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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.'

Friday 30 November 2012


... I have made some inroads into the mass of little fellows rounded up for the painting table. First off are the 20mm chaps of the Cuban exile Brigade 2506 for the Bay of Pigs:

Above and below shows one of the Brigade's M41 'Walker Bulldogs', sent as a reinforcement from Blue Beach (Playa Giron) to Red Beach (Playa Larga) late on the morning of 17th April 1961. The M41s, of which the Brigade had five, appear to have performed well, being used in the direct fire role as well as destroying several T34/85s.

More photographs of Brigadistas, this time defending a road crossing with light weapons and mortars:

I've now got enough little chaps to represent some aspect of the fighting, but the problem is, what do I use for the Fidelistas ? I need some 20mm plastics that are largely uniformed in US green, but with berets, for Castro regulars. I could also do with chaps in shirts to represent the militia, which provided a large part of Fidel's forces, but, again, with berets. Finally, some figures with M1 helmets will do for Castro police. All suggestions welcomed as to what plastics would best represent the side that won.

Wednesday 28 November 2012


... the appointment of the Canadian, Mark Carney, to be the next governor of the Bank of England (from next July) has led to a burst of Canada fever in the UK. We can safely ignore most of what the paid hacks write and say, but I recommend this letter to The Daily Telegraph, which appeared in today's edition:

'Sir, I am just old enough to recall with deep gratitude
how Canada came to our assistance in both world wars.
I will never forget Vimy Ridge and the disastrous adventure
in Dieppe in 1942. The Canadian troops for this ill-considered
adventure were encamped around Dorking in Surrey. We
made many friends. What a fine and generous nation. 
I hope the new Governor of the Bank of England will prove
to be as steadfast as his former nationals were.
John Driver, Farnham, Surrey.'

I couldn't have put it better myself - 'what a fine and generous nation.'

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Round up...

... no, not the extremely potent herbicide that is sprayed around by farmers, gardeners, and random folk who want perfect block paving, but something that I had to do:

These are the half-finished contents of various little boxes that are within a paintbrush throw of my work (dining) table. They've been gathering dust for various lengths of time, but tonight I decided that they needed to be revisited and put back on the painting table. The resultant mass rally is a fine illustration of the butterfly syndrome that many of us suffer from: the photographs show - German paras, Dutch infantry, German artillery, Dutch artillery, British artillery in the Sudan, Cuban invaders for the Bay of Pigs, Hanoverian standard bearers, Turkish officers (for 'Back of Beyond'), Italian infantry and the current refurb - the KV2.

Something must be done! Yes, I must finish the beggars, one and all (and the 20mm railway staff, navvies and coppers, plus the 25mm Home Guard and spigot mortar that didn't make it into the photos).

On a more productive note, I haven't been down to my allotment plot for two months, not since my blood clot fun. So, it was with trepidation that I slowly made my way down there. It was another grey, wet, wet day, with the smell of rotting everything in the air, but the swedes that I had planted at the end of the summer have survived. And here are some of the heroic root veg:

Scots call these 'neeps', and they are eaten in combination with potatoes - 'tatties and neeps'. Although I live in the Heart of England, I am heavily influenced by the Scot that must be obeyed (or, 'her indoors' as the phrase once was). Happily for Mrs Front, I planted a lot of neeps...

Monday 26 November 2012

Liebster frenzy...

As many of you will be well aware, the toy soldier blogosphere is alive with the sound of congratulatory applause (as in the Oscars, only genuine). This blog has been very kindly nominated by two highly esteemed veteran bloggers - Paul of Plastic Warriors, and The Duke of Tradgardland. My thanks, chaps! Very decent of you!

And now, it's my turn to nominate five for:

Actually, it is an almost impossible task. I have a list of 'favourites' almost as long as my arm (and I have fairly long arms). I've been struggling with this all day. Agony! So, my five are:

Castles of Tin: for sheer, breath-taking painting skill, and mastery of the very difficult art of effective painting of flats. Steve is simply a genius.

Battle Game of the Month: Ross Mac's blog puts him into the class of an Elder of Our Tribe. It is toy soldiering at its finest - a great combination of history and imagination, of 40mm and old Airfix ACW, of gridded and ungridded, and an amazing ability to apply the fiendish art of 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis' to war game rules.

