Having finished a big piece of work this week I thought I might have a weekend off and catch up on some painting. I didn't get much done on the ACW figures this week, although I have now started the first company of Confederate Infantry, I need to do the shading on two more horses for the cavalry and then I can paint the harnesses and manes and eyes etc on the second half dozen horses. This week I have researched US cavalry horse blankets so now I know how to do those, so they will be next (blue and orange, who knew?)
The six figures in the back have the horses and harnesses complete and of the six in the foreground just the black ones need shading. Since I took this picture I have put the base grey coats down for the first company of Confederates. I think these will be Texans. I did look at some Redoubt flags for these but they seemed huge (some people do over-sized flags for some reason) and even I can paint a Texas flag! I do need to research the sizes, though.
Eric the Shed kindly picked me up from home today and took me to Reading for the Warfare show. I usually do three shows a year: Salute, Colours and Warfare and this is the end of the season show for me. Nothing until Salute next April now. Warfare is always very cramped and certainly seemed busy this year. Eric picked me up at 8.30 and we were there within an hour, half an hour before doors opened, and there were very few parking spaces left. By 10.30, apparently, people were having to park a mile away.
My first port of call was to Dave Thomas' stand. How much of my money has this man had over the years? My key objective was to get a couple of Renedra's American buildings to start my town of Centerville. They didn't have the basic farmhouse but I got the store which can be made as a house anyway and the rather dinky church which I hadn't seen before. Given I already have painted their barn I feel I have made a good start. I might try and get one started this week. In the background you can see an odd fellow who was wandering around the show wearing rabbit ears. Frankly, I don't want to see anyone wearing rabbit ears unless they are female, dressed in a strapless corset teddy, collar and cuffs and have a cotton tail.
I also picked up a pack of plastic hills (or, rather, bluffs) from Kallistra, which are needed for the Centerville layout. This saves all that fiddling around with mod-roc as espoused by Terence Wise. These things were all on the list. Today's impulse buys were the new African princesses from Copplestone Castings, which I was going to get anyway (honest!), as you can never have enough African princesses. These will see service for Congo. The other impulse buy (well, it probably isn't an impulse buy if you ask them if they have got it when you can't see it on the shelves) was the new Warlord Games Stuart tank. I still have a hankering to do WW2 in the Pacific and this will work for that. I better get some more plastic cement!
I hadn't had breakfast and when I got home the family were all out so I cooked myself brunch. Some years ago I found a load of letters from ex-girlfriends at university and my letters to my mother from there, in my mother's loft. This week I was looking for something else in my vast pile of file boxes when I found this box of letters again, organised by year and while having a big mug of Lifeboat tea and some Boots diabetic shortbread (very good, unlike most diabetic biscuits) I re-read some of them and was taken back in time to 1979 (my first term). One letter was about my first trip to Dungeons and Dragons at Jesus College where one of the other players was involved in importing the rule books. I noted that I wasn't going to get the rule book as it was a staggering £8. My college food bill for a term was £40. The first letter discussed the food in Hall which was...variable. Despite my college's food being ranked second at Oxford by a review at the time, some of it was decidedly odd. I had met a nice redhead, C, at the law interviews the previous year and I literally ran into her after being in the college for less than five minutes, on my way to my rooms on my first day.
Within three days we were inseparable and, as we later discovered, the source of much amusement amongst the second and third year law students, who delighted in telling half the college that two of the new freshers were already 'at it'. We had not realised that one of the second year lawyers had the room next to mine and C was a very vocal girl. We also got caught coming down from the only decent bathroom in college, on Heberden Staircase, with wet hair, having had a companionable bath as, unfortunately, the bottom of the stairs was right by the entrance to the law library. Who would have expected people to still be in there at gone midnight (after a week and our first reading list, we soon realised why!)
Anyway, the endless background behind my brunch today continues in that in our first week (October 1979) C and I sat down to Formal Hall (the second sitting where you had to wear gowns which I didn't like because I only had a commoner's gown but C had a scholars gown as she was a swot) and were presented with, instead of pudding (Pear Conde was the worst), a savoury. We later found that we would get this quite often and it was quite popular at dinners in Oxford. C and I were sat opposite S, from Liverpool, who had an accent that sounded like she had escaped from an episode of The Liver Birds. There were a lot of northerners at our college and I had never met any before. Fascinating.
"What the fucking hell is this?" she exclaimed, poking the rather rubbery scrambled egg in front of her (I apologise for the language but it is an exact quote). What it was, was 'Scotch Woodcock' which is, basically toast spread with anchovy paste and topped with scrambled egg. It is, a curious thing to have after dinner but makes a very good brunch. Given I had just read about this in my letter home to my mother, had bought a big box of eggs this week and had a tin of anchovies rattling around in our cupboard (I am not allowed to open anchovies if any of the rest of the family are in the house) I thought it would be just the thing for my post Warfare brunch. You can read the recipe on my food blog, inevitably.
Well, C and I developed a taste for it and in our second year we had rooms in the modern college annex next to the Oxford Union which had kitchens. We could cook (except C couldn't) and Scotch Woodcock became our favourite Sunday brunch. She would lay on my floor (she was always horizontal) and read the Sunday Times while I had to do all the work in the kitchen. To be fair she did do the washing up, which is no joke when you have cooked scrambled eggs. I haven't made Scotch Woodcock for more than thirty years but it certainly was a taste of the past. "Tastes like C!" I actually said to myself (actually she tasted like prawn cocktail) as I enjoyed it with more Lifeboat Tea and a flick through my new book on Sweden's finest painter, Anders Zorn.
Summer on the Beach (circa 1900)
Anders Zorn was famous for his paintings of naked ladies (and US presidents) who he scattered throughout the Stockholm archipelago from his yacht, like delicious ripe fruit. No doubt one of his pictures will be inspirational wallpaper another week but today's is by another Scandinavian artist, Denmark's Paul Gustave Fischer (1860-1934). Around the end of the nineteenth century, while previously best known for his paintings of grey scenes of Copenhagen, he painted a series of pictures of naked ladies sunbathing amongst the dunes of the Baltic. He wasn't as good a painter as Zorn but these pictures give a welcome feel of warmth and light on what has been a cold day.
Talking to Eric the Shed about the new Star Wars film on the way back from Warfare, we both agreed that we were more Star Trek than Star Wars people. Speaking of science fiction, Warlord had the new Dr Who sets for sale at Warfare but didn't have any figures on display so I couldn't see what size they are. C and I always went to watch Dr Who every week at College in the JCR. So, while I was writing this I listened to my new Star Trek Soundtrack Collection Volume 2. These have the original soundtracks by Fred Steiner (1923-2011) from four series one episodes. This really is the sound of Star Trek as I remember it, with Steiner's atmospheric, mainly minor key, compositions for these episodes being reused again and again for later shows.