Monday, December 07, 2015

What's going, a big car and wargames worries

Steve Barber tree under way

My blog posts have been as scarce as my painting time of late.  I am really struggling with this dark weather and just cannot paint under artificial light, even with daylight bulbs.  Increasing numbers of evening events mean that I have had to miss trips to Shed Wars too, disappointingly.  I have done a little bit of painting on my Neanderthals and have four close to completion now.  Thinking that the problem is in painting figures I have just started work on a tree which will hold the Golden Fleece for next year's planned Jason and the Argonauts campaign at the Shed.  Over Christmas I am going to put together some scenario ideas for Eric to work his gaming magic on.  The only problem is that I can't find the Golden Fleece itself but it must be somewhere on my desk.  I need to search for it...

At weekends I seem to have spent a lot of time out and about.  The Old Bat is working in a trendy dress shop during much of the week so she doesn't have time to do food shopping, which means that I have to do it at the weekend.  This is better, time wasted apart, as the bill is always about 30% less if I do it as we don't end up with piles of expensive and unnecessary fruit, (fruit is for monkeys), chocolate ice cream, Nutella and Cadbury's drinking chocolate etc.  Still, what with other weekend journeys for various things (like driving my son about) by the time I have finished my trips the light has gone.  

At least the Old Bat's parents have promised to buy Guy a car when he passes his test, although given his driving style is entirely informed by watching episodes of Top Gear I really don't think the prospect of having him let loose on the road is a good one.  At least Guy knows the car he wants (guess what, yours will cost less than a Forge World Smaug, matey) as we went over to the parents in law this weekend  (more painting time lost) to clear their garage so my father-in-law could get his new car in it.  Guy was very taken with it and took it for a short whizz up the drive, much to our terror.

Now, of course, many people change cars to something more practical as they get older.  My father-in-law (who is 87) has no truck with this and instead has got rid of his Subaru in favour of this handy little runabout.  We took it out for a spin and it is quite the scariest car I have ever been in, on account of the fact that it weighs two and a half tons but can do 0-60 in 5.2 seconds.  Guy likes it a lot.  Fortunately he can't be insured to drive it until he is 23!  It did, however, take four of us to guide it into the garage and he needed four spaces at Sainsbury's in which to park it.  Practical it is not. It's not like he doesn't even have another Bentley.

Our neighbour across the road (really!)

Another reason the Old Bat isn't getting on with the shopping is that she is faffing about talking to builders about getting the drive widened.  To do this we need a lot of bricks to go in as foundation.  Fortunately, the lady across the road is having a vast extension done to her house and has let us have the required bricks, which are now piled up on the front lawn, looking messy.   The Old Bat is also worrying about painting the hallway a controversial new colour, using a pot of paint we had that she rejected for the extension. Every time I object to some shade I get told I don't like change.

This is true, of course, and I am conscious that I am getting worse but I don't care.  Lately, even more than over the last year, everyone keeps telling me to get apps (the first thing I did when I got my mobile phone was delete all the apps) for this that and the other.  Even my Kindle is nagging me when I log on to Yahoo mail and it tells me to get the Yahoo app. The truth is I don't understand apps.  I don't even like the word (I don't like sloppy abbreviations) and even if I successfully download one I can either never find it or get it to work (like Blackberry messenger - it's on my work phone somewhere but who knows where or what it does).  My friend Bill is Mr iPad and had one way before anyone else.  He is always showing me the latest app.  There is one where he takes a picture of the label of a bottle of wine and then it is supposed to tell you all about it.  Except, of course, it never works!  None of these apps ever work.  Someone at work downloaded a bus route finder one for my phone.  "It's brilliant!" he said.  No it isn't because I can't work out how to use it.  I have this theory that 99.9% of apps are a total waste of time and have no use whatsoever.  They are just time wasters for people who cannot read. I was having dinner this week at the local pub with my friend (Mr iPad) and the waitress had a mini tablet to take the orders.  I asked what the soup of the day was and of course her tablet froze at that point.  She had to go and look it up on the blackboard! Excellent!

