Tag Archives: Off topic

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, cowboybuilders.co.uk 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

The New Parade Square


Summer is here, Blogs languish, but fear not, some epic true-scale modelling has been going on. The Kemp Collection now boasts a Grand Terrace and Bastion, which collectively form the new Parade Square¹!

Technical details and step-by-step building guide for true scale modellers:

  1. Dig stuff out for the foundations. The old dry sand foundation for the existing slabs was left in place.
Digging out Stuff.

Digging out Stuff.

2. Put stuff in to stop the new slabs from sinking into the swamp. I used graded (hardcore) fill, which the drone behind the counter at Travis Perkins told me he had never heard of. When I explained it was for a patio sub-base he told me that I wanted MOT. He went a bit red when I asked him what MOT³ stood for and told me what hardcore was used for instead. Back at Gound Zero, I found Nobby the Newt hiding under a brick. He was stalking a particularly juicy slug as big as his head.

Nobby the Newt doesn't know what MOT Type 1 stands for either

Nobby the Newt doesn’t know what MOT Type 1 stands for either

3. Lay the interlocking dry block retaining wall for the bastion, filling the back in with earth on the lawn side and sand on the bastion side. I used builder’s sand instead of sharp sand as the base. It will settle over summer, then I can go back in autumn and relevel the slabs with a dry sand mix (cement and sand) without having to worry about cracking in this unusually dry summer that we are having.



Scarpe and Counterscarpe

Scarpe and Counterscarpe



4. Build a French Drain (basically a hole full of sand or gravel) for the runoff from the roof of The Den to soak into. This avoids the water running over the slabs onto the lawn, which has been my ‘temporary’ solution for the last 18 years.


Downpipe and Runoff Pipe in Trench

Downpipe and Runoff Pipe in Trench

French Drain

French Drain

  1. Chuck the slabs down. They will be lined up properly in autumn when the slabs are finally set.
Grand Terrace and Saluting Dias

Grand Terrace and Saluting Dias

  1. Sit out and drink a well earned beer. Organise a victory parade.
The Bastion and Glacis

Bastion and Glacis

Summer is also the time when readers are inflicted with holiday snaps. No worries here either; we continued our tour of unfashionable cities by visiting the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham, where we accidentally visited the National Bonsai Collection². Normal service will be resumed when we go back to a proper, miserably wet British summer.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Posh Pond.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Posh Pond.

  1. It isn’t square, or grand, unless you are 1:100 scale, in which case it is truly epic.

2. The collection is valuable enough to be displayed behind bars, with CCTV in constant attendance. Forget the Crown Jewels, this is the real thing! We didn’t know it was there, but happily, discovered it on the way out with more than 30 minutes to spare.

3. It refers to the Ministry of Transport Type 1 British Standard for loadbearing graded aggregates made from crushed recycled concrete rubble or limestone to be used in highway engineering. Seriously though, normal people don’t care unless this happens (watch from1:15).


Filed under Off Topic

Shed Life – the Workshop


True-scale models with terrain ready for the Eastern Front

More true-scale modelling has been filling the absence of blogging, turning the garage into a workshop, with cupboards ripped out of the kitchen finding a new home.

It’s all a bit scrappy at this stage – but the walls are insulated, and power is in

Fascinating as it may be for Shedaholics, I don’t propose to burden readers with endless work in progress shots – just edited highlights. The stuff in the picture above is all boot-fitting or repairing kit from the old shop. I found a heap of certificates that we used to display on the shop walls. They can stay there until I find some military-themed pictures to put in them.

Not a cupboard!

The deal here was that the Workshop would not be as nice as the Den, so I am allowed to spill stuff on the floor and wander in wearing my shoes!  That doesn’t mean that I can’t put blinds and curtains up though. Just painting everything white increased the ambient light levels to figure-painting standards.

Still not a cupboard!

Ok, so just a couple of pictures of some of the kitchen cupboards. They swallowed huge amounts of junk that would otherwise have attracted dust on the shelves.

Look at all that lovely wall space!


The old Tegometal shop shelves are retreating in the face of a relentless wave of re-purposed Swedish invaders. There is still a lot of work to do, not least being a heater, once the gaps in the new ceiling are sealed up.


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Filed under Off Topic, The Workshop

Rubbish Overscaled Munchkins

Warhammered Sherman

My opinions and rants on overscaling are well known, so when YesThatPhil sent me an amusing picture of a Warhammered™* Sherman tank, I couldn’t resist trumping it with an even rubbisher example. To be fair, the model that Phil identified was built as an ironic comment on the current products being peddled in the fantasy market; mine seems to be a serious example of the genre. One can only admire the modelling and painting skills that went into producing it.

Rubbish Orky Tank


*That’s my coinage,  not Games Workshop™’s !

