Tuesday 30 December 2014


Well, Christmas has passed, it's now in the hands of the elf-like creature with the conical hat *. The old chap with the scythe and hour-glass is hobbling towards the exit while the chubby cherub in the nappy (US -diaper) is waiting to make his entrance. Time to review the situation.

Readers of my assorted blogs will have seen that there was very little content this year, usually just a note about something that caught my interest as I went along. This is because I've had a bit of a peculiar time lately. A problem with the ticker and various tubes leading to it led to a couple of heart operations, meaning lots of rest and recuperation (MrsJ made sure of that) and assorted pills meant I felt dog-tired most of the time and able to drop into snooze mode at the drop of a hat. Thankfully this period is nearly over and the doc should sign me back into the world soon.

So nothing much has happened in my various hobby interests lately. Admittedly I've pottered about the shed with odd bits of wood, and a few figures have been sent off to be painted for the 19th century armies of Humperstein, but my attention span was such that many of the projects on the go at the start of 2014 are still languishing on various desks at the end of the year. My resolution is to get these finished before starting anything new, so hopefully there will reports of progress appearing here soon. Another thing I've noticed is that during my lazy months I've been spending far too long on this infernal machine and will be restricting access during 2015 (with priority to the blogs and forums I inhabit, general browsing for the sake of it must be held in check!).

So enough of my rabbiting on, You'll be hearing from me, and A Happy New Year to you all,

* Christmas Carol, Dickens.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Christmas is coming

It is difficult to think that the Christmas period will be over in a matter of weeks, and we'll all be thinking of the New Year and all the resolutions it will bring with it.

Every year MrsJ and I have difficulty thinking of things to buy for each other, but this year we are both happy with our choices (we've had to liaise, so no surprises, though I have got something tucked away in the shed (she'll never look there) for the morning in question. She asked me if I'd get her engagement ring enlarged, as her finger is now too big and she wants to wear it next August during daughter's wedding. I was happy to oblige and suggested a reciprocal arrangement whereby she got me something I really wanted. Both sides happy.

My choice is

 a 1/350 scale model of the Flower Class corvette 'HMS Pennywort', known to my late father and his shipmates as 'The Fighting P'. He served in her ,during the recent spot of bother, for all his wartime service, apart from some time at Whale Island at the end, mostly plodding backwards and forwards across the Atlantic shepherding precious cargoes to our shores. Pennywort is one of the ships mentioned in Martin Middlebrook's book 'Convoy'. Unfortunately my father died just before a letter arrived from Middlebrook requesting an interview. I know he would have found the tales interesting - I did, when he was chinwagging with his mates of the RNA when they came round of an evening.
Anyway, I came across this little model advertised on Amazon and it will soon be mine - only a couple of weeks to wait. I shall really enjoy the construction of it, and will be taking extra care over the finish.

That's enough waffling from me, it just remains to wish you all the complements of the season with all the best to you and yours.

Monday 10 November 2014

Model Boat Show

Well, I managed to spend four hours drooling over the model boats at the National Model Boat Show in Leamington yesterday. A lot of it studying the subject of my last post, The Spithead Review, and I can now tell you more about it.

Begun in 1980, with about 600 models to date, the ships are all to a standard scale of 1:200, and are mainly plasticard. They cover the whole history of the ship, from a dug-out canoe and Noah's Ark through ancient Egypt to Medieval and historic vessels to modern ones. Mainly warships, covering the history of the Capital ship, there is a selection of liners, royal yachts, etc. The models are far better than I can attain, though some are showing the results of not being on a base as they are beginning to curl at the waterline. Not noticeable though, unless you get really close. A few photos follow, apologies for the quality of some, but my little camera can't quite cope with some of the close up work.

A few pictures of other parts of the show as well. A barge for the royal music (how soon before the Duke of Tradgardland wants one?) and a nice selection of late 19th century warships.

Finally, there were some novelty items performing on the indoor pool. Among them was a radio controlled swan, and this duck with ducklings, which, we were told, is so lifelike when on it's normal pond, people have tried to feed them.

