Saturday 21 December 2013

Compliments of the Season

Although I've been very lax and inactive for a while (getting a finger on the right hand caught between a hard piece of wood and a very sharp blade!) as I've had to visit the doc's surgery on a weekly basis, I have been keeping up with the various blogs I follow, gaining inspiration and planning next years projects, while trying to finish those from the current years schedule. Many thanks to the writers for their well appreciated efforts, I may not comment every time, but you do get read.

My Christmas card is a little different this year, as a little bit of nostalgia. This drink was a mainstay when we kids used to spend the school holidays being looked after by grandma while the grown ups were working. The taste was unique and I was always fascinated by the picture on the bottle. I read that the drink was originally produced at the armie's request as something quick and easy to produce when out in the field (what was wrong with tea, for goodness sake?)  I didn't realise it was still around (£1.70 from Tescos evidently), I must look out for it next time.
Unfortunately the label fell into the hands of the PC brigade, and it has had to be changed, first by removing the tray from the Sikh's hand, and finally to letting the two figures share the seating arrangements.
So, may you be overfed, overwatered, and not overworked during the next few days, normal service should be resumed in the new year.
ps. A Merry Christmas to Captain Widdrington, wherever his travels happen to have taken him at the moment. He seems to have forgotten to post any reports lately, I hope he hasn't been sidetracked by the various ladies heseems to meet!

Monday 25 November 2013

A Quandary

One of the benefits of doing voluntary work at a charity warehouse is the amazing variety of 'stuff' that comes in from all kinds of people. We get all kinds of board games, and these must all be checked for missing pieces, if incomplete, the game is recycled. I try to make sure useful pieces come my way, but this isn't often. Recently I managed to pick up a complete IKEA slatted blind which will make many bases for my small scale cavalry, but a couple of weeks ago I turned up to be told that a donation of games material had arrived and would I look at it.

It looked as though a retailer had had a clear out, among about 30 large boxes were many containing brand new jigsaws (no need to count the pieces) and expensive chess/mah jong/ backgammon sets (one of which retailed at £120) and childrens board games (Ludo/snakes and ladders/mousetrap/etc.), but also many games and books relating to the Dungeons and Dragons ethos, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and so forth. As well as two boxes full of Fantasy miniatures from the likes of Reaper. I just wish I had the time to sort through them, but persuaded the manager that e-bay was the place for them. They will be appearing over the next few weeks, I assume. Already some of the books have gone on, and I believe enquiries have come from as far as the other side of the Ocean.

Among the debris were three large boxes of miscellaneous clutter. Games pieces, poker chips, and many, many dice (die?).

These photos show only about half of the stuff, as there's another box full. I rescued these, having paid a miserly £10, which included a complete counter display rack of model paints and brushes!! rather than have them disappear into landfill.

The problem is, there are far too many bits for me to ever find a use for, so how do I dispose of them? Current possibilities are -
a) put them into 'job lots' and sell them on the hospice's behalf through e-bay.
b) offer them to the local wargames clubs.

Can anyone suggest something else that is fairly straitforward, relatively easy, and won't cost a packet. I pass the problem to your collective minds in the surety that you'll come up with something.

ps. I'm keepin the paints to myself, especially now the UK mail services are restricting the postage on these.

Thursday 7 November 2013

What am I Reading?

Because of the weather, a little part-time work, and Mrs.J's redundancy I have been rather sidetracked over the last few weeks, but have noticed a few bloggers filling out details of a recent book survey. My answers are apt to change on a day-to-day basis, so I have resisted temptation to answer in full, but I have 10 bookcases of various sizes scattered about the house, the 27th book from the left in the one on the landing is, strangely enough, a copy of the Bible (we appear to have three in the house), and the author I have read most of is Terry Pratchett (probably because he has been so productive).
The item I'm reading at the moment, having just finished Conn Iggulden's 'Stormbringer' - and I look forward to the reast of the series - is this -

Non UK residents may not know the name, but Al Murray is a well-known and well-educated comedian with an alter-ego as a pub landlord. I find him hilarious. He has written the above book which I dipped into in the local bookshop, and I think it could be something along the lines of 'Achtung Schweinhund' for interest, though covering war films and their accurate portrayal of historical events.

The blurb - in full - says "Have you ever watched a film with someone who, at the most dramatic scene, argues that the plane on screen hasn't been invented yet? Or that the tank rumbling towards the hero at the end of the film is the wrong tank altogether?
Al Murray is that someone. Try as he might, he can't help himself.

ps - the little collection of 'Monty' pictures is something totally unexpected.

