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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Monday, 30 April 2012


... by the hoarder's habit. Over breakfast this morning, thinking about the great Hawker Weather Build (see previous posts) I realised that if I was to make up the Hurricane as an RAF western desert version then I would need to fabricate a Volkes filter for the thing. My scratch building skills are very limited at the best of times, and the thought of trying to make the multiple smooth, curved surfaces of the Volkes filter was somewhat daunting. There was a possibility that I could sand one down from a small piece of wood, or balsa that I could then seal, or, perhaps, even try the hot water mould technique (something that I have never done). But, then, I remembered, I am a hoarder, so this evening I rummaged, and, ta da:

The two pieces on the sprue are certainly a Volkes filter; the single casting is a filter, but from what I'm not sure. Anyway, problem solved, so my western desert option is still on for the great build, which starts tomorrow - 1st May. Actually, it's already started in New Zealand!

I have to journey from Hobbiton to London tomorrow for work. William Cobbett (that hero beyond compare of all right-thinking Englishmen and a man that the House of Commons could sorely do with - try Richard Ingrams' biography of the crow scarer, soldier, newspaperman, recorder of England, grower of plants, drinker of beer, and MP) called London 'The Great Wen' (sore). I fear that, taken as a whole, the title is more apt than ever, it seems less and less to have any relation to other parts of England. Perhaps it is time for a new capital - Winchester (our Anglo-Saxon capital), or York, that jewel? Or, perhaps we should have a roving capital, not unlike The Flying Inn, a tale most strange, and, oddly prescient. Still, despite it all, there are parts of London that still resonate to this Englishman - Marylebone (as in Marie la bonne) Station is a favourite, a town terminus popped into the metropolis, or the Museum Tavern, or, even tomorrow, the guardhouse type structures outside the now hideous Euston Station.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Clear the decks

The great Hawker 'Weather Build' starts on Tuesday, 1st May, so rather than start anything new, I thought I would clear the decks of bits and pieces that have been hanging around for a while:

Rather a mixed lot - some early war Germans in 28mm who will go on to annoy my stalwart Home Guard fellows; a small batch of gunners and heliograph types for the Sudan; some Jack Tars for FLW; a 10.5cm howitzer for the Afrika Korps; a Bohler 47mm for my Roumanians; and a Lince (looking very much like its Dingo forbear) for my RSI die-hards in 28mm. Mmm, 'focus', 'prioritise' ... NEVER!

I'm rather looking forward to the Hawker Weather Build, as it's about six years since I bashed an aircraft kit (I just haven't the space for the things), and I've already had fun thinking about the finish for my Hurricane. I have 1:72 Hurricanes in RAF, Finnish, Soviet, Roumanian, Jugoslav, Portuguese and RAAF colours, and I had thought about a Turkish Hurricane. However, Turkish markings were a little limited, so I think I will plump for a western desert Hurricane ... but I may change my mind.

The Weather Build event is being led by the Plastic Warriors blog from New Zealand, and one of the great things about this blogging malarky (in terms of toy soldiers and wargaming) is how many bloggers keep in touch from the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the USA, and Ireland. Of course, we all speak the same language (and I haven't forgotten about Irish Gaelic - something that I've only heard university types speak in Dublin). I can't remember the fellow's name, but some famous Frenchy of a literary bent once said, 'my homeland is my language'. An interesting thought. But, then, he was an egghead. Still, despite our different paths, there is obviously, still, some linguistic-cultural link, even at the level of this sub-culture of toys.

Saturday, 28 April 2012


... a task that US forces found a bit tricky in 1898. Partly because they weren't really configured (that's a horrible word) for an out of theatre assault. Trying to put together my Span-Am chaps this afternoon for a trial run of Chris Ferree's Rough Riders; America's Little Wars of Empire, I had similar difficulties. I began collecting together these figures over a decade ago, and put the collection together in a haphazard fashion. So, using the orders of battle in the rules, I thought I'd try a part of the famous battle of San Juan Heights:

This was my first attempt to put the forces together. It was fine for the Spanish, as I could muster enough figures for the Talavera Regiment, the Porto Rico regiment, some counter-guerillas (the original contras?), a reserve and a mountain gun battery, but my US forces quickly proved lacking in numbers. So, I had to rethink, and decided on a part of the battle for El Caney, specifically, the US attack towards the El Viso blockhouse, involving the 3rd, 20th and 7th US infantry and a gatling gun detachment. But I had to use Buffalo soldiers (black troops) as stand-ins for the 3rd:

What will be immediately apparent is that Rough Riders really sticks to historic numbers, so even though I only intend to field three US regiments, as opposed to the nine that faced the Spaniards at El Caney, the numbers still stack up as 19 Spanish figures and a blockhouse versus 81 US infantry and the gatling gun detachment. Yikes! The key will be in the effectiveness of the game mechanism. 

