Saturday, May 08, 2021

 A very welcome day off and it is raining. Although welcome for the garden it has rained on and off for the past week and very heavily at times plus hailstones yesterday that I thought would crack the windscreen! The plan for today was a bit of work in the garden, a clean up of the kitchen of which more later and moving cupboard contents around. The latter has also been postponed because Sue isn't very well and she received some unwelcome news from the consultant.

The seedlings are coming along and ready for thinning out and moving outside to harden off except for the unseasonal weather. Cold, wind and rain and certainly no sign of sun today. Fingers crossed for an improvement next week and I can crack on with these. Lots of chilli plants but only one tomato plant from the several seeds I planted. I might have to try again with the latter as I do want some home grown tomatoes this year but I might stop and buy a couple of plants from the roadside sellers, amateur gardeners who sell off extra stock.

Sue had a bone density scan some weeks back and the news is that she has severe weakening of her bone density and will need to take medications and calcium supplements from now on. She has a review with the oncologist next week and she will discuss these results with him and whether the treatment for this counteracts her current medications. I agreed with her statement "It's no fun growing old" when these problems follow one another. She continues to experience side effects from her meds and will also discuss this next week. We have both noticed a general slowing down for both of us although I think mine is weight and work related hence my plan to reduce my hours from July. A colleague in another team who retires in July and is on the waiting list for a lung transplant (Yes, he was still working albeit part time!!) told us this week that his useless excuse for a boss left a note on his desk with a long list of pointless and unnecessary  jobs to complete. He verbally replied that the note was soft and absorbent and is ignoring any further missives from this Peter Principle poltroon. It is interesting that all these wonderful plans for a bright shiny future are being cascaded down to us from senior management yet we have too few staff and there are very very few new people coming to fill any current vacancies. 

The kitchen needs a clean up but Sue is convinced that the  black and white bruiser of a cat that she discovered in our kitchen yesterday hoovering up the contents of the bowls as our four cowered in the back room has sprayed over the cupboards. I can't smell any male cat scents but I agreed we will clean up. We aren't sure if it is a stray or from some of the new neighbours at the back but it is a big beastie. Even Maisie, our own stocky little black and white puss who chases off all other feline intruders won't go near this one! 

As per usual when the weather isn't too good I resort to plan A to Z...

Slow progress as I can scratch build some missing hoses and cables to the engine which will be on show however, I need to order some appropriately sized wires from evil bay and attach them after they have been primed and painted. Researching this mark of Spitfire and the engines threw up a lot of anomalies and confusion as it is a USA built Rolls Royce engine from Packard but only for this mark of aircraft. Yet the aircraft itself is little different from the Mark IX which appeals to the historian and the curious in me. What that means is that I am enjoying the research and learning as I have further Spitfire Marks lined up for future builds. I also now have all the necessary materials to make home brewed thinners and airbrush cleaner.

The engine should approximate this example but I will fit what I can after all, if it is open to the elements with the covers removed, surely it is in a state of repair? Apparently thin lead pieces also make good hoses as they are malleable and easily painted but I will wear gloves for that sort of work.
I hope all is well with you folks and...


Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Not the greatest of Bank Holiday Mondays as typically it poured with rain, Sue has been sick and I had a dreadful earache. For me it is likely to be the shower I had but an ache, tinnitus and deafness in my right ear plus my balance being impaired is unpleasant. The hearing in my right ear isn't that good at the best of times. Sue has been suffering side effects either from her medication or a reaction to the vaccine over the past few weeks but she was up early hours with a high temperature and vomiting. She's better now but not a good night for either of us. The rain is welcome as it had been a dry April.

I had started on a new build and you wouldn't it know it from the small size of the completed engine above but there are about thirty five parts used so far! I stopped as the ear ache had started and I felt somewhat dizzy and I want to do this build proud and get it correct. As I have an enforced stay at home today I can do some research on this particular Spitfire mark and they were used by different countries. Sue is also happy to have me at home as she still feels unwell. I will stop now as I have corrected mistakes several times in just this small entry.


Sunday, May 02, 2021

 A couple of pictures from yesterday as I forgot to take them whilst gardening but during more cat time later in the day with Watson I took some then.

That plastic frame will go over the raised bed with some new netting over it after the seedlings have been transplanted. It is too cold currently to move them and I need some more compost for the pots. The fence panels at the back have come loose in places so I need to attend to that. The alley is a favourite spot for ne'erdowells and druggies. The panels wouldn't stop a squirrel but they do keep the various assorted lower primates out. The drugs house down the road has seen police and paramedics attend several times over the last two weeks with yet another overdose victim removed on a gurney. The police have arrested a couple of the more aggressive tosspots who had kicked off and created a disturbance. Such is the local drama...

