Sunday, November 24, 2019

An early start with the modelling today as I used the window of opportunity afforded to me as the various cats explored their demesne which in their minds encompasses various neighbouring properties, the school and undoubtedly access to their river.

I airbrushed some sky blue to the underneath of the Ventura with the window and back door open, my face mask on and ensuring it was a quick job. I also ensured the parts still on the sprues were sprayed and then attended to brush painting some other parts.

Given this bloody cough I am being careful with my exposure to spray paint. Blue Witch gave me some useful advice about adding a few drops of Vicks / menthol crystals to a bowl of boiling water and this certainly helps. My reply included a reference to my childhood and my mother stating I had suffered with asthma as a child which I cannot recall. I certainly remember having an asthma attack aged eighteen but that was 'Farmers lung' from helping to move hay bales on a farm in Yorkshire on a very hot day. I also cannot go into enclosed spaces with caged birds as that causes me breathing difficulties. Certainly the best decision I ever made was to quit smoking 34 years ago. My childhood home was an interesting one where we shared a house with two other families. Not separate flats as the house was completely open with a shared bathroom and when we moved to the ground floor we had an outside toilet. No central heating, single paned windows, live-in mice and plenty of fresh air ventilation in the walls. For heating we used paraffin heaters and had blankets, coats, cover our beds at night for warmth. We weren't any different from many of the other immigrant families in our area in this regard. Even now I think back and it was normal, this was all we knew.

That brings up further thoughts if one considers that as poverty which oddly enough I didn't think so at the time. There is also poverty of ideas, of opportunities for people from my background which I didn't become aware of until I was an adult in my twenties. One thing really brings this home to me and that was the series Time Team. I realised quickly that I would have loved to work as an archaeologist but as a teenager I had no concept of that or awareness that I could go to university and study archaeology. The boys in my school who went to university generally came from middle class backgrounds with parents supportive of and keen for their kids to attend university. Did I resent it? No, it never occurred to me to be envious of others and I believed it was the way the world worked. Deferred gratification was certainly known to me from my sociology lessons from a Socialist Belfast teacher who drove an old Porsche which made us kids chuckle. I did eventually go to uni and I studied History but did not complete my degree as impending parenthood focused my attention on earning money and providing a home. I studied with the Open University and added further to my education in health and social care. Then other universities on day release to the point where I now have post grad qualifications. What I find bizarre is that it took me so long to realise I can study and do more, that the limitations are generally those in my own mind. Then I realise that it is ignorance and a mindset where I felt this was a separate alien world to the one I inhabited. Ironically, I was a permanent fixture at my local library where I devoured all sorts of books which did give me an education of sorts to add to my formal education. Historical books, biographies, Science Fiction, science books, etc...All was grist to my mill and as I now know, an escape from the everyday world, particularly home with a drunken violent father.

This now leads to thoughts about what I would like to do next. For work purposes I now attend work related short courses, usually cognitive behavioural therapy or associated therapies generally for 2 - 3 days as this fulfils the criteria for my nurse registration. I still enjoy history and it is that I want to study again but for enjoyment. It might be that when I retire finally I can use the WEA and other agencies for local histories. For now, I have no option but to work for the next year at my full time job but it's healthy to not only consider where I have come from but what I would like to do next.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Not the best of weeks as Sue is exhausted from her treatment and I still have an irritating cough. So we have had a week of sleeping with the cats generally camped on or around us apart from my last two days at work. The latter was interesting as there are mutterings amongst the staff. I would not be surprised to find a few people have moved on by this time next year as people are unhappy. Just a quick note about the election campaign and the NHS...there are no extra staff, there is no extra money and the politicians saying that are liars *cough* Hancock *cough*. We are doing more and more with fewer staff and resources but enough about the election. I made the mistake of looking through twitter yesterday and I think I might leave it alone for the foreseeable future. As for this's not a chest infection but I have no idea why it is lingering although today is definitely an improvement on yesterday.

As can be seen above the Ventura is a work in progress although I left off the airbrushing today as paint fumes, the cough and a face mask aren't a good idea. The wooden frame is the latest acquisition for painting aircraft. Although this is a work in progress and is likely to take another week at least, I am already planning my next build. A welcome escape from the madness of the world...

