Monday, September 21, 2015

A bit of painting...and where I have been

Argonauts yesterday!

A few days ago Eric the Shed sent me an email asking what had happened to me, as I hadn't been blogging for a while (well six weeks).  A friend of mine sent me a similar missive on Friday too.  I wonder whether it had anything to do with the fact that I am getting lots of adverts appearing on my Yahoo mail asking me if I had made financial plans for my funeral.  Everyone expects me to be dead.  My sister actually sent me a note asking me if I was dead, following the fatality of someone my age on the recent Surrey Ride London event as I had been contemplating (not very seriously) having a go, as it goes past the end of my road.   Only my sister would send me an email asking me if I was dead.  

Coming up the hill in Oxshott

Not dead, exactly, but having taken the Old Bat to work that day we had to park the car on the other side of the course as the main road was closed for the event.  I had to walk back home but first I had to cross the road.  This was not easy given the number of people coming along the A244.  In fact, that morning, "an older person like you" as the helpful but faintly insulting marshalette had said to me, had been hit by a bike trying to cross in the village and had to be taken to hospital.  I was now trying to cross the road at the same point and had been waiting for fifteen minutes for a break in the traffic.  The problem is that this is not like the London to Brighton Bike Ride, which I have done four times (admittedly twenty years ago).  These are good club cyclists from all over the country and they are bowling along at 25 mph.  However. I used to be a good sprinter, or at least, 400m runner (admittedly forty years ago) so, glimpsing a short break in the peloton I took off from the kerb in the direction of the The Victoria pub opposite (not a pub I have ever been to as A) I don't like pubs and B) it is often full of Premiere League footballers).  Ping, went my calf muscle two thirds of the way across but I couldn't stop, as plunging down the hill towards me, shoulder to shoulder like the Light Brigade, was a pan-highway frontage of rapidly approaching wheels.  I know that at this point on the road, as I have to follow pelotons of cycles every weekend as they all have a crack at the Olympic road race route, they are pushing 30 mph.  My leg was so bad by the time I reached the other side that I couldn't even attempt to walk for fifteen minutes.  It then took me twenty minutes to cover the half mile home.  Well the result of all this was that I was in considerable pain for about a week and by the time I got back from work I was too tired to paint or blog.  When you are an "older person" you don't recover as quickly.

Just before this at the end of July we had had a week in the Isle of Wight for the Royal Yacht Squadron 200th anniversary.  As Guy was busy being a marshal it meant the Old Bat and I had to talk to each other and we went on a walk around Carisbrooke Castle.  March's Miniature Wargames had a Lion Rampant scenario set around the French invasion and siege of the castle in 1377.  

We have been to Carisbrooke many times but it is only when you see it from a distance that you realise how it is built up above the surrounding landscape.  Worth bearing in mind if trying to recreate this action (as I would like to do) as it really sits on top of a substantial mound.

We took the Old Bat's parents to Ventnor Botanical gardens which is really not my thing but just above the cliffs they have a small planting of hops.   They are tucked in a little hollow between the coastal path and the cliff edge (above).

I hadn't noticed when visiting previously, but now they make a beer, Botanic Ale, from these hops.  I bought a bottle for my friend Bill but decided to keep if for myself in the end.  What a meanie!   I haven't tried it yet but will do very soon.

Charlotte's costume for the Tattoo took over forty minutes to get on for every performance

Anyway, after that it was off to Edinburgh for a few days, to watch Charlotte dance in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  I have watched it on TV a few times as I really like military band music and it was a great show live.  We were also lucky with the weather. Charlotte had got soaked on at least one occasion as, unlike some of the performers, they didn't have waterproofs for inclement weather and umbrellas are banned in the arena.  It was nice to see her, as she left for Edinburgh in January and we hadn't seen her for more than seven months.

We all went round Holyrood House, which we hadn't been to before.  It was quite spooky to see the site of the murder of Mary Queen of Scots private secretary, David Rizzio, which I remember reading about when I was studying History A level at school.  Just as impressive for me was visiting the ruins of Holyrood Chapel.  Felix Mendelssohn visited the place on 30th July 1829 and wrote home: "In the deep twilight we went today to the palace were Queen Mary lived and loved...The chapel below is now roofless. Grass and ivy thrive there and at the broken altar where Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland. Everything is ruined, decayed, and the clear heavens pour in. I think I have found there the beginning of my 'Scottish' Symphony."   He even enclosed, on a piece of paper, what would become the opening theme for the symphony.   It is my favourite Mendelssohn symphony and it was wonderful to stand in the place that directly inspired it.

We couldn't avoid shopping (I wondered why Charlotte had asked us to meet her in the Edinburgh Tattoo shop when we arrived - that was expensive) but at least in Edinburgh they have the wonderful old style department store, Jenners.

