Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Last Post

I have decided that I will no longer be working on this blog due to the lack of information regarding the Picasa replacement. While it does seem like a minor inconvenience realistically it is more about the arbitrary removal of a very good platform without explaining what the replacement will be. May has passed and there is still no news. 

I used to like this blog, it worked well, the graphics platform worked well, it was fun to do and I learnt one heck of a lot. Considering when I started out here I was still asking the question "It looks real good but what does it do?" 
Now I know what it does and I have created my own replacement hosted on my own domain. 

I would like to thank the many people who were regular visitors, you know who you are and you know where to find my stuff. 
I would also like to acknowledge Blogspot for helping me to understand what a blog is, however, the thing to remember at all times is "you must have something to say". A blog is like a journal, and if you do not use it often it really dies; content is everything. I have been fortunate that I have content. 

I was initially adding in links to the new posts at Musings but will no longer be doing that and will gradually be deleting posts here as time passes. They have all be transferred to Musings and still exist there. Who knows, maybe one day this will be the only post.

DRW. 28/07/2016.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

More musings

Tick tock, time marches and still we sit!

On 01 July 2016 we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the Battle of the Somme and the thousands of casualties caused by the battle. It has been an emotional commemoration though because over 19000 men lost their lives on that first day. I did a short commemoration piece on the anniversary.

anyway, on 25 June I paid a visit to the Tewkesbury Mini-steam weekend to take in some pint sized steam machines. Wonderful stuff!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

London 2016

I visited London between 07 and 09 June 2016, it was a great mini holiday but I came back exhausted. There were over 1400 images to process and there are 6 blog posts resulting from that trip.

I created two "index" pages for the trip which were really overviews of the  trip but with internal links to the individual posts. (use the heading to access the page)

London 2016 (the First Half)

London 2016 (the Second Half)

Finding Bunhill Fields

Going to see the RMS St Helena

Revisiting Kensall Green (All Souls) Cemetery

Revisiting St Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery

And there you have it: the record of a memorable trip to a great city and to see a great ship.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

More Triang Minic

Following on my post from 24 January 2016, my collection has expanded a bit more with some new acquisitions. 

To go with my RMS Ivernia, I have also acquired an RMS Carinthia, as a sister ship. I have also outfitted both ships with cargo gear and mainmasts.

Because the masts and cranes are pricey, I decided to remove the gear from one of my C4 Mariner Class cargo ships and use those on the two Cunarders and convert the C4 into a early container ship iteration. Fortunately I had a duplicate Volunteer Mariner so she ended up donating her cargo gear. 

The containers are left overs from my P&O City of Durban and I filed down the crane housings till they were level with the hatch covers and pasted the containers onto a false deck glued that onto the hatchcovers. I stayed with only one stack of boxes though, too many would have left them with no view to the bow. I also added a foremast. I am not quite done with this ship yet, and of course she does not have a name, but is more of a generic interim vessel.  

My other major acquisition was the "Might Mo": USS Missouri,

I have also been working on and off on the HMY Britannia. This model was available in the Royal Yacht livery as well as in a hospital ship livery. She was built to be easily convertible to a hospital ship in the event that she was needed, but she never fulfilled that role in her long career. Triang Minic used to sell the model as part of a boxed set

In 2014 I bought a Revell 1/1200 QE2 model, the intention being to waterline it and add it to the collection. 

I bought the paint and brushes and packed it all away and never built it, and like the original ship  it has been languishing in limbo until last month when I got it back with the rest of my collection from storage in Lichfield.

Last night I attacked it with a saw and cut away the underwater part of the hull and started to build it. The big problem is trying to find the sheer line as it is not really marked on the model. I also used gloss black instead of matt black as the matt paint is really lousy.I am probably going to have to give it a 2nd coat so will see how the matt works on it.  By this morning the QE2 was looking somewhat odd.

It is not a very complicated kit, but the painting is a pain. the upper deck has not been glued down yet, but the fore and aft decks have. And the funnel has had its first coat. This is very close to the livery that I saw her in in 1986, although she did have a few changes in her stern area then. 