As evidence of the haphazard recruitment process, here are some Cuban patriots/nationalists/guerillas/machete-wielding types which will not be seeing action:

Nice figures - especially the moustaches!

Finally, smoke of the moment:

The pipe bowl on the left, minus its stem (I bit through it - modern life can be rather annoying, hence the broken stem!) came from a batch of pipes made in the 1950s from Algerian briar. Briar pipes are made from the roots of briars, so there is every chance that the briar was growing in the heat of North Africa a century ago. At any rate, it was dug up and turned when Algeria was a bit different from now, before the most successful ethnic cleansing of the latter part of the last century - anyone seen a pied noir lately ?

Thursday, 26 April 2012


The T34 newbuild is complete - and I have dived in with the Mig pigments:

As you can see, I gave it laldy (a Scots word, the meaning is probably reasonably clear). I had a little attempt at using the pigments as per the instructions (instructions! What true born Briton ever bothered with the instructions?!). What they say is that the pigment should be added to the model, then, afterwards, fixed with turps. Now,  I tried that but it had the effect of diluting the pigment and smoothing out the dust-like, or mud effect. So, I reverted to my pastels technique of applying thinners then the pigment. 

Well, chaps, what's the opinion?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


... but not as in stone ground bread, sandals, and difficult population pressure questions. I'm getting there with the T34, which was undercoated before I went to work, then, this evening, received its tracks, followed by the top and bottom of the hull joined. Without glue neither operation would have worked properly, and I wouldn't like to be a small child (the kit box stated 'my first kit') trying to struggle with the tracks. Anyway, construction was enough advanced for it to receive a basecoat green. It's a couple of years or so since I've painted up Soviet kit, and this was the first time I'd used Xtracrylix XA1811 Russian Tank Green, which looks like this:

Xtracrylix, of course, are made by Hannants, which offer a first rate mail order service. Although I have used their enamels in the past, they have one big drawback - the stink. Think major oil spillage and you're almost there. The acrylics range, happily, is non-pong, and wide, covering armour and aircraft. Now, on giving the T34 its Xtracrylix coat I was pleased by the look, but it made me think about my other 20mm Soviet kit:

This is some of my Soviet steamroller, but just look at the variety of greens - from the new T34 in the foreground to the comedy green heavy artillery at the back. Mmmm. If I was a 'modeller' I'd be worried. But I'm a toy soldier and wargame enthusiast - so I'm not! 

Tomorrow, weathering and .... Mig pigments.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

New build part 1

Well, I'm off. I've started the T34. First, a good soak to clear the kit of 'fat' (the instruction sheet is, not surprisingly written by a Russian with an Rossiya-Angliskii dictionary). Three sprues, as below:

This is the first time I've built a kit that advertises itself as being 'snap together' with 'no glue needed'. I wondered how that would work, but it has been well thought out, and goes together neatly, though I have used glue. Hard, slightly brittle plastic, and, hence, parts flying here and there, and it looks as if I've lost one of the rear tow hooks down a crack between the floorboards! Not helped by my dreadful eyesight. But I can live with that - the tow hook, the eyesight dam' annoys me. Anyway, an hour or so has taken me to this stage:

A bit blurry - my apologies. I'll give it a quick undercoat before I go to work tomorrow, then I should be able to crack on with the build in the evening and give it a first coat of Russian tank green. Looking at the M1943 turret, I'm sorely tempted to paint it as a captured Finnish example - Steve Zaloga (all hail the tank god!!) and James Grandsen's The Eastern Front; Armour Camouflage and Markings, 1941 to 1945 (Arms & Armour, London, 1983) has some excellent plates. We'll see.

Also today, the good fellows of the United States' Parcel Service and our own (rapidly being destroyed by management and EU competition directives) Royal Mail chaps brought me a parcel from The Virtual Armchair General, containing, among other things:

The pre-printed Action Deck for 'Rough Riders'. 1898 comes closer! Yee ha! 'We've got them dam' Yankees on the run', 'Er, Sir, General Wheeler, Sir, we are the Yankees'.

