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ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Earlier this month, I came across a model maker I wasn’t aware of before, selling his work through eBay. Nathan Yeoman works in a selection of scales, and across a variety of subjects. The common element seems to be quirkiness, in the best sense. If you wish something was available in your scale, but no-one else is making it, then maybe Nathan is.

So if you need (or just want) for example: a V1 rocket and launch ramp in 1:100 scale (or a V2); a Horten Ho 229 in 1:144; assorted GWR buildings; Nissen huts or a brilliant selection of call-boxes, including AA and RAC, then take a look at Yeoman Models. The blog in particular seems worth keeping an eye on.

Despite being tempted by some of those things, what I went for was a selection of Victorian street furniture – three post boxes, a water pump, a snowman, and a selection of manhole covers:

Yeoman Models Victorian street furniture

They’re all sitting on a tile of Wills Granite Sets, a nice, cheap way of getting a set of cobbles just about the right size for basing a 28mm horse-drawn vehicle, and accompanied by a 28mm figure for an idea of size. As usual, you can click through for a full-size photo.

Apart from the snowman’s arms, which are metal, these are all resin and include some fantastic detail. The cast lettering on the pillar boxes and drain covers is crisp and legible - my photos don’t do the moulding justice, even at full size, but you can read the words “Post Office” on the Penfold pillar box (the middle one). For reference, here’s a photo of a real one in the village:

Penfold pillar box, Kingsbarns

For fans of The Talons of Weng-Chiang and associated audio spin-offs, one of the manhole covers bears the legend “Jago & Litefoot Ltd, Limehouse”, while another was apparently created by Yeoman & Sons!

Yeoman Models Victorian street furniture

The pillar boxes were painted in a red acrylic from Inscribe, with details picked out in black, white and gold. They were finished off by an application of Rotring Artist Color red ink which helped deepen the shadows a bit and provided a reasonably subtle gloss; applying a gloss varnish would probably have been too much. Apparently Rotring inks aren’t available any more, but there are probably alternatives.

The manhole covers were painted a rust colour (Revell Aqua Color 83), then given a Raw Umber wash. The flash makes them look a bit paler than they actually are, but natural light was not an option today. Looks like I’ve overdone it with the black on the one pierced manhole cover – I may have to revisit that.

I rather wish I’d placed the pump at an angle so that you can see it more clearly. It’s another nice and atmospheric piece. The base colour is Revell Bronze Green (65), with the cast features picked out using Inscribe’s Honey Dew. I used rust again for the grating, and Revell Tank Grey for the base. It’s the same colour I used as the base colour for the cobbles, but left “as-is” without the further shading the cobbles received.

The snowman is painted white, but with a thin wash of Inscribe’s Blue Mist to give a little bit of depth to the shadows – pretty much washed out by the flash, of course. The scarf is based on one given to me by [livejournal.com profile] msinvisfem. You may be able to guess which other scarf inspired that one!


A few days after placing my order, I got an e-mail from Nathan inviting any suggestions for other things to make. Rather excitingly, a couple of my suggestions seemed to be of interest, with a possibility that one may become available sometime in the year ahead. Something to look forward to…

ggreig: (Crazy or smart?)

Yesterday I left Stagecoach £42 poorer after paying for my four-weekly pass. That is, it’s Stagecoach that were poorer, not I, which is the right way around. The cost of my pass has dropped from £133 to £91, which I am finding pretty difficult to complain about.

The price of my commute has gone up quite a bit over the last few years, but this hefty reduction – almost a third – is so welcome that I’m prepared to overlook the likelihood that they can afford to do this because they’ve been ripping me off for the last few years!

All I’m losing is “free” trips to Glasgow; as well as my commute to Dundee, the pass will still take me to all sorts of other places I seldom go, like Edinburgh, Stirling, Falkirk and anywhere in Fife, Kinross and Clackmannanshire.

