Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Down but not out in Spain!

Life has been quite eventful since my last blog post here, and indeed this one has little to do with model soldiers, having not lifted a paint brush since then, but for completeness sake I thought an update was in order.

Just over two weeks ago I was struck down with the worst throat infection I can remember, so bad that even drinking water became painful, let alone eating. I spent four solid days in bed mostly sleeping before it finally began to ease up. I then woke up with an incredibly painful left knee. That spread to my right knee and my right ankle and foot, I could not stand up or weight bear at all. Last Monday we went for a second viewing on a property -more on this later - my Daughter was driving us and when we arrived I was unable to get out of the car! The Estate Agent was shocked as he had met me a couple of weeks previous when I was fine, and indeed he urged me to go to the medical centre for treatment.

We drove back to Calpe, picked up my medical card and passport and off to the medical centre where I was helped into a wheelchair and into the waiting room. Having completed the paperwork, within 20 minutes I was in with the Doctor who asked me to remove my 'pantaloons' (not an easy process in that state I can tell you). I spent half an hour so on an intravenous drip and left with my left knee heavily bandaged and a prescription, I was in and out within an hour or so.

It's now a week since my trip to the Doctor and my legs are slowly regaining strength, very slowly, still hobbling but able to stand and move about. I should just add that I have never had any problems with my legs before, indeed as my wife reminded me I have not been to hospital at all in at least 40 years so this came right out of the blue. Positive side is that I have shed over a stone in weight and I intend to work on my fitness going forward.

I have been spending a lot of time reading blogs and I'm really keen to get painting again. The 40mm Napoleonics are now in Kent ready to make the journey to Spain by van in due course. I also have the 'Tank Wars' German and Soviet starter sets with my Son in Law in Kent, as I'm itching to paint some armour again.

On the plus side we are loving life in Spain, the Spanish people are so friendly, warm and sociable. You notice how if you are sitting in a cafe or bar for example and a Spanish couple come in they will come and sit on the table beside you and immediately begin smiling and speaking to you - our rudimentary Spanish is getting us by! The seafood is fantastic,being the staple diet of this stretch of the Costa Blance coastline. You can still smoke in bars and cafes -although we avoid it - and dogs are welcome just about anywhere. Parking is mostly free of charge even along the popular beaches, and on Sunday everything closes as families take the opportunity to relax together. Children are encouraged to speak to people and be confident. What I have not been able to find is a bar selling English draught ales... yet. Every small town has it's grow shop as the cultivation of cannabis for personal use is legal here in Valencia region. Healthcare is good, expats we have spoken to tell us they get two medical screening sessions per year free of charge. Not saying it's the land of milk and honey, but certainly life in Spain is suiting us well, now I just need to recover the use of my legs again!

I hope the next update will feature some painted figures finally, please bear with me!

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Getting back in the swing.

A bit more progress on the 4 Highlanders today, spent an hour working on the kilts but still far from happy. I wanted to give an impression of the 92nds tartan that will also tie in with the 12 figures already painted by Andy. Where the yellow lines cross there appears to be a central dot with lighter square around it but it's really hard to achieve and I may need to start again! I think the pattern is too large anyway and needs more lines, closed up a bit so back to the drawing board it is. I must have painted loads of kilts in the past in scales from 28mm down to 6mm, these are far more demanding, but I'm enjoying having a brush in my hand again. Going to pull up a few past images of Highlanders I have painted for reference.

Just can't get those kilts right!

The trusty old paint box.

Nice view from the table and plenty of light.

The wooden palette was from a craft shop here, I will lay dampened greaseproof paper over it to create a wet palette effect.

Coming along despite the tartan. Muskets, socks and gaiters to be tackled next and more work on the head bands.
It's 25 degrees here today, so I'm sitting inside in the cool, I notice how quickly the paint dries up once out the tube so I'm returning to the trusty old wet pallete. Next week I hope to visit a Vallejo stockist in Valencia when we are there to open our Bank Account, there are two listed in Valencia.

*EDIT - since posting the above I have taken the tartans back to a base shade of dark green and dug up these couple of images - my own Victrix plastic Highlanders from 2010 - and I'm going to use these as a guide, I think the blue pattern over dark green and bold yellow works well as an Impression of the 92nd tartan, at least it will do for me! I sold all these off years ago, really did not like the flimsy plastic and kept breaking the bayonets.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Safe arrival in Spain of the 92nd Highlanders!