Strange corners of my 'playroom': As a pre-I'm a Celebrity... Jorgie Porter looks down from the 2014 FHM calendar on some random dinosaurs and a Zulu Wars meerkat

I don't want to read things on my phone or "other mobile device" because I can't; even with glasses. I can't abide squinting at some tiny little screen in an attempt to look at stuff.  Recently the publisher of FHM in the UK has announced they will be ceasing publication of the print magazine because “men’s media habits have continually moved towards mobile and social”.  Well, mine haven't (not that I read FHM) but the monthly circulation of FHM had dropped to less than double that of Miniature Wargames and the circulation of Nuts, which has also ceased print publication, was less than MW per issue.  The real issue is that young people can't read or, at least, not much more than a few paragraphs and only if the text is broken up with pictures.  They have the attention span of gnats and, of course, this is exacerbated by the constant interruptions they get from their pinging mobile devices.  They have to stop what they are doing to read some inane posting on Facebook.  The only reason I will miss FHM is that the  Old Bat used to get me the calendar issue every year for Christmas, as she knows that pictures of skinny, under-dressed women cheer me up.

I look at emails on my mobile phone only so that I know I have been sent something, so that I can then look at it on my 25" screen at home.  This increasing move to mobile delivery is ageist!  Wait until all these twenty five year olds get to my age and realise that they can't see!  Last week, we had a training course on using social media at work.  I thought that having a blog and Facebook would make me up to date but I had no idea what they were banging on about regarding hash tags and WhatsApp.  Why would I want to be connected to other people all the time, anyway?  I spend most of my time avoiding communicating with other people!  Grr!

A shadow of its former self

Of course, in my favourite wine bar you often can't get a phone signal at all because it is built under the railway arches on the South Bank.  I went there for lunch recently with a Canadian lady friend.  I usually go in the evening but it was quite crowded, unusually, at lunch time.  This is because of the horror of Christmas office lunches.  I hate Christmas with all it's forced bonhomie, conspicuous consumption and trashy decorations.  Unfortunately, I have several lunches and dinners out this week and no doubt will have to put up with ghastly Christmas revellers sat next to us.  Even worse there is an office Christmas party.   Something I have not had to endure for many years.  I am now working in an office that has over seventy people in it.  It has been made clear that I am expected to attend.  The question will be how quickly I can escape as there is dancing scheduled.  Horrors!  I also know for a fact I won't be able to hear what anyone is saying either!  Anyway, speaking of everything getting worse I had, for lunch, the sad shadow of what the Archduke wine bar used to call the Archduke Trio.  This used to be three interesting, different, sausages made by a local butcher near Waterloo station.  You even got a napkin with some bars of the Archduke Trio printed on it. Today, you just get three indifferent Lincolnshire sausages which are far too soft and cheap tasting.

Fortunately, lunch was saved by a really good Carignan from Languedoc. This was very yummy indeed, although the Archduke's wine prices are usurious.  Fortunately, my friend insisted on paying.

Wine at lunchtime work functions in the City these days is very, very rare. So I was surprised at what was served after a recent morning seminar by a large accountancy firm.  Then, of course, I realised that it was a shipping event and the maritime organisers, rather than the accountancy hosts, had insisted on the wine.  The shipping industry still holds by lots of wine at lunchtime.  The Pouilly Fume, not a wine I habitually drink, was rather good.

Back on technology, my daughter wants a new iPod Touch for Christmas as hers has packed up and in researching this I have had a nasty scare about my iPod.  I have just discovered that Apple have withdrawn classic iPods but haven't replaced them with anything equivalent.  The iPod Touch (which is all that is available) does not have anything like the memory of my iPod classic and is twice the price.  Since I learnt this last week I am now dreading the time my iPod packs up (I am on my fourth).  I now look on my iPod (which I love more than my wife) like having an ageing relative or a goldfish. You dread discovering that one day the thing will have packed up and will be metaphorically floating upside down in a fish bowl.  New ones are still available for £450 (more than double the old list price), which shows how much everyone realises they are better than the iPod Touch (which you can't control without looking at, either).  It's all about Apple not wanting you to keep your own purchased material at home but forcing you to keep it on the Cloud, it seems.  This is like streaming films and music.  I've paid for something and I want to access it whenever I like, not rely on some rubbish internet/phone connection to access it.  I have the best fibreoptic internet connection I can get from my provider and it still is really slow quite often.  Streaming doesn't work!

