Category Archives: Off Topic

Slapping Paint onto Stuff – Poles and Steyr 1500A Kfz. 70

The Cloister

The painting and modelling plan has taken a bit of a hit this year and last, for reasons that are obvious to everyone. Work has taken priority, and still is, with overstretch and under manning taking its toll on my spare time. At the end of the day, I don’t feel like logging onto a Zoom or Skype wargame, even though there have been some good ones that I could avail myself of. So apologies to everyone whose invitations I have turned down, or not replied to.

Party Central

Weekends have been spent outdoors. There is nothing quite like spending 10 hours in a mask to help you appreciate just how good fresh air tastes. Shed 24 was completed this week, although I will probably continue tinkering with it for fun. The Cloister is now roofed and painted in Fairground-pattern dazzle camouflage, with party lights in anticipation of post-lockdown garden meets in our reliably inclement summer weather. Caunter had the right idea, but never carried it fully through IMHO.

Caunter Fairground Palttern Dazzle Camouflage

Indoors, I managed to slap more paint onto these Steyr 1500A Kfz. 70 heavy cars from PSC. The finish of the kits is lovely, the jigs horrible as you need to cut and shave the side panels to fit. If you don’t, they keep springing off before the solvent sets.

Aircraft modellers will be looking on, unimpressed.

“We do this all the time”, they say.

PSC Steyr heavy car sidecut assembled

” …. and this. It’s part of the fun”, they say¹.

So the end result was this handsome pair of kits. Was it worth it? Yes. Will I do it again now that resin printed models are available? No.

Plastic Soldier Company 15mm Steyr 1500A Kfz.70 with Peter Pig crew

  1. Don’t google anything with “clamps” and “fun” in the same sentence unless the family filter is on. Just saying.



Filed under Modelling, Off Topic, Shed du Soleil, The Workshop, Trucks, Wehrmacht

Not Quite Apocalyptic

I have been following Imperial Rebel Ork’s post-apocalyptic tree house  (yes really!) with some interest. So as the UK virus apocalypse is not quite as exciting, and needs fewer handguns, I thought that it was time for Shed du Soleil to get an upgrade.

Essentially, this is just a long-winded way of saying that I have extended the veranda canopy by a couple of feet, and run a cloister along the side of the wall. It is a proper cloister, with spandrels and a tension half-hammer beam that is only possible due to the lightweight polycarbonate roof, and which is there to provide stiffening under tension if wind tries to get under the roof and lift it off.

As usual, did the job by moonlight, with their wobbly ladders. A neighbour was throwing a front door away, so it went down to the Tank Shed (Shed 24). I’m in the process of moving the French doors to the front of the sitting out area to make it weathertight. The hobbit next to the shed is under scale aged about 7. With true-scale modelling, your bits box just takes up more space and the figures won’t stand still to be photographed.


Filed under Off Topic, Shed du Soleil

2021 Started Well …

As we were again dining in alone for 2021, The lovely Mrs K decided that this year’s theme would be Fancy Dress, which of course, means Pirates¹.

It started well …

But rapidly degenerated at the crew’s end of the table …

And quickly became very messy! Which reminded me of the pirate game at Sandhurst in the late ’80s, in which,

Jim Roche brought copious quantities of rum and gunpowder …. (what could possibly go wrong?)

Suzanne almost took someone’s fingers off with a Kukri², whilst opening a coconut … (They weren’t Trebian’s, but he might have been there, being a re-enactor of some note in his day)

And John Mengham may or may not have been very drunk, singing sea shanties during the debriefing.

We continued the party on New Years Day in Shed 24 at the allotment, surrounded by all the comforts of home.


  1. For clarity, we mean those loveable swashbuckling scamps of Hollywood fame, not the murdering scum that were exterminated by the Royal Navy in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and South China Seas.
  2. She was, and remained, sober throughout the day. Ours was one of the few ships that did not run aground at some stage during the game.



Filed under Off Topic, The Tank Shed

Dinner For Two

Dinner for Two - Miss Sophie

Dinner for Two – Miss Sophie

Every New Year’s Eve, Germans watch “Dinner for One“. If Freddy Frinton and May Warden are unfamiliar to you, then you are in for a treat. This year we toasted absent friends, and I managed to avoid spilling the port, tripping over the rug, and put most of the soup into the bowl.

