and J17 of the M6, and got home after 01:00, which meant I was a bit tired. I was driving up the M5, and kept seeing warnings that the M5/M6 interchange was shut. That is in Birmingham, but there is an alternative route! So I turned onto the M42. I pulled over to use the facilities, and the traffic monitor they have told me that the M42 was shut from the next junction. I don't know whether to curse the halfwits who decided to close both of the motorway routes around one of England's major cities simultaneously or to condemn the idiot who decided to pretend that this had happened and hack computer systems to support his amusing lie. Either way, give me an axe, somebody! So I got home around one in the morning when I would otherwise have been home around midnight. I had some stuff to do online, so was then up until gone four (my brother was up for ages).

In short, I am worn out by a wonderful weekend and by two ridiculously implausible evenings of driving! Happy late Birthday, Kev and Dad! Amanda, Vickie and Lily, it was lovely to meet you all! Peter, Martyn, Mark and everyone else I had already met, it was a delight to see you all again. I love you all! :-)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The worst thing about wargames is the waiting

Specifically, the waiting for PVA glue to dry. It's great stuff, but it does take forever to dry. I usually stick it downstairs, but the folks could be keener on having loose sand scattered about the house. So I am avoiding that by scattering it about a corner of my bedroom. Mm, a great improvement! I have managed to get a little painting done, on the piece of terrain which was most advanced, the faux-pile of crates. The whole piece got a coat of brown housepaint, then I added a little yellow and heavily drybrushed everything, then some cream, then cream on its own, then a grey to the crates. Next I applied a wash of Vallejo black, water and Badab Black to the tarpaulin. It's got quite a nice dusty effect right now, but I'm going to add some weathering powders to make it look a bit nicer. I probably shan't post again until Monday or Tuesday, as tomorrow I am off to Wales, and won't be back until Sunday night. So enjoy these pics in my absence.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Rubble and Ramparts

Everyone loves alliteration . . . for a while, anyway. Before it wears off, I'll get down to the substance of this post. On the rampart front I have done the following. I hot glued the polystyrene to the 2' long bit of wood, then used a bread-knife to carve the slope into the plastic. Then I cut wood to serve as the platform on which the soldiers will stand and to provide false walls and support struts for the trench, and I glued them all in place. I then diluted some PVA and applied a layer of tissue paper, waited for it to dry and then used dilute PVA once more to glue some sand on. I am waiting for that to dry, and then I shall fill in a few gaps and secure the whole with another layer of the watery glue. I've been working on a number of other buildings and ruins, which I've just glued sand to so far. I'll secure that when they're dry, too. Without further ado, pictures!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A Lovely Night Out

I had a really nice time last night. I met again three people I used to know when I was at primary school, so we hadn't seen one another in about twenty years! Two of them are together and have recently found out they're to have a baby, which was delightful news! The third has a charming fiancée, and they're to be married next year, and are looking at Lake Como. I'm a little out of touch, so while everyone else was able to contribute modern personalities and events in the area, I cited Pliny the Younger's love of that country. I'm nothing if not out of touch! :-D Various relatives also turned up, Paul's sister (whom I think I just about remember from school though not very well - which might mean I don't remember her at all, and am filling in blanks in my memory!) and her friend, who were planning to head to a local tapas bar afterwards, and Katie's mother (returned from Dubai, I think I'm right in saying) and her sister (who I assume wasn't in Dubai).

We had a lovely time reminiscing and discussing future plans. The reminiscence I shall recount now is one that concerns me, which I find very funny indeed. All three recall that Daniel, another boy at school, whom I still see from time to time - he's in the TA, has been to Afghanistan once or perhaps twice and is a lovely fellow - anyway, he was giving a demonstration of Ju-Jitsu. I remember when I was little I used to go to classes in a building, probably gone these days, at the foot of a local hill near the centre of town. In this demonstration of Ju-Jitsu Either he was a bit excessive in his force or I was a bit clumsy in my fall. I did some martial arts at uni, and was always a bit poor at breakfalls then, so I suspect the fault is largely mine! Anyway, he threw me over and I was knocked out for ten minutes. The funniest part of that is that while all three of them recall it, I have no memory of it whatsoever!

