Jingle Bells, Bloody Hells its Christmas!

Xmas gets into Halloween and more…

A short posting today as I have a lot on just now but its a good one.  When can you tell its not only Christmas but also the blatantly sad side of commercialism?  Well its easy, walk down the main street in Girvan on the 6th of August 2013 and see Christmas decorations for sale blazing away merrily in a shop window.

Yes, I kid you not.  Its a little game my good lady and I play every year with the festive season and also with other dates such as Valentines Day, Halloween, Easter, Summer Holidays and the juggernaut that is Christmas Day.  I can tell you as a FACT that since 2004 not only has the festive season been happening a week to two weeks earlier (taken from first seen as in today) but it has also been pushing aside other famous days too with the full swing of Xmas now occurring before Halloween in the shops in 2012.

It makes me all the more determined to make some seasonal miniatures this year, keep the fun in it, its not all about the money after all.  Not all about trying to grab every single possible sale. Well for some of us.

It made a grim vista as I stood there in a t-shirt in the sun….


Cuddly Alien gifts from America


Huggable Face Hugger and Comforting Chest Burster

A while back my good lady wife got a package in the mail from America from our good friends the McAlisters who came to stay earlier this year.  Yes, I know, its been a while coming but while my good lady opened the box and took this picture on the day I have only just gotten to this posting now.  Honestly you would think I sat about doing nothing eh!

I have always loved the Aliens franchise and particularly the second movie Aliens which to me is the best one.  As a movie it has entered the popular conciousness and been borrowed from countless times and its also had a massive effect on wargaming too being sourced for LOADS of science fiction systems.

Thanks McAlisters!  These might not have acid for blood but they do have the stuffing for hugs a plenty.  🙂


A Little Gift from a Good Friend!


I got a little gift from a good friend.  As you can see it is from foreign fields afar and rather strong in the spirits department at 50% volume.  It is in a wax sealed stone earthenware bottle.  I am a fine fan of Gin and other spirits so I look forward to trying this fine bottle out.  Though I do think I will hold off until cooler weather (its about 27c here just now).  You can learn more about Filliers here and below is some information about the eight year old Jenevers:


Filliers old jenevers are split up according to the amount of time (5, 8 or even 12 years) that the carefully selected juniper berry distillates are left to age in oak barrels.

Stone pitchers containing 5- and 8-year old jenever:

Our malt wine made with maize, rye and malt ages for five or eight years in American oak barrels dating back to 200 l. We blend them constantly in separate barrels with carefully selected juniper berry distillates that have been aged for five or eight years. This guarantees its unique and unadulterated quality and flavour.

Look and taste the 50° Jenever:

Colour: copper, golden brown
Aroma: very sweet and particularly pleasant, complex
Flavour: bitter and sweet, with hints of vanilla, pepper and cinnamon.
Finish: long, bitter with sweetish hints of vanilla.



Totally Choosing a Baby Name…badly.

Recently in a conversation with a friend the subject of baby names came up.  Now I know that is not something you would expect a fellow like me to think about but I have done it three times in the past for myself and also chipped in a couple of suggestions for others.  So why this posting?

Aside from a fun little read I decided to do a quick browse for ‘choosing baby names’ and came across this video.  To me this is an example of a poor way of choosing names for your children.  Have a watch.  The first mother chooses something that will cause endless confusion for her daughter (but not to worry it makes her sound edgy and trendy..well for at least a year as nothing changes like trends!), the second something traditional (after suffering a bit of brain death beforehand) and the third…well she is the best of all.  The third will not tell you the name of the child for ‘internet security reasons’ thereby making her whole appearance on the video pointless (incidentally I found her and the name in less than two minutes online so bang up security job there self promoter!).

My idle muse on this is actually quite simple.  When you have the joy and honour to choose a name for a child do it with kindness and care.  It is the biggest choice you will ever make for that baby, toddler, child, teen, adult, parent before you.  Ignore trends, ignore your friends, choose wisely and choose fittingly too.  That name will benefit or hinder them for their entire life.

I followed my own grandmother’s rules, you might find them amusing or useful:

1. Choose something you are not afraid to shout out loud in the street.

2. Never choose anything beginning with the same letter as your surname (alliteration is not cool!).  Simon Syme anyone?

3. Avoid the names of children of your friends or the friends themselves.  Also give each child a different starting letter in their names, avoids you accidentally calling the child their siblings name!

4. Find out the most common regional names where you live and do not use them (in South Ayrshire it is James and Claire for my generation).

5. Trends change and celebrities are vapid.  Have integrity and give the chosen name time to solidify in your mind before committing to it.


Time for a Change….discarding a now useless bit of kit!