I hope this has made a change from reporting a wargame show. It's worth seeing (next years dates are November 6th to 8th). It was nice to have a commentator telling us what boats were on the pond, a bit about the model and the original ship. 

Saturday 8 November 2014

Spithead Review

About to head off to Leamington Spa for the Model Boat Show, and notice that one of the stands is labelled as 'The Spithead Review'. I did a quick google and came across this photo of part of what looks like a massive display of miniature ships. I'm taking two pocket cameras and checked the batteries are fully charged, so should have plenty of pictures to show you next entry.

ps, this looks like a totally different display to the well known 'Matchstick Fleet' of Philip Warren, which is occassionaly seen in the south, as the models seem smaller.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Ready Made Imagi-Nations

I've been a bit lethargic of late, not able to stir myself to do anything even though I have a list of jobs (both domestic and hobby related) to get on with. A post from Tradgardmaster on his blog gave me a nudge, so today I got into the garage for a bit of woodwork, starting a log box for son number ones birthday at the end of November. So much for that.

During the hiatus I kept up with various blogs and forums I frequent, probably spending too long doing it, if truth be told, and amongst my browsings I came across the following map.

This shows European countries re-dilineated into areas that have equal populations. My first thought on seeing it was "what a basis for a set of imagi-nations". I don't intend to do anything more with it, but I pass it on just in case it may be of use.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Holiday Excersise

MrsJ and I are having a week caravanning in the Yorkshire Dales. Lots of walking followed by lots of lazing about. Generally recharging batteries ready for MrsJ to start a new job when we get back. One of the areas we looked at was Holmfirth, home of 'Last of the Summer Wine', one of my favourite programmes, and here is a photo of Nora Batty's steps, with Compo's house, now an exhibition on the programme, below it. Unfortunately MrsJ refused to pose with wrinkled stockings.

Thre's no wi-fi at our next site, so that's it till we get home on sunday afternoon. At least I get to watch 'Bake-off' tonight.

Monday 18 August 2014

Early Naval Wargame

As some of you may be aware, another of my many interests is fretwork and the collection of old 'Hobbies' magazine designs. I've recently acquired a dozen from 1912 to 1918, and amongst them is the issue for June 7th 1913, which includes part one of a series called 'The Naval Wargame' by John English. Unfortunately I have no further parts, but can show you the pages for this one.

Reference is made to ".. H.G.Wells' articles in the December and January numbers of The Windsor " and that readers will no doubt have been bitten with the desire to try his game" it states that land warfare in miniature needs much setting out and preparation and that Wells' game makes no provision for infantry fire. 
Then onto the naval game proper.

The ships are made from appropriate pieces of wood, the scale depending on space (indoors or outdoors), and it is interesting that the ships have different speeds (in inches per minute) depending on type. For example, HMS Lion is 14in per minute, while HMS Duncan is 9and a half inches per minute. Turning circle radius is the length of the ship.

Unfortunately that's as far as part one goes. I shall be sending the magazine on to John Curry for his project, and he may be able to find the missing episodes. Of course, if any of my readers know more, please let me know.

After a hectic summer doing 'family' and garden type stuff, hopefully I can get back to my other
(more important) hobbies now the weather is changing? 

Thursday 26 June 2014


For those of you into garden naval wargaming, how about this one I came across last night? Over 100,000 bricks, weighs 14 stone, and 20 feet long. There are more detail photos on the builders flickr page that show the amount of work that has gone into it. Quite a few news reports appear on the listing when you google lego model hms hood.

Unfortunately it makes my poor 24 inch effort look pretty pathetic. I'm just in the process of fitting motor and battery, then off to the local pond for a try out. Only free running unfortunately, no radio control, so I forsee a lot of running about trying to catch her!

Another vessel, this time with radio, will be on the stocks soon. It's a choice at the moment between HMS Exeter at 28 inches, or HMS Vanguard at 25 inches. Perhaps I should ask for a poll?

Wednesday 23 April 2014

I'm still around

I'm being a bit quiet on the military front at the moment, mainly because I've been undergoing some medical procedures involving a part of the chest, and only now are the bruises gone. Then after an Easter trip to the York model railway exhibition I came down with a stomach bug, where the taps at both ends of the body appeared to want to empty every thing inside. Still on a water diet, but feeling better, so, Alan, your query will get worked on soon.