Something else I picked up at the library today (if you don't use it, you lose it) was this

It's an area of history I'm not too familiar with. Yes, I knew we'd burnt the White House and I read C.S.Forester's book on the naval war many years ago, but apart from that, nothing. I look forward to reading this book over the next couple of weeks.

According to the Daily Telegraph review section last saturday, publishers are releasing around 1000 books on WW1 over the next twelvemonth, to cover the anniversary of the beginning of WW1. In my mind we are 'celebrating' four years too early, as it should be the end of the war we look back on, rather than the start. Just my opinion.

Friday 18 October 2013

e-bay items of interest?

As I've mentioned, one of my other interests is fretwork and I have a standard saved search on my e-bay files. These two popped up today. I already have these in my collection, but someone else may be interested in checking them out.
two forts in the old style.
four military vehicles.

Further details can be found by going to - hobbies plans - newly listed.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

A couple of photos

I see Captain Widdrington, our roving Military Observer, has been getting some action, in more than one sense of the word. Perhaps not everything will be going in his official reports? His latest exploits in Svennhasselstein can be viewed over at  the Megablitz and others blog, and on the Funny Little Wars forum, courtesy of Tim. Gow. Thank you. Who knows where he'll turn up next? he certainly hasn't told his office.
                                         photo 'borrowed' from Tim, if that's ok?

Next, a request. Over the past few months I've been trawling through my late mother's cache of family photos. Most are fairly recent (i.e. post war) but among some of the older ones is this.

Taken, according to the back, by G.W.Lawrie & Co, of Lucknow, Naini Tal, Bareilly and Ranikhet.
Obviously a family member, but no-one seems to know him. Can anyone help identify the uniform? I don't know if it shows up, but the trousers seem to have 'tartan' style lines on them. I have a swagger stick with a Staffordshires crest on it, which could be the one in the photo, but I can't place the badge.
Any assistance would be appreciated.
(ps, family scuttlebutt has a vaguely remembered 'Uncle Arthur', who, on his demise, had three women claim a widows pension!! I like to think this is him, using his various postings - "I have to go out to Inja for a couple of years, me dear. See you then"

Thursday 29 August 2013

More Rifle Volunteers

It has been a while since I put anything up here. I blame the gorgeous weather we've been having, as not being conducive to painting indoors. However, MrsJ and I have just spent 7 days up in the Lake District in the caravan, just by the shores of Lake Coniston, and in the odd bits of spare time I've managed to paint a couple of prototypes for a new Rifle Volunteer unit.

As some of you may know, I continue my search for an ideal figure to fulfil the role of the early style uniform, utilising the long frock and low shako (though some of the units had variations on coat and headgear which makes the search interesting). Recently while trawling e-bay I came across a box of Armies In Plastic ACW Confederate Marines which seemed to fit the bill, so ordered one. 20 figures including two officers - the makings of two units if they worked.

Digging out my references I found this

from CD 17 - Britain's Volunteers of the 1860s.

Some work with a small model railway track pin and some miliput produced plumes, and I was able to paint up one officer and a rifleman. I took a few liberties with the equipment colouring, but the essentials are there. Now I have to do the rest of the unit, then the second one will have pom-poms rather than plumes, and a different base colour (I'm thinking the green of the Robin Hood Rifles).

I shall have to do something about the officers double breasted jacket though.

I've made myself a promise that I won't start any more paint jobs till I've finished the seven already on the go are completed! This is on top of all the other things going on in the shed concerning model railways and model boats. I thought retirement was supposed to be a life of ease and reflection?

Thursday 25 July 2013

FLW Artillery Park

Going off to the Norfolk Broads in the caravan for the weekend after lunch, but while MrJ is busy packing it full of far too much food and a few bottles of wine (don't drink it myself, but we are expecting visitors) I managed to get the spray paint out and cover the illustrated guns and limbers in a uniform grey. These will form my basic FLW artillery units. I know the guns are non-firing so I'll have to use the dice system.

The models are from the Langley range and needed quite a bit of tidying up before painting. I've noticed this with their figures as well, so perhaps they are not so interested in the range any more, but concentrating on their model railway stuff. More about this when I get round to my next cavalry unit.  The artillery crews are half painted on the desk and I'll finish them off when I get back.

So, until Tuesday,

Wednesday 24 July 2013

HMS Thunderation.

