This has been a sad week for me. A week of loss and of reflection upon the passing of time. My paternal grandmother has died and with that a permanent and towering fixture in my life has gone.
My grandmother was a quiet woman who held herself with a lot of dignity even in her declining years when she left her city of Glasgow and came here to Girvan to be nearer the family so that we could look after her. That was nearly five years ago and in that time I saw her most days and got to know her far better than I had as a boy. It also meant she got to meet her three great grandchildren and see them regularly as they grew from tiny babies.
Cathy Syme and Gavin Syme in the very early 1980's
I will remember her as a strong person who held my hand all those years ago and learned me the manners that helped make me the man I am. From her vantage point of a birth in the year 1919 she had seen the world change almost out of all recognition from when she was a girl in the roaring twenties.
Come to Scotland and see the verdant green, the deep blues and the slate grey skies of a celtic land. But not this week!
Due to a coincidence of weather fronts the normal warming of May has given way to a much more intense heating that has given South Ayrshire, Scotland and actually Girvan in particular (my town was named the hottest place in the land at one point on Friday and I could believe it) temperatures of 25c to 28c across the middle of the week to this weekend. While this temperature is not unknown here it is rare and it is even more rare to have happened in May. In fact while attending my children’s school fete yesterday afternoon two of the kids actually fainted from heat exhaustion.
From the Promenade to the Beach on Tuesday. Volleyball Tournament on Sat 26th, see the net?
Promenade looking to the south at the Carrick Hills back on Tuesday afternoon
So the play park, the beach and the sea. I took a few pictures so you could see what I mean. Some people say to me ‘why live in Girvan, it is so cold and icy in the winter’…well its cold and icy anywhere in Scotland in the winter but in good weather…well you don’t get scene’s like this in Glasgow or Edinburgh!
The above images were earlier in the week when I took some time to walk the prom to have a thinks and a ponder on certain things while the kids played. But moving on!
Today was also the Volleyball Tournament on the beach and it had a really good turn out. No, I did not play in it but I did sit and watch for a while before heading home…bare foot…across the roasting tarmac.
Volleyball on the Beach!
A hundred plus cars and coaches in the beach facing car park and not a space left anywhere.
I just have to get all of the sand out of my pockets and put some aftersun on now. Scorchio!
Oh, and the tiddler in the top picture…that’s my little warrior!
Well that is it. Five Days on a Pound a day for food. It is now over…
For the last five days I have had, to start with, a little bundle of golden pound coins in my pocket and nothing else. No other coins, no bank notes, no cards, no cheques. Refer to my last post. I think I managed my aim which was to ‘feel’ how it would be to have so little to spend on food but I will be the first to admit that a week was not long enough for a proper experiment. I find myself feeling hungry but more used to it. However knowing that it would end made today easier and knowing it would end meant it was not ‘real’ either. Plus the sheer amount of heat here today put me off eating!
Custard for 17p Excellent!
Bread is very expensive compared to other staples
So in conclusion my previous post on this gave my thoughts on how I felt eating a lot less with the short answer being not good and also having to spend a lot more time and effort finding affordable items and getting to the reduced items in the evenings in supermarkets. However it can be done assuming you can put about ten pounds aside before you start to get bigger value packs of eggs, grain and so on. Also it assumes that you do not need alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine as these are just too expensive.
Oddly enough though overall I actually feel physically better after doing this. Lighter on my feet so to say. Detoxed and Trimmer. It could be the heat talking though.
Taking back to the start the notion that in this day and age working families and children in Scotland are going hungry is just not funny and its just not on. I think now I can identify with that a little more and it makes me just a little bit more angry too.
After my look at the great free Wargame title Irregular Magazine I struck up a conversation with Dave Barker from the mag and after a chat I offered to write an article for the summer edition (yes, I talk myself into all kinds of things!). But to my credit when I learned the theme of the issue was to be ‘Mysteries of the East’ it gave me a chance to make use of my knowledge of Japan and Japanese culture. So I put forward an idea and it was accepted!