In the meantime, I came across this on the 'Fiddlers Green' website, thought you might enjoy it.

Monday 24 March 2014

My bookcases

Following a post by Tradgardmaster (sp?) over in his Duchy, and as I find myself agreeing with his habit of studying otherb peoples bookshelves , even to the extent of studying them in photos in those 'celebrity house' type magazine articles (sad, I know), I'm popping a couple of pictures in here of some of mine.

First up is an overview of the main collection. This is basically the reference section for my military, woodworking,railway and general volumes. On the opposite wall are two more bookcases containing my bound issues of Model Boats and Railway Modeller magazines, both going back to the mid 50's. (I didn't start buying them till the early 60's but purchased back issues later) The table, just in shot, contains current research for a new model railway based on a projected , but abortive, 19th century. tramway in Lincolnshire.

Then at the top of the stairs I have two smaller hand-made bookshelves containing a more fiction biased collection of old favourites. You can probably see more titles here, when enlarged. There are two other cases in the bedroom, but MrsJ has some space in those.


I came across a new (to me, anyway) blog through TMP yesterday. If I have this is right it is - turkishtoysoldiers.blogspot.com , and obviously seems to cover the subject quite well, I liked the Lego Gallipoli dioramas, and this battleship (of which, no more details).


Tuesday 11 February 2014

A new TV programme

While sitting here nursing a King sized cold I caught the trailers and first episode of a new (to me at least) programme on the Yesterday channel called "The Re-Inventors". Did anyone else catch it?
This seems a similar programme to Mythbusters but the technicians build and try out old inventions. The episode I saw involved a 19th century proposal for a solar powered crematorium! The final 'coming next time' section shows them building a medieval Chinese flame throwere, and the trailers seem to include a number of items with military applications, including a Da-Vinci machine gun and what looked like a Prussia (?) 19the century helmet gun.

I could be worth finding appropriate episodes.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

A serendipidous find

If there is such a word!

While rooting in the loft last night, (we are trying to empty the detritus of years) I came across a box with my son's name on it. On opening it I found four biscuit tins containing, not only his Britains spacemen but a large amount of unpainted original plastic Spencer Smith 'Charge' style figures. Over the next few days I'll be sorting these out and will produce photos of the horde.
It is my intention to dispose of these, possibly bagged up in units, at the original price (1d per infantry, 4dha'penny per cavalry). Any one interested in them, please let me know. It will take some time to sort them out, as they include hatmen, grenadiers, two styles of cavalry (and some Franco Prussin Uhlans) mounted officers and artillery.
Keep your eyes on the blog updates.

To save a lot of problems, I shall just mention that I have been contacted by someone, and will be letting this person have first refusal.

These have now been sent on their way to their new home.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Happy 50th Anniversary to 'ZULU'

As most of us knowm today is the 5oth anniversary of the film 'ZULU', arguably the best war film produced (closely followed IMO by 'Waterloo') and the film that appears to have inspired the wargaming interests of a generation. I had intended to mark the fact by illustrating the cover of a book on the making of the film, but my machine seems to have taken exeption to putting up pictures at the moment, so I'll stick to a brief description.

'ZULU with some guts behind it, the making of the epic movie' by Sheldon Hall and published by Tomahawk Press in 2005.

Some 409 pages with black and white illustrations on many of them, and a colour section, the book covers the initial idea from a magazine article by John Prebble through research and developement, the actual problems of casting, finding locations, extras and props, and the difficulties of filming under apartheid South Africa. Getting the film edited, past the censor, the publicity and reviews, and a section on 'myths,gaffes and spoofs'. There is information on how the filming affected the Zulu participants (something I think tends to get forgotten, after all, it's their history too), their opinions on the story, and the way it helped bring back some of the old pride..

I like all the little snippets included, almost as asides. One that amuses me shows that soldiers are the same world-wide, where part of one of the songs is interpreted as "stick it up his a**e witch-doctor".

Well worth reading, if you can get hold of a copy. Sorry about the picture.