Alongside Ocean Terminal. March 1986
I will try get more pics of her before I glue down the main deck,  at the moment I am waiting for paint to dry.

It is now 1 day later and QE2 is looking more like QE2 every hour.

First coat on funnel and fore and aft decks painted. Lifeboats are still not on. Big problem is that the davits were all black at this particular part of her career, but frankly painting them black was a lot of work, and I decided to leave them white. I may do it later. The other question is, what colour was the roof of her bridge and the suites as well as around the funnel?

Lifeboats are added, most of the superstructure elements are in place and I am starting to look at the fit onto the hull. It was not a good fit.

But eventually I got it on and started to fit the bridge and their wings as well as try to make sense of her sheer line, as you can see it is wobbly as can be. I will sort that once all is built and when there is better natural light. I did give it a coat of matt black and it looks better. Now to fit forward cranes and mast and touch up paintwork

Mast is on, cranes are on. I have not given the funnel its final coat as I have white drying in the funnel area. She is more or less completed now, she just needs touching up, the sheer line needs finalising, and f course I have to add colour to the lifeboats, at one point their superstructures were orange and I do not have orange paint. I have also seen her with green above the bridge.

The QE2 changed many times over the years, and this model has her original thin funnel which puts this before 1986, and probably just after the Falklands when they gave her the traditional Cunard funnel livery. I was alsoconsidering giving her a false flat bottom, but must first complete her properly and then she can join the fleet.

Gee, I enjoyed that bit of model building.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The February Sea Disasters (II)

On 21 February 1917, South Africa lost some of its finest: Black African volunteers en route to the battlefields of France. They were not going there because they were conscripted to go there, neither were they going there to fight; they were going because they volunteered, and because they would be supporting those in the front. These men were going to make history, but not in the way that you would expect. Their lives would be taken when their troopship; HMT Mendi, was in a collision with another vessel, the SS Darro off St Catherine's Point on the Isle of Wight. 

It has been 99 years since they sailed into history, and their story was shunted aside by successive governments for too many years. However, since the advent of the internet and the opening of eyes to history, many old soldiers now recognise that we owe a debt to these men, to keep their memory alive and to pass that memory onto others. Sadly the desecration of a war memorial by students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has left me saddened. It is not just a piece of stone that was desecrated, what was done was just as bad as those in power who rubber stamped the Mendi disaster out of the history books. 

I expect those soldiers would have been shocked at the unruly behaviour of those students because those men stood on the deck of their ship and stared death in the face, the Reverend Isaac Dyobha. calling them together and admonishing them:

“Be quiet and calm, my countrymen, for what is taking place is exactly what you came to do. You are going to die… but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we drilling the death drill. I, a Xhosa, say you are my brothers. Swazi’s, Pondo’s, Basuto’s, we die like brothers. We are the sons of Africa. Raise your war cries, brothers, for though they made us leave our assegaais in the kraal, our voices are left with our bodies.“

"Be quiet and calm..." those words resonate through the ages and should be the watchword for those who rampage and desecrate and demand. Unfortunately they do not.

The Mendi, once forgotten is now remembered, in memorials, literature, on a warship, on a medal, and by the South African Legion and the South African branch of the Royal British Legion,

The imperative is to keep their memory alive, and to make sure that when we pass onwards that others will take up our call: "Remember the Mendi"

Hamba Kahle South African Soldiers.


There is a lot of material about the Mendi out there, and I am proud to say my own efforts contributed in a small way to it.
The Loss of HMT Mendi
The Mendi Memorial at Avalon Cemetery
The Mendi Memorial at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton
The Wreck of the SS Mendi by Wessex Archaeology

Follow the internal links within those pages to access some of the other Mendi related material.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Picasa bites the dust?

This evening I discovered that Picasa is going to be shut down. For those who do not know, Picasa is where the images that are on this blog live.

The blurb reads as follows:

"Friday, February 12, 2016 10:00 AM Since the launch of Google Photos, we’ve had a lot of questions around what this means for the future of Picasa. After much thought and consideration, we’ve decided to retire Picasa over the coming months in order to focus entirely on a single photo service in Google Photos. We believe we can create a much better experience by focusing on one service that provides more functionality and works across mobile and desktop, rather than divide our efforts across two different products."