Monday, 23 April 2012


and 'look what I've got'. Having decided that I rather enjoyed the Grant armour refurb, I thought I might try my hand at armour newbuild, something that I haven't done for a good while as I tend to go for resin vehicles from the likes of Minimi and Frontline. Also, the weathering part of the refurb spurred me on to buy some:

I have read of these magic powders in aircraft, train and military modelling magazines, but never used them. When I have wanted to add mud and dust I have scraped off dust from artists' pastels and stuck it to vehicles with thinners, as below on a White Army Whippet:

But there are two problems with this method, firstly it is a fiddly nuisance, and, secondly, most of the dust still ends up on one's hands. So, for wargames models I have tended just not to have bothered, as here:

Three Frontline T34s. But, even given they are for games, they still look a bit bare - I certainly don't like the tracks in this view! So, the task is (as 'Mike the Knight' says), build:

and use the Mig pigments.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

By George!

A Happy St. George's Day to you all! Unlike in Scotland and Ireland, the English aren't granted their patron saint's day as a holiday (we have no Parliament for England, you see), but I send patriotic greetings to one and all. Of course, we share this saint with many across Christendom, and the St. Georges that hang in my little room here testify to this:

Saint Georges, in 54mm from France. I rather like this little fellow - he looks like a small schooolboy seeing off a papier mache dragon; fine sandals St. Georges is wearing too, probably Clarks' 'Start Rite'.

And, a much more business like chap:

A Georgian St. George which I bought in Walsingham - a very High Church (an Anglican term) town lost to time in Norfolk, and dedicated to Our Lady of the Sea.

However, and wherever, you see St. George, here's to a world not given over to materialism.


(P.S., the blogger thingy will say I posted on Sunday, 22nd, but here in Mercia, England, it is Monday, 23rd April)

'I come across the desert...

... to greet you with a smile/My camel is so tired, it's hardly worth my while'. If you remember that, you've got grey hair, or no hair. The Mahdi's mad chaps are finished:

Cue much unearthly howling (uluating ? Is that the word?), headlong rushing at amazing speeds, and much swearing from Jolly Jack Tars, hard-bitten soldiery, and, one presumes, from Tarboosh wearing fellows.

All I need to do now is make some special bits of scenery, and a game of Peter Pig's/RFCM's 'Patrols' will be a big step nearer.

If you haven't read it, the book on the right, A Good Dusting, is well worth spending time on. And if one wants to mess with history and its 'meaning', then there are lessons there - British chaps drawn into a lot of very nasty fighting in a nasty place for no good reason other than an ally (in our case a very powerful one, in the old case, a weak, but important one) wanting British chaps be there. If that makes any sense.


My apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days. It's been a rather odd weekend. The weather has been warm, cold, stormy, heavy rain, then bright sunshine. All as it should be for this time of year, so perhaps odd weekends are all as they should be for this time of life. Anyway, here's an olive branch, or two:

I'm hoping that there will be no further severe frosts, so I brought my little olive tree out from its winter quarters in the greenhouse. About ten minutes after I took the photograph it was throwing down very cold rain. Fascinating trees, olives, and remarkably slow growing. This one is about seven years old, and its slow growth makes one realise how much tree planting is inter-generational, and what a cruel thing it is to bulldoze olive groves (you know who you are). I buy shoes made in Northampton anyway, but I certainly wouldn't wear 'Cat' shoes.

Thursday, 19 April 2012


... almost. The Grant refurb that is. Chips, weathering, dust, pennants, all that is missing is crew for the turrets. I have a Matchbox Humber armoured car chap waiting, and I'll search about for another likely fellow. I know I have some Britannia 8th Army tank crew, but they are a bit bulky for Airfix armour, so I'll see what I have in the way of plastics. Anyway, here they are (at last!):

Looking at them now, I am reasonably pleased with how the refurb turned out. What didn't work, however, was the idea that I could do it quickly. It probably didn't take much less time than if I had done them from scratch. However, they've been given a new lease of life ... after nearly 40 years!