Plastic Warriors: One word - INSPIRATION. Paul combines a German capacity to put almost any broken bit of kit back on the battlefield in working order, with a Soviet capacity to produce on a Stakhanovite scale. His mastery of the refurb, and his penchant for old style Airfix and Matchbox, has made me look again at the broken bits of kit washing around in old shoe boxes and to see them once again as potential game-winners. (Mind you, Plastic Warriors only just squeaks into the Liebster as I see that it now has 199 followers!).

The Duchy of Tradgardland: A strange symmetry is at work here, as His Grace and I have many things in common - Span-Am, the Eighteenth Century, teaching (although I am a former School Master), Tolkein, Denmark (I've never met any other Briton who has been to the place, although plenty of us carry genes from it), and we passed, as small scale pre-dreadnought ships in the night, when we were undergraduate contemporaries at the University of Edinburgh. But there is more to the Duchy than this, and His Grace's commitment to the cause of the Imagination is alone worthy of a Liebster.

Pagina di Giano: Giano's blog is a plastic tanky's paradise, and I am a particular fan of his 'family photo' approach to AFVs - a unique way of presenting armour in plastic. Top banana!

Sunday 25 November 2012

Communion of...

... bloggists. Like many people, I'm often in two minds about the whole 'virtual' world that exists, and it took me a long time to enter the e-world of blogging. But, I have to say, I am glad that I did. One of the great things is the discovery that across the world there are plenty of other decent fellows who, in the words of the toy soldier blogger Ben B, are 'freaks who play with toy soldiers'. It is a great comfort to think that there are scattered islands of toy soldier sanity out there. And the informal network that exists through 'followers' and comments on posts makes it feel as if there is a Communion of toy soldier and wargame enthusiasts - a refuge of them indeed!

I've mentioned before how inspiring Paul is over on Plastic Warriors. His dedication to the refurb leads the way, not to mention his Soviet levels of tank production! So, I was somewhat chuffed to see that Paul had picked this humble blog as one of those he has given a 'LIEBSTER AWARD' to. Brilliant ! Many thanks, Paul!! I will, of course, be posting soon on my choices. Watch this space.

I find it very interesting that so many toy soldier/wargamer bloggists are native English-speakers - from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, the USA. There is something in that that I find comforting in a very rapidly changing world. And, I suppose, it all goes back to the French and Indian War. There was a Frenchie once who said, 'My homeland is my language' - which is an interesting debating point. Also, Bismarck once said that the most important fact for the then coming 20th Century was that the USA and the UK spoke English; although, famously, Churchill also said that the Americans and the British were a people divided by the same language. But it is not just the inheritors of the FIW that are part of the Communion, as there are bloggers from Sweden and Italy, for example, who pitch in, and Giano's recent post about a Forces of Valor KV2 build sent me into my loft to dig out an old Fujimi version of the KV2:

 As you can see, it needs a bit of a Plastic Warriors' style refurb. The drive sprocket is damaged, and there is an important bit of the mantlet missing from the top of the turret front, which I'll have to scratch build.

The model has been sitting in an open box in the loft for about five years, so the way in which the dust has gathered on the tank is interesting, gathering, as it did, in the nooks and crannies, but not really on the raised surfaces.

Finally, at the end of this ramble, another view of the marvellous Upper Canada blockhouse:

Top banana!

Saturday 24 November 2012

Upper Canada...

... and points south. From the birch forests of the Eastern Front 1943/4, to the eighteenth century and the pine forests of Upper Canada:

Loyalists march out. A foraging party, or perhaps a patrol on the watch for rebels heading for Quebec. And the magnificent block house from which they sally forth? Here it is in its laser cut MDF glory:

It's made by '4Ground', and I was alerted to it by another blog, which I can't find now (too many on my favourites list!). This is the first MDF kit that I've made, and what a joy it was to put together. I would have found making a blockhouse like this a major project, but in a couple of hours I had this ready for the table:

Not only did it go together remarkably well, but it is pre-coloured, and, given that the hardest effect to get right is wood, that is a great bonus. Further, as you can see, the internal walls are also finished properly:

And details, such as ladders, are included.

This is, all in all, a first class bit of wargames kit, and I heartily recommend it to those good servants of the King who wish to fight off the Frenchie and his over-enthusiastic allies, or the dam' rebels, or even the Yankee of 1812.