Better say this now, because the opportunity is unlikely to arise again: I ♥ Stagecoach.

ggreig: (Poppies)

It was very still tonight when I got home, with a bright moon, so I thought I’d try some long exposures. The shot of the Plough (and the lights of Angus on the other side of the Tay) was exposed for a minute. The moon over the North Sea was 30 seconds. Both shots are from the same location, looking in different directions.

The Plough

Moonlight


Edit: P.S. I've just noticed that with the minute-long exposure you can see the rotation of the stars in the sky if you click through to open the picture full size, and look closely; the tracks are at different angles, centred around the north.

ggreig: (Default)

Actually more of a run to fit it into the available time, but it was worth it.

Pictures )
ggreig: (Default)

Snow in Kingsbarns

Always nice to wake up and find the place looking like Narnia. Working from home today.

ggreig: (Blockhead)

Taken this morning at the bus stop:

Baby swallows )
ggreig: (Saint George)

Hmmm. Although the title of the post is meant to refer to HMS Success, I can’t help feeling a little of it rebounds on me; having walked along the beach many times over the fifteen years I’ve lived here, you would think that I should have noticed the destroyer there.

Explore the wreck )

Sent Home

Feb. 12th, 2009 05:17 pm
ggreig: (MoonFrown)

…but not for being a bad boy.

it snowed today, and wonder of wonders, some of it actually lay in Kingsbarns. Rather more lay in Dundee (between 5 and 9 inches – I measured 5 at work) and by lunch time the buses had stopped running, schools and council offices were closing down, and work decided it was time to send people home too.

Snow in Dundee

Luckily, I was able to get a lift in to the city centre, rather than having to wait for my bus… As I’d already been delayed a bit waiting for the lift, I took a bit longer to have a quick look at the continental market in the square.

Sausages! In the Snow

The stalls selling sausages had little samples out to taste – why don’t they usually seem to do this? – and so I came away several sausages heavier than I’d planned to: pork with figs, chilli, chilli-spice (coated in mustard seeds and (I think) caraway) and garlic and onion (much nicer than I expected).

The buses out of Dundee and through Fife were fine, and I finally got back into Kingsbarns around 4 o’clock.

Snow in Kingsbarns

The snow wasn’t too bad anywhere by the time I was travelling, though I think it caught people out a bit earlier on, and maybe buses slithering in city side streets isn’t a great plan. It’s not even a major story on the Scotland page of the BBC news site, never mind front page stuff. Boots to work tomorrow though, I think.

ggreig: (Crazy or smart?)
Someone has stolen my pavement and crumpled it up untidily across the other side of the road. I expect that this is the first stage in the gold-paving process.
ggreig: (Blockhead)
I seem to have brought productivity temporarily to a halt at work by telling people that Microsoft's online mapping solution, Windows Live Local, now has data for the UK, so I thought I'd spread the joy.

It is better than Google Maps in a number of areas. It looks like there's more ambitious functionality (though I've only tried it in IE, so I don't know what the story is like for Firefox or Opera) and what has us all excited here is that the satellite coverage is much better than Google has for really important areas of the country - like Fife.

And yes, this time I really can see my house from here. You may have to zoom out a little, as it seems to open at full zoom and we're not quite covered at that level. If you don't have a scroll wheel on your mouse, hold down Alt and double-click to zoom out. Alt-drag will select an area to zoom in on.

I still can't get any closer to my parents' house in Argyll than I can with Google, and Google still lets me get zoomed in closer on work (in Dundee) but perhaps those areas will be sorted out in time.
ggreig: (Rune)
So, it turns out that I live just inside the 6 mile surveillance zone for the UK's first case of H5N1 bird flu. It will be interesting to see whether this has any practical effect on my life.

I think that in all probability, like foot and mouth a few years ago, it will largely pass me by as although I live in a small village I don't have really have any contact with the avian inhabitants. However, there's always that slim but worrying possibility that at some point it will become more serious for the general human population - and of course, it can't be good news for the local wildlife, poultry or poultry farmers.