On another note, I was working at home today so I could enjoy coffee and pipe breaks in m'garden. The apple blossom is looking good:

Unfortunately, I can't remember the variety of the tree above. I bought it as a maiden in a bag (a gardener's term!) from Woollies, so it is 'the Woollies' apple'. However, I can remember this one:

It's a russet, which is, quite simply, a marvellous apple with rough khaki skin and very white flesh, and it keeps as well!

Today was one of those wonderful April days - bright sunshine (see above), then sudden, very heavy rain, a brief thunderstorm, more sunshine, and cold with it all. This is a good time of year, and, in the past, when I was a poet (!), one of my published efforts was:

'Familiar Aprils' appeared in NAVIS, Winter 1994/95. A much lamented (at least by me) magazine. I had to blow away dust and cobwebs to find a copy. We are like the grass...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Air minded

Having greatly enjoyed the Duke of Tradgardland's reading recommendation in the shape of John Biggins' A Sailor of Austria, I ordered another in the Prohaska series of novels:

which I received today from the ever-reliable 'Warwick Books' - thanks, Keith! The cover on the McBooks Press, Inc., editions of Biggins' novels are very evocative, and look pretty accurate to boot. Oddly, The Two-Headed Eagle, in which Prohaska takes to the air, leaving his KuK U boat behind (see A Sailor of Austria for the reason why), has one of those irritating review 'soundbites' which informs one that the novel is 'hilarious'. I often wonder about reviewers' senses of humour - the first in the series seemed to me to be serious and poignant, with the humour being incidental. Anyway, I'm looking forward to starting on this one. My thanks again, Your Grace, for the recommendation.

The day began with Prohaska in the air, and quickly moved on to my noticing that the famous Kiwi master of the refurb is leading on a build a 1/72 Hawker 'weather' aircraft project - see details here. I was pretty sure that I had a couple of Hurricanes in the loft, and I do! So, I'll be asking to take part. Here's the kit - an Academy 1/72 Hurricane Mk.IIc:

And here's another Hawker product I made a couple of years ago, a Matchbox Hawker Fury converted (slightly - new undercarriage and exhausts) to one of the Spanish Republic's three Hispano Furies:

1930s elegance at its height.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Glut of Grants

Is there some unearthly spiritual layline that links the subconscious of middle-aged wargamers? Are we merely cells in a bigger life form ? Do we exist as part of some greater wargaming and toy soldier protean mass? Er, no. However, I was amused to see that that august personage, Will, of 'Will's Wargames Blog', has also turned his attention to Airfix Grants. Will, of course, is another master of the refurb, and has done a very neat job on his desert Grants, which sport that late Western Desert camouflage of wavy dark earth or black patches. It actually shows just how good those original Airfix armour kits were - robust, looked right (to the non-rivet counter), and long lasting. A sort of Soviet Union of plastic kits production. Will has, probably wisely, chosen not to bother with the desert sandshields, which is, I think, perfectly kosher as an option, but I am now a little more pleased that I did bother to make a muss of them. So, how are my slow cooking refurbs:

Tonight's work was limited to gloss varnishing, then applying turret and hull numbers. The slightly too large turret numbers come from a Fujimi Valentine kit which I made in 1974. It cost the shocking price of 50p! With these basic markings on, I will be able to progress to weathering, chips etc tomorrow evening, and the refurb will, I hope, be finished.

I have not, however, forgotten other chaps on the painting table, and I made a little more progress with some of those rather excitable fellows, followers of the Mahdi:

Note the ghosts of 1812 wandering in the background. If they keep turning up like that I will be forced to try my hand at their two dimensionalist selves.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Tanks and trees

Well, it's a bodger's hell here in Hobbit towers. The refurb Grants are coming along reasonably poorly. The sandshields are done, and I added the rather prominent Western Desert style headlights out of sprue and slices of plasticard. Then some paintbrush aerials to the turrets - how long they will survive is another question altogether. Then a couple of more coats of desert sand, progressively lightened with white. So, now the 'quick' refurb looks like:

What I want to know is how that Kiwi fellow manages to roll out vehicle after vehicle from his refurb factory?!

Now the trees. Finished, but they are dam' difficult to photograph, as the large flat area reflects light alarmingly. You'll have to take my word for it that they don't look too bad. The little fellow at the base (painted in 1985 as a Danish Waffen SS volunteer) is another surprise find - he was in a box of bits that contained the sprue I used for the Grant headlights. Why my old flats are strewn around like this, I do not know.