A 1/72 scale Short Stirling from Airfix and a build I am looking forward to. This was a huge aircraft and one of the first heavy bombers used operationally by the RAF. I used to know an old chap who was a rear turret gunner on Lancasters but he'd also flown on these. He had some hair raising tales to tell and had the scars and carrying shrapnel from his service. He told me he got the job because he was only a little bloke but it was often the 'tail end Charlies' whom the night fighters picked off first. Astonishing to think he did two years service and was still only twenty when the war ended.

I'm away to make an extra hot curry for tea plus slathering myself in Vicks vapour rub as I want this lingering leurgy gone.


Monday, November 18, 2019

I had an earlier post ready to go up over the weekend but for once I censored myself. It consisted of a rant about work, primarily senior managers including a 'new' one, demands and case loads. The 'new' one is known to many of us from elsewhere and does not bode well. I censored myself because I still have a mortgage to pay and need to work to pay it. Sadly, I fully expect one day that someone at work will discover my blog and I have to keep my nose clean for now.Any hoo...moving on.

Sue has nearly completed a week of radiotherapy and so far so good. She is tired and having to drink lots of fluids as she is dehydrated but otherwise we remain in a period of stasis, waiting for all of this to be done. All very odd and I suspect we will look back on this period of time as a watershed. It is ten weeks since the surgery and as we are in the midst of yet another election campaign, the whole situation feels strange.

Today has been spent assembling a new unit and sink for the kitchen, a 1/1 scale model! It did not go as smoothly as expected as the unit B & Q promised is compatible with the sink is not compatible with the sink. A bit of jiggery pokery and some thinking outside of the box ensured a good fit.

Inevitably, the cats helped / hindered and Maisie was the first of the cats to make use of the new facility. At some point I have to remove the old sink unit and attach the new taps and other gubbins and make sure it is all plumbed in and leak free. I don't like DIY and I particularly dislike plumbing following a couple of incidents during my childhood. But, I am approaching it as a 1/1 scale model and oddly enough that works.Speaking of models...

The Ventura (1/48 scale) has been airbrushed with a medium earth brown and RAF green and the wings are attached but not yet glued as I intend to work on them separately.

The Vampire (1/76 scale) is complete and I have since added a black enamel wash using an enamel thinner. This was applied after two separate applications of clear coat allowed to dry over the past week. I intend to crack on with the Ventura build as I have a couple of other builds lined up to take me up to Xmas and keep me occupied and sane during the silly season (electioneering). What a anti-semitic tankie or a lying egotistical gobshite. Oddly enough, after giving it some thought I realised I'll just plod on whoever gets in because it is all going to be right carry on. Sadly without the talents of Kenneth Williams, Sid James or Joan Sims. Corbyn does have some of the right credentials: he has an allotment, cycles and uses public transport, supports a united Ireland, he keeps to his ideological principles however misguided but having known his politics in Haringey, spent time each year during the troubles in Ulster (my mothers family live a couple of miles from the border), worked as a trades union official and had to deal with assorted middle-class Trotskyists, Marxists and other Tankies plus time spent in way will I vote for labour. As a non-combatant I experienced bomb attacks in Northern Ireland and a rocket attack in Northern Israel whilst staying on Sasa Kibbutz visiting friends. Knowing Corbyn supports the people responsible for each of these does not endear him to me. Also having worked alongside Holocaust survivors I cannot support anyone who wants to wipe Israel off the map. I guess I could be called a hypocrite because I have knowingly gone drinking in bars in Armagh with IRA members and I marched with the Troops Out movement but I eventually grew up. Life taught me there are no black and white answers to most things apart from the moral treat other people with respect and generally be kind to people. It's a shame we don't have The Monster Raving Loony party fielding any candidates locally because they would get my vote!
I'm away to have a large mug of tea and curl up with a good book after todays DIY and finding only one screwdriver out of the dozen I bought last year!

