Tuesday, March 01, 2016

What's going on...

It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim

Well, it's been over a month since I last posted and even longer since I painted, due to a concatenation of events, as Thomas Hardy would have observed.  

Firstly, my hard drive in the computer packed up.  Fortunately, I had manually backed up nearly everything (the automatic back up had failed) but I then had to repopulate the new drive which took ages.  Of course you can't back up programmes (or if you can I didn't know how) so I had to reinstall things like Adobe, iTunes etc while trying to remember all the various passwords to access my account. Many tedious hours followed.  The other thing is that I had Windows Vista before but the computer people have installed Windows 7 (which I use at work) and I have, shockingly, realised it is actually better than Vista.  In the interim I attempted o use my laptop which has Windows 8 on it and I soon realised that it is actually unusable.  The computer firm I used to put in a new drive said they could take it back to Windows 7 which would be great.

My biggest issue was that Microsoft no longer provides Picture Manager, which I use all the time so thanks to my friend Sophie for helping me locate this.  Worst of all is the process of transferring my music back into iTunes.  Apple don't like you moving stuff from device to device so they stop, for example, you being able to move all your tunes (all 18,000 tracks) and playlists from your iPod back to the PC.  To get the tracks back you have to manually click on each individual music file in the folder so it reappears in iTunes on the PC as a recently added track then you have to drag it to the playlist.  Beyond tedious!  I am nowhere near finishing this process yet, although it has had the benefit of making me listen to music I haven't listened too much before (if at all) as that is sometimes the only stuff in a particular playlist at any time. So, no Sibelius symphonies back yet but yesterday I listened to Swanwhite for the first time.

Secondly, it is year end at work.  Having not had a year end there before I had no idea of the mind numbing amounts of paperwork (electronic, on a terrible database) that needed to be done.  In addition I had a presentation to give and my first webinar to present.  The latter was really odd because although I am used to giving presentations (I have given over 300) it is really difficult when you can't see the audience. I use slides as an aide memoire, not a text and focus on each slide more or less depending on the reaction of the audience.  No immediate feedback made it very odd.  It seemed to go down well and has generated a lot of follow up, which I am having to squeeze into my already over-crowded schedule.

I'm sure it's very nice in the summer

Thirdly, I seem to spend most of my spare time driving Guy around.  The other weekend we had to drive down to Plymouth (204 miles) for a university open day. It was so far that we had to stay overnight but at least we got time to look around the city on what was a really wet and windy day.  I had to drag around a load of tedious engineering labs when what I really wanted to do was go to the adjacent Plymouth Museum and Art Galley which had an exhibition on war games (in their broadest sense).  However, subsequently reading the blurb about this it sounded like a load of pinko, politically correct nonsense (like the Imperial War museum these days) so it would probably have just put my blood pressure up.

We had trouble booking anywhere to stay, given Guy had left it until the last minute to tell us he wanted to go but I was unexpectedly impressed with the Jury's Inn in Plymouth, which was five minutes walk from the university, the town centre and the harbour.  It also did an excellent breakfast ,which is a bonus.  Guy has now been offered an unconditional place to do a Maritime Business and law degree there and as Plymouth has an excellent reputation for maritime subjects I wouldn't mind him going there at all.  It does mean that he and his sister would be about 500 miles apart but he seems to think that this is a good thing.  We looked at the student accommodation which was the best I had seen at the many universities we have been around over the last few years.  Some of the rooms even have a sea view.  Oddly, they have two sorts of room which are split between flats of six people and flats of ten based on how outgoing you are; an unusual criteria they discover via a student questionnaire.  Interestingly, the girl's room we saw in the "outgoing" flat had a double bed, presumably based on them being more friendly than their introverted fellows (mathematicians, probably) who had single beds.

On the painting front I have been stymied by the truly terrible, dark weather and, due to some work being done in my study, the fact that I haven't been able to access my paints.  So although I have a number of figures close to completion the paint I need to do so is buried under a terrible pile of stuff.  This has now (sort of) been dealt with and as the Old Bat is working on Saturday I hope for bright light and some painting. 

