Sunday, January 28, 2018

I had a brief tidy up of bits and pieces preparatory to the usual spring clean and boy will it be needed! Lots of dust as I got out the small turntable and cleaned it up. A quick perusal of my vinyl collection and I now have Genesis 'Then there were Three' playing through the rather tinny speakers but enjoyable all the same. I was prompted after watching a blog by Beerbeard and I thought I will give some of my vinyl an airing. I had given a lot to the local charity shop after my mum had gifted me her old vinyl collection a couple of years ago. She prefers the ease of CD's and wanted the space back. She told me to keep the albums I liked and to give the rest to charity so most of the country music albums were duly passed on. I will give the three albums below a listen as I haven't heard them for some time.

I bought them during the seventies so they have a lot of personal history attached to them and I am loathe to let them go. When we were on our uppers many years ago I sold most of my CD's, some LP's, guitar, put food on the table but I hung onto some of the vinyl. It's odd reading about New Labour and the various groups screaming for his head but he raised the wages for NHS workers and I began to receive a decent wage. Shame he turned out to be a warmonger and in thrall to money...

Yesterdays entry and todays appears to be a reminiscence which I guess says much about my current state of mind. Excuse me whilst I turn the record over...
It was a comment a friend had made and I realised that nearly everywhere I have worked has been erased. Yellow Pages offices in Holloway gone, the old stone mother Friern Barnet Asylum gone and converted into luxury flats, Hill End Hospital gone and now a modern estate of small brick boxes. Many of the teams I worked for no longer exist and the buildings we occupied either gone or used for something completely different. All of my old schools have been removed and once my generation has gone it will be history only. I know it is the way of things and the impermanence of life but I do find it quite sad. Perhaps that explains why I want to be left to my own devices and leave it to the next generation to continue with the mess. I imagine a retired Roman soldier and bureaucrat having the same thoughts back in 418 AD as he looked at the world around him! Plus ça change so enough of this grumpiness. On to the Yes album and I will continue to enjoy this excellent fresh brew coffee.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

I have been having a trawl through my mobile and the photos on it. I forget where my photos are stored: mobile, iPad or digital camera. Hence looking for photos if I am not on the ball can be frustrating especially since I am easily distracted and forget about them.  I am also using this blog as a record of my builds.

  The Matilda 1 with a Mark 6 Light tank I made early last year.. 

I have applied for one job and it is a return to my roots in MH nursing although it also includes forensic work as well. I'll await any response but as I previously stated, I am in no hurry to return to work and I can continue to enjoy my time off. After the last year with poor management, lack of direction and training plus managers quick to blame staff for systemic problems, I want to choose something I will enjoy.

   More recent builds including feline damage repairs!

Talking with friends in various teams and the problems in mental health are national and are increasing. By labelling much of normal human behaviour as a pathology requiring psychiatric intervention plus raising expectations and voila! We have reduced resources attempting to deal with a huge increase in demand. Where once there were three teams with several clinicians in each team, we now have one small team to meet the increased demand county wide. Several staff doing the job performed previously by 25 staff. Madness! No wonder people lose interest as they feel powerless to change anything. 

  The completed Tiger 1with figures.

I guess that I am part of the problem as I admit to having lost interest although colleagues say I remain passionate about my work. I have also withdrawn into my hobbies and often feel like the world can go to hell and I will do my own thing. A sense of just wanting to be left alone. I pop into twitter occasionally as there are some people there I like but most of it is rubbish. FB I now use for a couple of modelling groups and tend to ignore the rest. I am now planning for the spring so that I can escape to the garden and today we bought some wildflower and purple kale seeds. I also have plans to plant a blackthorn bush in one corner as a protection against intruders, for the sloes and to aid wildlife. It is also associated with witches and I am always happy to accommodate them too. Hopefully, now we have a better padlock on the communal alley gate we might see fewer intruders this summer. I also plan to replace our back gate which is now very woebegone. Plenty of fresh air work for the coming spring to get stuck into and blow away the winter blues. But again an escape from the wider world problems.

Finally, a picture from a website of the foyer of my old school...

The upper school building...

All sadly knocked down by the council of whom a prominent member was one Mr J. Corbyn. They don't like educational excellence and despite the school having become a comprehensive it still had many vestiges of the grammar school it had recently been. 

It does look suitable for a Harry Potter movie.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I'm sitting at the computer, full of home made chicken tikka masala (Mrs C prefers mild curries) with the cartoon cat Maisie wrapped around my feet. The boys are out, her daughter is asleep somewhere and with an equally full belly she is content and sociable enough to curl around my feet. Why cartoon cat?