I mentioned it to Mum and Dad, neither of whom has any recollection of being informed about it either. Tut-tut! I doubt the school would get away with that sort of omission these days. Anyway, no harm done - flooble-ooble, wibbly-bobble blah, as they say. I've had some amusing falls and near falls in my time. The closest I had heretofore believed myself to have come to being knocked out was back at university. I might be conflating two events, but I think all this happened on the same night. Kev, Christian and I drove to Carmarthen to see our Sensei, Tony, or Geordie as I always called him - I was Ginge, obviously.

Christian is thoroughly exuberant about martial arts, and while Kev and I were limbering up doing forward rolls slowly, he was flinging himself forward with great enthusiasm. Having crossed the room a couple of times in this fashion, he then erred, planting his foot flat on the mat and flinging his nose toward it at speed. He spent five minutes in the bathroom and the rest of the night clutching tissues to it. Let that be a lesson to you, children! As that old Roman, the Emperor Augustus was fond of saying, festina lente, which roughly translates as "learn to walk before you run".* So Kev and I were practising with one another the rest of the night. Kev was a sturdy fellow, and thus solicitous of my well-being in throwing me, as I was then a slender little thing. I'm far from that now. If someone threw me now I'd pop like a tomato, I fancy!

Anyway, he asked me if I was sure it was all right if he threw me. I responded in the affirmative, though not without certain trepidation. My body described a beautiful arc, and I slammed right into the mats. I thought it was quite funky, as my vision momentarily disappeared, and I saw only blackness specked with brights spots. I had never understood the phrase "seeing stars" before then, and I always think back to that moment whenever I see it these days. So that was as close as I thought I'd come to being knocked out, but it transpires it had happened yonks ago, and I'd quite forgotten! If I discover I've forgotten anything else, be assured I'll let you know. Maybe. Until next time, folks, be well!

* Literally it means hurry slowly.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Crates and Earthworks

I mentioned Terrain For Hippos the other day, and today and yesterday I have been making a few crates. Here's TFH's original article. I haven't quite followed the original design, as I just don't trust myself to make straight lines, so I've got yet another thing to add to the list of things Lego is great for! I'm very happy with how they've turned out. I recall an idea, though not its originator, I'm sorry to say, for making crates or barrels appear more numerous than they are. The idea was to get a block of polystyrene, arrange crates and barrels at the edges and on the top, then make a spot of tarpaulin over the bits that are the block of polystyrene. I've also started work on a 2' long piece that will be a defensive earthwork when I'm done with it. Lots of drying now! On a less wargamery note, there was a wild rabbit down by the bird table yesterday morning. I managed to get a picture of him through the window, but didn't dare open it as the noise would have scared the poor wee lad. Or lady - I've no idea.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Stolen away by the fairies

I haven't been doing a lot of modelling lately, because I have been diving headlong into reading. As I have remarked on many occasions, my secondary school did a bang-up job of putting me off "classics of literature", but even the sort of indoctrination schools can manage may be overcome! I'm currently engaged on The Three Musketeers, which I had for years believed I had read. School didn't manage to put me off "classics of literature" with swordfights and derring-do in, just ones where nothing much happens. I have been storming into the BBC's "100 books you must read so your educated friends don't think you're a weirdo" list. It might have a different name, and my mates all think I'm nuts anyway. Plenty of my friends refuse to accept that the film American Psycho was a dark comedy,* so I've lost before I've begun, really! Perhaps I read too much Juvenal as a teenager.

Anyway, while reading The Three Musketeers, I have also read The Remains of the Day, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, A Town Like Alice, and am currently a little way into Middlemarch.Slightly longer ago, I read Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, To Kill A Mockingbird and 1984, and on the more frivolous front that new Sherlock Holmes story, The House of Silk, and the utterly bonkers romp that is Decipher. It's been quite a good start to the year, reading-wise! Why all this reading, you may wonder? I don't know myself. I have always enjoyed reading, although it was generally restricted to sci-fi as a result of school. Anyway, I shan't bother to say much on them, as wiser heads than mine have uttered more valuable opinions. I felt Haddon's book didn't live up to the hype, but the other two were delightful. Middlemarch doesn't seem too frightening before, but Mum did worry me by saying she had never managed to drag herself through it, and that Eliot didn't even have Dickens' gift for humour to alleviate her work. A terrifying admonition, if you recall my dislike of Great Expectations!