Watson looking cute and wanting attention. He is the neediest of our four cats and we think he might have been the runt of the litter as he is much smaller than his brother Sherlock. He often jumps up on to the kitchen sides and frequently misses! He has a sixth sense for when we are about to cook a meal as he can be missing, fast asleep somewhere in the house and then he suddenly appears in his usual spot beside the microwave. The two boys are now seven years old and in cat terms have apparently become oldies but there is no evidence of Sherlock slowing down. Time for breakfast...


Part two...

The two completed builds of the Fiat BR 20 bomber and the Fiat CR 42 fighter with the two Italian aircraft awaiting their turn for building.

The little CR 42 only required four lines for rigging and I used a combination of Acrylic paints and to enhance the yellow acrylic I added some yellow oil paint. All of it brush painted as it is a tiny build and the amount of time it takes to strip and clean the airbrush before, during and after spray painting is very irritating. The Neo Iwata airbrush I use is a very cheap entry level brush and it does the job but I think at a future date I will buy a better one plus a compressor.

For Blue Witch, I found the recipe for home made paint thinners for acrylic paints. To make 500 ml of home made acrylic paint thinner you require:

67% of distilled water.

33% of Isopropyl Alcohol.

10 ml of Acrylic flow improver.

10 ml of Acrylic flow retarder.

This is for modelling but I guess Mr BW could look at how this can be applied at larger volumes for acrylic paints.  What is flow retarder and flow improver I hear you ask? Water is a flow improver although it also thins or 'waters down' the paint.

I looked it up and found this helpful video but he doesn't say what they actually are apart from water being one flow improver. I also found this helpful page but I just realised one trick where when I apply a wash of oils or enamel to a model, having first clear coated and sealed the paints underneath, I add a drop or two of washing up liquid which breaks the surface tension for an enamel thinner and allows the enamel or oil paint to flow more easily. Digging further for the actual chemicals involved and I found this which provides some of the answers and perhaps Mr BW with his scientific background might be interested but glycerol has been identified as one ingredient. For a modeller this is fascinating as well as getting it right and saving money. I can buy distilled water fairly easily but I will order the other ingredients off the bay of evil. The one video that I first looked at a year or two back is what set me off in considering making my own thinners and airbrush cleaner. Hopefully that is useful and this time it really is...


Saturday, May 01, 2021

Today is turning out to be my current Saturday routine where I cook breakfast with the Cats supervising, get some modelling in (Cats time) and then we go for a walk followed by a trip to the local market or the shops. Home again (Cats time), some coffee and gardening (Cats time...whatcha doing human dad?)  which today saw me pruning more off the tree overhanging my neighbours shed. I also put some grass seed down on the bare earth patch (Cats time) and I had intended to repair the rear fence but the last couple of weeks gardening necessitated a place for the garden detritus. front of the fence, so that will need to be removed. More Cats time as I finally slumped in front of a DVD to enjoy my coffee and then catch up on the internet.

I also took out some of my DVD's to dust them off and there is a theme here with either old British comedies, Sherlock Holmes or the paranormal. These are the to hand DVD's which I can pop in and catch up on an episode I fancy watching.There are a few piles of DVD's scattered around the shelves and I could do with tidying them up and shelving them properly. That includes the entire DVD collection of Midsomer Murders I received for my sixtieth which is still in a large box downstairs. I plan to have a general clear out this year of junk and inundate charity shops with 'quality' unwanted goods. I suspect I will need more shelves for this and the models and the spare room is currently used as an 'out of sight, out of mind ' dumping ground for a lot of stuff. It will be the ideal room for those extra shelves and set up for a reading / study /  display room. I tend to buy DVD's that I instinctively know I will watch time and again and any that don't make the grade will be donated to charity shops. 

As per usual, the bank holiday starts off cold and rainy but with brief interludes which allowed me to get some work completed but being cool and wet, my hay fever wasn't too bad today. Unusually, as we went shopping it was nice to see people out and about and we stopped to chat with some of the stall holders. The flowers and plants stall was absent from the market as I had considered buying a strawberry plant and one cucumber plant. Good excuse to wander to a garden centre, perhaps a stroll to B & Q although I do not usually buy plants from there. It is within walking distance and it is nice to walk and not be stuck in the car which I generally am when doing work visits.  All in all it is lovely to have three days off away from the nonsense and just potter about. I have been watching  this you tube chap about living off grid and it might be of interest to you all. Certainly food for thought about simpler living although not necessarily doing what he is doing but perhaps scale down and living a happier lifestyle. After the stress of the past year it is certainly appealing.


