Life


We are back,The Grinning Skull is back online!!

Well folks, after a lot of messing around, creating a archive/new site, much hair pulling out and other guff. We are back. I could sit here and type to you, what the hell has gone on, but suffice to say I’m not going to bore you with an entire catalogue of problems, I’m just happy […]

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Contrast Paints and more Waterloo

Friday was taken up with my usual day in the PO and then a torturous climb to the top of Arnside Knot on a beautiful summers evening, being shown up by the rest of the group some of whom were the other side of 80 and looked it! Nevertheless I managed to shrug off the idea I might try and do more exercise in order to get fitter. Saturday we entertained No.2 son and family and cooked a three course Vietnamese dinner, delicious. So Sunday in order to recuperate we did nothing so I took up the paint brushes and set to.I managed to complete all the eight horses for the 4th Horse/7th Dragoon Guards and get the riders at least half way to completion. I used the Blood Angels Red on the Dragoons coats, the paint does what it says on the tin, and very nicely too, I was very pleased at the result.The paint was rather on the thin side and it needs a good shake, I hate those pots by the way, I believe you could thicken it with some medium if you use such, I have some matt medium but the paint was fine for what I intended

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An NCO and a Gentleman OBE

As I was lying reading 'Normandy 44' by James Holland last night a name came up which I had heard before, Ken Tout, whose book of being a tank crewman during WWII I had heard was a great read and a classsic. I went on to Amazon to see if the book was still available and popped Ken's name in the Search, several books came up and one popped out at me 'How Modest are the Bravest', I suddenly realised I had drawn the maps for that book at the end of last year. I had conversed with Ken, albeit by email, not realising who he was, a real Normandy veteran, Ken is still writing at 95! I feel honoured to have drawn the maps for his book, thankfully he was very happy with my efforts.I think that is Ken second from the right.A celebrity at the Tank Museum.I have enjoyed Holland's book so much that I spent my Fathers Day book token today on two more of his books, I had wanted 'Burma 44' but am happy enough with what I got, I can wait for Burma. I can thoroughly recommend his Normandy book. A few years back I drew the maps

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Lucky Me

I have been going through a nostalgic phase recently re my Royal Navy service, Facebook groups, buying RN radio operator polo shirts and wearing my small enamel badge every day, well almost everyday unless I am wearing an expensive shirt. I have managed to contact a few guys I sailed and drank with and some I actually joined up with back in '68. Tuesday 8th of October to be precise, 1000hrs, Hawke 412 Class, D110948Y sir! OK so I cannot remember whether it is the grey bins or the green bins, but some things you never forget.I mentioned a long time ago a set of prints following the Royal Navy from medieval times until 1900, these hung in the meeting room of the company my son works for. A few weeks ago I got a surprise phonecall from Stewart saying that if I wanted the complete set of prints (7) I could have them. These belonged to one of the owners, Mike Irwin and not the company, Mike very kindly offered them to me knowing my interest in all things military/naval and no doubt knowing I was ex-RN. The origina

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Ramblings

No club again this week, I had/volunteered to accompany the boss to a meeting at a local hospital, in between speakers the nurse made us all stand up and do some stretching etc., I hadn't signed up for physical abuse. Why is it that most speakers, despite their in depth knowledge of a subject, put you to sleep, I have been following several such on military matters on YouTube and I just give up the will to breathe.I have not mentioned the entertainment world in an age, mainly because I went through a patch where there was nothing to watch, then all of a sudden several shows turned up which I had been following, this sadly did not do me any good. "Van Helsing", nonsense about vampires obviously, this is now too ludicrous to watch, the same fate has befallen "Zombie Nation", I know it sounds daft but both programmes have lost the plot. In my defence these were 'to paint by' programmes, I would not actually sit down and watch one on its own. I did enjoy 'Curfew' and another dystopian piece 'Black Summer' the lat

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All quiet on the North Western Front.

I missed out on the club last night as I was away for the weekend and I had a lot of catch up with maps etc. East Prussia is done and dusted but I am now knee deep in the pre-Battle for Berlin strategic maneuverings. Winging their way to me are maps for a two volume history of the RAF (see what I did there) which should be interesting and different, so I am now involved in histories of both the RAF and Luftwaffe, the latter being a huge project with three volumes down and no sign of WWII yet.I digress, no club last night but I should make up for it at the weekend, I have two friends and my son coming for a series of War and Conquest games, it was supposed to be an all Dark Ages affair but we lost two players early on, so a bit of both Dark Ages and Ancients coming up. I am hoping this is a success and if so may repeat it later in the year, I can easily put four tables in the Post Office which I am closing for the morning on Saturday, executive decision, wargaming comes first.I have received almost everything

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Life Goes On

My mother-in-law, Rosemary, died suddenly a week and a half ago due to complications with the surgery she decided in the end to have. Either way, she was faced with a terrible choice; a slow deterioration which could rob her of a meaningful life, or a risky operation which offered her a chance of total recovery or catastrophic failure. After a week in which her symptoms only got worse, she opted to take the surgery with the proviso that if anything went wrong, she would be allowed to die without intervention. The surgeries themselves went without a hitch; it was just her body's reaction to them that was the risk factor, and unfortunately the worst happened. She died after a very rapid deterioration in her condition a week and a half ago. We said goodbye to her yesterday in a moving ceremony where my stepfather-in-law read out not only his own eulogy, but a letter Rosemary had written to her grandchildren. Each of the four grandkids was presented with a little enamel box and instructed to fill it with thi

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I'm Back.