And, just to make my toy soldier day perfect, I bought yet another Osprey by the prolific and highly esteemed Rene Chartrand:

Vive le Roi!

Friday 23 November 2012

Somua endstate...

Heller Somua done and dusted:

For mid/late war on the Eastern Front, where, apparently, there were still some two dozen in the line as late as December 1944.

I took the opportunity to continue the dunkelgelb quest by trying the Xtracrylix dunkelgelb. In its undiluted, unwashed, unfaded form it looks like this:

As you can see, it has that greenish cast that may well have been characteristic of dunkelgelb. I took the Flames of War advice which is that this sort of greenish version is good for well-worn kit. I must say that I am no clearer in my mind which shade I prefer, as I do like the more ochre look, but, then again, this greenish version has its merits. And, of course, once the additional disruptive colours are added, and the whole thing is toned down, it looks less stark. 

The Somua is a one off in my little army, but I think it will go nicely as part of a late war kampfgruppe, which could well include odds and sods, such as my FD (L). So, these two French vehicles may well see each other on the table top:

The Traction Avant is now suitably war-weary and dirty, and, as I hoped, all the dust of active campaigning hides many flaws:

Tuesday 20 November 2012

This is London calling...

... If you wish to hear your esteemed blogger, the Little Englander, talking on the wireless about Red Clydeside, Churchill and his tanks; the use of Decoy Sites to fool the Luftwaffe; and wartime morale in the UK, then click here.

Much to my satisfaction, this programme went out on the Home Service (aka 'Radio 4').


St Edmund, the Martyr

20th November 869 - 20th November 2012

Patron Saint of England
icon St Edmund king and martyr

Monday 19 November 2012

Kit bash...

... it's what we do. I managed to bash the main components of the Somua today, as well as cutting off the top of the commander's coupla and adding a crude split-hatch:

While doing that little job, I couldn't help wondering just what the French designers were up to permanently buttoning-down the commander (in a one man turret!). Even with the big, drop-down rear hatch, the one piece coupla must have really accentuated the sense of battlefield blindness.

The Heller Somua kit is straightforward, but a bit simple, and marred by too many sink marks. I can feel the need for something more detailed, and, hopefully, a bit sharper. So, it's going to be:

My DAK forces are missing one of these heavy recovery vehicles, so it's time to unload one in Benghazi. And just look at the yellowyness of the base colour on the Trumpeter box illustration!

Saturday 17 November 2012

Die banana is gelb...

... but not dunkelgelb, whatever that might be! After my last post, DaveM directed me to a very good page on the 'Flames of War' site that discusses painting dunkelgelb in a small scale context. I won't repeat the very sound advice there, but just note that I heartily agree with the general thrust of the article which really comes down to 'you pays your money, you takes your choice', or 'horses for courses', or something like that. I particularly like the approach that a key determinant in what colour one uses depends on what sort of final look one wants. So, for example, a dirty, battle weary vehicle will use a different shade of 'dunkelgelb' from a more recent addition to the armoury.

Also on the dunkelgelb front, I wanted to take DaveM's advice regarding Humbrol enamels. He recommended numbers 83 ochre; 84, mid stone; 94, brown yellow; and 93, desert yellow. So off I went to the toyshop in town and straight to their Humbrol stand ... er ... they had practically every other paint number in the range except these four!!! What?! So, I picked up a couple of Revell enamels and left in disgust (after paying for them, of course). So, that leaves my current choice for dunkelgelb as:

The acrylic at top left is Hannants Xtracrylix 1805 'Dunkelgelb'. Now, I only bought this recently and have yet to use it, but if the lid is anything to go by, it will do nicely for a dirty and weary vehicle - going by Flames of War advice. The others are Humbrol 225, middle stone; H93, desert yellow (I used this for the recently built Armourfast Crusaders); H63, sand; H250, desert sand; then three Revell enamels, of which, 88, ochre, is my current dunkelgelb favourite. Interestingly, the Humbrol paint chart I have has both Revell 16 and Revell 88 as being equivalents for Humbrol 94, brown yellow, yet the Revell colours are clearly quite different. Where does all that get us ? Er, not sure. But, I think I might try the Revell 16 on the Somua in German service. All I have to do is kit bash the thing first. 

