Winter Season hits Scotland hard today!

From BBC early this morning central Scotland

I am typing this post between the roar of the wind and the losses of electricity that have been battering Girvan since late last night.  Although the weather service did warn us all that high wind was to be expected I think the country got more than it was expecting.  Early this morning the power went out but not before the local radio reported that the Scottish Government had upped the yellow weather warning to a full red top level alert.  By that time the whole rail network had closed down, part of Glasgow Central Station’s roof fell in and many roads were shut with fallen trees and tipped over vehicles.  Girvan primary school was closed and going to work impossible due to the debris and high wind.  See the BBC for more.  Look at this video for what is happening in South Ayrshire.

Scotrail Train with a broken window

What does this mean.  Well it means no work today and maybe not on Friday depending on the damage and the roads.  No email from me and while I did manage to get The Ion Age release out for today I did that on battery power on an Ipad! No orders will be leaving Alternative Armies, or The Ion Age until next week (I am told Royal Mail has stopped for the moment too).  Apologies to all but there is not much I can do about this….

Its not been a good week for Central Scotland really.


Visibility wins Peoples Millions Prize

I got an email in my inbox today that made me smile.  I support several charities and don’t talk about it much but one of the ones I enjoy supporting the most is Visibility a charity that assists those in the West of Scotland who suffer sight loss or blindness in their efforts to live a normal life.  With the small support of myself and many, many others the charity won a prize of more than thirty thousand pounds with the Peoples Millions prize.  This will allow them to do so much more excellent work.



Children in Need 2013

Today is the annual Children in Need event on television and I, along with the rest of the family have done my part.   I enjoy watching the televised event and I do not donate money by phone.  I donate money by hand held boxes, by boxes in shops and by way of Girvan Primary School’s events.  Today’s event was a ‘wear your pyjamas to school’ day which mercifully it stayed dry for.  After what has been a hectic week at work (see the Havelock ESO results over on the Ion Age blog) I finished up a bit early and picked the three offspring up at the school gate.

There are a lot of charities out there…a whole lot.  In fact I have got to the point where I ignore almost all of them as the feeling of guilt at not dropping coins into every hand that reached out was getting me down at a deep level.  This does not make me a bad person.  In fact I am a ruddy good person as all who know me will point out but my resources are limited.  So I choose which I support and Children get some priority in this as does the UK so Children in Need is near top of the list (after Sense).  It is a very worthwhile cause.

So have a look, have a read.  Have a watch if you can.  Give them some money too.  If you live in the UK and you walk home after work, sometimes the child you see in the street needs your help more than you might know.


180914 a Year to the Day to Go

Daily Mirror Cartoon (Alex Salmond SNP, George Osbourne Conservative)

It is a year to the day until the referendum for independence is to be held here in Scotland.  With one simple question the voting age population of Scotland will make the single biggest choice likely in their lifetimes.

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Head on over to this BBC news page for the facts thus far about to whom and what else the vote will affect next year.  As I said in my previous posts here on the label 180914 there is a long way still to go and my own mind is not made up.  Perhaps its the cynicism over politicians and politics in general or the potential loss of Great Britain, a nation which did an awful lot to shape the modern world, or if the facts and figures prove Scotland would be better on its own.  Perhaps even it is just that I don’t really care I just want this national paralysis over and a choice made.

Either way I will certainly keep posting and as it nears I will do more in depth.  For now…well I am just too busy working to pay taxes to prop up whatever side wins the vote!  After all the economic figures from the YES and NO side are so radically different that one or both of them must be fibbing; they will either need the money or just send it back to me.


First Appearance in Print for The Poet


During the week we took delivery of a special book from my children’s school.  This book, as you can see above, took entries from across the United Kingdom by children who like to write and put them into one volume.  My middle son, The Poet, is really keen to be a bit like his dear dad and to have a room full of books some of which he wrote himself.  He was one of a hundred in the book.  This is the first step as it were to becoming an author. Well done!