More on this when its time but my good friend Sam Croes has agreed to create a piece of art for use with the article. And what is the article…well did you know that in the 23rd century all disputes in Japan are settled by the use of giant robotic sumo? I shall say no more.
Good deeds are their own reward and that is the case for my good lady wife. But I feel the need for more, the need to sing her praises. For you see she cares greatly for not only her own family but for the welfare of others too. This care is shown many ways with her volunteering at the local school and nursery and playgroup whenever help is needed and also raising funds for charity but what impresses me most is her insistence in giving blood.
The Scottish Blood Transfusion Service comes to Girvan every now and again and my good lady is always near the front of the que. This is despite not being able to donate for several years due to being pregnant and being a new mother too three times in the last decade. She donated last night and came home with a little certificate and badge that you can see above. She did not want a fuss to be made but I insisted and here we are.
This week I am trying to live on five pounds for a week (monday to friday) for food. You can learn about this by going to my previous post. We are now at the half way point so what am I thinking. Well mainly I am thinking…hungry, hungry.
I have managed to stick to the budget but I do have some thoughts about this which you should be able to hear over my rumbling tummy!
46p for a week's cereal choice
Finding and choosing food takes quite a while. Instead of a bank note and ‘give me that please’ it is a matter of scanning the shelves looking for the tightest price you can. This often means really bad value as the only packs I can afford are the smallest ones so I can buy something but the amount I get is tiny compared to what could get if I had more money for the same item such as Pasta.
Variety. I am already bored of a meat free diet of mainly bread and pasta.
Vices. I do not smoke or drink much alcohol which is great since I can afford neither. The lack of caffine is getting to me too.
Size Matters. I am not a small fellow, at about six foot and two eighty pounds in weight it needs more fuel for my engine!
Reduced Rack. Major supermarkets reduce the cost of food in the late afternoon and evenings and you can get some really good deals with items dated that day for consumption being some 80-90% off their normal prices. I just have to time it correctly and get in first!
Work and Temper. I am starting to feel a bit cold while sitting at the computer and I have a lot less desire for complex tasks than normal plus my mood is not great as I am constantly hungry.
Avoid the urge to eat once a day. Spread the food, do not eat it all at once. Made that mistake!
Over the last week or so I have watched with interest some messages posted on The Notables Yahoo Group about why the majority of the wargames I have created or maintain do not have ‘a big presence on the net’. You might think this strange what with this blog along with the official company websites and Barking Irons Online plus Orcs in the Webbe and other websites all having our material but that is not what the posting was really about. To me the posting which kicked off this discussion (and confirmed by those who replied to it) was about Blogger.
You see the vast majority of wargamers who are online in their own right use Blogger, a simple and free tool provided by Google, to get their hobby across to the world. Blogger is a community unto itself in that it links up among its own blogs and its users. In fact in order to post on blogs like Tony Harwood’s I had to create a ‘Blogger ID’ even though I do not have a blogger blog. So if you are on Blogger and you search for the wargame products I produce then you will not see them as none of the current online presences we have are part of Blogger. Makes sense eh!
I had been thinking of putting up my own wargaming experiences, my collection, my terrain and my methods in the form of photos and perhaps video too and this is decided me. I will do it and I will use Blogger as the platform for it. Separate to my online personal presence here. When its done you will see all you want to see of my wargaming including the play testing and concept gaming for new games and scenarios. This will take some time as I am as always ruddy busy with many things but more on this when I have it.
It is that time again that makes me realise another year has passed like lightening (very much like the annual London Salute wargame show does), Eurovision is to be held this Saturday!
For those who do not live in Europe or if you do those of you who live under a rock and manage to miss this event each spring Eurovision is a talent show of massive proportions where a musical act from every nation in ‘Europe’ (the definition is rather loose with Russia and Israel taking part for example) takes part and then all the nations vote for a winner. The semi finals are underway now to whittle down the acts to the final group that will sing live in Baku 2012 this weekend.