She bears a resemblance to Felix and she has little white socks and a tuxedo. This is the one time where all four cats are nicely positioned for a photo and food wasn't involved. I cropped out Mrs C's head because she won't thank me for including a photo of her. Today, I have completed some futurelearn stuff towards my nursing portfolio and I am perusing the job market. I am looking to return to employment from April and a couple of friends have tipped me off to potential jobs coming up. I'll see what there is on offer.  My right knee is causing me some difficulties and I am trying out short walks with rest and my leg elevated. I shan't bother my GP because I already know I need to lose weight and that at my age I shouldn't attempt to climb even small fences! But the mobility problem is causing me some concern and I had best address it. For this evening though I shall relax, have a beer and then watch one of the few TV programmes that still gives me pleasure. I know it is ropey old tosh but I thoroughly enjoy it, it is a chance to suspend belief for a couple of hours and sink into a world that no longer exists, if it ever did!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Please contain your excitement folks. Yes, it's a modelling update!

The Hotchkiss H35 completed last week and I used some pastel chalks for the first time to add dust from the early days of operation Barbarossa. I had considered painting it in French camouflage for the 1940 campaign but I shall save that for when I buy a similar kit for a future diorama. Having just read up on the 1940 French campaign and reacquainted myself with what can only be described as dreadful leadership and wishful thinking at that time, I will look at further kits from that time. Many British and French troops acquitted themselves well whereas others...So many 'What if' situations but c'est la vie.

The other kit as a work in progress is the Italian L6/40 light tank. Another small tank that was obselete by the time it came into production but a favourite of mine for it's quirky look (All the Q's today!). It looks like an agricultural vehicle given an armoured makeover. Some brush painting started and I shall use the airbrush to complete the body before weathering, etc...


I might paint it as one of the Italian tanks used on the Russian front circa 1942 but they were in service up until 1945 in Yugoslavia and Italy by the Germans, Croats and Partisans. Also by the Italians until the early 1950's. But there is the North African desert colour scheme option and I might use that for a future diorama with the Eighth Army. There are videos out there of some chap who builds models and sprays them gold or silver which is quixotic to say the least but each to their own! Somewhere in South East London there is a patch of spare ground with a rainbow coloured T34 tank parked on it. Apparently the owner of the land was refused permission years ago by the council to build a house on it so he bought a tank, parked it up with the cannon pointed in the direction of the town hall and rude messages painted on it as an 'Up yours!' statement.

'Stompy' with photo from this site and a brief history about it.

Perhaps I'll buy a cheap model tank and paint my own Rainbow Warrior!


Sunday, January 14, 2018

A brief walk around a local nature reserve / RAF bombing range earlier today to stretch my legs and get some fresh North Sea air into my lungs. No seal that I could see and I believe they have all moved on. Plenty of birds and assorted dogs with their respective owners but despite the lack of any sea breezes it did blow away the cobwebs. No sign of any aircraft dropping bombs or other assorted military hardware but an unusual combination to say the least!

Sadly, this was encountered on my way home and a detour was required. Hopefully the people involved are ok but if an air ambulance attended it sounds serious. I had intended to visit Skidbrooke church and take some photographs of the supposedly haunted church but I shall save that trip for a weekday when there will be fewer people around. Time for a cup of hot tea and feet up.


Friday, January 12, 2018

I am departing from my usual armour models although the two tanks I had been working on are pretty well completed. The above shows a Viking ship kit I bought very cheaply on evil bay. The delivery charge was more than the kit! It is tiny and as I subsequently discovered the mast is missing as are the instructions. With only seventeen parts I am unlikely to make any major errors in assembling this. I have done some background reading, looked at umpteen pictures of various Viking era ships and I have a better idea as to the colour scheme, rigging and assorted extras I will add including a material sail to replace the plastic one. I shan't bother with figures because the model itself is not much larger than my mobile phone! It's a bit of fun and I will attempt to do this old kit some justice with a decent rendering of an old Viking vessel.

Mrs C has been very poorly this past week with some horrible leurgy and confined to the sofa with daytime television. Mainly American crime re-enactment shows plus ropey old B movies. With the grey, damp miserable weather and the post Xmas ennui it has been a very quiet household. The moggies have either plonked themselves on her or are gathered about me near the radiator. Touchwood we have avoided the flu thus far although Mrs C has sensibly taken to carrying a hand sanitiser with her when she has gone out. I have been out walking each day but sadly since my fall the walks have tended to be short and local because of the discomfort in my right knee. Some days are better than others but it's frustrating as I can have a couple of good days and believe I am making progress. Then this morning where I had to walk slowly and I eventually cut it short and returned home, limping and enviously eyeing up the walking sticks carried by various pensioners! Diet and gentle exercise will be the order of each day.

