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ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Royal Navy 50 foot Picket Boat (from HLBS)

For Christmas, my sister gave me a Royal Navy 50 foot Picket Boat (from HLBS) in 28mm scale, and I spent time over the New Year period painting and assembling it.

Prow of the pinnaceThe boat is a steam pinnace. “Pinnace” has a couple of possible meanings but in this case means a smaller boat carried by a larger ship for use as patrol boats, for ship-to-shore operations and as a defence against torpedo boats – the pinnace would be fast enough to respond to a torpedo boat, and was armed with one or more gun (a Hotchkiss 3 pounder in this case) that would allow it to respond at range. The other gun, not present on my model, might be a Nordenfeldt or Maxim machine gun mounted on the roof of the rear cabin.

This type of pinnace was in use from 1880 right up until the Second World War, with 620 in service during the Great War, so excellent for a steampunk setting.

The kit mouldings are very crisp and clean, mainly in resin with white metal for the finer details and fine plastic rod for the hand rails. The main thing required for painting it was a steady hand (never really got the hang of masking tape), though patience came in handy too while applying several layers of white paint to get a decent solid finish. The only thing I’m a little dissatisfied with is the rear cabin, which is a bit dark in colour and I feel I could maybe have done better there. Good enough though, and I’ll leave it.

An aft view of the pinnaceI had a few minor issues with the parts. The shoulder rest on the Hotchkiss 3 pounder doesn’t have an obvious place to attach it. I checked images of similar guns on the Internet and settled on a location to fix it; I then had to break it off and try again when I discovered the gun couldn’t pivot due to the shoulder rest hitting the top of the engine house. One of the stanchions for the handrails broke (recoverably). One of the cowl vents doesn’t sit comfortably in the space left for it, and some of the instructions could have been clearer.

Finally, I wondered whether the scale was quite right everywhere, as the spaces to be occupied by anyone operating the gun or steering the vessel seemed extremely cramped.  This might be just economy of space on an efficient working vessel, but in particular the space at the wheel is very restricted. Over all the issues were all relatively minor though, and didn’t distract from a very satisfactory model.

As far as colour schemes are concerned, I aimed to make it look more Victorian than 20th Century (which would have featured more light grey). I also went for black rather than blue, so it’s a perfectly normal pinnace; blue would have identified it as an Admiral’s barge. Picket boats such as this don’t seem to have had a lot in the way of individual markings – not even a name – so that helped to keep the paint job simple. If I ever feel brave enough, I may add a bit of coal dust around the coaling holes (the black circles on the deck amidships) using weathering powder, but as a working navy vessel I’m assuming it would be kept pretty spick and span most of the time.

There’s a surviving pinnace of more or less this pattern which is believed to be the last remaining naval steam boat in the UK. Steam Pinnace 199 was built in 1911 and now belongs to the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth. Steam Pinnace 199 was an Admiral's barge, so you can see the blue colour previously mentioned. There are a couple of interesting videos on YouTube:

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

I don’t know whether you’ve posted anything recently? I’m not a very frequent poster of things but it was my sister’s birthday recently and that’s definitely a posting time.

My sister’s an active outdoors person – in fact she works as an outdoor instructor, after previous employment as a reindeer herder – so outdoorsy stuff is good, particularly small things that are easily transported and don’t take up much space. So I found a couple of things that I thought would suit her, wrapped them up and headed off to the Post Office.

I was unaware that Post Office policy has changed regarding accepting parcels over the counter. Apparently you now have to declare the contents, even for domestic post. A friend theorises that this is because even domestic parcels are often travelling by air nowadays; whatever the reasons, I was a bit taken aback (and annoyed – whose business is it really?) and I obviously showed it when the lady at the counter asked me what was in my parcel. She helpfully explained.

It didn’t help really. I looked at the small padded envelope I’d handed over.

“Well, you’re not going to believe me… There's a bucket, and a kitchen sink…”

ggreig: (Jailbird)

There’s an interesting story on the BBC web site about someone mapping the Scottish watershed – a line from north to south (or, of course, if you prefer, vice versa), on either side of which water will flow either into the Atlantic or the North Sea. One would think this would be well known geographical information in a developed country, but apparently it’s never been done before.

The BBC story contains a low-res map of the watershed.

Taking the watershed as a handy dividing line, I can say I’m probably more of an east coast person than west coast, although I’ve spent a fair bit of my life on either side. But I was born and lived in the east until the age of seven, and again for most of the time since I was eighteen. My sister, on the other hand, would be a west coast person.