On a more gaming note, there are still hopes that the Span-Am game will come off...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Slow small scale progress

The refurb continues, with the sandshields done and undercoated. As I am using Humbrol enamels, it is, of course, taking time to make progress. Is it just me or did matt colours dry much more quickly in the good old days? So, I thought I'd have a crack at my flats. Thinking that I probably could do least damage with the trees, I started with the two pine trees. I've only done same base coats, but it isn't looking good so far...

This flat painting business is going to be interesting/frustrating. Odd how one needs such different techniques for different types of miniature.

But to counteract slow progress on the figure front, I had a good day in the garden (bit of tidying up, a few nasturtiums - dark reds - and more Californian poppies in a few stony places), and on the allotment. I managed to dig over the last bed, which had been given a gratis covering of green manure (clover) from a neighbouring plot, dig out a trench that will eventually house the runner beans, and my wife did much soil sieving for parsnips, and the first lot of parsnip seed went in. Still far from perfect on the plot, but looking much better. Very satisfying, it makes me feel as if  am actually doing some good.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Slow flows the refurb

The story of the refurb so far. Looking through my various books on the Western Desert campaign, I realised that there are very few photographs of the Grant; the most frequently reproduced being the famous image of Monty in one. That is interesting in itself - does it mean that few photographs were taken, or that few Grants were in theatre, or that there were plenty of Grants, but with a short lifespan, or that picture editors don't like them? Anyway, the images I could find suggested that the turret hatches were split not fore and aft (as I had crudely split them nearly 40 years ago). This was a pain, as the holes that I had cut so long ago were rather hacked out of the thick plastic and if I re-aligned the hatches then I would be forced to make a new turret top. This is not the idea behind 'refurb'. Happily, I discovered images of hatches split fore and aft! So, that was sorted. The next stage in the refurb was new sandshields. These seem to have come in a wide variety of shapes, so much so that they must have been field applied. I am going with a simple, boxy, shape:

Just getting this far with the sandshields took a surprisingly long time. The idea that I had was that refurbing would be less stressful than building from new, but it isn't turning out that way - I've spent a good part of the day worrying about 'light stone' as opposed to 'desert sand'. But, at least the little project continues.

Plant of the moment: euphorbia (a large variety!). I love the flower heads, they look like something H G Wells dreamed up - aliens from another world. I had two clumps of the things in more suitable settings, but the 2010/11 winter killed them, so, at the moment, I only have these, self-seeded (another plus in my book) fellows in a rather odd spot. But I like them.

P.S. be careful of euphorbia sap - nasty stuff!

Friday, 13 April 2012


... not, as I writ before 'refirb'. I apologise. The refurb has begun:

Firstly, two of the Grants, running gear off, tracks off, de-hatched, old sandshields (made out of the bubble plastic that used to contain series 1 Airfix kits in the early 1970s, and a very poor substitute for plasticard - ersatz at its worse) binned.

Sanded down to reduce the rather prominent rivets and smooth out the odd globit of tube cement (all I had then. All there was, I think), running gear superglued back on.

First coat of Humbrol 93 on the hulls and running gear, and Humbrol 119 (rust) on the very shiny tracks. Interestingly, the vinyl tracks are in very good condition after nearly 40 years, and I suspect that is partially due to the thick coat of gloss silver (Humbrol 11?) with a touch of white. The Matilda is also Airfix with a Britannia commander, and the Dingo (a favourite vehicle) is Minimi Miniatures. Next stage, new sandshields.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Here be dragons...

... but not dungeons (fortunately - the UK, at least under New Labour, sending unfortunates to other countries' dungeons for 'enhanced interrogation'. Shame). Five years ago, my wife and I enjoyed a holiday in Ljubljana, the small, but perfectly formed, capital of Slovenia. It is an elegant capital, still boasting very fine art nouveau buildings constructed under Austro-Hungarian rule; Ljubljana then being a staging post to the KuK's main port, Trieste, which has appeared here before. The subsequent, post Imperial horrors are now only to be seen as exhibitions in the city's museum. One of the striking things about Ljubljana was, to my eyes at least, the graffiti written in English. And one of the interesting things was what appeared to be patriotic graffiti relating to the city's symbol, the Green Dragon, here seen on a bit of tourist kitsch that I rather like:

