Monday, 31 December 2012

Starting my “New Year’s Resolutions” early

Starting my “New Year’s Resolutions” early.

As the festive season galloped towards me at a shocking pace, I found it hard to feel happy, fluffy and festive. My letter box and email inbox received more grief than good will and it came from the main service providers for banking, electricity, gas, internet and phone.


I’ve procrastinated too long in giving these people a kick up the arse or the complete boot. So now they go. Their days are numbered and in some cases their time has come.

The first to go is Eon, supplier for gas and electricity now for several years. Earlier in the year when my fixed term for duel fuel expired they moved me to a new one automatically again with a higher than average price but fixed until April 2014. As we all know they seem very quick in hiking prices but when the wholesale cost comes down we never see the benefit. This time however they played dirty.

I have just received a letter saying my electricity prices are rising in January.

What about the fixed tariff until May 2014?

It seems now that according to their records only the gas was moved to a fixed rate and the duel fuel electric was not.
My tough luck.

This is not the first time I have had cause to complain about them. Over the last few years I have experienced their inability to process their own meter readings, have at times had over two years of bills reworked several times as they entered a ridiculously wrong reading, thus sending the billing into meltdown. I received a hostile letter from them for being at work when their meter reader came, I HAD NOT REFUSED ENTRY I was just not there as I’m not psychic. When I complained about this attitude in writing to their customer service department I received no response. This has been their last chance and the switch process is already in motion.
Others will follow, this will be a year of change unless services improve.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Book Review Nov / Dec

Conflicted Men
By Jason G. Long
ISBN 9781291130973

The début novel from Jason G. Long introduces us to two men at opposite ends of their existence, Mark middle-aged, established with a reputation, and Jake, a young lad just coming out and new to the scene. They are brought together by a mutual acquaintance and thus thrown into each other’s lives. It is no secret that recreational drugs and alcohol have featured heavily in Mark’s past and we are delivered into his world with all the trauma this life style can bring, but the story is not delivered in either a judgemental way or as a lecture on drug use, and also successfully avoids glorifying the subject, giving the reader a refreshingly realistic account alongside characters you actually care about as their lives unfold around you. Humour and tragedy run parallel in this well paced story.

For more details you can visit Jason's website, purchase from
or follow him on Twitter:


Patrick Troughton,
The Biography of the Second Doctor Who
By Michael Troughton
Originally published by Hirst Publishing

Michael, Patrick’s son, lifts the lid on the mystery that was the Second Doctor.

In a candid and revealing book Michael tells the story of what it was like to have the Second Doctor Who as your father, and a father that was not always there. Patrick Troughton lived a double life and negotiated between two families. This books tells about life in one of the Troughton households and the career path of one of this country’s finest character actors.

For more details you can follow Michael on Twitter, or vsit his website:

Paperback: 291 pages
Publisher: HIRST publishing; 1st edition (2012)
ISBN-10: 1907959491
ISBN-13: 978-1907959493

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Vorsteck Layout

Finally for Vorsteck a few lay out photos

Notice the addition of an aquarium decoration. The ruined arch in the last couple of photos was a purchased fish tank ornament which I thought looked the part rather than a hand made piece.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Vorsteck in ruins

The final part of Vorsteck was an area of derelict buildings, where the stone buildings had collapsed. Of course if I was making a display version I’d include a lot more rubble, and if these buildings were external then grass and vegetation would have been added but these were more the war torn results of previous invasions for the old city.

I suspect nasty things would have lived there ready to pounce from the ruins at us as we passed through.

These ruins were built in the basic same way as the main buildings, that being foam board covered in DAS putty hand made tiles to look like stone blocks, with the exception of the arch way which was covered in putty but had brick work etched in before it dried.

The main difference being that instead of full squared buildings they were just slithers of half walls, and cross ways and T shapes designed to look like exposed interior walls.

Some of the earlier pieces that became the ruined castle were originally made for the Vorsteck layout.

Combined with some elements from the ruined castle set the old town would have been quite a scary place to visit.

NEXT : Test layout photos

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Book Review Sept / Oct

Wordsworth Classics
The Lost World & Other Stories
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The five stories in this collection are:

1) The Lost World
2) The Poison Belt
3) The Land of Mist
4) The Disintegration Machine
5) When the World Screamed

Professor G.E. Challenger is Doyle’s second famous character/world creation past the Holmes and Watson world and “The Lost World” is the most famous of these stories having been adapted several times to tv and film.

The writing style is less forgiving to time then the Holmes stories, but The Lost World is good read provided you keep in mind the period it was written in.

I found Land of Mist quite tedious, as it seemed to struggle with being a story about investigating various supernatural / mystic events and a working paper fighting with itself as to whether the writer believed or not in the phenomena.

It was after this I took a reading break before finishing the last two shorter stories in the collection. By these the wind had expired from Professor G.E. Challenger’s sails and was much less the blustering and foreboding character he started out as being.