However, Jenners was the site of my biggest disappointment of the trip.  On the top floor they have a branch of superb Italian-Scottish delicatessen Valvona & Crolla (this is the firm who FedEx fruit and vegetables from Italy direct to my foodie friends in Bath so they don't have to eat supermarket vegetables).  There were many tasty looking things in the shop but they would have been out of the fridge too long to get home.  Even worse was the fact that we had hand baggage only so I couldn't buy anything from the tantalising display of Scottish beers there.  I really want Orkney Porter!  I want to try Kelpie!  But I couldn't. We had already checked out of the hotel.  Grr!  First stop on my next trip! 

We were back on the Isle of Wight a few weeks later but this time with Charlotte who had actually decided to leave the delights of Edinburgh to come home for a fortnight.  While Guy went out in a RIB to watch the powerboat race starts she and I watched them from dry land and then headed across the Island to Freshwater Bay (adjacent to Freshwater, home of Fighting 15s).  It was low tide and we found a pirate cave (well that was what it looked like) although Charlotte decided it was actually the Cave of the Sea Pigeons as they seemed to be the main inhabitants.  Even at low tide we had to wade through eighteen inches of water to get in.  An easy place to get cut off in.

Freshwater Bay

Actually, in retrospect, it probably wasn't a brilliant idea to go inside the cave as on this, the south side of the island, bits of cliff are constantly dropping into the sea which is how they keep discovering dinosaur fossils there.

In fact, when we got back from the Isle of Wight we watched a rather bizarre TV documentary called Dinosaur Britain where they visited this very same bit of coast and even recreated it as it looked in the time of Iguanodons! 

The real reason for going to Freshwater Bay, though, was to restock on the sand I use for basing my figures.  It is quite coarse but not too coarse and the lot I picked up should keep me going for a year or more.  I also got another hundred washers from Hurst (or "Urrrst" as the locals call it), the ironmonger in Cowes, for my skirmish figures.

Even better, although the RNLI shop has replaced my favourite Lifeboat tea with inferior Lifesaver tea, Charlotte spotted the original in Waitrose in Cowes and. of course, we got 15% off with the Old Bat's discount.  I stocked up on that too!

Anyway I was determined to paint something this past weekend even though I haven't had many free weekends lately.  So I finished the two Foundry Argonauts at the top of the post and this Warlord Games slave girl who reminds me of a Greek girl I used to work with.  When I told my friend (the one who gets the air mail vegetables) about how lovely she was he didn't believe me, until he met her with me in Leadenhall market!  Anyway, although these slave girls are supposed to be Roman and are due to serve with the legions in the Marcomannic War, she will probably turn up in the Jason and the Argonauts campaign Eric the Shed and I are planning for 2016.  The Greek ruined temple in these pictures was an uncharacteristic present from the Old Bat off eBay.   The grey paint offends my sensibilities though so I intend to repaint it in a more Mediterranean shade.


  1. Good to see what a dull and completely uneventful Summer you've had! You've been missed - welcome back.

  2. Nice to hear all is well, and that you're putting your time to good use visiting the kids and pining over beer.


  3. Been a quiet few weeks then!? Stop moping and get yourself back to the Shed!!

  4. Glad to hear your well and been keeping busy - the Isle of Wight has some fascinating scenery

    1. Thank you. Just been off painting for a while but now have a bit more time.

  5. Ouch! No wonder you haven't been posting.

    I don't think I've been to the Isle of Wight since I was about 10. I really should visit again some time.

    1. Yes, it is another world! pPobably hasn't changed much since you were last there!

  6. As a recent addition to your blog's groupie list, welcome back. Another entertaining and informative post, which reminded me why I became a 'follower' in the first place!

    As I hail from north of the border, (just west of Edinburgh in Mid Calder), it was good to see some familiar sights mentioned; Jenners - favourite haunt of The Boss, Valvona & Crolla - I used to live just around the corner from their premises on Leith Walk many years ago. Holyrood House - very poignant place to visit.

    The Isle of Wight is one of the few places I still have not managed to get too in the UK. Note to self - make more of an effort!

    If you are ever looking for tips or recommendations on places to visit in Edinburgh or its environs, drop me a line, I would be happy to help!

    1. I am more and more of the opinion that Edinburgh is the finest city in the British Isles!

      The Isle of Wight really is unique. A tank museum, several very good Roman villas, dinosaur fossils, historic boats, a steam railway, several Victorian forts, vineyards, breweries and all on an island 25 miles long. It costs a fortune to take a car there, though. It is the most expensive car ferry crossing per mile in the world!

  7. Fabulous to have you back, although I winced with pain at your exploits at the start of the piece. Winced and chuckled, as none of us are as spritely as we were.

  8. Welcome back Sir - first post of the docks now up on the blog (shameless plug)

    Catch up soon

  9. Legatus Hedlius, Ave!

    Thank goodness you wrote. As I write this several centurions are engaged in sending off messengers to recall all the search parties. We had heard some rumors that you were spending time with the familia and this confirmed it. But, please, the next time you head off please post a message to the Imperial Governor - he worries.

    Your painting has been up to its usual high standards. May the Muse of Painted Art continue to guide your hand!


    Gerardus Magnus
    Isla Longus
    Novo Munda

  10. Speaking as one old fart to another, I find it pays to keep the revs down when let out without my carer.