The Chocolate Factory Visit from a Golden Ticket


A Golden Ticket with my name on it!

Its a rainy dreary day here in Scotland…well at least in the South West where I am.  But that did not put the wee three off a trip to the Chocolate Factory today.  A trip which had been planned since the Warrior’s fourth birthday.  At the themed party that day he had gotten a ‘golden ticket’ and duly a visit to the excellent Chocolate Factory about an hour or so away was arranged.  It has taken a few months for the golden ticket promise to be honoured but today was the day.  I unfortunately was too busy to go along but the tale was told upon their return.


The Thinker and the Warrior learn the ways of Choc!

The CocoaBean Company runs the premises and you can see from their website just what they offer.  Above you can see a photo of a children’s chocolate workshop which all three of my lads enjoyed a lot.  After this and a spot of lunch (and chocolate..duh!) a large indoor play area offered fun and then an even bigger play area outside had a giant slide; see below.


The Poet on the loooong slide down!

All in all based on what I seen and been told I would recommend this experience to anyone with children who is in this part of Scotland or North England.  Good show!


The 98 Campaign by M C Monkey-Dew

I had meant to post on this subject a couple of weeks back..but..well you get the point.  Being me is not always a linear experience, sometimes I feel like I am suffering something I like to call ‘timeslip’ as time passes like lightening and a day becomes a fortnight with no effort at all on my comprehension!

The Campaign Map

My good friend Bob Minadeo with whom I have worked on Firefight 2.0 and HOF Fire-Team is a skilled wargames rules writer and a long time wargamer too.  He is also a big fan of Flintloque, Slaughterloo and the whole World of Valon.  To that end he has brewed up and is currently playing out a whole campaign set in that world under the title of ‘The 98 Campaign’.  Above you can see the campaign map.

The campaign concerns the Ferach Elf forces of the Tyrant Emperor Mordred and their Bog Orc allies in the ‘BGORA’ and their attempt to ‘liberate’ Guinalea from the yolk of King Gorge III of Greate Britorcn and make the nation part of the Empire and not the Grand Alliance.  I am enjoying reading the postings on Bob’s blog and on top of the tale the images showing his terrain set up and the love that he puts into his armed forces on the table top.   The vast majority of the excellent and colourful miniatures on the gaming table are pro-painted from Alternative Armies itself and as I often deal with Bob directly (perks of the job eh!) I have watch him amass this collection with interest over the last year while his mighty mind was musing on the campaign now underway.

Albion Dragoons advance!

As to which side will win the conflict…I do not know…perhaps Bob does not know either at this moment and the dice will decide.  He is using a concoction of his own for the wargame rules and the campaign system too.  Me, well I want the Emperor Mordred to lose as always!

Get on over to the Monkey-Dew blog and follow the campaign if you are a wargamer it is proving to be a riveting ride indeed!


Nearing Three Score…well a Score and three Quarters!


The Swag of the Day!

Its me birthday today…Huzzah!  Its also been a long week of many things the future will show, hence the lack of blog postings and updates.

Thanks to all who gave me a gift.  Not only a physical object but also their time, for the emails, phone calls and also visits in person.  Above you can see some of what I received including several graphic art books and DVD’s too.  I may do a posting or two on some of these but they are all smashing great objects which will keep me ‘nerding’ for many hours over the coming weeks.  You will also see a polo shirt behind everything else.  This is a staff shirt from my local hostelry the ‘Roxy’.  They adore me so much they gave me a uniform so that I might work for them…but the shirt I currently wear would have to be prised off with a white metal crowbar first!

Special mention to my best buddy Jim Brittain who took several days off his work to come and stay here with me in Girvan for my birthday weekend.  Also Eve Hallow who amused all with the scratching of his long nails on every chalkboard he could find.  Also my Good Lady who organised not only a rousing cheer or two but also a cake and other surprises.

Normal service resumed soon!


p.s.  I am 34 today in case the title is somewhat confusing in this posting.

Now you are Seven!


The Cake!

Happy Birthday to ‘The Poet’ for yesterday was his seventh birthday!

Above you can see the lovely cake, my good lady does like to get a proper cake for a birthday, this time themed upon SpongeBob Squarepants featuring him on the left and pinky Patrick Starr on the right.  Great taste and the little chap loved it.  The day went well with some presents to open and cards to put up upon the mantleplace and he was very grateful to all who had given him gifts and funds which he has promised to add to his savings for ‘fun later’.  We had arranged for a two hour birthday party at the local Kidz Play centre where he, his brothers and twenty other children went on a sugar and music fuelled rampage (no pictures of this..sorry!).