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Well, that was a dreadful week as I was full of a nasty virus which is still with me eight days later.  Night fevers and sadly not the dancing kind, headaches and earaches which are still with me as is an irritating dry cough. I returned to work on Thursday to discover half the team had been off sick with similar symptoms to mine or with the norovirus. Overall very unpleasant and hopefully these final symptoms will dissipate quickly. Apart from attending work during the last two days I have spent the week sleeping or napping in a chair listening to music and podcasts. Annoyingly, after a few days of heavy rain today was lovely and I did not have the energy to do little more than get some modelling in and reading. I did ask Sue if she wanted to go out but she's under the weather as well, experiencing side effects from the medication. She's hoping these will reduce over time but we'll see how things pan out.

I have clear coated the Vampire although I am not happy with the paint job and I am in two minds about completing it as is or, trying another thinned coat of aluminium paint. It still needs decals, a wash and some light weathering but as I have to allow the clear coat to dry I rummaged through the stash and picked out the above kit. A Ventura in 1/48 scale which I bought for £10.00 from the local Home Bargains store last year. A bargain indeed and it was Sue who spotted it and suggested I buy it! This should keep me occupied for the next fortnight and a distraction to the media nonsense around the forthcoming election. We had the Labour party canvas at our front door today but suffering with tiredness and earache I politely told them to go away. A shame really as I had hoped to have political canvassers at the door as I have a few questions to ask and a few statements to make. Hopefully they'll come back but the other parties might make an appearance and an opportunity for discussion.

I'm off to take more medicine and another welcome cup of tea. Keep well and avoid the leurgys.


Saturday, November 02, 2019


I've been up since stupid o'clock with a lousy cold and associated headache and earache. Usual remedies taken but currently tea and I am contemplating a bacon sandwich. The usual flurry of cats breakfasting, coming in, going out, repeat several times and add the fluffy visitor to the mix.
Catching up on the news on-line but nothing new there. Boy is it quiet in the early hours. This little furry sod has been very lively, almost kitten like. Chewing wires, knocking things off the desk and finally leaping into a cup of coffee. After a clean up operation and some choice language he has finally settled down to sleep alongside his brother Watson. As my grandma would say "He has the divil in him".

Time for more coffee to replace the spilled mug and back to listening to radio plays on-line.


Friday, November 01, 2019

I have booked a couple of days off for a car service and a break from the endless demands at work. Unsurprisingly, it is pouring with rain and good weather for ducks. A quick foray into town for shopping today but yesterday was bright and dry so Sue and I enjoyed a long walk before I collected the car. She is experiencing some uncomfortable side effects from the medication especially tiredness but a daily walk in the fresh air helps.

The Handley Page Heyford has been completed although there are a couple of things I have yet to finish but, when I attempted to do this part of the rigging came undone. The photo above is from yesterday as this morning I applied a pin wash of black enamel paint to a light coat of enamel thinner on various parts before I cleaned it back. It is an example of an RAF heavy bomber from 1938 although the Heyford was phased out by 1941, being used for training or as a target tug by that date.
This build has taken me some time because I have a few hours only set aside for modelling each weekend. I have another build on the bench, a Vampire from the late forties in RAF livery which I am trying to sort out the colour scheme for, a dull silver grey which is so far defeating me. I'll attend to that later today and set up for my next build, a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter. Both this and the Vampire were designed and built during WW2 but the Me 262 saw active service during the war. It still astonishes me that the Heyford was designed and built in 1930 but during that decade jet turbine engines were being designed, built and tested. The future and the past in aircraft design during the same period.

The clamps and the reverse grip tweezers were ordered after my old ones either broke or bits from the clamps were lost. I also ordered another Me 262 made by another company (Hasegawa) to add to the Revell kit above as I have a plan for a small diorama using the two kits but it hasn't any decals so I've had to order those as well. All in all, I suspect my spare time will be given over to modelling, reading and helping Sue get through the next few months. She has finally received some redundancy money and as she said to a neighbour earlier today, it's been a lousy year with cancer and redundancy dominating the last few months. One bright and happier note is that No.1 son starts a new job on Monday. He is excited about it and looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. Various cats now demanding my attention so I'll away and tend to their needs.