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At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Whiling away Lockdown

 16th February 2021

Big brother RR has from time to time suggested that there will come a time when my passion for walking may be more restricted and then even not possible. RR then ponders on what I may fall back on.

I am slightly concerned about my title and would hate to think that I was wasting my time, but I really don't think so. 

Fortunately I have no problem with keeping my own company. I do have friends and we communicate in various ways and I have this blog, but sadly, it seems with a diminishing number of comments.  I read, but not as much as I would wish partly because I am a slow reader and it takes a long time to get through an average three hundred-plus page book. I rarely find myself with nothing to do and feel  confident I can keep myself occupied. Perish the thought of sitting in a circle happy clapping and singing It's a Long Way to Tipperary.

During our various restrictions I have taken again to modelling. In my youth it mainly involved building and flying model aeroplanes with a smattering of scale model building.

I have now discovered plastic kits. With modern day high quality injection moulding the parts have become unbelievably detailed and adhesives have improved. The aim is to create something as realistic as possible put together in a clinical fashion without smearing glue and paint in in the wrong places.

There are masses of instructional videos on You Tube going into great detail concentrating often on small specialised areas. If I paint on Photoshop or make these models the subject has to be something I have a feeling for or affinity with. I do not wish to glorify war, but what was achieved in a short space of time in engineering, mass production, innovation, combined with a country more unified towards the general good, more so than ever before or since is something of value to be appreciated and stacked against the apalling cost. As one who lived through the back end of all that I find it something to wonder at. My modelling so far has majored on that era. Looking at some of the aircraft in so much detail the imagination and emotions are stirred.

In one of the videos I watched, the presenter guy said that the first five models you make will be rubbish so don't waste money on expensive kits - he was right. I have now progressed to some extent and feel I have arrived at a stage where I can produce something acceptable, but there is always more to learn and my strive for perfection continues.

If any of this is of any interest  follow the link below to see what can be achieved in detailed kit production and meticulous modelling. You may then understand a little more what I am aspiring to.

Mustang P-51B - 1/12 scale

Sea Harrier - 1/48 scale

When I first saw this in context I was impressed by the tiny pilot with the huge bulk of the engine in comparison behind him. The whole aircraft for a single seater seems massive. It must be an awe inspiring feeling to be piloting this and difficult for me, at least, to comprehend that humans have aspired to such a creation and then to the skill of flying the thing.


  1. I have just noticed the You Tube video does not appear on the standard iPhone viewing

  2. brain surgery might be good training for such works !

  3. Gimmer. Did you mean surgery on Conrad's brain?

  4. BC - do you think that would make me more open minded ?

  5. Too much lateral thinking here - or there - clearly must have had that very treatment

    Did you notice his hand/fingers shaking - obviously a (an ex-, i should hope) brain surgeon.

    When interviewing/employing a new formulator or lab assistant, our final 'test', after all the theoretical wave mechanics and relativistic effects stuff, is to get the applicant to fill a 50ml burette, held in an ordinary retort stand, with the open end at head height, with what we tell him/her is fairly conc. sulphuric (but is actually merely suitably flavoured water) from an old Winchester, without use of a funnel or other guidance device. Both kinds of skill and stability matter.

    Your comment on the Harrier, being merely a shell round an engine, with a cranny for the pilot, reminds me of your description of a TR6 ('four wheels, two railway girders and an engine').

  6. gimmer - you have a remarkable ability for recalling words of wisdom you attribute to me and of which I have no recollection. I had no idea I had implanted such jewels in your memory bank.

  7. I don't recall you touching on one of the paradoxes of doing models. One may, typically, start with a model that when finished is about 12 in. long. The lasting impression is of the difficulties in managing the much reduced detail. The Devil sidles up (the same one who took Jesus into "a high place") and says: if one chose a larger scale model all that tiny detail would be larger and could be more precisely achieved. This is of course true. But the larger the model the less appropriate the word "model" seems to become. After all, if one scaled up to a ratio of 1:1 one would have a full-size version of the thing one was modelling; remarkable, perhaps, but this would no longer be modelling.

    There's a cliché saying: the devil is in the detail. It doesn't refer to modelling but it may be adapted. In doing a model one of the most obvious aims is "authenticity" but to some extent this is a chimera. The most "authentic" model would, of course, be the 1:1 version and that would be a nonsense. We may then apply the cliché in a slightly different way, wherein "devil" becomes "seductive attraction".

    I shudder at the way this may be misinterpreted. I am recommending nothing, simply making an observation. An observation born out of receiving Christmas table presents (especially tractors) which have got larger and larger: more rewarding in one sense, less rewarding in another. Nor am I trying to discourage you from doing anything. I felt it necessary to include this qualification after reading in one of your re-comments that I had once suggested or even recommended you take up singing. To me this was the equivalent of saying I told you to spit in church

  8. RR - If you go to a larger scale you facilitate the possibility of even more detail. That can be taken to an infinite degree as the scale increases - I'm not sure what the scientific description is called but it is a scientific paradox and often demonstrated by the measurement of a coastline from ever increasing scale maps.That means that you will STILL be faced with tiny detail as the opportunity for its inclusion becomes possible.

    Plastic modelling became popular back in the fifties and sixties with Airfix kits, usually at 1:72 scale for aircraft. James May was of course an adherent and did a programme where he had the kit scaled up to 1:1. I reckon it will be around on You Tube. It was one of his better efforts.