It has been a very hot couple of weeks, and not a lot has been done, though I have picked up the reins of a project I started a couple of years ago, and it has been neglected since. I've promised myself a working model of a pre-dreadnought battleship for years, and a recent trip to Woodbridge regatta meant seeing the Model Boat Club out on the pond. This rekindled my interest and in a burst of 'do it now before losing momentum' I signed up to join. This means I need a boat!
In the shed, on a back shelf, I had a started hull for HMS DEVASTATION, started some time ago from NMM official plans, which, as they were a combination of two ships 'Devastation' and 'Thumderer', I'd called HMS Thunderation. The following photo shows progress to present, and I expect (hope) to have a water going model by spring.

The model is some 22 inches long and I'm not sure of the scale offhand. Progress is not going to be swift, but I shall keep you informed now and then.
For those interested in such things, I recommend a website  especially the little video where the ship is put together piece by piece, with all the internals falling into place.                                            

Sunday 30 June 2013

A hot weekend

MrsJ  recently expressed a desire to get away for a weekend in the caravan, so I obliged by booking a couple of nights at a site in Bearsted, just of the M20 near Maidstone. I did tell her that I had an ulterior motive, and that was a visit to Chatham Historic Dockyard, some 20 minutes away. She thought it would be a short visit leaving time to go somewhere else!

We arrived about 10.15 to a nearly empty carpark, paid our fees (one and a cheap oldie) and spent the next 5 hours there. As we left the entrance building we saw the three historic ships that can be roamed around. HMS Gannett, the epitomy of Victorian gun-boat diplomacy currently being restored (I hope they fit replica engines, the boiler room looks so empty) and I took a few photos of the interior.
photo taken from bridge of HMS Cavalier
booked a timeslot for a tour of HMS Ocelot, the Cold War submarine (I know submariners were volunteers, I didn't realise they had to slightly barmy too). Various little snippets from the guide - crew only allowed one change of clothing, often wore same clothes all week then turned underwear inside out for a second week, 21 crew members living/sleeping/eating in a room not much larger than my garage, - I realise that those old films don't exaggerate the crowded conditions at all.
An audio tour of the 1940s/50s destroyer HMS Cavalier. we covered the whole ship from deck to bridge. Again, surprising how cramped everything was.

Mrs J to give a sense of scale. According to my memory of the information plaque (nothing to write with) this is a scale model of a Kilo class submarine, and was one of those used in the Bond film "Thunderball". We also saw a model of HMS Victory used in the film "That Hamilton Woman", again larger than expected.

A tour of the Ropery, still producing rope commercially but under private enterprise, was a joy. Our lady guide became a Victorian ropewalk worker and went through the whole process, ending up with assorted group members helping make a rope. It must have been extremely noisy when going flat out, and no Health and Safety either.

The various "show sheds" of models and paintings didn't allow photography, and though there were only a few of the models on display from the NMMs collection, it was possible to look through a window into an environmentally controlled  storeroom and see others. I believe that if you want to view a particular model this can be arranged In advance.

All in all, an enjoyable day, and MrsJ says that she wasn't too bored by it. I'll have to go somewhere feminine now, to repay her.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Book of the Month (really a DVD)

Things are quiet chez Joppy at the moment, holidays and outdoor projects taking precedence. However, I have just taken delivery of a recent DVD issue which may be of interest to those of you with FLW interests.

                                                     Virgin of the Secret Service
Some of you of a certain age and with long memories may remember this series from the 1960s, but here is a reminder. The box holds 4 discs containing the complete series of 13 episodes. I have only watched the first so far so the comments are based on that.

The series is set in the early 1900s (pictures of Edward V11 on barrack walls) in the early days of the Secret Service under the guidance of Colonel Shaw-Camberley, and Captain Robert Virgin (Clinton Greyn) is the pseudonymous hero, aided by his batman Doublett (John Cater) and an attractive lady 'journalist/spy' Mrs Cortez (Veronica Strong). Their antagonist throughout the series is the wily free-lance villain Karl Von Brauner (Alexander Dore).Their adventures take them from the North West Frontier to Russia, Brazil, India, Egypt and other places, safeguarding frontiers, protecting secrets and thwarting assasinations.

The episodes are in black and white, though there are colour photos on the jacket, so perhaps the later episodes are colour. Don't expect modern 'Spooks' style programming. The photography is decidedly dodgy and the acting is very OTT and 'hammy', Carry on up the Khyber is a masterpiece in comparison. The dialogue is long-winded and static appearing to be very much tongue-in-cheek with fighting sequences being very staged. I think the writers saw this as a comic show rather than drama.

Having said all that, I think all aficiondos of FLW would enjoy the series, and it could produce some scenarios (exploding sweetmeats delivered to the British commanding officer) or character possibilities (the colonel who thought a game of polo more important than the safety of the frontier).