On the wargaming front I have not been able to get over to the Shed at all so have missed some games of Frostgrave, which I wanted to try.  That said, I think Eric is running it as a tournament so I have missed out on the beginning of the campaign and, anyway, I don't like the thought of tournament play or, indeed anything really competitive.  Most (all) of the other Shedizens are proper wargamers and I would feel uncomfortable playing one to one against them, given my inability to understand rules.  My attempt to paint a female force for Frostgrave has stalled, of course, but I might resume it in due course.

Looking forward to having a go at these!

As regards figures, I withdrew from the latest West Wind ancients Kickstarter as 18mm is really too small for me to paint with my deteriorating eyesight (I have four procedures at the eye hospital over the nest month).  However, I did sign up for Unfeasibly Miniatures Empire in Peril Kickstarter which has three days to go.  Principally I did this for the late nineteenth century Germans which I can use in IHMN but although I am usually resistant to imaginary wars I am very taken with the idea of two armies with pointy helmets.  The period the figures represent has drifted a little and now seems to be early twentieth century rather than late nineteenth century but I have ordered a force of Germans and may add some British at the last minute.

More good news on the pointy helmet front, in that North Star have announced some further figures for the 1864 range.  I had given up on this range due to them just producing Danish Infantry but now they have promised to add some Danish,artillery, cavalry and Prussian hussars.  I still haven't solved the problem of representing leafless winter trees, though.  Anyway, now I can get at my dark blue paint once more I might do a little on them this weekend.  Although I did lose all my reference pictures in the great crash so will have to search for them again.

My 18mm Copplestone Barbarians need someone to fight!

Today North Star have announced that they are taking over the distribution of Copplestone Castings which is very good news.  Mr Copplestone has said that it will free him up "to sculpt new packs for existing ranges and maybe work on a couple of new projects".  I actually thought he had retired and lately all he has produced are a few figures for Frostgrave but he is my favourite sculptor so dare we hope for the long promised 18mm sub-Roman fantasy figures?

Goodbye to all that

Not such good news from Grand Manner who are withdrawing a lot of sculpts in some of the ranges I collect: particularly Dark Ages and also Trojan wars.  I wanted more of the Trojan buildings for Jason and the Argonauts but I really don't have space for any more resin at present. The houses are simple enough that maybe I could have a go at making some but the walls of Troy are a loss.  Sadly, the discount of 15% is not enough to encourage me to pick anything up. He has a lot of new stuff but it is mostly Russian and not of interest to me.

So, let's hope it is a nice bright day on Saturday and I can actually do some painting and don't have to spend all day taking Guy to and from rowing!


  1. My son did the same course at Plymouth, it has served him very well which I admit was a surprise to me. I still live in hope he will pay me back at some stage.

    1. That's good to know. Did he stay in the maritime industry? I spent nearly £4000 on a Maths tutor for Guy only for him to get a U at A level, which is why I keep telling him to forget engineering!

  2. Miss Balfe is one of the very few things worth appreciating in "Outlander". It looks great but the story is dreadful - I had high hopes after the first few episodes but it just goes downhill. The hero and heroine lurch from crisis to crisis and then - with one bound - they're free. The main sub-plot of the later episodes is absolutely ludicrous - but Miss Balfe is very photogenic!

    1. For a former model she is an excellent actress and there aren't many of those about!

  3. A less than ideal start to the year. Fingers crossed it is onwards and upwards from here!

  4. Welcome back, Legatus.. the bloggosphere has been a mite quiet without you!

  5. I had wondered where you had got to. I spent a lovely year in Plymouth, albeit it at the Art College, happy days! Ivor Dewdney's Pasties and hog's pudding were particular staples and then there was Union Street!

  6. Glad to see another post, they are always an enjoyable read.

    With reference to the leafless winter trees issue, have you considered Woodland Scenics? They are readily available, simply soften them in hot water and twist into the desired shape, then paint grey. Very simple.

  7. Four sausages in a fry up! That is almost unbelievable decadence.
    I am also thrilled at the thought of more coppleston Barbarics figures.
    By the way welcome back.

  8. Welcome back - I have missed your missives from old blighty but try to use smaller words so us colonials can follow along

    I have a new office in London near Lambeth palace - is that close enough where I can buy you lunch when I'm next over?

  9. Glad to see you back - you have not missed much. The Shed has been too cold and games have been few and far between...

    1. I'm working at home today and my wife has had the heating off and the door open as she is decorating. It's freeing in my study!