The only box of plastic figures I have ever completed!

A similar concern to the vanishing iPod concerns the fact that it seems Games Workshop's Middle Earth licence runs out early next year and the fear is that they will just pull everything from sale.  If they can do it with Warhammer they can do it for Lord of the Rings. This will send prices rocketing on eBay.  I have a lot of unpainted LotR stuff but you can bet that I will be short of one vital box when finishing an army.  Maybe the trick is to keep the figures from the armies I like and sell off the unloved ones when the prices on eBay go up.

LtoR: North star Prussian, Dane and Austrian

More wargames stress has been caused by someone observing that the North Star Prussians and Austrians don't match the new 1864 Danes for size.  I hate it when companies do this (yes, Warlord Games).  It seems that the Prussians are a bit bigger but the Austrians are ludicrously large.  I will have to see!  A very helpful chap posted this comparison shot today at the Schleswig wars group, however ,which offers some hope for the Prussians at least.

Now, linked to this is a scenery issue (and of course I always have scenery issues).  Is there anyone (is it even possible in this scale?) who makes bare, branched model deciduous trees?  Firs and spruce aren't right for Denmark in 1864 so what do I do about winter trees?  I can't recall ever seeing a leafless tree in a wargame.

I have based a few  figures for my first Frostgrave band but the North Star metals are quite small.   I haven't tried assembling a plastic figure yet.  Eric the Shed has been dissecting the rules but his analysis is just making me think that the game will be too complicated for me.  I really am not very good at playing games!  I mostly like painting figures and now I can't see to do that.  Perhaps it's time to take up model railways instead!


  1. Great post !

    Don't worry Frostgrave is very simple...just 1 die to master

    Catch up over Xmas

  2. Hmmm, I now seem to understand why Ebenezer Scrooge is an Englishman

  3. I cannot help but feel that the writing of this entry in the chronicles of Legatus was very theraputic for the author.
    It was fun to read to.

  4. What a fabulous read, and yes I made it to the end, although grateful for the pictures. On the subject of deciduous trees in winter, I had some fun making stands of Birch trees without leaves. (Not an original idea, but I have credited the original source.)

    1. This may be too clever for me but I will investigate further!

  5. Sometimes real life can't be helped to get in the way of hobby life. You've been very busy it seems dining and wining can't be bad still!

  6. You're beginning (beginning??) to sound like a grumpy old man! I'd recommend some more therapeutic wine!
    I agree with you about the Xmas party of the benefits I've discovered about working from home is the lack of office team are having a small xmas meal out but sensibly waiting till January when it'll be quieter.
    My visits to the Shed have been a bit sporadic as's a shame when work gets in the way of important things like games! Here's hoping we both get out more in the New Year.

  7. Quite a lot going on in this post! Really too bad about the size differentials in the NorthStar 1864 line. I guess that can be expected when more than one company/sculptor puts their hand into the mix.

    1. I'm going to get some Prussians to see what they are like but North Star make you buy a whole unit!

  8. Pleasant read for a dreary Wednesday morning, you will have to give us a list of places for a nice lunch, my son has moved to the NW of London and I should be in the region quite a bit next year. Pity about the sausages, they do look good.

    1. It's nice and sunny here this morning! I try and avoid any part of London north of Oxford Street!

  9. The neighbour definitely merits appreciating.

  10. Excellent post, I am wholeheartedly with you on issues of technology, social media, and Xmas! Well done painting the uruk scouts to completion, but you knew I'd say that! ;-)

  11. As far as trees go, why not buy a bag of Woodland Scenics trees and just neglect to glue the foliage onto the branches. They are sold in various sizes and though they are plastic it is easy to bend the branches.

  12. Lovely post. (the neighbor is not bad either)

    As for the trees, you could probably do with a mix of unfoliated woodland scenic trees and some trees made from wire. Possibly a few wire minor branches on the woodland scenic trees.