It looks like the northern end of the Isle of May is also within the surveillance zone, so although some of the reports I've heard say we can be thankful that half of the zone lies out to sea, I think they're maybe missing something. Not that birds are great respecters of perfectly circular conceptual zones anyway...
ggreig: (Black Hat)
For the first time in some years, we have some proper snow. It's about three inches deep [[livejournal.com profile] sharikkamur may insert a justifiable Icelandic sneer here] and still falling; our footprints are disappearing.

Photos from a trip to the beach )
ggreig: (Saint George)
Well, I'm sick of omnibuses at the moment, anyway - and the Open. The hourly 95 has just zoomed by - twenty minutes late - without stopping because there are golf-gogglers strapped to the top deck by their loud braces. I don't grudge them their spectating, but I am a bit annoyed that there's no room on the local bus service for folk wanting to do their weekly shopping.

Update: I got in on the next bus, so mission accomplished. Now I just have to achieve boarding again later on to get into town for lunch with friends...
ggreig: (Fields)
Of such momentous decisions are our daily lives made. Being on holiday this week, I had intended to dine with the Thursday lunch gang in St. Andrews, but the choice of the Jahangir gave me pause. I don't mind something spicy once in a while, but I got a bit scunnered of curries a few years back when they were on the menu more often. Admittedly, I'm sure I could have found something to my taste, but it was enough to prompt me to take advantage of the weather to do something about one of my other aims this week. (Sorry, people!)

It being a nice blustery day but not actually cold, I set off to walk in the other direction from my perambulation to St. Andrews a month or so ago - this time walking to Crail along the coastal path. In theory this should be a shorter walk, as Kingsbarns is closer to Crail than to St. Andrews, but once you take into account the fact that the coast takes a less direct route than the road does, it may be a comparable distance. It certainly took me about the same time, although I think I was dawdling a bit more this time.

I started off with a brief detour to the clubhouse of the Kingsbarns Golf Links to check on pricing details for the boss, who wants to play a round there, then it was down to the shore to hoof it to Crail.

The first stretch of the walk is all alongside the golf course. In fact, the golf course runs further along the coast than I had thought, as it extends past Cambo House for several holes. Hole 15 looks a bit tricky, as it's along a very thin strip between the woods and the rocky shore. Further on, a couple of holes are played under the cliffs of the raised beach, although there seems to be a strange aversion to having rich patrons actually playing over the cliffs.

After a while however, there is respite from the need to guard against airborne incoming, and the path descends onto the shore itself for half a mile or so.

I've been lucky in that going both ways I have chosen times when the tide is low. Parts of the path are inaccessible at high tide - such as the junior cave on this stretch which is plainly in the process of being formed by wave action. I wish I could claim meticulous planning, but it's entirely fortuitous - otherwise I would have had to wait for the water to recede before I could pass.

After half a mile of boulder-strewn beach, the path mounts a small headland and there ahead lies - oh. Another golf course. In fact, as it turns out, another two golf courses (the Balcomie Links, originally designed by Old Tom Morris, and the recent Craighead Golf Course).

Sometimes it seems that you could walk all around Fife without stepping off a golf course, but I hadn't expected these ones as they are well back off the main road which I'm usually travelling along. However, I should have known better as Crail does after all have the 7th oldest golf club in the world, which pre-dates both the current courses.

Eventually the golf course brought me to Fife Ness, the most stickiest-out bit of the Fife peninsula. (Funny how people don't often refer to the kingdom as a peninsula, though it is.) This was obviously a place of note, there were a number of things to see. First of all, I passed the lifeboat station (long disused) then, although not much attention was drawn to it on the spot, Constantine's Cave.

One version of history has it that King Constantine I was killed by Vikings there in 874 AD. The Fife coast seems to be a bad place for kings - Constantine II died at St. Andrews (although admittedly he'd retired there), and Alexander III died in a drink-driving accident with his horse at Kinghorn, precipitating the Wars of Independence from which only the combined might of Mel Gibson and Spiderman could deliver us.

