Last Thursday, saw me finishing up for the year, about 10 days ahead of my standard schedule. This was due to the fact that I had worked like a demon for the last two months, completing two and sometimes three days of work in a single looooong day.
And so, all that left was the stripping down of my studio to give it the end of year deep cleanse which marks the 'official' last day of work, and thence to enjoy an extended Christmas break until my return to my desk for work purposes on January 4th.
But, before I did that I had to go and pay homage to the former frontman of Marillion, the band which figured heavily in my youth as I struggled with all the crap that the 80s could throw at me.
Fish has remained a force majeur of the heartfelt lyric down the years, and whilst I openly confess that it took me 20 years or so to really appreciate this, boy have I been making up for it.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the 'Misplaced Childhood' album and tour, and so, as part of his 'exit strategy' which should finally come to fruition in 2017, Fish was performing the entire album, live, for the last time.
He did so rather splendidly, despite not being a well bunny on the night.
Supporting him were French prog rockers Lazuli, a 5-piece from the South of France, who can do shockingly wonderful things around a marimba...
Seeing them perform this life, with a marimba-fuelled excursion into Marillion's 'Incommunicado' is something to behold, let me tell you.
Anyway, we were there, right at the front of Sheffield City Hall, being wowed by music which transcended the language barrier, with the crowd giving a very appreciative standing ovation to the band.
It was a late night after such a hard work regime, and I was up at 5AM on Friday to walk 4 assorted terriers in awful weather before tearing into the studio.
I also took the time to clear out a load of vintage gaming stuff to the dustbin, being sure to make a good job of deterring bin raiders. This means that I have the space I need for the model railroad layouts that I have on order and planned. The boardgames I kept were all placed in plastic storage boxes which will sit under the layouts. My large collection of sci-fantasy art books are piled at the side of my desk awaiting a dedicated bookshelf, having previously shared the same shelves as the games.
Alas, when I moved the shelving I was chagrined to discover a large area of well established black mould at a point where the air of the Dark Tower and my studio meet and clash, with disastrous results. So, I was in there with the bleach and mould killer, and then a can of Halfords white primer to seal it. I'll give it a quick shot of emulsion this week. It's my own fault for not checking air flow in there.
Speaking of model railroads, my layout builder has suffered a PVA failure this week which has really set back my layout. To my eyes his coloured PVA has not been uniformly mixed, and the entire yard area of the layout looks a right bleedin' mess.
I have done it myself in the past, but never on this scale, and it's going to take some clever remedial work to correct it. After paying out a four figure sum, I am going to have to a bit harsher than I might perhaps like, but that's how it goes I guess...
And so, to Canada...
One of my clients in the Great White North was kind enough to help me find some Canadian railroad stuff, and when I went to the site, it was of course priced in Canadian dollars, which right now are $2 to £1. This means that even with postage and customs I can get some pretty darned big savings.
I therefore also intend to do some shopping with Canadian wargames companies (with the exception of RAFM, who price using $U.S - Bloody unsporting.
I worked out that generally speaking on a like for like basis, I can save about 35% on the prices I pay for stuff imported by re-sellers. This in turn gets turned into more toys of varying kinds.
I'm now making my budgetary plans for the 2016 hobbies season, which begins Jan 1st and ends on Oct 31st. The last two months I spend nothing on hobbies but I pay for Christmas in full and so don't have to use the credit card or go into the red, thereby doing my bit to both support and thwart Capitalism.
It's looking pretty good so far.. On paper I can pay for a 3rd model railroad layout, a massive 6mm fantasy army (more on this anon) and a Perrys 100YW army in plastic and metal and still have £200+ per month for other 'off the cuff' purchases.
This is largely due to the decision to not support several shows any longer, When you bear in mind that I generally spend £1000 or so at Triples and £500 at each of the Partizan shows, it's not something to be sniffed at.
I'll be at Vapnartak where I always spend time in excellent company and bag some great bargains for pennies on the tabletop sale, and then later in the year at the Britcon show, which several local commentators have referred to erroneously as 'shit'. If you know what you are looking for and appreciate that this is a competition with attached trade show, rather than an arena gig, you can do very nicely. What's more the atmosphere is decidedly more convivial than many other shows, with the lure of Manchester's Chinatown and some good eating. Oh, and the venue itself has always been great... Good food, plenty of seats and well lit - Just what you need!
On the railway front, I'll be at the York and Derby Shows. York is massive, and I encourage you, be you gamer or railroad modeller to go and have a look at some of the stuff on offer. It's at the racecourse, but unlike Vapnartak, uses the whole Knavesmire stand and generally has the restaurant open too. It's a model of what wargames shows could be in the North, if they could be arsed.
Now, going back to 6mm gaming, I love the scale, but I loathe strips of conjoined models when it comes to fantasy. I want that bit more character and individuality - I don't know why, but fantasy demands it, I think. So, you may imagine my delight when I was directed to a company in the U.S by the name of Microworld Games, who produce stunning little models at really competitive prices and with the added bonus of having a dirt cheap international postage rate of just $8 - flat rate.
It equates to about 10p per model but these are superbly detailed little toys and have plenty to go at regardless of individual tastes.
Have a look at http://www.microworldgames.com
The only thing I've not found so far are Halflings, but there's a lot of really nice stuff.
Right, I'll bid you farewell for the moment and try to find something to fill my time... With 21 days holiday ahead of me, this may become increasingly difficult.