I have also started to peruse the job adverts but no hurry to return and I enjoy having little to do unless I choose to do it. It's only six weeks since I finished but it feels much longer and last year feels a bit surreal, like it was a dream (Nightmare!) and I will step out of the shower and discover it didn't really happen. Odd that and hard to explain. I am off to watch that historical documentary about the Vikings with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis playing the leads for further tips.


Thursday, January 04, 2018

Blue Witch asked a good question about why I model tanks and I gave a brief response about childhood hobbies / obsessions in the comments. But, I really had never given any real thought as to why tanks and military vehicles. I had collected and painted metal English Civil War figures also and I haven't returned to them. I might do because as BW pointed out space is becoming an issue. I intend to find a second hand glass fronted cabinet for the collection and to protect them from dust and the moggies so I will be scouring second hand shops locally and further afield. There is also the possibility of finding models for sale as Mrs C. pointed out!

     A11 Matilda 1 completed and ready for base coat painting as shown in the second photo.

I lost or did not receive the machine gun for the model so I scratch built one out of sprue and a paperclip. It does the job and so far I am pleased with my first resin build. It is tiny and having to use superglue plus tiny parts was frustrating at times. I have learnt a lot from this one small kit and the next stage is further layers of paint and camouflage plus some light weathering. There are no decals so the numbers, etc...will be interesting. A fellow modeller and I had a discussion about this particular tank and how the 1/35 scale model retails at approximately £70. Hence I opted for the very much cheaper and smaller scale. We also discussed the main battle the Matilda 1 and 2 participated in during the Blitzkrieg, The Battle of Arras in May 1940. When you consider these were primarily small, light, slow tanks crewed by two men and carrying machine guns only it is astonishing how successful they were in this one battle despite eventually having to retreat. That is in part an answer to why I build model tanks. The history, the stories from why and how they were built (Cheap!) to how they were used or sadly, in the case of both the BEF and French forces, how they were misused and the opportunities lost by poor and often inadequate leadership during the French and Belgian campaigns of 1940. It's a long time since I read the campaigns and I have ordered a couple of second hand books about it from evil bay. A further answer is that I can relate to machinery and vehicles but I opted for tanks instead of formula 1 (boring) or the latest supercars. No.1 son and LE both enjoy formula 1 but I don't get it. In the same way that others apart from fellow enthusiasts don't get my liking for tanks. I also like steam engines, old motorcycles and old cars but I have no interest in trains although I saw a model of an old Fordson tractor that piqued my interest. I learnt to drive one aged 12 years so seeing a close facsimile of one will inevitably result in me buying the kit one day!


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Welcome to 2018 and a belated Happy New Year!

I didn't post earlier because despite drinking very little on New Years eve I had an almighty headache which lasted all day. It might have been chocolate withdrawal because I ate a lot of that over the Xmas period. I did stay up very late because some extremely loud and close fireworks freaked the cats out and two of them decided to cower and then sleep on me in the armchair.
My resolution for 2018 is to carry on just carrying on as usual. I have to lose weight but that is every year so I shan't bore you with that. I have booked a couple of online courses with Future Learn and I intend to walk more this year. Sadly, todays weather consists of copious amounts of wet stuff coming from the clouds and following yesterdays dreadful headache I am taking things very slowly today.

I am currently building a very small model of the above tank, an A11 Matilda Mk1 and it looks like this at the moment...

That is a cork and yes, it is very small at 1/76 scale, made of resin and the air was very blue this morning. Nimble, agile and dextrous are not apt descriptions for the paws I use to craft the very delicate pieces for this kit. As it is resin it requires CA glue. Good old superglue and between sticking my fingers together, losing an important part and breaking other parts, I eventually got one track attached. I now have sore fingers. I am doing the build for myself but also for a modelling group build I joined via farce book called 'Grumpy Old Modellers'. Members from all over the world, mainly men because we are sad creatures with strange fixations and the primary aim is building models, sharing tips and experiences and having fun. I like that I can engage in conversation with people from all over the world and any differences do not matter.  The rules for this particular group build is that it is out of the box and no after market parts / additions allowed.  I should perhaps have picked an easier build but I like a challenge!

Alongside the group build I have another kit to complete but for that I have bought aftermarket tracks so it is a slow build. Individual tracks take time and this Hotchkiss H35 and the Matilda Mk1 are both from the Battle of France during May 1940. When I have completed them both I shall post pictures up showing the respective scales and why I prefer 1/35 scale (Eyesight!).

In other news I do have my eye on a small camper van  but I am mulling over my options. It's an old vehicle and after the costs when I bought the Lexus I am wary of getting my fingers burned again financially. However, it's an old Renault Kangoo and they are considerably cheaper than an old Lexus where parts and labour is concerned. It is also local so that makes negotiations much easier as well as test driving it. We shall see...