Thursday, April 29, 2021


Here is the latest arrival and yes, the box is battered and somewhat worn but it is over forty years old and when Sue texted me today it made my day! Earlier than expected and I have wanted one of these for a couple of years now. A good price and ten pounds cheaper than the next nearest one up for sale and free P & P. I have two Italian planes waiting in the wings (Groan!) now but I will save them for later and make some space with building some of the smaller fighters next. I sat at the table this morning and brought the Fiat CR 42 out for rigging when Maisie planted herself in front of me, belly exposed for some quality Maisie Time! Twenty five minutes later and she was asleep and purring with her head resting in my hand, absolutely relaxed, trusting and happy. A real change from the scrawny neglected just out of kitten hood and pregnant puss who moved in with us. Here's a photo of her supervising me last week.

So no quick half hour modelling fix this morning but I felt relaxed and happy knowing she is a very happy cat.

I have two colour schemes when I do build this kit but with aftermarket decals and a bit of jiggery pokery I might be able to build it as a Battle of Britain aircraft where several were used for reconnaissance. On one raid they were sent out to decoy the RAF fighters away from the real raid and remarkably these decoy aircraft were unarmed!  However, as I said I resolve is already weakening build some of the smaller aircraft first.

Now to put my feet up, see what baseball game is being shown and watch that or finish off reading some of my books and losing myself for a brief while as I am transported elsewhere.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A quick midweek interlude as I finished work earlier today after a longer day than usual yesterday. I had to attend a telephone conference very early in the morning yesterday with another agency on behalf of a punter and I was duty person so no early finish. But I was also hit badly by hay fever today, so much so I had to remove my mask and splash some cold water on my face. 

As fast as we discharge someone another three are waiting to step into their shoes and we are getting a lot of people with complex needs compounded by the covid lockdown. Senior managers have also chosen this time to implement new 'initiatives' and decided we need to be more distanced at work! Not only has that horse bolted it is now being served in a restaurant in Boulogne! Apparently my manager told his manager that my answer of "Bollocks!" was shared by the rest of the team. From supervision I am apparently '...a negative and grumpy influence and burnt out...' and I suggested I will have that printed on a  T-shirt. 

Sigh...I suspect my retirement might come sooner than planned but I will plod on as my colleagues are a great bunch and there are patients whom I want to see do well and escape the system. But I am breaking a golden rule for me and I am having a beer this evening as I have an investigation meeting tomorrow morning into a serious incident from late last year. They will have read my report to the coroner's court so I'm not sure what else can be gleaned from this. I could be a devil and list covid restrictions, few staff, no manager, lack of any other agencies as they had all shut up shop including GP's and hospitals and again no resources especially staff! I'll see how it goes. Have a great evening folks and I think it is time for that cold beer.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

 I love my cats dearly but although domesticated  and pampered pets, instinctively they are predators and can be vicious killers...

I thought at first it was a Goldfinch but the colouring was different and after some perusal of my birdwatcher's guides I think it might be a Siskin, a bird I have heard of but I had never seen one before. I sincerely hope it is not a Serin which has very similar colouring but is very rare in the UK and is unheard of in the north of England. Given the number and spread of Siskins my money is on that, although there is a ring on one of the legs. I did wonder why Maisie was excitedly rolling around that spot the other day and I can't say it was one of our four cats as there are several others that hang around the garden. There is a huge black and white bruiser which we suspect causes our two Toms some anxiety but there is also smaller black and white and ginger and white cats that cheekily pop by to pinch food if the kitchen door is open!

I got some quality build time at the table first thing this morning and made some good progress on the little Fiat CR 42 biplane. I brush painted desert yellow on the upper parts and a light grey below with a bright yellow on the engine cowling. Once dried a clear coat of pledge polish and today olive green and Nato brown brush painted on. I have another Italian WW2 aircraft in the stash, a Caproni CA 311 reconnaissance aircraft but I have finally ordered another Italian plane, a CANT Z1007 'Alcione' which has been on my favourites list for a couple of years. It is quite rare to find so spotting one at a good price and with free postage I was on it.


Leaving it to dry and I tackled the garden, grass cutting, clearing some weeds and that was when I discovered the dead bird. I kept the work to an hour only as yesterday my hay fever was off the scale and I felt very unwell with an early bedtime for a Saturday night! A pot of coffee, a hot shower to wash away any pollen and a Piriton tablet should help keep things controlled. Many of the seeds are sprouting  and there should be a good number of chilli and tomato plants to transplant come May into the raised bed and several pots. Next weekend will see me getting rid of a load of garden waste that has piled up over the last few months which will allow me space to get in and repair the fence.

Now to look forward to a lazy afternoon and my usual Sasquatch podcasts, possibly an afternoon nap as Piriton knocks me out.