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Filed under Modelling, Off Topic

Slovenian Interlude – Off Topic

The last week has been spent AWOL in Slovenia, Kayaking the Soca River in the Julian Alps. I last went two years ago and was impressed that the second visit was just as good. We were lucky with the weather – 30 to 33 degrees Celsius with constant sun. This is important when you are kayaking in glacial melt or alpine rivers. The Slovenes are good-natured and tolerant, and the Kayaking was world-class grade 2-5, so there was something for everyone. Being a bit of relaxed old biffer myself nowadays, I stuck to the grade 3 stuff and had a mostly undemanding  time. If it is too hot on a river, you just roll over to cool down :

Setting an ambitious line ...

Setting an ambitious line …

Perhaps too ambitious? ...

Perhaps too ambitious? …

There is a gap here as the photographer was guffawing at my two failed attempts at rolling upstream on the mildly evil boil line. Not my finest moment!

Bored of banging my head over the rocks!¬...

Bored of banging my head over the rocks!¬…

Rolling ...

Rolling …

Suitably cooled, stirred not shaken, no ice!

Suitably cooled, stirred not shaken, no ice!

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Feast of Epiphany – Yes Those Trucks

tankers 022

The festive season was rounded off in style with a duck dinner. Yes That Phil came round with a very decent bottle of Chateaux Margaux ’86, to show off his Pound Shop treasures, and he had a few spare. As it happened, I had a spare Matador to offer in return, so over Port and cheese, when it became permissible to talk wargaming, we sat and happily pushed the trucks around the tabletop as Phil outlined his 2013 plans for Megablitz Squared. Suzanne wandered off at this point to read her new book about the Dunkirk evacuation – Military Truckfests are not her thing.

treasure fleet

Here is the treasure fleet!

Leyland retriever WIP4

Sporting a new quiff and nose bar, the Leyland Retriever continues to take shape.

Leyland retriever WIP5

Bar a few coats of paint, the  Retriever is just about finished now, Cheers Arthur!

Leyland retriever WIP6Retrieving an SPA Dovunque 35 (for scale comparison). Yes it is a big truck!


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Modelling, Trucks, Western Desert

20 Questions -an unashamed filler piece

This seems to be doing the rounds:

1. Favourite Wargaming period and why?
WWII – like many bloggers, I started with airfix 1/72 kits, and it all spiralled from there.

2. Next period, money no object?
Sieges in the garden in the style of Tristram Shandy, although Suzanne may have a view on that one. Most of the money would be spent on a house with a larger garden!

3. Favourite 5 films?
The Big Blue, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Das Boot, Red Cliff, House of Flying Daggers. Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis.

4. Favourite 5 TV series?
Babylon 5. Or have I missed the point of this question? Gormanghast, The World at War, Box of Delights … aaand I’m running out of steam here, so Blue Planet to finish off.

5. Favourite book and author?
C.E. Lucal Phillips’ Alamein as it got me started on ‘proper’ historical wargaming. Why only one favourite book but 5 films and TV programmes? Surely this is entirely the wrong way around?

6. Greatest General?
Impossible question to provide purpose to late night drinking sessions. So that would be Ghengis Khan!

7. Favourite Wargames rules?
Anything short and simple.

8. Favourite Sport and team(s)?
Kayaking if I’m doing it and Brazillian Beach Volleyball if I’m watching. Ow! The clip round the ear was from Suzanne.

9. If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?
The Future. I want my spandex suit and kneepads!

10. Last meal on Death Row?
Given the countries that still cleave to the death sentence it would probably be a MacDonalds Happy Meal or a rice dish!

11. Fantasy relationship and why?
Fran and Balthier from Final Fantasy XII – a 7 foot rabbit and a 19th century pirate in a waistcoat, just too funny for words; or perhaps Roger and Jessica Rabbit.

12. If your life were a movie, who would play you?
Ha ha, very droll, probably the late John le Mesurier.

13. Favourite Comic Superhero?
Eric Wimp, aka Bananaman.

14. Favourite Military quote?
An opinion can be argued with; a conviction is best shot.” Col T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935)

15. Historical destination to visit?
The Cockpit of Europe (Mostly for the beer).

16. Biggest Wargaming regret?
Je ne Regrette rien!

17. Favourite Fantasy job?
Raft Guide in Austria.

18. Favourite Song Top 5?
Allelulia Chorus’ (Suzanne always breaks down into fits of giggles singing it), ‘Hurrah for the CRE‘ (Commander Royal Engineers), ‘Wann Wieder Frueling Ist‘ by the Weintraube, ‘Where has all the Time Gone?’ by Sandy Denny, ‘the little goblin‘ song from Blackadder. Lost the will to live … sorry.

19. Favourite Wargaming Moment?
Being told about the NVA command team scrambling for their bunker as the air umpire banked a quarto of Thuds into a bombing run …. over the position of their bunker! (the first Memphis Mangler at Sandhurst)

20. The miserable Git question, what upsets you?
Miserable gits.


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Off Topic

Spring Rasputitsa in the UK

Responding to the Bob Cordery “Show us Your Desktop” challenge, my own has a Rasputitsa theme although it relates to my other hobby, rafting. The UK offers fewer big drops than Alpine or American rivers, but Low Force on the Tees is a classic, and yes, I’m the happy chappy at the back looking less concerned than I probably ought to be! Enjoy.


Filed under Off Topic