Friday 16 November 2012

French and dunkelgelb...

No kit bashing done today as I'm somewhat below par. However, I spent some time scouting round the internet for photos and information about Somua S35s in German service. I had supposed that they would all be finished in panzer grey, which is a tad boring, and doesn't really fit with my mid/late war German set up. However, I found photographs of Somuas finished in yellow base with various disruptive patterns. These included Somuas on the Eastern Front in 1944. Excellent. And that brings me back to the issue I raised on this blog a short while ago - what is the best yellow/ochre base colour for small-scale kit bashers and wargamers? As I said, I generally use Revell 88 'Ochre', but DaveM in a reply to the post gave some Humbrol alternatives:

  • Humbrol Matt 83: ochre
  • Humbrol Matt 84: mid stone
  • Humbrol Matt 94: brown yellow
So,  intend to try one of these on the Somua, which will also be given a split-hatch.

While grubbing around for information on French kit, I came across these 20mm resins:

An H39 leading two R35s. I can't remember who made them, only that I bought them at 'Colours' in Reading about 12 years ago, and my son painted them. 

I also dug out this old Profile from 1973. I have a stack of Profiles on aircraft - brief, concentrated bits of information - but few on AFVs. The author of this one, Major James Bingham RTR, also wrote Profile 36 on the Hotchkiss H35 and 39, as well as the Somua S35. I would like a copy of that - must hunt for one.

Thursday 15 November 2012

FD(L) transport...

... OK. I've finished making a mess of the elegance that is the Traction Avant. All it needs now is a very good dusting with MIG pigments. A very good dusting indeed, so that some of the errors can be disguised. Once dusted, it will be based, then permanently join other elements of my 20mm Luftwaffe Field Division transport, as here:

It was a very tricky kit. The primary problem was my incompetence. This, when allied to my big, fat fingers and the small size of the model, led to numerous mini-disasters. Also, the inevitable problems with a short run kit didn't help.

The wheels repeatedly broke off when handling the model (hence the need for a base). The bodywork just refused to match up, but I decided that the resulting gaps (largely over the rear wheels) would have to remain, as I don't think the kit could withstand filling and sanding. 

Finally, the 'templates' (line sketches in the instructions) for the windows were inaccurate. What was worse, even though I dipped the scratch built windows in Klear to prevent misting by the glue, they still misted ! But, that's where the dusting will come in. Nonetheless, a very nice addition to the FD (L) supply train, and in keeping with my general view about adding in plenty of non-German kit to German forces.

Speaking of which, I think this will be the next up:

I do have other 1940 French kit, but  am very tempted to add this to the German Army. The question is, did the Germans equip all their Somuas with split-hatch commander's hatches, or did some retain the domed coupla?

Monday 12 November 2012

Short run blues...

... I've actually been listening to random bits of 50's jazz, rather than blues. But some cat like 'Howling Wolf' would be good accompaniment to this evening's efforts with the beautiful 1/72 Citroen traction avant. It's a short run kit, so it suffers from the usual problems associated with them - the plastic is pretty brittle, and  I managed to snap both the front and the rear bumpers (fenders); the sprue is too heavyweight for the parts which means one has to take a lot of care cutting, and a good deal of sanding is necessary. But, I actually find the sanding process quite therapeutic, so I won't complain too much. The current state of play is:

The figures are 20mm Luftwaffe Field Division types, and give some idea of the size of this little model.

I think that I will base the Citroen once it is finished, as it needs a bit of extra protection against my clumsiness. Looking at the chap with the grenade and the state of the car, it brings to mind, of course, the famous 'Italian Job' scene, but I will forbear to quote.

The kit provides some Luftwaffe number plates, and I've decided to go for this option. The photograph above is taken from the Osprey on Luftwaffe Field Divisions 1941-45, by Kevin Conley Ruffner and Ron Volstad. The combed out Luftwaffe were not the most fortunate of men, and much of their kit was extempore, captured, scrounged etc. The photo shows a mix of vehicles, including what looks like a Renault truck. So, the traction avant will join various bits and pieces to help support my forlorn Luftwaffe chaps.

Sunday 11 November 2012

11th hour...

... of the 11th day, of the 11th month.

In memory of all British, Commonwealth and Empire servicemen and women.