I just had to do it.  I was left with no choice, circumstances and conversations led me to the decision to cast off a piece of useless garb and replace it with something new!  An image here of my original Alternative Armies work t-shirt which has, after ten years of excellent service, given up the ghost.  No point holding on to it any more.  Stitching, holding it together and kind words would not be enough.  No point looking back, ah happy memories indeed but when its done it’s done.    Sometimes when you invest time and love into something it works out, other times it just falls apart on you with nothing but fabricky excuses.

Off to the bin now with you me laddo…

Before you ask…yes, the company has furnished me with another at no charge!  I hope it lasts just as well and as long.


Girvan Civic Week 2013 – My little experience of it…


The parade begins with classic cars!

All week it has been the annual ‘Civic Week’ here in Girvan and normally I make an effort to go along to events and take my three little ones with me.  Support the community and all that, rattle the tin and spend some money.  But this year due to a combination of work and weather I actually missed all but two of the events that went on.  You can learn more about the whole week online but the two main events for me are the Parade and Gig on the Green.


Grim but sounding good!

I am currently fiddling with a new USEME series title so that took up my attention as did the incessant rain that has doused South Ayrshire for the past while (yes I despair, I live in the wettest place there is!) but I got a snap of the start of the Parade which you can see above.  Attendance was down but then it was a rainy, windy and dark day more suited to February than June but people soldiered on.  I then went along to Stair Park where a live performance stage was set up among a few fairground rides and stalls.  I felt sorry for all concerned as the wind pulled at them and distorted the live music being played.   I stood a while and listened and even went back later but it was a sad occasion compared to previous years where sunshine and picnics for hours were the normal faire.

Better luck next summer Girvan!


Long time no Blog, Long time no Break


The Thinker ran the fastest that day!

Its been two weeks since I last made a post on this site.  Have I been away, been abroad, been missing in action?  No.  Not really.  I was here all the while but I was trying out a ‘working break’ that is an effort to cut my workload down while still being at work.  How to do this you ask…well its not complex.

Essentially I wanted time to spend with my children and my wife as the weather here in Scotland finally and I do mean finally began to heat up and it meant time down the beach in Girvan and trips out and about.  I work long hours and answer many hundreds of emails a week along with organising several projects and a dozen other tasks a day.  On top of the wargaming company workload I have this website and a blog and the Notables Yahoo Group too along with other online profiles to update and interact with.  To have a ‘working break’ I organised two weeks where I continued to do the office work but not the additional tasks such as this website.  Call it working to rule instead of working on rules if you like.

In the last two weeks I have attended two large outdoor events, the Mauchline Holy Fair and the Girvan Lowland Gathering.  I have had guests to stay, helped a long term and dear friend and her friend move house, written about ten thousand words of fiction, read four novels, watched half a dozen anime movies and listened to several new and older albums.  I have spent quality time with the greatest lady in the world (my wife!) where she reminded me why she is still my number one after sixteen years together and I had the pleasure of learning that my middle son came third in his sports day at school and my eldest son came first at his (hence the image above).

What has been most interesting though is the concern from several wargamers and others for me.  Why have I been so quiet, am I all right and so on.  Let me say I am fine and what I have been working on will be happening later this summer.  Thank you for your concern one and all!

Lastly I have decided that I can no longer keep up efforts to maintain my tabletop wargamer blog.  So instead of putting it on hiatus I am going to end it totally.  This will be in another post shortly.


May Day Fun!


May Day is one of those days in the year when things seem more possible than not.  What do I mean by this?  Well simply put that on this day depending on what you believe its time to:

  • Smash the Capitalistic System
  • Go on Strike
  • Celebrate a Pagan God or two
  • Dance around a Maypole
  • Lick the dew from the morning grass
  • Run about kissing random people

While I may have done some of these things (not telling you!) it did put all me in the mind to suggest a ‘free postage’ weekend at Alternative Armies and 15mm.co.uk.  Its a holiday weekend in the UK so I think across four days, Friday to Monday, it will do a lot of bored and itchy wargamers good to know they can cash in on my ‘urge to splurge’.  It will be interesting to see the results.

As for the image in this posting, that is what will be on the two websites and associated email campaigns too.  I knocked it up…like it?  I am no artist, not like Mr Jackson or Mr Croes but I like it plenty.  Its like me…blunt!  🙂


The Table of Babel


The Table with my goods upon it

As I noted in my Salute 2013 posting last week upon my return to Girvan I managed to buy some furniture which I had been after for some time.  While none of you will be interested in the three piece suite or such you might well be keen on the above.  A lovely and believe me bloody strong and heavy table.  Its not quite six feet by four but it is ideal for office work and for wargaming too.  Sitting atop its four solid wood legs is a solid wood top, weighing in at over 75kgs for the whole piece.