Jim Webster introduced me to the quote “We are surrounded by members of our family; some of whom are alive, and some of whom are not.” This year it has never been more apposite.

So, to absent friends: Adrian, Albert, Alice, Alison, Andrea, Andreea, Anita, Anjim, Anne, Annie, Barbera, Beverly, Bob, Andreas, Andrew, Andy, Archduke, Arshad, Ben, Brian, Carol, Chris, Clive, Deborah, Dennis, Don, Elaine, Fred, General, and Mrs Whiskers, Geoff, Graham, Hamid, Heather, Ian, IRO, all the Jos, John, Jonny, José, Joseph, Julie, Karen, Kath, Keith, Ken, Kiera, Krish, Lewis, Lucy, Lydia, Mandy, Mary, Matt, Muriel, Paula, Peter, Phil, Posh, Mike, Richard, Roger, Roland, Ross, Sarah, Steve, Sue, Syrian, The Duchess, The Wargaming Pastor, Tim, Tom, Two Slice, Victoria, Will, Yvonne, Zorro¹.

I got a Pirate Hat - Cool

I got a Pirate Hat – Cool!

As if things could not get worse in 2020, Locals reported seeing a crocodile on the flooded banks of the river Nene². It may have escaped from from Labs in The University of Northampton³. Happy New Year, everyone!

Crocodile on the Nene

Crocodile on the Nene stalks unsuspecting locals.  UoN in the background.

  1. Some of you share first names in common …. not Two Slice, obviously 🙂
  2. Locals pronounce it “Nenn“, like pen. Further downstream towards Peterborough, they pronounce it “Neen“, like seen. On some Victorian Ordnance Survey maps, it is spelled “Nine“, which I believe to be a lettered Engineer’s interpretation of  “Neen”  as he struggled to make sense of a local dialect that used to render Irthlingborough as “Artle’noc“, within living memory.
  3. The only lab in a traditional sense that I am aware of at UoN, is the Microbiology Lab, so that’s pretty scary!


Filed under Off Topic

Off Topic – Twiddling My Thumbs

Not Quite Chinese

According to the daily mail, I’m one of the bunch of opportunistic NHS scallywags who has been sitting around “twiddling my thumbs” for the past six months, hoping to cash in on an undeserved pay rise whilst frontline staff deal with Covid-19. Yup, Podiatrists were mentioned by name. Expect the mail to attract a little flak, probably from some of the patients with whom I’ve been toe twiddling.

Not going to bother to defend the totally meritless libel  – too busy trying to do something to stem the increased risk our diabetic patients with limb-threatening foot ulcers and multifactorial co-morbidities, are under from a thrombolytic virus that attacks the respiratory and vascular systems, and today, I realised that I was falling behind with blogging.

Qin Chariot

Qin Chariots should look a bit like this

So as my blog has alluded to a piece with no research at all behind it¹, I thought that I would drag out my DBM Qin chariots, as a space filler. Built in an evening from Minifigs Medieval and Lamming peasants, with ACW and WW2 draught horses, and scratch-built chariots. The fourth chariot had a couple of plastic armadillos as steeds, alas no longer to be found. They are wildly inaccurate, did the job, and gave me a laugh.They are also waaay more accurate than the daily mail piece above.

Hyboria, eat your heart out!


My working day is supposed to end at 16:30, usually ends at 18:00 and 19:00 is not unusual. I doubt if I am unique in arriving early and working through most of my lunch in a department where we are three staff members understrength and now have another 2-3 self isolating at any one time. We are finding it hard to recruit because any Podiatrist with any sense is setting up to practise privately. I’m one of the lucky ones, I still have a job at 65. Going home feels like this:


  1. No, not The Beano or Viz. Who knew?


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 25mm Medieval, Off Topic

More Sheddery

The thing about true-scale shed modelling, is that it is addictive, so when Suzanne took over her new allotment, we inherited a 6 x 6ft galvanised zinc and polycarbonate box. In case this sounds a bit modern, trust me it isn’t. The existing shed came with an almost flat roof, a 1000 litre water cube and a massive galvanised water cistern from the 1940s or 50s. It looked like this last November:


The big piles of dark brown earth are all horse poo!