There are 30 men of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment here, in training, under Sgt. Gregory, in July 1916. Of these men, eight survived the Great War. 

Saturday 10 November 2012

Armourfast Crusader II endstate...

... well, nearly. I'm still debating whether to add the characteristic Western Desert aerials with pennants. They would certainly give the Crusaders that extra bit, but it is almost inevitable that I would end up breaking the aerials off. The other remaining jobs are a tank crewman for one of them, and a dusting from the pigments jar. But here they are now:

The Crusader was a bit of a mixed bag, but even at El Alamein it was the most numerous British tank in the field, and most of them were still the two pounder armed Mark II. I must make time to find out what that first rate historian of the British tank, David Fletcher, has to say about the Crusader. The only first hand account of fighting with the Crusader I have come across is the justly famous one by the noted war poet Keith Douglas, Alamein to Zem Zem. That is one of the few genuinely literary works to emerge from the Second World War. Douglas' poetry stands the test of time too, with his 'Vergissmeinnicht' being the best known. I much prefer Douglas' work to that, say, of the other noted Western Desert poet, the Scot, Hamish Henderson, whose work is damaged, I think, by his political agenda/s, not least his faux Marxism. Oddly, I used to live round the corner from Henderson in his latter years - we used the same off-licence.

As I said in an earlier post, I think the jury is still out (or about to deliver the Scots verdict of 'not proven') on these Armourfast Crusaders. On the plus side, they are cheap, having two in a box is a good idea, they look fine overall, and they aren't made in China. On the minus side, unless one is happy with just the basic assembly and a quick one off spray finish, then one still needs the same amount of work to get them table ready. They look perfectly ok, as the photograph below sort of shows:

But, there is quite a bit of detail missing. In the photograph below, the Armourfast Crusader is on the right, compared with an Airfix Mk. III on the left:

The Airfix version sports rudimentary towing eyes and hook detail, along with rivet detail on the lower hull. It also has the smoke dischargers added to the exhausts. The smoke dischargers are a noticeable feature of the tank, and, of course, one could easily add them to the Armourfast kit, but, then, we are moving away from the 'fast' element of construction. Also, the Airfix kit came with the auxiliary fuel tank.

The front view comparison, above, also shows up detail differences, notably the representation of the  head lights, which, even on the Airfix version, could easily be improved.

Nonetheless, they look fine together - a mixed troop, or Rapid Fire squadron, out and about.

Finally, 10th November, and I have just taken these last four 'Red Falstaffs' from my little tree:

Keith Douglas was killed a few days after the D-Day Landings. I am able to enjoy my apples from my tiny English garden thanks to Douglas and the men like him.

Thursday 8 November 2012

French style...

A good friend of mine, and a reader of this blog, was inspired by the recent 'creeping' posts, and the Eastern Front Hanomags, to send me this gem:

A 1/72 kit of simply the most elegant mass-produced car ever. I've long been an admirer of the 'Traction Avant', and came near to buying one from a New Zealander back in 1998. The Kiwi had a sideline in importing these Citroens from NZ, where they had benefited from the high cost of imported cars in the 1950s (leading to owners carefully preserving their cars), and the lack of salt on the roads in winter. But, as usual, family commitments meant that the money went on more mundane matters, but, I had a ride in one .... ah, happy memory! 

But what has all this to do with the 'creeping' posts? Well, when the Traction Avant first appeared in 1934 it quickly became clear that it was a game changer (a bit like the DC airliners of the period), and soon became the car of choice for French gangsters. Of course, that meant that the French cops needed the same. And, as France slipped towards the abyss, so other baddies of one variety or another (e.g., the Cagoule) liked to burn around in this symbol of violent cool. And, unsurprisingly, once France had succumbed to the Nazi jackboot, so the German armed forces bought this powerful, fast, car, and all the usual suspects in both the Occupied and Unoccupied Zones wanted one. That included the Milice - hence the gift. Although, given fuel shortages, I wonder if that is as much part of the post-war myth of the car as any widespread reality. In fact, Traction Avants play a notable part in Louis Malle's controversial 1974 film, Lacombe Lucien, which follows the collaborationist progress of the eponymous Lucien. Traction Avants belt around carrying French Gestapo auxiliaries, and Miliciens on raids - sort of Nazi chic, I suppose. The film was so controversial because Louis Malle had the effrontery to cast the anti-hero as a working class youth. In the early 1970s, of course, the French Communist Party (PCF) was still a powerful force in France, resting on its June 1941-1944 laurels, and still part of the great Soviet axis. There was widespread outrage that anyone could suggest that anyone from the working class could possibly be anything but a 'socialist' of one variety or another. It was a reflection of  Jean-Paul Sartre's mad view that 'anti-Semitism was unknown among the French working class' (what a poisonous little freak!). In fact, just as the current 'socialist' incumbent of the Élysée Palace doesn't look very socialist to me, so other, earlier French socialists seem to have been not quite as Sartre might have imagined them. Foremost among those, of course, was the leader of the PCF from 1972-1994, Georges Marchais. His contribution to France's wartime effort was to manufacture Messerschmitts in Germany. 