  9. And for the ultimate model making, go to the NASA/Jet Prop Lab websites and look at the extreme complexity of the Mars exploration project machinery - extending into the next decade - for inspiration ! A slight challenge.

    1. Indeed Gimmer. I’ve followed its development, launch and cruise to Mars using NASA Eyes and munched peanuts before the ‘7 minutes if terror’ of EDL on Thursday.My name is on Perseverance along with about 11 million others. Ingenuity has contacted Earth and all is nominal. If only Revell would do a kit.

  10. Rr - I omitted to say May’s kit was of course the Soitfire.

  11. That's a fascinating video. He has an array of tools, and presumably did a lot of pre assembly painting. Very interesting. And there's no shortage of comments here!

  12. Phreerunner -I think all the painting will have been done with an airbrush. That is something that takes some mastering; I know full well. I have a supposedly mid-range airbrush. When it works it is brilliant but it is so temperamental. The paint has to be thinned to just the right consistency which you can only learn from experience, then the item has to be meticulously cleaned. I think these professionals have several on the go at once for different colours.

  13. Very interesting, and a 'profession' that I don't think I'd be much good at!

  14. Phreerunner - better kept as a hobby I think. I sometimes wonder about people who adopt their pass-time as a full time job - does their passion turn into a toil?

  15. During the war, a model plane-kit consisted of three or four pieces of roughly shaped balsa wood and vestigial instructions. The first step was to create templates relative to certain cross-sections along the wings and the fuselage. Templates are all very well but it was very easy to remove too much balsa wood and thus turn the whole kit into junk. Father's pal, Mr Cook of Batley (he made shoddy - an actual genus of material, not a critical reaction) had fashioned many wonderful models, including a completely detailed version of the Observer Corps post (not sure this is the right word) on The Chevin. He advised me to use a file rather than a razor blade on the kit model of a Boston light bomber I'd received for Christmas. But I could never bring myself to the point where the template fitted, I always feared taking off "too much".

    When plastic kits arrived, people who'd worked in solid balsa wood, sneered at them as childish. But by this time I decided I was better employed whiling away my time in activities for which I had some instinct. Using Mother's ancient double-keyboard typewriter (ie, no shift key) I laboriously pecked out a story about a boxer who was facing a fight with another boxer who was known to cheat (by resorting to "heel gouging"). It was my first attempt at fiction and I would pay serious money to know how old I was at the time. Gordon Terrace of course.

    Wasting time makes it sound as if there are rules. But if there are different people make different rules and apply different judgements. When we got back from the US and were living in Linden Crescent in the mid-seventies, Melissa (not yet ten) referred to the way I "went upstairs and fiddled away at whatever it was". In fact I was writing my third novel. Gardeners would say I was wasting my time and most people will now know what my attitude is towards gardening. If wasting time means anything it surely implies a degree of pleasure; I'm not sure this is a state of mind I'd associate with novel-writing. More a duty, an obligation, a vain hope, possibly an obsession.

    Wasting time may apply to an activity which doesn't end satisfactorily. Thus, nobody has been willing to publish my novels. But however likely non-publication was, I wrote hoping to buck the odds. Also an unpublished novel has cerain values, if only to the author. A catalogue of errors to be avoided in the future. Ho hum.

  16. RR - I have a wonderful novel written by my dad after he retired. Sadly nobody could be found to publish it, but many 'family and friends' have enjoyed reading it.

    Back in the '60s I fashioned many models from balsa wood, guided by Vic Smeed's book 'Working models'. I got through quite a bit of balsa, especially during the 'chuck glider' phase, when a few bits of balsa could be rapidly assembled into what looked like a jet fighter that could be propelled into oblivion using a sturdy piece of elastic. Great fun, if not quite 'precision engineering'!

  17. RR - I made many of those balsa planes. Unfortunately I was outclassed by my friend Tony Fall whose skills and financial backing from his well-off parents was far superior to mine. He ended up driving in the BMC rally team, then became the manager for the Opel team in Germany. I Googled him about fifteen years ago to learn that he had died in a hotel bedroom on the Continent.

    We as humans seem to have an innate sense of wanting to be doing something and I suppose it is part of evolution and the on-going intention of nature to improve the species. The activity may not be comprehensively enjoyable in its own right but the reward comes with a sense of achievement and possibly extending one's capabilities. Science will tell us that the satisfaction comes from various physiological chemical happenings - a good example of humans pushing the boundaries of knowledge. You suggest that wasting time by definition should involve some pleasure. Perhaps "pleasure" is the best attempt by English speakers to define something that is far more complex than its generally understood simple meaning and used as a substitute to describe something we don't fully understand and therefore have difficulty putting a name to.

    Phreerunner - I remember the name of Vic Smeed. And making gliders. The best performers were ones with delta wings. We drove a stake into the ground on a hillside and catapulted them off with masses of rubber bands or elastic. Great fun. Undoubtedly a form of "pleasure" in the simple meaning of that word.

  18. To your words "We as humans seem to have an innate sense of wanting to be doing something..." I would add "...alternatively doing nothing at all". Laziness is a powerful force rarely acknowledged in any useful way. Being "on the prod" is thought to be inherently virtuous but in its extreme form - hyperactivity - it is regarded as an illness.

  19. The 'Gold Standard' for one of those 'chuck gliders' was one minute in the air. The trouble was, those that stayed airborne for that long often disappeared into a wood. I never tried delta wings - there were two standard designs, one based on a British plane, and one on a US jet. The decals were inserted in biro. Both worked well. I still have the plans in a box in the loft.