I LOVE Eurovision and watch it every year but its not for the music. It is for the little party I have in the house and for guessing the winner and for laughing out loud at some of the frankly sublime and crazy acts from every corner of the continent and beyond. I have done this since the mid nineteen nineties and each year I sit up late for the telecast votes to come in. This time we in the UK are represented by musical legend and super heavy weight Engelbert Humperdink. You can see our entry from him below.
So my prediction for this year? Good fun, good laughs, a lot of not so good tunes and the winner…well unless there is a major upset it will be yet another Eastern European state courtesy of the ‘perhaps we should all block vote for each other’ mantra. Chances of it being the UK or any Western European nation…slim indeed.
“Craft Delta Tango 3 please identify yourself. I repeat this is Outpost 32 controller traffic please identify so that we can direct you to landing pad Alpha for customs inspection.”
Lorn Abbott had attempted contact with the incoming star craft for more than ten minutes and it was becoming clear that who or whatever was on the ship was not in a talkative mood. Lorn tried again and then waited as the broad spec beam gave him nothing but empty signal in return. He turned to the assistant controller.
“Bernat I think we are going to have trouble. That ship is close enough now for me to get a visual lock. Its a discus and that means it’ ain’t Terran or even an allied species. Typical luck for us isn’t it I mean the 304th Legion only left three standards ago and all we got here is a detachment and the citizen militia.”
Lorn tried once more since Bernat offered nothing but a grunt by way of a reply. This was pointless. He knew the craft could hear him and its vector meant the Outpost could be its only destination. Who were these creatures? The Central Processor had been running designations for three hours searching its memory for a match to the ship or its markings. Typically the search only took moments once a vessel was in visual range but this alien ship was rare indeed.
The Central Processor toned that its search had returned a positive result and Lorn sighed as Bernat failed to shift his bulk from the console seat even though he was right in front of the CP station. Reaching over Lorn tapped his code into the screen and the information flashed up. Lorn felt sick to the pit of his stomach and after a moment Bernat actually retched.
Lorn picked up the internal com channel and contacted all of the armed Humans and Aliens in the Outpost.
“Alert One. Top Priority! We will have hostile visitors in nine hours time. Confirmation of Zeta Reculians, Greys. Armed and Dangerous. Known slavers and abductors. All outpost security and militia personnel report to command for briefing.”
Lorn Abbott had never held a weapon in his life but the Greys would take him anyway….why did they do this….why?
Work is in progress on the first USE ME Starter Pack titled ‘UMS01 Danger on Outpost 32‘. As outlined already on the blog here this starter pack will contain all book, miniatures, bases, dice and inserts to play three linked unique scenarios either with another player or on your own solo play. You can read the fiction introduction above.
This starter pack is the first of four planned for the 15mm science fiction generic setting and they are quite quick to put together as USE ME is a simple set of rules and each scenario needs to be play tested only twice and once more with solo rules added.
I hope to have more to tell you at the end of the week!
I was quite moved by the newspaper article that I outlined last week here. So to that end I decided on Sunday that I would try and live on a pound a day for food for one week (that is Monday to Friday). It will only be me, not my wife and children and it will not include petrol or other payments (otherwise I will not be able to get to work and I will be the ‘bad guy’ for making the kids live on 25p each a day!). I will post a couple of times to let you all know how its going.
At the moment I am about to head out to the super market to see if I can spend my remaining day’s budget on some reduced food…waste not want not!
I am the Creative Manager of Alternative Armies and its sister brand 15mm.co.uk. While my role involves many tasks its primary one is the creation of new titles in the Wargame hobby market and the development of existing titles. Having been doing this for ten years I like to think that I have managed this rather well....
Read all about what I have been doing recently from my postings.