I love the ducks me!

After lunch we decided on a trip to Maidens and then a walk along the beach to the grounds of Culzean Castle estate where a couple of enjoyable hours were had including the swing park and feeding the ducks and swans (on left over party food..what else!).  The Poet and the swans are pictured above and a view as I walked back along the hill to the beach and back to the car also so that you get a feel for it.  I intend to go back with the children when the weather heats up a bit more as it was a little chilly by late afternoon but its a fine view and a great place to spend a day.


The view from the hills on the Maidens side of Culzean

Given his choice of evening meal The Poet elected to go for Pizza which was duly done and then rounded off the day with a little chat to his favourite Uncle James (Jim Brittain) on the phone before heading off to bed.  I should mention that he was most taken with the smooth lumps of lava, quartz and granite that he and the small Warrior lifted off the beach.  Who needs toys eh!

Now we are seven…its a gonna be a cracking year!


‘Robo Basho Arto Framo’


Just another print on the wall…blame Pink Floyd

I actually carried out what this post is about a couple of weeks ago but work and other things have kept me from publishing this post…mainly as until this morning I thought I already had!

In a previous post I told you all about the artwork and article Sam Croes and I had created for Irregular Magazine.  Sam based the artwork on my description of the giant fighting machines of the 22nd century.  I thought the image was so awesome that I had it printed at a very high resolution and then framed by Green Jam here in Girvan.   Green Jam do an excellent job in framing, highly recommended.  Its an A2 sized print in top grade ink on a thick vellum like paper which is a little raised for a rich feel which was then fitted into a wooden frame with white border.  Normally I only place frame prints of my wargame titles on the walls (you can see DarkeStorme to the right of the Robo Basho picture) but I made an exception here.  Eventually wall space will run out but for now I am gold as they say.

Sam saw the print when he was here last week and he liked it a lot.  I offered to send him another A2 sized print if he desired it, perhaps he shall.

Anyway call it a sin of pride but I just wanted to show you all what I got!  🙂


The Thinker gets 10 Stars!


What a magnetic kid!

Coming home from school today the oldest of my three sons, the Thinker, presented to me his beloved father the latest example of his achievement at school.  A metallic magnet plate telling him that he had reached the point of  having ten stars in his class.  Stars are given for good work, good behaviour, good time keeping and helping others.  I think of it more as ‘citizenship points’ than ones for education.  He does well every year in this and his teacher has told me that he looks out for others constantly…if only all human beings were this way.

Well done me laddo!


Creative Staff Meet – February 2013


Eve, GBS and Sam

Its been a hectic week for it was time for the ‘creative staff meet’ hosted this time by me here in Girvan in Scotland.  As you can see from the picture above myself (centre…ain’t I pretty!), Sam Croes on the right and the crypt keeper himself Eve Hallow on the left (yes, he does manage speak with that on!) had a jolly time of it.  Being face to face allows for a lot of conversation and ideas to flow quickly and they did.  It did mean that I have been out of the office all week but I do promise to catch up on, what I am told, is all of the fifty plus emails for me that are awaiting answers.

As well as work we did do some sight seeing too as it was Sam’s first time here in Ayrshire so I took him to see Alloway and the land of Burns along with some scenic sights.  This was made easier by four dry and sunny days in a row which for Scotland is a rare thing.  Eve did not come along…sunlight does not agree with him strangely…

Sam was kind enough to give me some pressies from his homeland of Belgium and I gave him some goodies from here as did Eve Hallow.  I have not pictured all of the presents as I drank some of them and ate others but I will review the excellent looking comic books and the music too.  Time should not be so pressed now for me.


Gifts from the lands of Ghent!

Its rare to have so much talent in one room and it was a blast and I can’t wait until we all meet up again in London at Salute 2013 in April.  In a time of instant communication and ever faster computers sometimes you just can’t beat working shoulder to shoulder on exciting things for the future of miniature wargaming.  Eve say’s he might even turn up to Salute without the mask or his shovel for digging up corpses!


Fashion Show – February 2013


No Battleaxe for the Warrior this evening!