And like this after we had managed to get onto the plot and grow stuff  post lockdown.

The plot is windy and has no piped water (hence the cube), so the first priority was to build a rain collector from corrugated polycarbonate, recycled from our pergola at home circa 2004.


Then a roof for the original shed , but this time with enough slope not to leak, and enough height for me to stand up in (one of the very few disadvantages of being tall.)

After that it seemed pointless not to roof the space between the rain collector and the shed. The problem with big roofs and shallow foundations is WIND SUCTION. A good online primer to start with can be found here: ( . Our immediate neighbour’s shed felting blew off in the last windy spell that we had, so I’m not being cocky about the very real possibility of having just built a 18 sq metre wooden kite. I anchored the roof down to the water cube until everything is completed. That’s only 700kg  at the moment until it fills up, but we normally get rain in October, so that will be a ton of dead weight that The Kite has to lift. Oh, and a neighbour was throwing two French doors away; well it would have been rude not to …

Various names were floated about .. The Cowshed, Shed Ordinaire, Bonnydoon, but in the end, it had a water tank in it, so it was the Tank Shed. Suzanne didn’t think that  The Kite was funny.

A proper Engineer would have done his calculations before throwing up such a ramshackle structure, and as the full calcs are complex, I did my usual engineering approximation to see if my roof would fly. As luck would have it, The Den is about the same roof area as The Kite, so that gave me a negative pressure of about 1kN/sq m. ( A Kn is 101.97 kg)  The rough calculations gave me just shy of 1000kg to pull a fence post out (found by rooting about on university websites for student design projects for fence pullers), that gives me 4 tonnes of downforce on the upwind side resisting  a likely up force of 1kn/sq m acting on 18 square metres of roof or 1.8 tonnes. That’s without any dead weight from the structure itself.  I should be OK by a factor of two, and need to rethink my sail area if I want to be an aviator, but I’m still keeping the tiedowns, just in case ……………………………..




Filed under Off Topic, The Tank Shed

New WordPress Editor

Downed Ju 52 off HERAKLION

Let’s start with the advantages for the new WordPress editor for publishing, as opposed to blogging, after all, I chose WordPress originally over Blogger for its unlimited page facility.

The advantages are not obvious to me at all, every time you open a new paragraph, a new block appears. All the cool kids think that this is somehow revolutionary. Meh! Cut and paste does it quicker and better. The new blocks are waaay slower to load.

The disadvantages are immediately obvious – everything has moved around. It is as if someone has come into your wargames collection and moved all the toys around in their storage boxes. Where did those Tanks go? I used to have artillery in that box. They didn’t even send a forwarding address. They left a kiddy slate behind with a few functions and unfamiliar new logos designed by a cool kid who plays on a the new PS5. Where is my justification tab? ah – there it is in the second tier down.

Shift + alt + j doesn’t work any more.

I can align text



or right


but can’t justify it without breaking up the flow of typing. WordPress is now KiddyBlog *lol* 😦

Why disable shortcut keys?

Why does the edit bar float around and get in the way of whatever you just typed? Why is every function one level down, needing two clicks to get to? Why does it leave the last function that you used in the top level of the bar? I just used it! I don’t need it there now. I want to colour something in red in bold. To do that I had to hunt one click down, press a slide bar and type in the pantone colour 255 000 000. AAAARgh!!!

I am resigning my self to a couple of months of reduced productivity whilst I relearn someone else’s idea of a fun time. What’s that? It’s free, why am I grousing? Well the answer is :

  1. I’m over 60. Grousing is my default setting.
  2. I do this for fun, and WordPress hope to make money out of me before I die … or after if I become famous *snort*. They already do that by selling advertising opportunities to all the firms that can spot a gullible pensioner in the same way a shark can hear thrashing on the surface from a mile away. I used to get adverts for Thai brides; now I get adverts for Stannah Stairlifts. I’m not happy about that either!
  3. If I wanted to spend my day batting a mouse around I would have asked to have been reincarnated as a cat.

You guessed it – I forgot that I had nothing in my buffer for this week’s post. Enjoy.

Postscript. I finally gave up on this post in Blocks, converted it to Classic Editor, and fixed all the problems in a couple of minutes!