What a very fine fellow indeed! Of course, in the UK, the most famous dragon is the Red Dragon of Wales. Growing up, from the age of six to 18, on the Deeside of the Wirral, I was very aware of Wales. My best primary school friend was Welsh, as was a good friend of mine to this day from when I was a grammar school boy; and my grandmother was a Davies whose family came from the Lampeter area. Also, as a keen Cub Scout I was annoyed about how difficult it was to draw the Welsh flag as opposed to the flags of the other consituent elements of the UK. But, now, the English (well, a few of us) have (re-)discovered our own dragon, the White Dragon:

Another fine chap. Of course, the English have the Cross of St. George (which is, I think, the oldest continually used national flag in Europe), and the Three Lions (or leopards) flag. However, the latter is definitely Norman, and the St. George flag has the origins of its popularity with the Crusades, and can be seen to be yet another Norman symbol. We could argue about that, just as we could argue about the historical reality of our Anglo-Saxon (the fellows who, after all, created England) White Dragon. But I won't, and the White Dragon flies over my few square feet of England.

It does say 'ramblings' at the top of this blog, but just to compensate, here's a model aircraft photo, 1/72 Hurricanes:

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Triscele, Trinity, tripos...

.... three, so they say, is a magic number. It occured to me this evening that I've had a New Zealand three recently. A fortnight ago a young New Zealander doing a not untypical antipodean tour of the world - in her case a six month trip - came to stay with us. The connection was via my wife, who is a Scot, and an Islander to boot (Lewis and Skye), and ergo, related to a good slice of New Zealand, Canada, and a chunk of the USA. So that was number 1. Last week was my birthday, and I received Philip Haythornthwaite's The Colonial Wars Source Book. The book was my wargaming son's idea, so you will realise that he is merely attempting to get me to build yet more obscure armies for him to inherit ! When I settled down to read the book, I decided to dip into it at random, and opened it at p.287, 'The first New Zealand War'. That was number 2. The final leg of my tripod is a blog that I have only recently begun to follow - Plastic Warriors. And the blog comes from, yes, NZ.

Plastic Warrior is a stunningly prolific wargame modeller, and one of his specialities is the 'refirb'. He takes old, battered, abandoned, cheap, second hand vehicles and 'refirbs' them to wargame standard. It is fascinating to watch (he posts almost daily - 24 hours ahead of UK types), and it struck me that I have plenty of kits that I made in the 1970s that could withstand refirb. The first three (of course) are:

Three Airfix Grants that I made in 1973 or 1974, certainly no later than 1975. At that time my resources were very limited and what funds I did have went into John Sanders' inspired projects - this one being a troop of Grants for the Gazala battles, I think. Sanders' Airfix Magazine articles on the Eighth Army in the Desert were marvellous, especially as I had no access to plasticard or anything sophisticated like banana oil, but I did have a big lump of balsa wood and card. I was saddened to read, just a year or two ago, on Vintage Wargaming, that Sanders died as a relatively young man, not long after his Airfix Magazine work.

On another note, the box that contained the three old Grants also contained a single flat that I painted in 1985:

Mmmm, poor stuff, but I thought it good at the time. Must do better with my 1812 Canadians.

A final three for tonight: I managed to get nearly an hour in on the allotment - no: 1. I have blogged - no: 2. I will now paint some Fuzzy Wuzzies - no: 3. Or, perhaps I'll have a pipe in the garden, and look at the stars.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Don't just sit there...

...paint something! Well, like most of Western Christendom it was back to work today, and it was a beautiful day outside too - high, climbing clouds, clear sunlight and occasional quick bursts of rain. But that was outside the office, sigh. Snap out of it! Yes, my painting table groans with the unfinished:

As you can see, the Mad Mahdi's Ansar have progressed little since I last mentioned it; the two new Hovels Northern European houses have been undercoated, so no excuses there; in the middle of the picture there is a nearly finished US gatling gun for Cuba 1898 which I will complete very quickly as the chance of a game is high. The further expanses of the table also have some challenging features:

The Panzer I in the foreground is intended for the SCW, and I am dithering. I think I've decided that I will use Humbrol 'tank grey' (oh, for the 'Authentics' !!!), along with acrylics for details. But, it is some time since I painted a tank, and I fear that my efforts may be poorer than usual. The real challenge, however, are the flats, top right. These are the beginnings of my War of 1812 in 30mm Zinngfiguren, and I last painted flats in 1985 before  realised that some very sophisticated techniques are needed.

I must crack on!