Enough of all that - back to the plastic. The 1/72 Citroen is a short run kit from the Ukrainian company 'ACE', so the parts aren't quite as crisp as usual these days, and there are no transparencies. However, there are decals for four options - Heer panzer grey and civvie shiny black. That will be a dilemma. However, I do have some 20mm Luftwaffe field division chaps, and I can imagine the car joining them and other borrowed, begged and stolen vehicles. So, it's looking already like overall grey.

The gift sent me into my shambles of a shed to extract this:

A Heller 1:24 version, still unmade, bought many years ago. I have a smaller scale Heller version in black that would fit the 28mm Milice perfectly, but ... it's missing a wheel! Damn! I'll have to institute a search for the missing wheel - 'round up the usual suspects'.

The shed also disgorged  this Matchbox, 1/32 version:

Part built, but battered by repeated house moves. Sigh.

I might add, before I sign off, that I have been writing this post while listening to music featuring Edith Piaf ('Le Fanion de la Legion', 'Mon Legionnaire' etc), Fernandel, Charles Trenet ('Boum'), Johnny Hess. And, despite my pronounced Francophilia, I am afraid that they just can't sing! 

Tuesday 6 November 2012


... of the Desert. I've mentioned the late John Sanders several times before on this blog. His ten part '8th Army in the desert' series ran in Airfix Magazine in 1973 and 1974, finishing in April 1974. It was an inspired bit of hobby writing, mixing basic facts about the British, Imperial and Commonwealth forces in North Africa with thoughts on organising a wargames army and suggestions about how to get round the dearth of vehicles for the conflict. The great thing for an impecunious grammar school boy was that Sanders was an advocate of using cardboard, buttons, balsa, paper, indeed anything that could, with a bit of imagination, be turned into parts of  desert kit. Even I could both afford and find these things, and I made card White scout cars, card three ton lorries, and chopped up existing models to make desert vehicles. I expect that this non-plastic 'plastic modelling' was pretty normal in those days. In fact, in response to a recent post of mine (26th October) 'S' remembered making his Airfix Magazine conversion of the Stug III into the Su76i using a Roco Minitanks (the cost!), and card. So, on a journey into my loft this evening, I dug out this:

The hull is a Fujimi Valentine (I must have saved up for that), but the superstructure of the Bishop is pure Sanders - cardboard, bits of balsa, and an Airfix 25 pounder gun barrel I bartered some Airfix Waterloo figures for. I remember feeling rather pleased with this card effort, and, about a decade later, this came out:

I can't remember which company made it (Italeri ?), but I was pleased that the card superstructure of my Sanders version was pretty close to the kit version.

I believe that John Sanders died at a relatively young age, but the excellent blog Vintage Wargaming perpetuates his memory. John Sanders - sound fellow.

I've managed no toy soldier work this evening as I decided that if I am, in the near-ish future, ever to crack on with writing the various bits and pieces I am supposed to writing, then I had to try and bring some order to what I could call 'my study'. But I just call it 'm'room':

It now looks a tad tidier, and looking at this photo I realised that for a 'Little Englander' I really am quite cosmopolitan. There are photographs of a Welshman (T.E. Lawrence), and an Irishman (James Joyce), a small bust of the martyr Tsar Nicholas, an icon of a Syrian chap, and a print of Old College, Edinburgh University. And a marvellous poem, 'Comfort', by the Norfolk poet Kevin Crossley-Holland.