A little further on, there were the remains of a tide-mill, measurement circles and arcs cut in the stone by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, in the process of building a stone lighthouse for the North Carr Rock, and remains of a disused harbour. There's even less of the harbour construction left than at Kingsbarns, but it's still more complete as it took advantage of a natural rock channel. The common lesson to take from the two harbours and Stevenson's North Carr Rock lighthouse would be - don't mess with the North Sea!

To reinforce that, the next feature to be passed was the coastguard station, which is responsible for monitoring 340 miles of coastline from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Stonehaven. Also here was the first of several pillboxes, and a hide for birdwatchers.

With the coastguard station behind me, I was round the Ness and could no longer glimpse Kingsbarns in the distance when looking back.
The path fairly quickly entered the Kilminning Coast Wildlife Reserve. Usually, what I find most fascinating about birds is the idea that they're really little feathery dinosaurs, and I'm not terribly interested in them for themselves, but I was pleased to spot a cormorant in the reserve - a tallish, black shape hunched on a rock at the edge of the waves. I also passed a Romany caravan with a couple of heavy horses just outside the reserve. Chances are, of course, that the occupants were not Romany in the slightest, but tourists.

The last significant stretch of coastline before arriving in Crail was occupied by Sauchope Links Caravan Park. This is where the Crail Golfing Society originally had their golf course, but now it consists of half a mile to a mile of chalets, static and mobile caravans and a few tents. Walking though here was a bit of a strange experience. Quite a lot of the accomodation was empty, though immaculate, so it had a bit of a ghost town feel. It reminded me of nothing so much as Pollphail village at Portavadie.

Portavadie is near where my parents live in Argyll, and I once camped there for a weekend when I was a member of the Venture Scouts. In the 1970s, Portavadie was to become a major money-spinner by being a centre for oil-rig construction, and a massive hole in the ground was dug to build the rigs in. An entire village was built to accommodate the workers. And no orders came. None. Nada. Zip. Or maybe even less than that.

Pollphail is still empty, thirty years on. No-one has ever lived there. When I walked round it in the eighties, the fire alarms fixed to the walls were still in their polythene wrapping. A central canteen had smashed windows and it was obvious from the droppings on the carpet that the sheep appreciated the shelter if no-one else did. The big hole in the ground has been flooded and converted into a terminal for the new Portavadie-Tarbet ferry.

Sauchope Links did have people in it, plainly enjoying themselves, so perhaps the comparison isn't fair - but it's what it made me think of.

Finally, I arrived in Crail, and took advantage of the opportunity to mosey around a bit. Usually I have a reason to go to Crail, and I'm straight in and straight out, so it's the first time I've had the chance just to appreciate the place.

I wandered down to the harbour, where there was an interesting harbour gate arrangement. Assuming I understood correctly, there were two slots in the wals at the mouth of the harbour, and a crane at one side, specifically intended for dropping individual bars of wood into the slots to build up an enclosure - no actual gate, and as far as I could see, no sluice arrangements. Quite unusual.

I visited Crail Pottery. Somehow I've never really felt the urge to do so before, but that was a mistake and I will be visiting again. Some of their stuff is really nice - more suited to a farmhouse, perhaps, than my former council house, but I may not let that stop me. I came away with a very nice goblet which has just become my favourite receptacle for cold drinks. It has the capacity and the heavy lip of a mug, which is pleasant, but more heft, and a wider bowl.

A tour of the village shops followed - most of the fare was as you would expect of a fair-sized village, but the butcher, J.B. Penman, was plainly outstanding. Although I had heard good things about him, a visit confirmed that this is a place worthy of an occasional detour. There can't be too many places where the butcher can tell you which medal your cut won at the Royal Highland Show! He may also be of interest to vegetarians for the extensive range of quality pickles and preserves he has in stock. I was also fortunate to pick up some small glass dishes from an art-supply shop to replace the old one I accidentally smashed earlier in the week.

