Friday, 31 May 2013

Another sniff at Summer...

Last night's barbeque was great - a good turn out of staff and students, with some nice food and beer.  Mrs RC enjoyed getting to see everyone too, with the added bonus that the rain stayed away for us.
Today is a nice, sunny day, so I wandered down to the river to eat my lunch.

This is a little park that I tend to forget about - in fact most people seem to forget about it as it is amazingly quiet, given that it is only a few yards from the centre of the city!  I sat on the wall by the river, ate my lunch and wrote another scene for my book.  Very nice - I even got to listen to the talks being given by the guys who do the boat trips for tourists, featuring very elaborate descriptions of what the river would have been like in days gone by, when it would have been the city's main sewer...  But, happily for me, the river is wonderfully clean these days with no smell to spoil my lunch.
The weekend looks like being a nice one weatherwise - not sure what is in store for me yet - I have a suspision that it will involve clearing stuff out of the shed, which has become horribly cluttered over the winter.  This is a shame as Mrs RC has it all set up as an art room all ready for painting and stuff.  I might be tempted to have a go myself - I keep seeing the great stuff that others are doing and wonder... 
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Rolling into, um, I guess you call it Summer...

It is coming to the end of the academic year - exams are done, marks are being processed, the summer ball is near (but I never go).

But there are things I do go to.  Yesterday they gave out this year's Golden Apples:

I won my category in 2011 and 2012, but was up against it this year.  I was invited to the ceremony (meaning that I had at least been nominated) and took Mrs RC along for the ride.  It was a much bigger event than the last 2, having more the feel of a mini-Oscars or something!  There was a buffet and jugs of apple juice on the tables, with the lucky ones being called up on stage to receive their awards and have photos taken.  It was a great afternoon, and in the end I came 2nd in my category, which I was very pleased with.  Besides, this year's apples weren't as posh as the ones I have got  :-)

Tonight, after work, we are going to our staff/student BBQ.  The weather is rotten, but it is at a pub, so only the cook (not me) is likely to get very wet.  Mrs RC is coming in for this too, giving her a chance to meet some of our wonderful students.  Should be a good evening - I even left my bike at home this morning so I could catch the bus back home with Mrs RC - which is only sensible, it is not a good idea to cycle that road after too many beers...


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Long Weekend in Photos

The weather leading up to the weekend was not promising.
But on Saturday, Mrs RC and I went for a walk along the seafront and had a picnic.  This is an area that we haven't been to together in many years, but when we were first together we spent hours strolling along here with our dogs, chatting and really getting to know each other and, I guess, falling in love.

On the way back we fed the birds.

Sunday was also a grand day - these pics of the morning dog walk give an idea of the day ahead.  Above, Mrs RC is waiting for me to stop fiddling with my camera and catch up, while below, Custard is sniffing one of the many sniffs to be had in this field.

The field has been left to go totally wild for the last 2-3 years, allowing some splendid plants to settle in.

On Monday, Mrs RC and our daughter did some work on our rather small front garden while I relaxed and wrote another scene or 2 for my book.  Here you can see Custard "helping" with the mowing...
Today the rain is back!  Amazing, it usually conspires to ruin out long weekends, but not this time...

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Lunchtime Date

Mrs RC just popped over for our weekly lunch date.

The morning was thoroughly miserable - I woke to the sound of pouring rain, which stopped just long enough for me to get to work dry before starting again on and off for the rest of the morning.

Then Mrs RC arrived and we headed to the garden, wondering what was in store for us.

First off, the seats were dry - must have been sheltered by the building that they are up against.

Then the clouds parted and we had an hour of wonderful sunshine as we chatted and munched on sandwiches and cakes.  I must admit to feeling that the sun was JUST FOR US.  There were plenty of clouds scudding around, but none of them came between us and the sun.  Wonderful!

Now I am back to work for the afternoon, which is just going to float past - just a bit of Excel and then some photocopying, nice and routine...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Orro Rides Again!

I painted Orro the dwarf last night, while watching Once Upon a Time.
The photo is more or less actual size.  I really enjoyed doing him - it is nice to be able to spend time doing just one figure instead of a whole army!
Anyway, time is rolling on, exam season is in full swing here at Uni, Number One Son will be home in just over 3 weeks, the day after Mrs RC and I celebrate our 28th anniversary!  Not sure what we will do - maybe have a meal out together or something - we will see.
Changing the subject entirely, I have started listening to music while cycling.  I tried it many years ago, but decided that it stopped me hearing the traffic around me and gave up.  But I have now solved the problem.  Instead of wearing plug earphones I have some larger ones that just sit over my hears.  When cycling, I have these resting on my ear lobes, held in place by the strap on my helmet.  This allows me to hear the music without blotting out the sound of maniac drivers coming up behind me!  Perfect!  I try not to sing along when there are pedestrians around, but on the plus side I think I have been riding a bit faster, trying to pedal to the beat of the music...
 This is a good one....