To avoid being a cynic I will point out that I was well aware that the massive seventeen pound price tag for this little book was a money making exercise but to be honest I did not care this time.  Seeing my son so happy about getting his little tale in a book was well worth the money to me.  Encouraging children is a prime part of parenthood and beyond keeping them safe, well fed and properly educated it’s at the top of the list.


Parliamo Glasgow – Stanley Baxter

While live is mighty fine by the sea in sunny Girvan, Ayrshire I do sometimes miss the city of my birth; Glasgow.  Following a recent conversation with a friend who has never been to the city and in trying to explain to them that when I was a ‘wean’ the dialect spoken there was often impenetrable not only to non-english native speakers but also the majority of the other residents of Britain!   While I speak reasonable ‘Glasgow’ I am long out of practise (except for creating Joccian dialect in Flintloque!) so I directed myself and friend to YouTube and Stanley Baxter.

Long, long ago the great Scottish comedian Stanley Baxter did a series of sketches, quite hard to get these days it seems, where he acted out typical scenes of the city and then after delivering the lines in ‘Glasgow’ he would then switch to a proper RP English accent to give a translation in the style of a travel programme.  Have a look and enjoy…even if you have to run it back a couple of times!

Oh and yes all Scottish people can speak proper English when they want, but what would be the fun in that.   Differences and diversity make Britain the great nation it is today.


RNLI Girvan Harbour Gala 2013

On Sunday it was the annual Harbour Gala Day in Girvan and I have to say that apart from nicer weather this year over last the day also seemed busier and the mood better than in 2012.  I did not spend long at the Gala having other things to attend to in the morning but I did see a very inspiring team up between the Life Boat and the HMS Gannet helicopter for a mock rescue at sea scenario.  The usual assortment of rides and stalls along with a bring and buy all against the edge of the harbour.

Below you can see some of the pictures I took including the ‘bubble balls’ and the sea rescue.  It was a brilliantly bright and warm afternoon.


Girvan Habour Gala 2013 – The view from the sea front


Girvan Habour Gala 2013 – The Bubble Balls!


Girvan Habour Gala 2013 – The Thinker looks at the Life Boat


Girvan Habour Gala 2013 – The Sea Rescue

Good fun for all the family.  Perhaps next year I will get more time at the Gala.  Who knows?


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.


Girvan Folk Festival 2013

ohn Watt & Davie Stewart, in the dance hall at the first festival – 1974. © Peter Fairbairn, Kilmaurs

It was the annual Girvan Folk Festival at the weekend and by all accounts a good time was had all around.  While I did not attend any of the two dozen or so events I do live in the very heart of the town of Girvan and this meant I was within earshot of most of the pubs and hotels which hosted the groups and bands playing their music and teaching others the skills of folk.  This was the thirty ninth festival, tinged with a hint of sadness as the instigator of the festivals Bobby Robb died last year.

In the Roxy Beer Garden 2013. © Tog Porter – Wigwam Photography

While it is no secret that Girvan has suffered in the current recession I was proud of the way that the town managed to bring in a couple of thousand visitors over a weekend and take good care of them.  This despite the diminishing in facilities in the town (don’t get me started on politics!) and weather that was thankfully mild but dull and rainy.  Listening to the music gave me free entertainment and some joy too.  It is always good to hear people having fun (my neighbours got married at the weekend too) and while I got little sleep on Saturday night I lay awake with a smile on my face while the guitars played away the wee hours.

I have heard a rumour that some people complained about the charge for a weekend in secure parking and camping in the town.  This charge being to turn away those not interested in the festival and for security, including a police presence, to keep families and others safe.   I personally think that about 35.00GBP for a family of four for a weekend pitch during an event is perfectly fine but some did not.  The security was needed after the activities of some ‘people’ (and I use the term loosely…cretins would be more accurate) last year and some property damage.  There was no trouble this year that I am aware of.

If you have an interest in Folk Music check out the website for the festival and even if you don’t do it anyway as it is worth five minutes to see all the pictures.

Perhaps my schedule will allow me to attend some of the gigs next year for the big fortieth festival in 2014.

Well done Girvan!