Sunday, March 03, 2013

Scotland, the dentist, and even some painted figures!

My daughter, Charlotte, has always had expensive taste!

Good grief, I have finished some figures!  I've actually completed fifteen this weekend, mainly because I had a weekend instead of running around driving the children to their various activities.  Last weekend I was in Edinburgh with my daughter, Charlotte, who has been offered a place to read Astrophysics at St Andrews.  We also fitted in a visit to the Physics Department at Edinburgh University which she liked better.  St Andrews is nice but it is in the back of beyond.  It's over an hour's train journey north of Edinburgh.  I start to feel uncomfortable if I go north of London's Oxford Street let alone north of Hadrian's Wall.

Charlotte prepares to scoff an entire tea and two huge hot chocolates

Still, Edinburgh is a nice city and, although I hate to say it, I can't actually think of a nicer city of its size in Britain.  It was pretty cold, though, and walking back along a freezing Princes Street from the station to the hotel at four in the afternoon made me wonder how well Charlotte would cope when it got really cold.  The answer was, of course, to drink lots of hot chocolate and eat lots of scones and cake. For somebody who is a size six she really does have an enormous capacity for food.  It must be all the dancing.

Since I last stayed at the Caledonian it has been considerably ponced up.  I remember it having tartan wallpaper (Charlotte was disappointed this had gone) and the rooms having seen better days.  We didn't go to the posh restaurant as the food was a bit, well, odd.  It is one of those places where they mix things together that shouldn't really go in one dish; like scallops and cauliflower or sweetbreads and bean and bacon cassoulet.  Hmm.  Charlotte who is mostly, but not entirely, a vegetarian liked the look of the Brasserie instead and it turned out to be an excellent choice.  It was packed and there were a disproportionate number of very attractive women there, we have to say.  Well worth a visit.  I had a good plate of charcuterie and guinea fowl with lentils and sausage with a very good bottle of Chinon.  I've always liked the red Loires and this one was excellent.   Charlotte hadn't had red wine before (my wife is teetotal, doesn't understand alcohol at all and thinks anyone who drinks it is a disreputable drunk who is giving themselves brain damage) but the waiter poured her a glass (even if she isn't quite eighteen yet) and she happily drank the lot. Actually, I think that is legal provided you are eating.

Leuchars station for St Andrew's.  Yes, it is in the middle of a field

The next day we went to St Andrews and the best thing about it was the scenic railway journey up the coast and, in particular, crossing the Forth Bridge which I found very exciting.  If my father had bought me a train set rather than Airfix kits when I was small I might have ended up as a model train person rather than a wargamer.   I love railway journeys!  I can completely understand model railway enthusiasts although as  a hobby it seems to be even more expensive than wargaming.  I used to travel to Zurich a lot, which is full of model railway shops, and model trains cost a fortune!  Next time I go to Edinburgh (and this is looking inevitable) I will take the train.  At short notice flying was cheaper (BA was cheaper than Easyjet!) but if you book far enough in advance the train is better value.  

One wargaming effect of the trip was caused by the coastal train journey and the sight of all those inlets and islands along the coast.  I remember the painting of Agricola's campaign in Scotland from the Ladybird book Julius Caesar and Roman Britain which I mentioned in my Boadicea post the other week.  Somewhere in the loft I have a Grand Manner Roman warship and so I picked up the new Osprey on Mons Graupius.  I have an inkling to do Romans against Scottish Celts.  From the look of the Osprey (and it isn't at all clear) it looks like all the troops engaged were auxiliaries (the legions remained in reserve) and certainly that is how they appear in the excellent illustrations.  

One of Sean O Brogan's superb illustrations from the Osprey Mons Graupius AD 83. Loads of auxiliaries with different helmets!