At last count there were 5479 images in this blog. That means unless Blogger has a way to correct all of the links automatically, 5479 images will suddenly cease to exist on the blog and be replaced by a "file not found". I do not know the full extent of the implications yet, suffice to say that this is a disaster of major proportions. While the images will all move to Google photos it really means I will have to go through each and every post in the blog to correct the image links for one heck of a lot of images. There are over 400 posts in the blog. I could be here till the end of time! so, it may be that the time has come to migrate the blog away from blogger completely and merge it with allatsea in one ginormous blog and frankly that sounds like way too much work. I will be doing some reading as to what the implications are, but it certainly changes my commitment to Blogger and makes every reason for moving from here a good idea!  I have since created a duplicate of this blog called musings while allatsea and all content that pre-dates the first post in January 2011  has been migrated to Musings.  Watch this space for any future developments. 

Update: 21/02/2016
I posted a question to the Blogger forum in this regard, and received the following reply: "Retiring Picasa Web Albums will not affect photos uploaded to a blog through Blogger; they will will continue to display on the blog even after Picasa Web Albums is retired. You will still be able to see these photos on your blog and in a new place we will be creating for you to access your Picasa Web Albums data. Picasa Web albums shared by a link will also continue to work with a redirect. For photos, albums, and slideshows embedded from Picasa Web Albums, and links to your public galleries, we will share more details as we get closer to these changes being made in the coming months."

Monday, 1 February 2016

Two comma four

On Sunday afternoon there was a post on Facebook about the dreaded "Two comma Four" that was used as the standard fitness test in the SADF waaaay back when I was a conscript in 1980/81. The cut off time was 12 minutes and the first 2,4 we ran in 3SAI was in pt shorts and takkies.

I remember it well, we had a one pip loot that would mark the turning around point (theoretically 1200 metres away) and then we would be on the downhill stretch. On your marks, get set... fokof! 

And so it started. A regular test of our fitness levels, and in 61 Mech it was compulsory for everybody to run it, whereas in basics only us roofies seemed to run it. We ran and ran and ran and ran and ran, further and faster than we had ever run before. Far from the perimeter fence of our high school and the the 3 rugby fields that we sometimes ran during PT. Far from Phineas Mackintosh Park in Mayfair where we tried to fitten up for the army in those last days of our school careers. That road was endless, and there was no sign of that sodding lieutenant! At some point we realised he was not there and we started to turn around and run back to the start line. I seem to recall walking a bit, but coming in at  under 13 minutes. 

We ran that 2,4 twice in PT gear, after that we did it in "Staaldak, webbing en geweer" which weighed a gazillion kilos and which became second nature to us, almost like a pair of underpants but heavier and on the outside. I know my times improved dramatically, and by the time I moved to Kimberly and 11 Commando could easily run it in under 12 minutes. That course took us through the middle of the camp and around the one parade ground, still in staaldak, webbing en geweer. 

When I ended up at Jan Kemp Dorp our fitness dropped, and our stamina was more in keeping with 4 hours of guard duty. Those were fun days, although in winter we really suffered. Shortly before we left some of us started to run the 2,4 for fun, and even then could do it under 12 minutes. 

The next major run we did was shortly before we went to the border when the whole company ran 3,6 kilometres in De Brug, and I believe we all made it under the allotted time, but we were buggered by the time we had done it.

When we hit the border we used to run the chalk road from our tents to the tar road and back first thing in the morning (about 3,8 kilos). It was hell, partly because of the blistering pace and the early morning heat, but also because we ran it as a squad and that was difficult. When we got back to our tents we would then have inspection and company parade and those meticulously shone boots were all white from the morning run in that chalk road.

It was hell. 
Trust me on this.

Today? I would probably not even manage 1 kilometre, although I am very walking fit. I was never a runner, and I never will be.

ps. cpl Slegter, cpl Strydom, and cpl Akker: you three are a bunch of "obscenity deleteds"

The image of the platoon running comes from social media, I do not know who it belongs to, but wanted to use it as it is very representative of what we faced back them. If the photographer will come forward I will gladly acknowledge you.