Well, they made it through UK customs in my eldest Daughters hand luggage or 'carry on' and I can happily report that 4 of the Sash and Sabre 40mm Highlander centre company figures are about 50% painted already. The security officer checking the bags said " You have a lot of Jewellery in this bag?", my Daughter replied that they were actually Toy Soldiers for her Dad who paints and collects them. He laughed and apparently went through each bag of figures individually, Hannah said he appeared quite interested in them and they passed through with no problem.

These figures are bloody BIG, the horses are beautiful castings I can barely wait to paint some but I'll stick to my plan of starting by painting more 92nd Highlanders to expand the existing 12 painted figures. They are going to take time to paint so I won't be rushing them but simply enjoying working on them, maybe 4 figures per week max. I managed a few hours today, current headcount here is 3 daughters, 3 granddaughters, plus 1 wife, both son in laws back in the UK working. They have all been out viewing properties in the Gandia region (it's a long story, bit of a hitch involving water supply and dodgy septic tanks, I'll probably fill you in later), but suffice to say I have enjoyed a quiet days painting probably for the first time in weeks.

Can't share photos as my camera battery is flat and I can't find the charger, but the Highlanders are coming along. Having a quiet G&T on the terrace before they all get back.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Highlander customs!

I mentioned in my last post that I was itching to get started on painting some 40mm Napoleonics, but have to wait until June 15th when my Son In Law drives our furniture from the UK to our new house in Spain and the Sash & Saber collection will be coming with him for safety.

This weekend our eldest daughter is coming out for a couple of weeks and it struck me that maybe she could bring a few of packs of unpainted 40mm's out with her. What's coming will be French Chasseur A Cheval, British gun and Foot artillery crew and Highlanders. I have checked the restrictions on what can be carried in hand luggage as Hannah will be travelling with hand luggage only, having left a suitcase full of stuff here previously, and I know the rules on sharp objects but feel sure that a few bags of toy soldiers can pose no threat surely? Sure, the Highlanders have sharp bayonets but are within packaging and she can just explain that they are for her Dad to paint. I don't think toy soldiers have ever been involved in serious crime so should be OK!

Any thoughts on this chaps? One has to be careful these days and customs are so understandably tight. I want to bring the 92nd Highlanders up to full strength to begin with.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Waiting, waiting!

I'm having to be extremely patient in waiting for the mid June arrival of the 40mm Napoleonics, but meanwhile I'm doing a lot of thinking and planning about how I will use them. Essentially as said previously I'm a painter/collector these days, but with the prospect of a large hobby room on the horizon I do intend to give them the odd run out on the tabletop. Sharpe Practice 2 is an obvious choice for such games, as it allows for company sized units of just 8 figures to be fielded along with lots of individual characters and single cannon for what is generally known as 'large skirmish' games, so I'm currently reading up on them again.

Anyway, here is Andy's list of what I have coming, I also have 2 packs of unpainted Light Dragoons and a pack of LD command coming to add some cavalry to the British force

1 mounted General 1 foot officer in frock coat

3rd Foot
1 mounted Colonel 2 ensigns with cloth flags 2 offices 2NCOs 1 Drum 1 pioneer  25 privates

28th Foot
1 mounted Colonel 2ensigns- paper flags-3 officers I sgt 1 drum 20 privates

92nd Highlander 12 man unit including command and ensigns with cloth flags

5th bn 60th foot- Rifles- 12 figs inc Command.

Royal Foot Artillery
1 gun and 5 crew


 2nd Hussars 16 figs in 2 “companies” 1 company being the Elite company making 1 squadron

 Foot Artillery
1 gun 1 howitzer and 10 crew

2 mounted officers 1 eagle1 deuxieme Port –Aigle  3 foot officer1 drum 1NCO

 60 Centre company Fusiliers

Grenadiers.......1 officer 13 men

Voltigeurs........ 2 officer 11 men- including 4 perry.

 Blocked in figures

 British     17 more infantry

French     47 more fusiliers .......7 Voltigeurs

And 1 officer and 9 more Grenadiers


Most ofthese are conversions of one sort or another

1 mounted officer- Sand S on a Perry Horse

3 standard bearers with cloth flags 1 Large gun with 5 mixed crew and  4 ox drawn limber- Blame Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren’s chest for this !!!