My copy came from Simply Home Entertainment - - at £34.99

Monday 27 May 2013

A few oddments

It is MrsJ's fault really, she suggested it! One of the projects I'd planned for this year was the building of a sectional surface to fit over our flap-top dining table, giving me a square gaming table. Recent events, beginning with the collapse of the sofabed in the spare room and ending with our recent caravan trip to France, led her to suggest that we a) bought a couple of camp beds rather than a new put-u-up, and b) we needed a larger folding table for our awning.
This is the first fruits. Opened, as here, it is 2'6" x 6, and you can see a unit of 54mm rifle volunteers sitting on it'. What MrsJ doesn't know is that I have a second one on order. This will give me a beautiful table that fits the room with space to move. Pity about the gap in the middle, but a cloth should hide that.

Second, I promised myself that I would stick to my three eras and projects. No willpower, you see. It was the sight of the Toytown tables in the photos of Triples (various blogs) that did it. I sent an order off to Eureka. Eventually the land of Blytonia will have two small armies, Army Red and Army Blue, based at Fort Not and Fort So respectively. but that is fo9r the coming winter. No more for now.

While I was rooting round the shed this week I came across an old margarine tub full of bits and pieces, amongst these were some old GW dwarf miners, a few 54mm Brtains railway figure recasts, some GZG 'steampunk' figures (now I believe part of the Eureka line, and those shown below (forgive poor photo)
I think they are supposed to be Waterloo Life Guards, but three seem to have lost their swords, and the paint job is atrocious, possibly never finished. Does anyone recognise them or can suggest a good home.
Finally, just to show the problems I create for myself, here is a picture of the worktop side of my shed showing the chaos created by the various projects currently on the go (at least 5 by my count).

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Military Observers - Part 2

I've dug out a suitable figure from my collection. One that I know isn't around too much. He is a constable of the RCMP in the late 1800s, mastered for me as a kit by Keith Over of Whittlesey Miniatures a long time ago when I 'did' a toy soldier range. I think I only sold a couple at the time, though I still have a few kits left which I hope to use eventually. I see that I painted this one back in 2003.
I hope to get a note up on the FLW forum as well, so that interested parties can put their two penn'orth into the equation.

This is Captain Sir William Widdrington of Her Majesty's Observer Corps, on his mount 'Trumper' ( he really should be kept out of the brussel-sprout fields). His passport is ready, paperwork produced and suitable transport prepared. Soon he will be on his way to his first posting (pun intended). I hope he will have a wide and varied journey. It will be interesting to see where his travels take  him.

Monday 20 May 2013

Military Observers

Just a thought I throw out for consideration and response.

One of my other hobbies is railway modelling (not that I get much done) and one of the groups I follow have been sending a wagon round, photographing it on the various layouts it visits.

I wondered if there would be any interest in my sending out a figure (54mm, Victorian) to act as Military Observer at various sites occupied in Funny Little Wars style operations. If I were to send him to the first, he could be photographed in some situation and passed on to a site of visitee's choosing, and so on, eventually returning to me. His progress could be followed through the various blogs, and I could keep a diary running as to where he is.

Any thoughts?

Rested and Recuperated

Well, we're back from our 10 day sojourn around France. We thought our convoy of three caravans along the French roads was bad enough (try keeping station when your tail-end Charlie and get caught at every red light going!) but one site we stayed at had 8 motorhomes running a 'Doggy Tour of France' - I kid you not, they had a sign to say so.

Anyway, apart from shopping, (how can you visit supermarkets three days out of four?) I managed to squeeze in one or two of the D-Day sites, Juno Beach, Arromanches and Mulberry Harbour, and Pegasus Bridge. Will have to go back - alone - soon to cover the rest. We had a trip to Caen, but that was more shopping. Even MrsJ was a bit fed up with it by then. I did get a walk round the outside of the castle.

I had hoped to do some painting, even made a gadget for it, but the rest of the party were socialisers full time, so I only managed about an hour all told, before they rose in the mornings. I now have a batch of half painted figures to complete.
This sits at the front of the van on the small flap between the seating. Good light but bad sitting position. When travelling it goes on the floor at the front, when not in use it sits on the bed. It will be coming out again soon.

When we got back our daughter phoned to say that while we were away she'd got engaged. Long time boyfriend, so no problem.

Sunday 5 May 2013

Holiday coming up

MrsJ and I, along with some friends, are disappearing on Monday for 10 days in Northern France. The laptop is going with us, but contact depends of wi-fi operation and time available. In the meantime chez Joppy is in the care of our daughter and the beast of Sudbury!

This pony is only a pup, with but two thoughts, "play" and "slobber", and his tail is lethal to anything at coffee table height. Daft as a brush, and you need to wash your hands on a regular basis, as he drools over everything and everyone..