Wordsworth Editions
Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural
Children of the Night Classic Vampire Stories
David Stuart Davies     

A collection of short vampire stories, or extracts from longer works. Some are more entertaining than others.

The Vampyre a Tale
Varney the Vampyre
The Curse of the Vourdalak
Dracula and the Three Brides
For the Blood is the Life
Good Lady Ducayne
An Episode of Cathedral History
The Horla
The Welcome Visitor

For more details on these books visit

Monday, 24 December 2012

Vorsteck, the algae curtains

Just a quick one today.

The strangest part of this project had to be the requirement for the doorways to be curtained off using dried sea weed of sorts farmed from the local lake near Vortsteck.

I tried all types of materials to try and generate the dark green/ black algae curtains, hanging inside the doors and windows.

Just about everything was considered from fruit bag netting which eventually led to my experiments with lead panels for the other building's windows, to old socks.

Here is the one that eventually got used for the majority of the buildings. This was cotton wool soaked in green paint and allowed to dry then the fruit bag netting was laid over the top and stuck down. The whole lot was mounted on card and cut into 'slides' that could be slid into the doorframes and window frames using the internal holding frame work shown previously.

NEXT: Vorsteck in ruins

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Vorsteck versatile buildings

Continuing my short collection of posts about the Vorsteck Rock Town.

I think I mentioned that these buildings cost more to make than my usual projects, due to the nature of the building and thus the materials used. For this reason I wanted to be able to use them in more ways than one once their original purpose was finished. So aside from being the underground houses of Vorsteck I wanted to add adaption packs for them to turn them into various other countryside cottages.

The images that I had in mind came from the Torchwood episode Countryside where a small community of locals had some very unpleasant dietary habits, and the stone cottages of the recent remake of The Wolfman.

I built the basic house shape from four sides of rectangular foam board. I did not use the usual shape for the small sides with triangle roof as I had envisaged the Vorsteck houses as having flat roofs as there would be no rain to content with underground.

I built the flat Vorsteck roofs as being detachable from the main building, and then started to build additional separate roofs that could rest on top, and built them so that these roofs could be swapped when required for the flat stone of Vorsteck, or thatched or tiled country cottage roofs.

The windows and doorways I cut out so that they were open, the wet DAS putty I used to frame the cut edges of the foam board so that the frames were still stone looking but also more robust than just the tiled stone effect.

Because I was going to curtain the windows and doors with fake algae (see next post) I needed to have a way to fix them inside and still be changeable. I built up the insides with off cuts of foam board and covered them with card making insert areas to mount different effects for windows and doors. For the doors I made additional wooden doors stuck to card which could be slid in to these slots when I wanted the buildings to be cottages on the moors and the windows were shuttered by the addition of inserted clip in wooden panels made to look like closed shutters.

As each building was slightly different in size and shape each building had to be numbered and each set of adaption pieces made separately and also numbered so that they could be easily attached to the right buildings. I haven’t yet completed the adaption pieces for all the buildings as these were not priority but I think over all this is going to work to allow these buildings to have a varied lease of life.

NEXT: Vorsteck the algae curtains

Friday, 21 December 2012

Book Review July / August

I promised I'd fill in the gaps in the missing book reviews, here are the books I should have added for July and August. (Sept/Oct and Nov/Dec will follow shortly...)

The Wolf Gift
By Anne Rice
£18.99 (Hardback edition)

I was looking forward to reading this from the moment I first heard it was announced, the chance to read Anne Rice’s take on the werewolf mythology. Just the title filled me with hope, at last a werewolf that promised not to be moaning about the condition being a curse.

I was not disappointed; as the story unfolded we learnt that the lycanthropes here described themselves as morphen kind, with a rich history behind them. Although the transformation and subsequent events are not always easy for the main character, at last we have somebody that tries to find a way to embrace the gift.

I do hope that more stories emerge for the morphen kind, both past and present in the same way that the Vampire Chronicles gave us a wealth of characters for Anne’s vampires.

For more details visit the official Anne Rice website

BBC Doctor Who Dark Horizons
By J. T. Colgan 
£12.99 (Hardback editition)

A story of a wild and rugged coast line, something deadly at sea and vikings.

The Doctor, travelling alone, is looking for a second player for a game of chess. The wild coast of Scotland at the time of viking invasion is not somewhere he is likely to find a player, but he is likely to find trouble. A well paced exciting adventure for the 11th Doctor and you could imagine Matt Smith's Doctor getting into this sort of trouble.

For more info visit the facebook page:

Wordsworth Editions:
Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural
Aylmer Vance: Ghost-Seer 
By Alice & Claude Askew

Alice and Claude Askew, husband & wife writing team from the early 20th century. First published in 1914, the Aylmer Vance stories were their offering for the supernatural genre. Very popular at the time, but for me slightly dated compared to some of the other writers from around this period.