Was it David Bowie who said ‘Fashion’ in his song and that its an important part of life?  Either way my youngest, the Warrior, was stage centre a couple of nights ago at a local branch of a high street clothes store modelling their wares for small boys.  He did a grand job and should be rightly proud of himself.  Being able to follow instructions and modelling tips  at the age of just four and a little bit is impressive.  Sadly I did not see him myself as I was embroiled in other things that evening but his achievement is worth announcement.    Well done lad.

He is available to hire if you have a catalogue shoot!  Reasonable Rates!  🙂


Brush your Teeth…it really does pay off!


Its the one on the left…that on the right is typical size.

I wanted to share a little story with you all which has just been relayed to me by my Good Lady.  It concerns my eldest son The Thinker and his visit to the dentist today.  A visit to have a tooth removed…but before you begin to tut and chastise be aware that this tooth was being removed due to its desire to stay rooted into the mouth of a lad approaching eleven years old.  I shall inform further.

My children do not get to drink fizzy drinks of any kind.  Now I am not harsh but its for their own good for you see I am child of Glasgow in the early 1980’s where virtually all children had missing teeth due to such drinks.  Sadly this is still the case for many in Scotland despite the evidence of tooth decay these drinks cause.  So its a diet of milk, squash, water, fruit juice and the odd lemonade for a special caffeine either!   Here in Girvan like elsewhere I regularly see idiotic parents giving toddlers or older children bottles and cans of fizzy drinks which they tip into blackened mouths and then howl from the sugar and caffeine rushes.  None of that for my dearest three.  So the teeth in the heads of my three sons are white and bright just like they are.  This is literal proof for this science being correct.  Take it from me.

The dentist removed my son’s tooth because it was so healthy and well grown that it did not want to come out to make room for the adult tooth coming in behind it.  She remarked that not only was it one of the best mouths she had the pleasure to work on (mine is not too bad too, we all have the same excellent dentist) but also that the total lack of decay was astonishing.  But what was really remarkable was the super size and strength of the tooth, which you can see above, twice or so the length of average.  My lad did very well and not even a whimper when the pliers did their work.  When he becomes a man his mouth and his mind will thank his parents.

Brush your teeth..better to have healthy ones pulled than a mouth of rot!


Slaughterloo is Here!

My own copy of Slaughterloo

My own copy of Slaughterloo


Look at the thickness of that spine!


Having a flick through the pages.

The day is here (well it was yesterday but I do have to sleep) Slaughterloo Redux is in print, in boxes and being sent out to all those who ordered it from Alternative Armies.  You  can find out all about the book on the website and I will not repeat it here (there is also a folder of free files you can download too) as this is my personal blog and I just want to talk a little about the process of the book and the joy of its publication.

Back in the autumn of 2012 when it became clear that the original print run of Slaughterloo 2nd edition was going to run out the decision was made to update it and put it into one book instead of a boxed set.  The process of making one book out of three was larger than I originally though as not only had it to be combined but it had to be updated.  The rules mechanics did not change but the army lists and statistics tables had to be expanded and tidied up along with more new material added.  On top of this there was a new scenario to write and a new way of writing it (based on the Flintloque 3rd edition model) required.  Page after page all the way up to one hundred and sixty eight pages.  The biggest book I have ever worked on.  The authorship is of course split between myself and Alex Draper but I oversaw the digital layouts and artwork editing myself.  Over a hundred and fifty of Edward Jackson’s great ‘world of valon’ images are in the book and each of them had to be sized and rendered.  Topping out at 175,000 words the editing and proofing took three weeks to complete.  Hundreds of work hours but it was more than worth it as the book is a beautiful object in its own right.

You can see from the pictures in this posting, I wanted to show an actual copy instead of digital copy as normal, the quality of the print work and of the paper stock.  The book has a great weight and is a joy to flick through and read at leisure and that is before you get to the actual game (Alex’s rules are superb!).  You can read it as a reference book too.  In a time when prices go ever up for wargaming material and the content gets ever slimmer and font sizes ever bigger this bad boy gives you the works for just twenty pounds.  I believe in giving people a damn good read as well as a good game to play.

Unfortunately the weather in the UK did delay release and shipping by two weeks and by consequence this posting too.  Obviously I did not see this coming but the company has not had a single grumble never mind complaint about the delay.  Alternative Armies has many loyal gentlemen for customers, let me tell you.   Snow and wind did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm though.  Slaughterloo woohoo!


p.s. you might now ask how I am going to top this book…well 2013 is a long year and there is plenty of time.  Just you all wait and see.