Monday, 20 May 2013

Getting my hand in again!

A long time ago, I had thought about designing toy soldiers, but gave up.
I used to spend a lot of time modifying figures, changing weapons, adding new hats, cloaks, etc.  It was fun.
With the impending games of D&D, I decided to sort out a figure for my character. He is a Dwarf how has forgotten that he is a Dwarf - he just thinks he is a short human with very vigorous beard growth.  He wears a floppy hat and uses a rapier - in the style of the 3 Musketeers.
I found an old figure, removed his horned helmet and gave him a new hat and rapier (a pin).
I really enjoyed doing it.  OK it isn't a masterpiece of conversion, but it should look great when it is painted.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The week rolls on...

Mrs RC is making it a regular thing to meet me for lunch on Thursdays.  I bring a sandwich with me so she brings me pudding:
Yes I am spoilt, yes she is wonderful and yes I do appreciate her.  We sat in one of the Uni gardens and chatted about "stuff".  It makes a great feature of the week, and I hope we can keep doing it, at least while the weather is passable.
Passable is about as good as the weather gets at the moment - banks of thick cloud, often dumping a ton of rain as they go, followed by warm sunshine, the effect of which tends to be wiped out by the cold wind.  BLAH!  Bring me a real summer!  Roll on August and me and Mrs RC roasting ourselves in Malta!
Years of mixing with my Head of Department has given me a niggling interest in woodland.  In the last few months, an area of woods that I cycle past has been felled, creating this clearing...
I have decided to log what happens to the clearing by taking photos at the beginning and middle of each month.  Not sure how long I will keep it up, but it would be fun to do a year so that I could them do a time lapse movie of how things change.
So, what else?  Oh, I have nearly finished painting a set of pack camels that I started a couple of months ago.  Just have to do the groundwork and they are finished!  Then I can get on to painting my next army - Persians, as seen in The 300 Spartans. 

Ah, what a great movie - love the way the Spartans are portrayed as the defenders of freedom - never mind that they were a non-democratic slave owning city themselves!  Anyway, I will be the nasty Persian leader who thinks he is unstoppable...
Just have a couple of hundred soldiers to paint...

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Catching Up

Yeah, I have been pretty lazy, haven't I?  So, what have I been up to?

On Thursday evening, I had a couple of beers with an old friend who used to sing in one of the bands I was in.  We had a great catch up session and, yes, this was the first step in getting a fun band together.  He has hinted that he would like to have a to at playing guitar too, so maybe we only need to find a drummer now...

Friday was mega busy at work - not sure how that happened, as we are supposed to be getting into the quieter part of the year now, but ho hum.

Saturday I was off to play wargames at a friend's house.  He only lives 2 train stops away, but the trip was made more tricky by the fact that my train went straight through and only stopped at the 3rd stop.  As all of the trains going back seemed to be doing the same thing, I decided to walk back.  It was only a couple of miles, and I do like walking through places to see what is there.

This church was the most interesting building on the route, a nice contrast to the dejected looking immigrants who seemed to predominate on the first part of my walk.

My friend has a very big garden, and we play the games in his large shed/summer house.  His garden is not the neatest, but there are some wonderful flowers hiding in it.

The wargame was great fun and looked spectacular.  We fought a fictitious battle set during Charlemagne's invasion of Spain.

My army narrowly won, but it could have gone either way, a real nail-biter.

The only thing I regret was that while we were playing a family of foxes were playing in the garden outside - missed a great photo opportunity there  :-(

So it is now Sunday, and I am waiting to go out to do some food shopping, but no one seems to be rushing.  Ah, here comes Mrs RC now...

Time to go!  Have a great Sunday, see you next week!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

17 again...

Well I guess it couldn't last.  This morning was cool and wet, but still beautiful in its way.  I love the way the successive hedgerows fade into the distance...
So, what is happening in the RCworld?
Not a vast amount, but there is some movement towards getting a band going with a guy who used to sing on one of my old bands.  We are going to meet up for a good catch up session soon and then start the search for a drummer and a guitarist who just want to have a bit of fun.  Of course, an alternative would be to create backing tracks to play/sing along to, but that is less fun and removes the fun of jamming with real musicians.
The other thing, another return to my younger days, is that I might be playing a few games of Dungeons and Dragons!  Haven't played in years, but there seems to be a small group of guys of similar age to me who want to give it a go. Should be a laugh!  I will let you know how things work out.
Meanwhile, the zombie story continues...