Filed under Off Topic

Lockdown Sandpit – Not Quite Rocket Science


As the lockdown grinds on, Suzanne thought I should break the cycle of work-eat-sleep-blog to sit outside for a bit. A tray of builder’s sand left over from my last project caught my eye. I’ve always wanted a sand table ….

Beam us upBeam us up


Predictably, the Away Team from the Starship Andromeda are ambushed by some dribbly gribbleys (quater arma horrendum) just as the sentry gun runs out of ammo. At least the Science Officer and one of the redshirts thought to bring hard hats!

Beam us up NOWBeam us up NOW!

And one for the ladies … !

One for the Ladies

Meanwhile, the crew of the Gaius Julius have beamed down to Pandora, where they blend in nicely in their high-vis expedition onesies.

Pandora Away TeamAll of the above stuff came to light during  the spring clean of the Workshop.

Of course, if you wargame outside, and you are a Redshirt, you have to be prepared for this …


Hello? Transporter Room? …. Anybody? I’m still here!

I told you there were three!


Filed under Off Topic, Sci-Fi

More Truescale modelling … and Panic

Another Untidy Work Surface

As everyone in the UK rushes out to look for loo rolls, I finished my Shed Roof. The logistician in me says that if the government announces that everyone should be prepared to self-isolate for two weeks, or twelve if you are over seventy, then a system that holds 4-7 days of stock in the supply chain is going to struggle until the unmet demand is satisfied.

Not Quite Orthogonal

Not Quite Orthogonal

Fortunately, the over-seventies are all on the hunt for rich tea biscuits and canned Fray Bentos steak pies, so it hasn’t impacted on our weekly shop for fresh vegetables yet. Someone has already worked out that eggs keep for a long time out of the fridge, so they are a bit thin on the ground. I did some homework by rewatching Day of the Triffids and the excellent Korean documentary, Kingdom.¹ The American rush to the gun stores suddenly makes sense if MHG’s prediction of Zombies are realised.

Zombie Apocalypse Kingdom

The British obsession with loo rolls makes sense too, for a nation of dog lovers: One Andrex Puppy loose in the airing cupboard, and that’s half of your stash gone, with no hope of replacement.

Of course, the weather was unrelentingly wet, windy and cold for the majority of the build, but it turned fine for the last two days of bitumen painting and felting, so did not hold progress up unduly. I am now the proud owner of a pitched roof, turning Shed du Soleil into something more resembling a beach hut. Roll on summer!

You Can see my Shed from Here

You Can see my Shed from Here. The Fields of Fire are Still Excellent!

  1. Away from the headlines and Twitter storms, the NHS primary care system is clearing the decks of routine appointments and the normal focus on preventative medicine, to be better able to cope with the peak of the epidemic. Inevitably, this means that some conditions not preventatively treated now, will need more intensive reactive treatment later. If you were thinking of having a traffic accident or falling off a wobbly ladder, now would be a bad time to do it. Ignore the mainstream media focus on secondary care, the government has got it broadly right in its approach.


Filed under Modelling, Off Topic, Shed du Soleil

Don’t Panic Captain Mainwaring! …. and suchlike stuff.

In these Apocalyptic times with storms plagues and pestilence sweeping in from the east and west simultaneously, the only thing to do is to go on a panic buying spree. This causes difficulties, as I have boxes full of plastic kits, enough porridge, rice and flour to feed several dinner parties, and we use cleaning products all the time, so feel no need to go out to panic-buy these exotic products.

The weather came to my rescue. Storms have names now, in a misguided attempt to make them more human, in a sort of get-to-know-you-and-blow-your-house-down fashion. The names given to storms are, frankly uninspiring. We name our own, so after storms Donald, Eggnog and Furioso had stomped through our garden, it was time to inspect Shed du Soleil, which was looking unperturbed.

Closer inspection revealed spongy patches and small tears in the bitumen, so the roof was stripped down to the base. Sure enough, the doors that I had originally used to roof the shed with, had deteriorated over twenty years and needed replacing. A quick trip to the builder’s merchant followed and swung into action on another wobbly ladder job.

Of course, it was still raining, so by the end of the day, the roofline looked like this. My builder’s website has gone dead and he is not answering his mobile phone. Should I be worried?


Filed under Off Topic