I know its a little egotistical to have put all of my own writing and published titles on the table along with my Flintloque miniatures but hey, its my table after all.  It will see a lot of use in times to come and it has a lot of potential for underside storage too which I think is vital for wargaming terrain and all the other needed materials therein.  The room I work in is nearing its capacity for storage of books and other materials.  ‘Table of Babel’ well a play on words but also with a more serious intent…who knows just what gaming will be created or taking place on its solid surface.  The peoples of a thousands worlds and dimensions many, creatures and robots, Dragons and Orcs.

Also before I am asked, and I will be asked, what price such a table fit for the gods of gaming?  Well….let’s say a copy of Slaughterloo is the same price.  Bargain!


North Korea – Spend an Hour with this Travel Documentary

Following the BBC’s airing of an undercover report from North Korea last night I decided I was interested enough to look around and find out more.  Time is limited for me (when is it not!) as Salute 2013 is only a few days away now but I took an hour and found a really great video on YouTube by a film maker called ‘Etherium Sky’.  This film maker has produced an excellent, actually better than the BBC’s efforts, travel documentary of his own trip to North Korea.  I recommend that if you have any interest in what is likely to be the most secretive and paranoid nation on earth that you watch it.  It is well worth an hour of your time.

Leaving aside the ongoing and seemingly constant threats of military action and possible thermonuclear attack upon South Korea and other nations by the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea) the documentary was fascinating to me.  I am a big, big fan of the works of George Orwell and to see a state that exists in close to what ‘1984’ describes was very interesting.  I will not spoil the documentary for you but a few interesting points:

  • Lack of Technology – The DPRK is almost medieval in many places.  A lot of the jobs and tasks in the video looked to me, as a student of history, the way Japan did in the 1400’s.  The typical person there has no technology of any kind on their person including a wrist watch or mobile phone.
  • Failing Electricity Grid –   It would be amusing if it was not so criminal but the power grid in the DPRK seemed to fail constantly plunging whole towns into darkness.  That is a society in touble, rule one for a modern civilisation…electricity.  You try living without it.
  • Grinding Poverty – You can find out about the famine that killed a million plus, of the food aid that China and other give the DPRK, but in watching this film you also see the hard manual labour most North Koreans must also put up with.  I don’t even think it was about full employment on farms or such just a lack of machines to achieve more with less labour.
  • Isolationism – As a pariah state North Koreans have NO information about the outside world and this is down right strange.  Never heard of the Beatles, not heard of Star Wars or seen The Eiffel Tower.  We know little about them but they really know nothing about us.
  • Child Actors – It is worth watching this film if only to see the section in the middle of it with a performance put on including dance routines, piano, violin, guitar and acting put on in PERFECTION by DPRK children aged about 4-5 years.  Yes, very young children.  Speaking as a father of three and having been to a dozen or more such performances of this age group..you can only get this level of perfection if the threat of failure is dire indeed for the kiddies.
  • Slight of Hand – A lot of the filming is out of the corner of a window or slyly from a coach or under the arm.  Why?  Well the regime wants you to see only what it wishes you to see.  Taken to the model village, the ideal factory, the perfect hospital and immaculate hotel but not the buildings next door or the stores with empty shelves.  It is awful to watch and so clueless to a modern audience from the West who are just not taken in by this attempt at slight of hand.  Indeed the idea of perfection for the regime is something from the 1970’s or 1980’s, all pre-digital.
  • The Military – Everywhere and everything.  In fact the only thing that seems to run well in North Korea.
  • The Glorious Leader Cult – Scary, scary stuff.  A mix of hacked down messianic religion and fairy tales about the current, previous and first glorious leader.  If the DPRK had any form of free media it would not be able to exist like this.  Some of the stories are really wild.
  • Ideological Failure –  The DPRK is a broken state its obvious to all watching this film.  The reasons for this are many but what interests me is the idea that extreme nations where dictatorship and military led societies ALL seem to fail; why is this?  Lack of investment, a slow down of growth and innovation, public sector meltdown for military spending and so on.  North Korea is like any number of such states in Africa ruled in much the same fashion or it can be compared to the Soviet Union of the 1990’s or the Argentina of the 1980’s.  As you will all know the more democratic a nation’s name is the less democratic it is likely to be indeed throw in a ‘democratic’ or ‘peoples’ or ‘republic’ and I will assure you the nation in question meets none of its own named qualities.

A pariah state.  A place not really of our world.  How long with North Korea remain this way…well in my opinion not as long as the glorious leader would like it to.  But then what do I know, what do any of us know.