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Long Weekend So Far

This weekend is May Bank Holiday - May Day to the socialists among us.

Flowers and blossom is everywhere.

Isn't that sweet?  Even Hawthorn can look nice for a couple of days each year.  The thorns from these bushes are responsible for most of the punctures I get on my bike!

Dog walks in the sun...

A picnic on the beach.  Shame we have pebbles, we all had numb butts by the end...

Breakfast in bed...

\Simple things but they all add up to a wonderful time!

Friday, 3 May 2013

The "Band" Days

I started fiddling with guitars in my early teens - there was a old classical guitar knocking around the house that I would try to play David Bowie songs in, following a slowly disintegrating song book.  I never really got on with it.

Then a friend of mine decided that he would learn to play bass and bought a rather cheap and dreadful copy of a Gibson EB0.  I was hooked.  With hindsight, I can see that my dyspraxia made it really hard to deal with chords and lots of strings, while playing one note at a time on 4 strings was a lot easier.

I must have been 15 when I bought my first bass - a horrible copy of a Fender Precision, which I played through my tatty little hi-fi system.  I shredded my fingers on that thing ("Played until my fingers bled!" to steal from Brian Adams) but I was able to learn the basics and get hooked.

During this time I just messed about, playing with a couple of friends who had guitars, doing a few Who and Status Quo songs.  Easy stuff. 

After I left school I bought my next bass, which I still have.  It was rather nice to play, with a good tone but not much power behind it.  I used this for a couple of years while playing in several bands, sometimes being in 3 at a time.  Bass players were in short supply... 

One band played a lot of Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, etc.

Another was more Scorpions and Michael Schenker.

Another was all Prog Rock with a synth player in charge.  In a way this was the most interesting of the bands as I had a lot of opportunity to do my own thing.

Finally there were a couple of guys who wrote their own, very geeky songs but were only able to practice once in a blue moon.  My first gig was with these guys - 3 songs I had never played before in a church hall at a couple of hours notice after their previous bass player decided he wasn't going to do it.

When I was 18, I got The Baby (see photo in the last post).  This was a dream to play and finally gave me the power I wanted for playing good rock.  My other bands faded away so I joined up with a couple of guys who had previously been in a relatively successful skinhead/punk band and wanted to relaunch things.  It soon became clear, though, that only the singer wanted to stick with the punk style, so he left and we recruited another singer who also played some guitar.  This became the band that I gigged most with, often on a weekly basis.  We played a lot of gigs at a very rustic pub and built up a bit of a following.  Probably the best gig we ever did was one New Year's Eve.  The place was jammed solid and we played our hearts out.  By the end of the evening people were dancing on the tables.  It was a great evening.  Next day, when we went to collect our amps and stuff the landlord was busy nailing tables back together again - many of them had collapsed under the feet of the revellers.  We apologised for the damage, but he was happy enough - the bar had been more or less drunk dry, and the furniture was just make out of old planks so a few nails and all was good again.

The end of this band came when a guy wanted to be our manager and get us bigger gigs.  He organised one disasterous gig for us in London.  I lost interest and decided that as I was now a parent I should focus on being a bit more sensible.  I was never into chasing fame anyway, I just wanted to play some music and have a few beers....

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


Apparently, I have been quiet about guitars recently, so I will put that right today!
I have been generally busy recenly, so my guitar playing has been in 10-15 minute bursts. 
I have recently dug out The Baby again.  This was built specially for me when I was 18.
The pic is of me in my band days - I was probably 20 when this was taken?  It is a great guitar, very over-powered and ideal for the sort of stuff we played.  At the time I had intended to get a V-bass to go with it, but that didn't happen until a couple of years ago when I picked one of these up really cheap.

I immediately decided that it needed more pickups, so removed the original 2 and gave it 4 new ones.  This involved chopping more holes in the body of the guitar...

I almost finished the project, just never made a permanant panes for the switches and nobs. But I am going to do that now! I picked up some plastic mirror sheeting that will be perfect.  Watch out for a demo of the final product some time soon!
As the weather warms up, I tend to spend a lot of my lunch breaks in one of the gardens of the Cathedral.  I take one of my electric guitars with me (my blue mid-life crisis guitar) and listen to it through headphones.  This has 2 advantages - I don't disturb anyone while the volume to me can be ear-melting and I don't get mistaken for a busker.  Today is looking promising, so I might go there today...
Hope this makes up for my silence about guitars!