See you on the 20th of May.

New 18th Century Blog Started

I originally promised three eras of figures; the 54mm turn of the 19th century, the 25/28mm early 19th century, and a 30mm 18th century. The first two of these are up and running (albeit slowly) and I tried to integrate the third as a separate part of my Grand Duchy of Humperstein blog, but had quite a problem getting posts into the right place. So I've started up a third blog to cover it. This can now be found at  duchyofhumpersteinintheageoflace.blogspot. Some of the posts are transposed, with slight amendment, from my other two blogs, to keep things complete. Feel free to take a look, comment, follow if you like.

Thursday 25 April 2013

New Plans

I've placed an entry on my other blog, Tales from the Grand Duchy of Humperstein, concerning plans for an 18th century project (if you can't beat em, join em) if you feel like checking it out.

I was planning on doing a cut and paste job onto the 18thC page, but can't work out how to do it. How do I make entries into a second page of a blog? I can't find an entry point. Probably looking in the wrong place, can anyone help? Thanks

Saturday 30 March 2013

Spring is here!

Officially it is Spring here in the UK. Unofficially the weather is still undecided. We get days of beautiful sun followed by days when it tries to snow, all of them perishing cold. (It has been 3 degrees in my shed overnight lately). This is a photo of MrsJ admiring the gardens and cascade at Chatsworth House last weekend. When we went up there with the caravan on the thursday it was beautiful, we woke the following morning to this! As we'd pre-booked our tickets we drove across the hills from Newark to Chatsworth and back. Satu
rday we came back home, thankfully dual carriageway main road all the way, rather than stay up there the rest of the weekend.

Anyway, this post was originally to point you towards an update on my other blog, thegrandduchyofhumperstein.blogspot.  so please visit and comment. Suggestions welcome.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Military Figure Auction

As someone who has occasionaly sent stuff to this auction house, I get regular notifications of their next auctions. For those who like to indulge in some browsing I post a link to the one they will be holding on Friday March 22nd. This is a 'Military and Civilian Figures' sale, and includes various makes and types of toy soldiers and civilians in both metal and plastic, Airfix kits, waterline ship models, and books and ephemera. The last are usually sold in batches, so you have to possibly decide if you want a duplicate of something you already have in order to get a title you want. I do not comment on the estimates, but from past experience they are pretty accurate though some lots don't sell.

For those who have enquired, I am now feeling much nearer to normal now. Painting has reccomenced, I've been looking at the lead mountain (though not touching) and planning future aquisitions, while trying to sort out the various dynasties involved in the Heptarchy project. Things are looking up.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Little People

While browsing today I found this site, couldn't resist showing you this picture from it. I mailed the site details to my daughter and she liked the 'footprint in the snow' picture best! No accounting for taste. Visit and be amused.

Monday 4 March 2013

Book of the Month - Funcken

I can't seem to shake of this blessed chest infection I've had since January, but hope the better weather will help. So not a lot of model or painting activity going on. Meantime, here is another book from my shelves. This one is a little known member of the Funcken catalogue, I don't know if it ever appeared in an English edition.

The title is 'Les Soldats de la Revolution Francaise' and was published in 1988 by Casterman. It's not the usual format, being more of a landscape format than portrait, but we still get the illustrations on the right page, with text on the left.

French Line troops - in Tarleton helmets

                                                                     Semaphore tower

                                                                   and the Airforce

There are also some full page pictures of revolutionary unit flags of the time, and a small section on the loyalist 'enemies of the revolution'.Unfortunately the book needs rudimentary french and a good french-english dictionary, so isn't ideal bedtime reading.

please excuse the quality of pictures, I seem to have a glare from somewhere.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Book of the Month

For various reasons I've got very little done this month. My schedule for January is already three weeks behind! So, for lack of anything else, here is another volume from my bookshelf.

Covenant With Death, by John Harris, originally published in 1961, is one of my favourite items of fiction from WW1 (along with the African Queen and Brown on Resolution). This novel covers the story of what is basically a 'Pals' batallion from the north of England, following it from the early days of the war, through recruitment and training, initial actions in the Middle East, and finally to the first day of the Somme. The last chapter, concerns the few survivors of the day returning and the welcoming officers realising how few there are coming back. I've allways thought this book would make an ideal TV series as a centenary project for the BBC (but perhaps Blackadder did it better?)

Now a technical query for you expert bloggers out there. I'm hoping to add some extras, and would like to include the 'labels' I see on other blogs. Question is, once I get the gadget up and running do the headings come up automatically, or do I break entries down as I put them on?