Of course these facts are utterly irrelevant to everyday life for most people, but it’s cool to think that something so important to the physical geography of Scotland has only just been “discovered”.

There’s also a gallery of images from walking the watershed, and a short interview.

ggreig: (Sister)
I got a phone call from my sister on Thursday to let me know she'd be in Anstruther with the reindeer for their Christmas procession on Friday (about twenty minutes away on the bus), so [livejournal.com profile] msinvisfem and I went along to say hello. We got there a bit early, so strolled along the harbour front in the dark and the cold, admiring the fairground stalls and checking out places to get warm again and have something to eat.

The procession turned up in due course, and we tagged along behind the reindeer and Santa in his sleigh, until they were safely ensconsced in the grotto and my sister came out to let us in.

It turned out that the most convenient place to keep us out of the way of the kiddies visiting Santa was in the pen with the reindeer, so we stayed there chatting until Santa had finished doling out presents and it was time for the reindeer-wranglers to pack up again and go. It was nice to get so close to the beasts, though a bit disconcerting for a big wimp like me when they sweep their antlers around a foot or less away.

[livejournal.com profile] msinvisfem got to feed lichen to the reindeer, and managed to remember all their names, which is more than I can do. Afterwards, considering the size of the place, Anstruther did better at providing vegan food for [livejournal.com profile] msinvisfem than I had feared would be the case, though I think she still found it a little disappointing, and I had garlic mushrooms followed by a sea-bass, which was quite satisfactory.

Reindeer photos )
ggreig: (Portrait)
Last week was spent with my parents, due to their ruby wedding anniversary occurring. The day itself was Sunday 24th, but for logistical reasons the small celebration took place on Wednesday. Family were represented by myself, my sister and her boyfriend, Mum's brothers' families and Dad's cousin, and there was an assortment of local friends of my parents.

Come to think of it, they've spent thirty of the forty years living in the area, as we moved to Glendaruel round about Easter in 1975, so the locals are practically family too!

Both Mum and Dad seemed to enjoy themselves, though it was a long day for Dad in particular - he's not very mobile following a couple of strokes and a matching number of heart attacks. He seems to have responded well to being put on warfarin since the New Year though, which is a relief.
ggreig: (Sister)
It's a hard time of year for reindeer herders, at least the UK variety. The herd are constantly on the move, trekking from one shopping centre to the next for subsistence, stocking up on the green stuff to maintain them through the months ahead.

After work today I went to Anstruther to meet my sister, as she alighted briefly on the Fife coast as part of The Tour. Although I've visited the deer at Aviemore, it's the first time I've seen her with the sleigh and the team carrying Santa through the streets. It will probably be the last too, as after six or seven years of working as a reindeer herder she is packing it in in January to do something different.

I got off the bus at the harbour just in time to meet the procession, which consisted of a couple of pipers, a stilt-walker, Santa and his sleigh, a bunch of female drummers, the local lifeboat and the fire engine. Although Anstruther isn't a big place, I was still a little surprised the procession was a relatively small affair, as I know getting the reindeer to attend costs a bit. The crowds were a fair size for such a place though, and the number of children trailing behind Santa's sleigh was considerable. They were still queuing to visit Santa and the reindeer in his grotto a couple of hours later when I left.

The reindeer herders dress in Sami gear, which is a bit more dignified than being an elf, while still being picturesque. The reindeer themselves wear red harness with bells while drawing the sleigh, then stand about in a pen to be ogled while Santa does his stuff. They are used to the attention, but aren't particularly keen on being patted too much. They are smaller than folk usually imagine. I saw someone with a particularly massive dog which was comparable in size to the smaller reindeer.

Children inquiring after Rudolf are told he doesn't leave the North Pole until Christmas, as Santa needs him then. None of the herd are ever called Rudolf (or any of the other famous names), as a matter of policy.

We took advantage of being in Anstruther to eat at the fabled Anstruther Fish Bar, as frequented by celebs such as Prince William, Kevin Spacey and Tom Hanks. I didn't have any complaints, but if I'm honest I came away feeling it is perhaps over-rated.

I had my own fifteen minutes for the duration of the journey back home - the bus driver recognised me as a weel-kent face and wouldn't sell me a ticket although I wasn't in a zone covered by my MultiRider.
ggreig: (Rune)
My sister's off to Alaska for a month to herd reindeer. It'll make a change from herding reindeer at home.

June 2017

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