For more details on this range of books:

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Welcome to Vorsteck

This is the first of my short series of posts on the rock town of Vorsteck, built for a game that will now, I suspect, never get played. The irony of the whole thing is this was the project this blog was initially set up to talk about. I expected BigLee to report on the game and I would follow up as it were on the other channel with some behind the scenes extras.

That aside here at last are the buildings of Vorsteck.

The Brief:

A town built underground, carved from the rocks and built using just rock boulders. There is no wood used for building, except maybe the very odd piece that has found its way down. The windows and doors are curtained by dried algae taken from the underground lake. There is a ruined area off in one direction and a large town hall / palace building in the centre.

Unfortunately the palace building was never completed; the basic frame was built from recycled cartons and boxes to reduce some of the cost, but was thrown away during the great purge and clear up as it had not progressed any further than being a pile of glued together boxes.

The majority of these buildings used bought materials rather than recycled materials because of the nature of the buildings, so for these buildings to never be used is a bit of a disappointment, although I’m sure BigLee will come up with an idea for them in the future and the design I went with was with the intention of making them multipurpose so maybe all is not lost. (More on that later)

The build consisted of several box houses all of varying size designed to look as if they had been completely built of stone. These were made from foam board covered in small DAS putty tiles which were made separately and glued on.

For other buildings where they were designed to look as if they had been built directly into the rock face, plaster moulds were used to form the ragged rocks, and they were fixed to the foam board skeletons. Then additional DAS putty stones were attached to show the additional building work. The plaster rocks took some fixing and at first proved to be very heavy.

A number of the pieces I built for the ruined castle set were also going to be made available for some of the ruined buildings of Vorsteck.

For this reason there were no additional wooden fixtures put on to the castle-ruin pieces and no foliage either. Next year I’ll be completing these pieces with the extra decoration that until now has not been added.

NEXT: Vorsteck versatile buildings

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Boy Meets Boy at Jermyn Street Theatre

I’ve just seen the same stage musical for the second time last night, not just a new production of one I’ve seen before, but same cast, same venue and same run. Each visit was with different company and when each of us emerged everyone was of the same opinion. We had all recently seen various other big budget West End musicals, (no names mentioned) this was Fringe Theatre (*), at the Jermyn Street Theatre, much smaller venue, smaller budget but it delivered a production that everyone of us enjoyed so much more over those other productions.

The extremely tongue in cheek musical centred around Clarence, the Boston Millionaire marrying his boyfriend in the 1930s, getting stood up at the altar by Guy and then the reporter Casey O'Brien chasing down the story only to fall for the mysterious Guy who he believes he has never met.  It revels in its own cliché that drives the story, and with a brilliant ensemble of performers the whole evening was pure brilliant entertainment.

Boy Meets Boy plays until 20th December 2012 so you don’t have long to catch it, but I thoroughly recommend this production.

Jermyn Street Theatre presents
A UK Premiere of

A Musical Comedy

Book by Bill Solly and Donald Ward
Music and lyrics by Bill Solly

Stephen Ashfield, Johnjo Flynn, Craig Fletcher, Ben Kavanagh, Anna Nicholas
with Benjamin Bailey, Carly Mackelvie, Nicola Martin, Gregory Sims,
Biancha Szynal, Helen Turner, Jay Webb, Aron Wild.

Directed by Gene David Kirk
Musical Director Stefan Bednarczyk
Choreographer Lee Proud
Designer Alice Walkling
Lighting & Sound Design Phil Hewitt

(*) Jermyn Street Theatre were awarded Fringe Theatre of the Year 2012

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Missing Project...

As the year comes to an end and the D&D gang face their final session of the year, once again we face the fact we are GM/DM [Delete as applicable] less. We need to face it, this campaign is dead. It is a dead campaign. As campaigns go it is deader than a dead thing. Deader even that a doornail.  Now I’m sure this is not the first campaign to drift off to the great campaign trail in the sky, or down into the pit of despair, and I’m sure our GM/DM has very good/poor [Again delete as applicable]  reasons for stranding our poor little characters in a dungeon of doom and gloom with no means of escape, BUT…
Back in 2010 he was planning a great end, a bloody battle to end all battles, an invasion of the main underground city (“Are we underground?”)  A world carved out in caverns and constructed of stone with no wood or other building materials available. To compliment this great game that was to come I constructed a lot of new buildings which until now have been kept secret from the group, and thus have not featured on this blog. As I’m not currently building anything new at the moment and I don’t  want this blog to collapse and go completely off topic forever I’m planning a small set of posts revealing these models and some of the ‘fun’ I had making them.

Watch this space...

Monday, 10 December 2012

As it's Christmas

I've just received some new promo fridge magnets for 
Karl – Birth of Mystery.  

So between now and Christmas, the next 10 orders for the book through the Karl - Birth of Mystery website link will get a free fridge magnet of the book cover, and I’ll also throw in one of the fridge magnets I had made earlier this year for the blog site as well.