Last stop was a walk around the small village museum, to see such exciting artefacts as the town drum (used by the crier) and the provost's gown. Probably the most interesting single artefact was a replica of the town seal press, found in a wall space when an old house was being demolished. The original is in Edinburgh. The most interesting room was the one dedicated to Crail Airfield, now famously (or infamously) home of the Crail Thrash. Although I didn't really see the airfield on my walk, I passed beneath it - most of the pillboxes I passed would have been intended to protect it.

The airfield dates back to the First World War, and the farmer who owns the land does whatever he can to get income from it as it is, because it's listed and he's not allowed to change it. Whether or not you think that is reasonable depends on how much you're affected by the traffic passing through to get to the thrash - my sympathies are with him, but I can understand why others might disagree! My sister was there a while ago with the reindeer for the BBC's Weird Science.

A quick bus ride back to Kingsbarns and a goblet of chilled Banane Verte lemonade rounded off an enjoyable trip.

The picture this time is another self-portrait, this time using Abi-Station Portrait Illustration-Maker. This one's a bit closer to reality than the Character Artist one (i.e. less flattering). There's another version of this one with a different background which will probably make an appearance at some point. It features me smiling. That was before I discovered the straight-faced option you can see in this one, which is much more me!
ggreig: (Rune)
Earlier today, I walked from Kingsbarns into St. Andrews, a distance of about eight miles along the coastal walk. Although I've lived here for ten years, for one reason or another I've never made this walk before. I did set off once, but rather pathetically twisted my ankle on the perfectly good tarmac road down to the beach, and had to turn back...

This time I made it though, and quite a pleasant walk it was too. Notable features included a number of quite substantial ruined buildings around Boarhills, and some fairly old sea walls in pretty good condition at Boarhills which I hadn't known were there (the old harbour at Kingsbarns, all smashed up by the sea, is not so substantial). A field wall by the shore had the date 1918 pressed into it in shells!

There's quite a big detour inland at Boarhills which brings you almost up to the village - near enough to see the church by the road on the far side. (Kingsbarns to St. Andrews on the road is only about six miles.)

Coming back down to the shore from Boarhills, the first sight to see was the Buddo Rock, which was quite impressive. Not visible in the photo, there's a crevice just round the corner on the left which takes you a fair way up towards the top, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) not quite far enough. There are many sets of initials carved in the rock there.

From here, the path trekked up and down the cliffs a few times, which was a little wearing in my unfit state. It passed an interesting looking pillbox, which was built into a spur of the cliff. Not having a torch, I didn't climb in, but it looked like it was not actually built onto the cliff, but into it, with at least one passage passing through. There were gun-slits on either side of the spur.

I also passed the Rock and Spindle, which is the sight most usually associated with this walk. To be honest, I was more impressed by the Buddo Rock, which I'd passed first, but I expect the Rock and Spindle is more of a challenge to rock climbers.

By the time I made my way down into St. Andrews, past the landslip at the caravan park which (I only then discovered) means that officially the path is closed, I was fairly tired, but quite pleased - I'd set off from home at 12 noon, allowing three hours for the walk in order to arrive at a barbecue at [livejournal.com profile] tobyaw's at three, and pretty much on three o'clock, I arrived. If only software development was so easy to estimate!

At the barbecue, Dougie's Diamond Award Winning steak pies, which had accompanied me on the trip, seemed to meet with approval from the carnivores present. I've been meaning to introduce people to Dougie's pies for a while, as they're not widely available. They're made in Colinsburgh, not the handiest place to get to, and while they're available from the village shop in Kingsbarns, I'm not aware of anywhere in St. Andrews that stocks them. That's a real shame, because they're pies worthy of hand delivery by foot (er, you know what I mean). I don't know who this is, but she has the right idea about Dougie's pies.

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