Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Dark Clouds...

...... and Silver Linings, or, "Full Steam Ahead"!

To say it's been a horrible week and a bit would perhaps be stretching things, but it's certainly been far from 'fun'. First of all I had the problem with Blogger not uploading photo's (which would hamstring my activities here), which meant spending hours of frustrating effort trying to get it sorted - I HATE having to faff about on computers when they're not doing what they're supposed to, and the whole episode resulted in my hobby mojo taking a knock.
Then, while this was going on, I'd braved the great outdoors to do some shopping for my mum, and on the way home the van developed a rather unhealthy knocking from the passenger side rear wheel. It was late afternoon, so I delayed the job until the following morning - and thus spent a huge chunk of the next day stripping and re-assembling the brake caliper which was seizing up (probably through lack of use during the lock down)........ managing to sprain my wrist in the process, but hey ho, the job was done and surely things would improve from here on?

Well, yes and no! The lovely Tarot rode to the rescue and provided the solution to the Blogger issue (Yay!), but I've still got pain and stiffness in my right wrist and thumb / forefinger guiders (Boo!).
I needed to do something, rather than lay off and allow it to stiffen up but as I say, I didn't feel like doing any 'gamey stuff', so I decided to tackle a couple of jobs on my model railway that had been on the "to do" list for about 3 years!!
The Westwood & Loscoe Light Railway had taken delivery of an old workhorse in need of some TLC (a secondhand Accucraft "Caradoc") - here's her new driver and fireman having their first look at the latest addition to the stable...
The loco is still in 'factory finish' and looks quite plain at the moment, but I do like her chunky appearance and I'm looking forward to getting her repainted into WLLR black, and adding some detail to bring out the character of a hard working narrow gauge loco (lamp irons, handrails etc).
Back to the job in-hand though, I set to and replaced the factory fitted gas burner with a much more efficient one and like-wise removed the standard gas and steam regulators with "fine adjustment" versions - replacing the unrealistic looking control "knobs" with levers while I was at it.
These improvements meant disconnecting the gas and steam pipes, so before the work could be 'signed off' I had to check for leaks and she was duly fired up and brought up to pressure....
Buoyed by my success, I decided to make a start on another job on the railway which has long been awaiting the 'round tuit' stock replacement. This summer will see the "quarry section" of the line removed so that I can re-route the main running line away from the bottom corner of the garden. The quarry was only added to hide the hedgehog house from view, and since the rescue centre has sadly closed we'll no longer be releasing 'hogs, so the realignment has finally been granted approval by the higher household authorities.
Before getting down to the business of shifting rocks and lifting track I marked the occasion with a quick photo opportunity, recording the moment that Rusty and the Blue Meany (a pair of scratchbuilt battery operated diesels) were removed from Waingroves Quarry to enter service on the WLLR.
"Hang on, I thought this was a wargames blog" I hear you cry, and yes it is, but bear with me and I'll explain the relevance of the above......

The track realignment is underway, but will take some time (track laying in the garden railway scales bears more resemblance to the real thing than the indoor baseboard layouts), but having got the modelling juices flowing again I was keen to tackle another job, and appropriately a had yet another project that has been neglected for nigh on 3 years - and so my old "Mighty Fortress" from Games Workshop has finally got painted up and can at last be used on the table!
At this point, just as I was thinking that everything was back to running smoothly, we received advanced notification from HMRC that we would be able to make a claim for the self employed income support scheme this month (instead of having to wait until June as originally forecast - Yay!). BUT, anti fraud measures meant that we had to visit the GOV.UK website and create a "personal tax account" (we don't already have one since our annual returns are done through an accountant for peace of mind), because the whole claim / notification procedure will only be conducted via this secure account. Guess what........
....MORE hours wasted in front of the computer screen trying in vain to set up this account (Boo!).
In all fairness, it might well be down to sheer volume of traffic on the website, and this is a brand new scheme that HMRC have had to set up from scratch and teething troubles are to be expected, so I'm not knocking them and I'm sure they'll get it sorted in time - but did I mention that "I HATE having to faff about on computers when they're not doing what they're supposed to"?

Sorry about the "Off Topic" nature of this post, but hey, it's the blog's third anniversary in a few days time (another '3 year' tie-in!) so I'll celebrate by returning to normal service!
Until then, take care, please leave a comment if you so wish, and..........


  1. It never rains and all that, but on the bright side you must now, surely, be due a run of good luck?

    1. Isn't that just the way of it Michael? :-)
      To be honest, I think the "silver linings" that resulted from each of the problems are MORE than fair compensation so I'm honestly not complaining (though it might seem I am).
      We stayed up late last night and revisited the GOV.UK site (while most people were in their beds) and had no problem setting up our "gateway" and establishing a personal tax account, so that clears the "Boo!" list :-)

  2. I have to admit to being slightly jealous and also in awe of your garden railway, Greg.

    And as I've stated many times before elsewhere, it's your blog, so never apologise for posting whatever you want - I enjoyed the diversion from a "regular" gaming topic.

    1. Thanks Jez, the WLLR doesn't get as much love as it used to, but it's still a pleasant way to spend a few hours outdoors. In its heyday I set up a YouTube channel for it - search "Trent Industrial Tramway Society" if you'd like to see it in action :-)

      Your kind words about blog content are reassuring and much appreciated my friend.

