Happy springtime

Posted: April 10, 2015 in Random wifflings

It’s spring! Blossom on the trees, lambs in the fields, the chatter of birds in the woods and heather, the sun showing his happy smiley face. Predictably, I’ve been miserable. My misery won’t last long, indeed it passes already. Tis only a black cloud that momentarily obscures the shining brilliance of my cheerful personality (note: this is irony). The end of winter always kills me. I love the cold weather, but four months of DARK gets too much, and by the end I am an embittered, scowly-faced hobgoblin that wants to stay in its hole, nurse its beer and spit curses at the world. Some people who know me well might say that’s me anyway. True, but only half the time. Generally, I’m that most peculiar of creatures, a misanthropic extrovert. It’s like being a bloody werewolf, honestly. This time of the year I am the goblin most of the time. So I’ve been sulkily away from the internets, plotting the downfall of the surface folk from the cold comforts of my damp, earthern cave. I don’t think my work patterns help much, all that sitting alone. And it may be that after producing fourteen novels worth of material in five years I have burned myself out a bit. But in truth, this post-winter misery used to be lots worse back in my genuine crazy-ass days (I’ll get round to writing about that). Still, as the sun burns off my entirely self-indulgent woe, I return to you now. And I bring you this by Chuck Wendig, about why so many writers’ blogs are bobbins, including, I fear, this one. I should follow his advice. I intermittently do, when I can’t be bothered. Today is not one of those days.

IMG_1616I painted this chap before Christmas. I didn’t put an image of him up then, but as pictures of toy soldiers seem to be popular, I thought I would share. He’s the warlord for my Anglo-Danish Saga warband. I’ve also painted a Viking leader. Both are on 50mm bases with a couple of attendants. This makes them stand out on the tabletop and justifies, in my mind at least, the huge number of attack dice they get.


Cooking, USA

Posted: March 20, 2015 in Notes from Hebden Bridge

I’ve had two pumpkins in the fridge for months. They were taking up too much space, so I made them into a pie yesterday. An American dish I’ve not attempted to make before, it is very tasty.



Eclipse! Used by Tintin to such good effect to escape the Incas. Eclipse! Terrifying my six-year-old who misunderstood warnings against looking at the sun during the event, and believed today our star would take on evil sight-destroying properties if so much as glimpsed.

This was the third I’ve seen. I missed one earlier in my life because I was at the cinema. But two others I saw, one from my parent’s garden in the 80s, the other a three-quarters solar disappearing act witnessed in the scruffy yard of my final year university digs. 10th May 1994, that must have been. Wikipedia’s a marvellous thing.

The thick cloud that makes Yorkshire grey, cold and wet 200 days of the year, proved a bonus today. Combining cloud with a pair of sunglasses you could quite comfortably observe the phenomenon. As my mate Chris Hoyle said on Facebook:

Look at that! What could better illustrate the majestic clockwork of our solar system and our intimate grasp of its mechanism? The elegance and precision with which we can predict these events is as spectacular as their beauty. Keep watching the skies, my friends!

I couldn’t say it better myself, so I won’t try.

I watched most of it upon the hill overlooking Mytholmroyd from the west. There were people stationed at three hundred yard intervals across the countryside, like something from a sinister Nigel Kneale TV drama, an effect heightened by the “eclipse wind” being especially pronounced here.

Here’s my inevitable picture, similar no doubt to many thousands more. I took lots. This one shot in my garden towards the end of the phenomenon, when the moon was moving away, is the best.



Here’s some likely lads, English warriors out for blood. These are Gripping Beast models for my Saga games. With these chaps completed, I now have enough painted models for a full six-point, Anglo-Danish warband. Go me.

These are done to a slightly lower standard than the likes of Erestor. Partly because on historical miniatures the detail is rarely quite so crisp as that on GW models, so it’s more difficult to be precise. On saying that, I can’t abide to paint a model poorly (by my own standards, I hasten to add).

The great thing about these guys is that they took me about seven hours to paint all told. Compare that with the ten hours it took to assemble and paint one Black Templars Sword Brother. There’s a sense of satisfaction to be had in painting one very fine model, and a different one in finishing a whole bunch of toy soldiers off in one go.

This book review of Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel also comes from the never-published Death Ray #22.


Kim Stanley Robinson/Harper Voyager

Part historical novel, part SF story set in Robinson’s Accelerando universe, Galileo’s Dream returns Robinson to his favourite topics: human failings, human potential, memory, being and truth (subjective and objective); set against an entertaining, science-fictional theory of multi-dimensional time.

Galileo is one of the most important men in scientific history, whose observational rigour helped usher in the modern age. He is also, according to the book, an important nexus in the braided histories of reality, one whom the denizens of the Jovian moons in 3020 hold in especially high regard, partly because of his discoveries, but mostly because they are convinced that by altering his life, then later taking him to the future, they can shorten the centuries of horror that mankind must endure before achieving a state of rational grace. Read the rest of this entry »