My first duty on arriving home was to look at the mail, sure enough a small box from Warlord Games was waiting for me. Inside were a few goodies, some dead livestock to litter the Normandy battlefield and the new Fortress Budapest campaign book, this came with not only the special figure, a Hungarian legend of the siege but also a sprue of around six soldiers, I think these too are Hungarian although I have not looked too closely at them yet."Sword behind the Shield" Helion. I got the book because it piqued my interest and I have drawn maps for a serious history of the campaign in the past, I also wanted to get the scenarios to add to what I have, I will have to adjust the troops used as I do not plan to get Hungarians or Soviets (yet) but don't see that as a problem. I already have a Warlord campaign book and thought it OK, another lazy effort on their part. This book has a completely different feel to it, the historical information is just enough to hook you in but the scenarios seem to be much better

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Deadzone and Cystoscopy.

I didn't plan much for last night at the club as my holiday looms and I had other things preying on my mind (see below), so I took up Simon's offer for some fun with Deadzone, a sci-fi skirmish, a few people were MIA this week so only three games were on offer other than Deadzone; X-Wing, Frostgrave and Age of Sigmar, not a historical game in sight.Deadzone is much like a host of other games of its type, lovely figures, small table, plays quickly and doesn't last long, despite this the book looked fairly complex to me as opposed to say Dead Man's Hand which has about 10 pages of rules. The game itself proved to be fairly simple although like any game you play for the first time you will not be able to appreciate any subtleties. In the first skirmish I was given The Plague, horrible looking people up to no good, I think the enemy were humans or one faction of them. I simply tried my best and rushed in, obviously I was quickly shot down and Simon won the game comfortably. In the second we changed sides, I had l

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Back to sea in small ships.

It has taken me a couple of days to get around to this report thanks to the incompetent doctors at my local surgery, I have had an infection which has made my life miserable for almost four weeks now, they said it was gone, I said it hadn't, so a week without medication and it got worse. Then they give me penicillin despite what I suspect was a big red warning across the screen as I am allergic to it, thankfully I noticed it before I took any. The sorry saga continues.Due to the above I toyed with the idea of not going to the club, but Stuart and Rob had brought 'Cruel Seas' for me to try and I couldn't let them down. As you know this game seems to be sweeping the board in popularity at the moment, you can't walk the streets now without searching for torpedo wakes. I do not have the game and will not be getting it, three people at the club have it and I have my Seven Years War project to throw money at. Despite not getting the game I have been following developments as it is produced by Warlord Games, it woul

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Why Not

It is almost Christmas and my Birthday, so despite the 'we are too old for presents' clause in my marital contract, don't panic, this doesn't kick in until your hair starts growing inward instead of outward i.e. nose and ears, I am going to do well this year. I am off to the Indigo at the O2 Arena to see the Dualers actually on my birthday, I thought I had booked it but her indoors is adamant she did, so I caved, I shall be accompanied by my sons so another plus. I also decided to get myself something or more specifically things. I have it on the best of authorities that a Brexit No Deal will not harm the fabled Anderson Map Fortune which is fairly comfortable at the moment, despite Mark "We're all doomed" Carney at the Bank of England, so hence the spending spree.First up was a bunch of paints to replenish my stock and make sure I have enough to continue with the SYW project, I was also toying with another paint pot stack for the extra bottles I have in a box, but that can wait.I have been kind of fired up w

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Duke of Lancasters

I had to take the car to Preston yesterday, a town I would prefer not to visit, no doubt it has nice parts but for the casual visitor it just seems a sprawling mess, not one thing nor t'other as the locals might say. It has a huge concrete bus station plonked in the centre which, for me, is an eyesore but in the eyes of my betters is an architectural gem and there is a crusade to save it from demolition.Anyway I eventually found the Autoglass shed in a shopping mall car park and handed the car over for its eye test. Because I have a modern car with all the bells and whistles you cannot simply change the windscreen, it has to be calibrated as it has cameras on it, or rather cameras which see through it. It really does get an eye test, at one point I saw the young lad hold up a large board with circles on it while the guy in the car adjusted the cameras!The procedure takes two hours so I had time to kill, before going I noticed that Fulwood Barracks was within a ten minute walk and it had an Infantry Museum in

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Red Letter Day

Thursday turned out very well for me, I had the afternoon off from the PO and thoroughly enjoyed it, I also decided not to continue drawing maps so I took a quick feather duster over the house so that the boss would not need to do it when she came back, I can do in an hour what takes her three, how efficient is that.Anyway just before I shut the shop I got an email from Paypal saying my money had been refunded from Wacom for the drawing display I really didn't need, I managed a small jig, it was supposed to take three weeks and they managed it in one, it now sits safely in my bank account. I am still looking at upgrading my old machine but for something more suitable and much cheaper. I also noticed some anomalies in my account, there wasn't as much in the Legendary Map Fortune as I had thought, after some sleuthing it transpired Amazon was hitting my card and not her indoors'. Ching, refund!I sat and finished off the Late Romans and as I checked my emails and Facebook just before turning in for the night I n

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30 Minutes to Kill

No club last night, I am busy with maps and with the missus away I had to make my own tea, I also have the PO monthly balance today, which the missus usually does so I had preparations for that as well as I don't like to spend one minute in the office more than I have to, I don't get paid overtime. Bolshie, yes, but I have had almost twenty years working with the shower which is Post Office Limited.Anyway, the Boss is back on Saturday so I am heading off to FIASCO at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, one of my favourite museums unlike the empty, pretentious shed which is the Imperial War Museum North. I digress, I have a small shopping list and hope to pick up some SYW inspiration from some of the traders. I normally only bother with Vapnartak at York but I am treating myself.I have settled into a nice pace with the Celtae Seniores and might be putting the finishing touches to them over the weekend, where to go after that I wonder, maybe that extra cohort for the Twelfth or back to the SYW, probably the latter, m

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