15 regular infantry- made from Sash and Saber Alamo Mexicans the  colour bearers are for these chaps.

So a grand Total of

 22 mounted

215 foot including gunners

4 guns

4 ox limber

Plus 83 blocked in figs

I found a few more images of the figures on Andy's Old Glory UK site and share them here with his permission.  the more I look at the pics the more excited I get!

A single Light Dragoon, but I have more on order.

Here in Spain the house purchase is ticking along nicely, we hope to be in by Mid June latest, but have extended the rental villa until end of June just in case, it feels like an extended holiday at the moment, but we will be busy once we are moved into 'El Refujio' as we have plans to create 2 holiday 'Casa Rural' on the land. They will be self contained with use of the large pool and the tennis court and a small children's play area. Surrounded by vines but just 30 minutes drive from the bustling centre of Valencia and it's airport and a few minutes from the traditional Spanish village of Godelleta with it's fine church, cafes, bars and Winery. My wife is also an excellent cook, it's been her passion for as long as we have been together, we met on a camel trek in Morocco 35 years ago.

Son in Law Blake at the gates of El Refujio. This was a measuring up shot to see if we will be able to get the 7.5 ton van up to the house!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

On to bigger things!

Since my late Teens I have always told myself that one day I would own a large collection of Napoleonic soldiers. Lord knows I have painted and sold many thousands of figures over the years as my enthusiasm for wargaming - though not painting - has ebbed and flowed. I had recently been looking into painting and collecting 54mm figures for display, but I like to build units featuring the different types, fusiliers, grenadiers, light company etc. I started to paint some of the 18mm Blue Moon figures the other day, but it's a busy time with a lot going on right now and I found it hard to focus. I always find starting something from scratch demanding.

When I saw that Andy Copestake of Old Glory Uk was selling off his fantastic collection of 40mm Peninsular War figures by Sash and Saber, I was unable to resist contacting him. It struck me that 40mm is large enough to satisfy my 'collector' instinct and they will look great in the large glass fronted display cabinet that comes with our new home, while still being a practical size for 'old school' wargames once in a while. Upshot is that I am now about to become the new owner of these lovely figures, I am delighted with them and Andy has kindly allowed me to share some photos here. I fully intend to add to them as the range is quite extensive. They run to about 240 or so figures painted, plus another 80 odd with basic blocked in colours waiting to be finished. The French 2nd Hussars comprise 16 figures and are magnificent!

Going to be a while before I can get my hands on them as they will probably travel out to Spain with my Son in Law on 16th June for a safer journey in the lorry with our furniture. I'm going to order some extras via Andy's Old Glory UK webstore and hopefully they can be posted to Spain. I want to add British Heavy Dragoons to start with.

Here are a few images from Andy to begin with, and a shot of what will be our new home in Turis, Valencia by mid June.... if all goes to schedule. I have already picked my future hobby room on the 1st floor, large enough for a 6 x 4 table, a painting area and the display cabinet, it is lovely and bright.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Sourcing Vallejo paints in Spain.

It's been a busy few days, we have found our new home and started the legal process of the purchase. The house is in the centre of a wine producing region and as such is surrounded by vines on all sides, it feels very rural and typically Spanish, yet is only 30 minutes from the bustling centre of Valencia. The local village is Godelleta, just 6 kilometres away. A  bus service operates from Godelleta to Valencia daily. Our drive into Valencia to complete the paperwork was quite eventful, especially when still getting used to left hand drive on the wrong side of the road! The Spanish are very keen on the car horn if you show any hesitation. But Valencia is lovely, beautifully clean and the people are relaxed and friendly.

Today I managed for the first time to check my box of paints and brushes properly, all survived the long journey intact. I wanted to be sure that I will be able to source Vallejo paints relatively locally here - they are of course a Spanish company - and was surprised to find that there are actually two stockists in Valencia, and one in Gandia so I should have no problem in stocking up as and when I need to. I had already checked with Andy at Old Glory that I would be able to get more troops posted out to Spain so that's sorted. I will need more line infantry and command packs.

I have the first figures ready to undercoat, British line battalion. I'm simply going to take my time building conventional units and  see where it goes. I'm now thinking that 24 figure battalions work best, allowing for the addition of the flank companies. Just one issue to solve now, that of suitable bottle tops for holding the figures. I need to start again, but all the local Rioja still has corks so water bottle tops it will be.