  3. I'm always happy to view miniature railways, be they indoor or a garden layout.

    Though I shudder to recollect the times spent in frustration when our own computers (and printers and tvs and satellite and freeview and mobile phones) have not worked like they were meant to do. I'll be honest and admit that it won't be the first time computer problems, and going round and round in circles, have left me frustrated to the point of feeling down. Here's hoping you've no such problems.

    1. My dad built me a scenic model railway on a baseboard when I was a kid, and I used it to "fight battles" on with Airfix soldiers and tanks - so I guess model railways and wargames are forever combined in my psyche :-)

      I'm completely with you when it comes to computers Roy, the problems I HAD (all sorted now!) would just normally wind me up, but they just caught me at a bad time and really gave me a bad case of the glums! The successes I achieved with the "modelling therapy" lifted my spirits though, and all's good again :-)

  4. So pleased you're back with photographs ! What was done to fix the problem ?

    The isolation thing is continuing to be challenging for a lot of folk trying to find a day to day purpose and real-life problems always seem to interfere with anything we try to complete hobby-wise.
    Good gettting to do something 'off topic' though and any post is always welcome.

    1. Thanks Joe, I had an old (out of date) version of anti virus software still installed on my computer - very topical eh?.
      Either there was a 'clash' with my current software, or Blogger detected that the old software was missing some vital updates. Either way, uninstalling it cleared the problem immediately :-)

      You're 100% right about isolation! We're just about coping with the loss of income, but as entertainers we REALLY miss the interactio with people - which is why we hold a "mini concert" for the street from our front doorstep after the 'Thursday night clap for the NHS' :-)

      When I can get my hands on some approximately 1/19th (the scale the garden railway is built to) military figures, the "Off Topic" will more than likely become "ON topic!" :-)

  5. What ever you do don't show Stevie that Mighty Fortress, he'll have kittens, yea you seem to have in your collection his very e--x--a--c--t wish list, except he doesn't have half the things you do, and can only lust after such treasures hehe.

    Your railway is magnificent and reminds me that if it weren`t for the fact girls aren`t meant to be interested in model trans, I`d be quite enthused by this snippet from "The Life of Greg" {I`d better not mention when I used to go train spotting and `collected` chuff chuffs from all over the place.

    A lovely change of pace from your usual articles and warmly welcome too.

    1. Oops! I'm always dropping myself in it one way or another ;-)
      If it's any consolation, I never managed to find a "Skullvane Manse" that wouldn't cost a body part or firstborn child to buy!

      Actually, there's a large (and growing) number of the fairer sex involved in the model railway scene, and a good number of them put the blokes to shame with their modelling skills :-)

      I owe you an Email Miss T, and will 'make it so' asap!

  6. Oh Lord, you`ll start him off again. Doesn`t take much to get his nib`s train set juices bubbling to the boil.

    Oh noo, you do sound like you`ve been in the wars. I`m glad its picking up again, and with posts like this one, that`s clear as day, you`ve rediscovered your stride.

    1. Sorry Hils, I wasn't thinking!!
      Mind you, there might well be some railway tracks appearing on the wargames table in the not-too-distant future, so maybe (just maybe) this brief interlude to the WLLR might act as a damper to prevent any possible system shock?! ;-)

      It's true that the "series of unfortunate events" caught me JUST at the wrong time, but luckily I'd already taken the precaution to position the computer well away from any windows :-)

  7. Drools........... droooooools........ DROOOOLS.......

    Okay I`m gonna try swap that fortress with ya, make you an offer ya really can`t refuse. Just don't get into a boat with me or Sméagol might just bring out the Deagel in me.

    Seriously, I have a tempting offer for you...... but THAT will come in a separate email *wink*

    Only one word to say here.....


    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, You do entice me back to that side of my nature, the little boy who has never quite forgotten or given up his love for train sets. Right now I feel like Mr Toad sitting on his butt in the dusty lane, looking after the motor car speeding away into the distance.. and going "Poop Poop! ever so faintly, with a far away glint of longing in my eyes.

    Excellent stuff bud.

  8. Your blog Greg you post what you like mate, if having a rant helps getting thing out of your system then you fire ahead, you give us enough of hobby enjoyment so the least we can do is be here for you when life is dealing you a bad hand, hope you get sorted soon mate :)

    1. Cheers Frank, yeah - I actually DO feel a lot better after letting the safety valve blow, but now slightly embarrassed after allowing the 'Wobble' to get to me,
      you know, that sort of moment when someone gives a polite cough before announcing "Right, moving swiftly along" :-)
      Thanks for the kind words mate, and I'm sure everything's back on an even keel.

  9. It's always nice when someone else is having a bad time of it, makes us feel better for some reason:)

    It's just nice to hear what you're up to and you made me smile, so thanks.

    1. Ahoy matey! :-)

      I reckon us human beings are all resistant to change, whether we're aware of it or not, and the lock down has certainly been "a change". I'm sure a few computer problems, knackered back brake and sprained wrist would ALL have been laughed off over a swift glass of [insert tipple of choice here] during "normal" times.

      My wrist still 'urts a bit if that'll keep you smiling :-)