Fear not, wargaming fans, for yesterday I found, by way of Col Shofer's blog, which collects all sorts of gaming and modelling blogs, an excellent work by an Antipodean wargamer, Terrain for Hippos. It's engaging, full of useful advice and quite inspirational. So I fancy I shall get out the old polystyrene and glue again shortly and stick myself to my bedroom carpet. I should really work elsewhere, but it's so convenient. I did have an unfortunate accident with some mud I was applying to tanks one day. A dark brown concoction of paints, water, sand, weathering powders and glue really does not come easily out of a pale grey carpet. I think I rearranged my furniture and put a bookshelf atop that mess once it was dry! I have newspapers down now, for what good they may do. Come to think of it, I know why I have been reading more. It's because I have very nearly run out of films to watch. Having run out of films, I have nothing to distract me as I sit at my desk, which is why I haven't been doing any painting. Mm, Sherlock Holmes would have worked that out a lot sooner. Right, farewell for now, and I'll try to get some scenery up soon!

* From Wikipedia's article on the film: "Though predominantly a psychological thriller, the film also blends elements of horror, satire, and black comedy."

Friday, 10 February 2012

Victoria Regina Imperatrixque and the BEF

I've moved on from the French, having done those touch-ups and having been unable to find the French dragoons I know exist somewhere in this house! I'm not risking any varnishing with the cold as it is. Lord knows what the varnish would do! I'm at work on Queen Victoria (from Foundry, I think - I believe I got her along with several iterations of Holmes and Watson the other year) and some dismounted BEF cavalry. I'd painted three of these chaps a while ago, and the three newer ones are in a much warmer scheme. I like both in their own ways, but I am a great fan of having slightly variegated units, reflecting the different rates of weathering. There won't be a neat fifty-fifty split in colouring - I shall some day get some more packs of dismounted horse and add a few more unusual shades. I have also been working on some Imperial Guard Heavy Weapons teams for 40K, but I made an ill-considered attempt to use some old Green Ink rather than Thraka Green wash on their armour and missile launchers, and the results are disastrous and far too embarrassing to be seen! :-D Content yourselves for now with these few models while I see about fixing the damage.

Monday, 6 February 2012

French infantry company

We've had some very bad weather lately, which has indirectly kept me inside. I've mentioned before that we have a rabbit, Spot. It's been as low as seven degrees (Celsius) below freezing, so we aren't putting him out in that, no matter how snug his hutch usually is! Therefore, I have been staying up at night to keep him company inside. On the plus side, I have had a lot of time to get this whole bunch of French infantry finished. I'll be using them as a small additional force for GW's Warhammer Historicals or with TFL's Through the Mud and the Blood. Anyway, going by GW's force org stuff, in total there is a company command section of three, beefed up to five by the addition of two men. There are two platoons of ten men, beefed up with an additional two men each. There's also a Major without a hand, waiting for it to be rediscovered from some box, and for me to buy a lot more men so he can have a small battalion under his command. I have noticed a few footling mistakes here, and I'm now heading off downstairs to sit with Spot and do some touching up of these chaps. Enjoy the pics!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Great War: French infantry

I found where a load more of these wee lads had been hiding: another box on a shelf in the corner. I've got another four done to tabletop standard, and have been doing some mass painting work on the others. Everyone got a coat of Necron Abyss Foundation paint, a drybrush with Ultramarine Blue and a lighter one with Ice Blue. Then I washed them with either Leviathan Purple or Asurmen Blue. The famous pantalons rouges are the result of a coat of Macharius Solar Orange painted over with some Ruby Red. They need another coat or two of that, and then they'll get a wash of Baal Red over the top. There's one fella absent from this, as he's missing his right hand - it was a separate piece holding a pistol, and I think I lost it way back when. Anyway, enjoy these pictures!

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