I am still hampered by the fact that there isn't an early Imperial Roman range in 28mm that I like.  The Warlord  Games plastic legionary figures are stunted little dwarfs and the range, although comprehensive, suffers from figures of different sizes which, frankly, is unforgiveable.  The Foundry ones are too old and too small.  The new Aventine figures are very nice but the helmets are wrong for this period.  It's really frustrating (and surprising) that there isn't a decent, modern 28mm range covering the period from the Teutoburg through the invasion of Britain and on to Mons Graupius.  

Anyway, a more pressing matter last week was my visit to the dentist to have a broken wisdom tooth removed.  The tooth removal by the dentist (who is the son of some of my parents in law's best friends.  He came to my wedding so I do at least trust him!) was swift and pain free.  But the three injections of anaesthetic were agony;  especially the second one.  It was just the worse pain I have ever had.  Worse than when I broke my toe as a child.  Worse than when a girlfriend touched me in a very intimate spot after chopping Thai chillies.  Worse than when another girlfriend poured a kettle of boiling water over my leg during an argument.  Anyway, I was a good boy and got given a sticker.  "You look like the sort of person who would want one," said the receptionist.  Quite right. 

Anyway, the week was mostly taken up by loads of year-end paperwork which had tight deadlines but I did get some painting done and over the last few days I have finished sixteen figures which is a big total for me.  First up are the Grim Hammer dwarves from The Hobbit, which are my first Hobbit troops.  I thought that these would be quick and easy to do, in the manner of The Lord of the Rings soldiers of Minas Tirith, but they weren't; not least because some of the armoured panels (of which there are a lot) are not very clearly defined around the side of the figures.  Anyway, they look OK from a distance and en masse and it is nice to finish a whole box of plastics, even if it is only twelve figures.

When I have groups of figures on the go I also like to have some individual character types I can do bits of if I get bored with painting the same thing on lots of figures.  This is why my Prussians and ACW troops are stalled at present, as I can't face doing the shading on twenty coats on my Federals, for example.  Last time I put an order in to Foundry they threw in a couple of pirates.  They sat on my desk so I based them up and finished them today.  I have a number of pirates and have even played a few games with them at Guildford Wargames Club so it is always nice to add to them. 

I'm moving slowly along with the Argonauts and here is the latest one who is going to be Castor as he was a Spartan and this figure has long, flowing hair.  I've got five more on the way at present and these really don't take long as they have such a limited palette.

Finally, I painted this not Captain Blue from Crooked Dice.  I want to do Captain Scarlet now but can't for the life of me find where I put the other figures I bought.  In searching I found a whole box of Perry Sudan and Great War WW1 figures I had forgotten I had even bought!  Ah the lead pile!

I should have a bit more time this week so I'm going to do some more on the Argonauts, try and move the ACW figure along a bit and do some more on my Warlord Chinese Cavalry as Alastair at Guilford has suggested a back of Beyond Game against his Bolsheviks.


  1. Some very nice figures, I like the not Capt Blue figure. I had the boxset of these in my hand at Cavalier last Sunday and had to pull myself away....ah childhood memories!!!

  2. You are surviving the dentist better than me. I went to see the hygenist 2 weeks ago - attractive soft-spoken Irish girl who managed to break a filling while cleaning my teeth. The tooth was probably rotten so no problem and only a small piece broke.

    Went back to see my dentist last week and had it filled and an imprint made for a half-crown.

    Next day part of the back of the tooth broke off so went back the next day (Friday) and saw a different dentist who said it looked fine.

    Friday night while eating a curry, some of the front of the tooth came away.

    Finally, Saturday night, while doing a pub quiz thing the rest of the tooth gave up the ghost and came out...

    Seeing the dentist again tomorrow - think she'll be suprised to find no tooth at all!

    Fortunately all this is without pain.


  3. Argh! And I thought two trips to the dentist within seven days was bad!

  4. I don't think you need to qualify it, Legatus, the Dwarves look quite good.

  5. Nice work on the GrimHammers. Well done.

    The foundry Pirates look good too. We had great fun with LotHS a while back and we're chatting about having another go of it..