Tag Archives: blogging

Well, what’s new?

Hello there. It’s been far too long since I posted anything worthwhile here. I’ve been over the reasons in previous posts, so I won’t go over them again. So, what’s new?

I have spent an afternoon patiently going through my entire blog deleting all the rants and random news stuff. Enough negativity from me! I have edited posts referencing my now long-defunct Facebook page. Change is afoot.

My plan is to continue posting updates on life, the universe and everything. I want to continue sharing my photography—when I get back to it!—as well as linking to the photography of others. Long-time readers will note a few model aircraft have appeared over the years, and I intend to expand on that. Let me explain.

2020 is the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the epic aerial battle that took place in the skies over southern England during the summer of 1940. The Battle, and how events from the 1920s transpired to reach that tipping point, is something I’ve been fascinated by for over 40 years. Starting out with an ambition to build models of the main aircraft flown by Britain and Germany during the Battle, things have since got slightly out of hand—I now plan to build examples of every plane that was operating during the whole of 1940, from all the countries involved at the time!

What I hope to do is post something about an aircraft, or a series of aircraft, with some explanatory text and images of the models. I have reached the conclusion that 1940 was a pivotal year in the Second World War, a year where many things were still in a state of flux, and the stage was being set for the rest of the conflict. The scope of my interests covers the Battle of Norway in the early spring, through the so-called Phoney War in France, through the invasions of Holland, Belgium and France, the Battle of France through to the armistice, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, and into the day and night Blitz over the British mainland.

Not being content with that, I hope to then cover the Mediterranean and North Africa theatre. So, I have my work cut out, and all the while I am still supposed to be building railway models for clients!

There remains unresolved the technical issues I have experienced with this site. I am unsure as to how to fix them, but I will soldier on with things for now. I will generally not be allowing comments on posts, so apologies for that if you like to express opinions. You can find me in other places to do that!

Thank you for you patience, and I hope to be back to blogging about life at Snaptophobic Towers soon.

Oh, hello

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Well, you can probably guess why. Yes, that whole B thing, quite apart from anything else. Everything is now seen through the prism of Brexit. Everything. It absorbs life and light, just like a black hole.

What was the point of sitting here, keyboard warrior, blethering on about things over which I have absolutely no control whatsoever? So, I didn’t.

At first, it was the world that was broken. Eventually, I thought, it would right itself. Except, instead, it seems to spiral further into complete insanity with every passing day. The world has now broken me. I only need to spend a few minutes looking around, or reading something about it, and I’m lost.

As a child of the Cold War, and having lived through the threat of thermonuclear annihilation during the 1970s and 1980s, I find myself seriously scared about the future. Just what does it have in store? Who knows, but it won’t be much fun from what I can see.

Anyway, aside from western civilisation collapsing and economic and social apocalypse come next April, what’s been going on?

I became overwhelmed with work. I just couldn’t do it. I sat and looked at my piled-up commission work, at what was happening on the bench, and threw my hands up in despair. I needed time off to consider my life, so everything is now way behind schedule. Thankfully, I have supportive and accepting clients. I am slowly trying to rebuild my enthusiasm for getting things done. The order book is closed until at least next year, perhaps longer. It’s a good job I don’t have to rely on my work to pay the bills.

Best Beloved is not well. He’s not really unwell, but he’s not the man he was. I think the global insanity, and my mental ill health, isn’t helping. We bumble on.

Billy-puss is the only real constant in life at present. He’s the rock that helps me keep somewhat grounded in the maelstrom.

We are actively considering a move. Not just to the next street, or town. I’d like to move to another country, but I’m about three decades too late to make that work. I could claim an Irish citizenship, thanks to a maternal grandfather, but I worry about maintaining links for my work and suppliers post that bloody B thing again. We could move to Scotland, before they split from this idiot England at last. Next best thing, I think, will be to move as far north in England as we can, to get away from the armageddon that Brexshit is likely to cause down here in Kent as the ports get clogged and the motorways turn into lorry parks. We currently have sights set on County Durham. It looks like a nice place, and we liked it when we paid a flying visit earlier in the year. A move can’t come soon enough for my liking. There’s nothing down here that inspires me any more.

The broken WordPress installation for this blog is still something I need to sort out. As I haven’t been posting here since the new year, there hasn’t seemed to be any point. There are alternatives, if I feel it’s worth the outlay, but good old inertia has a definite hold on me. I don’t expect I’ll bother sorting it out in the end.

So, there we are. Chaos and calamity reigns supreme, and it’s hard to keep a level head when all around is collapsing so quickly there’s no time to stop and think. I just keep trying to shuffle on regardless, though there seems to be less and less point to it all.

Don’t worry. Utterly depressed though I am, killing myself to end it all isn’t on the cards. That would be utterly pointless, and help no-one—least of all me! Something good will come out of all this, eventually. It has to.

The Things You Find

I periodically attempt a tidying up and clearing out session. In spite of our modern digital world, “important” paperwork just seems to multiply. I am the worst kind of person to make decisions about what can safely be discarded, and so the piles grow.

While on one of my periodical sifting sessions, I uncovered some funny things I had kept for some reason. Funny, in this case, means amusing.

First was a parody of the small print you sometimes find at the bottom of corporate emails.


This email is intended for the use of the individual addressee(s) named above and may contain information that is confidential, privileged or unsuitable for overly sensitive persons of low self-esteem, no sense of humour or irrational religious beliefs.

If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this email is not authorised (either explicitly or implicitly) and constitutes an irritating social faux pas.

Unless the word absquatulation has been used in its correct context somewhere other than this warning, it does not have any legal or grammatical use and may be ignored.

No animals were harmed in the transmission of this email, although the yorkie next door is living on borrowed time, let me tell you.

Those of you with an overwhelming fear of the unknown will be gratified to learn that there is no hidden message revealed by reading this warning backwards, so just ignore that alert notice from Microsoft. However, by pouring a complete circle of salt around yourself and your computer or handheld device you can ensure no harm befalls you or your pets.

If you have received this email in error, please place it in a warm oven for 40 minutes and add some nutmeg and egg whites. Whisk briefly and let it stand for two hours before icing.


When I mention the foregoing paper had a time stamp of April 2000 on it, you will begin to realise the extent of my paper hoarding powers!

Next, some ways to maintain a healthy level of insanity—probably more relevant today, considering the way our world seems to be heading.


  1. At lunchtime, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and all the hairdryer at passing cars. See if they slowdown.
  2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don’t disguise your voice.
  3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.
  4. Put your garbage can on your desk and label it “IN”.
  5. Put the caffeine in the coffee maker for three weeks. Once everyone has got over the caffeine addiction switch to espresso.
  6. Finish all your sentences with “in accordance with the prophecy”.
  7. Dont use any punctuation
  8. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.
  9. Ask people what sex they are. Laugh hysterically after they answer.
  10. Specify that your drive-through order is “to go”.
  11. Sing along at the opera.
  12. Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don’t rhyme.
  13. Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical sounds all day.
  14. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can’t attend the party because you’re not in the mood.
  15. Have your co-workers address you by your wrestling name—rockhard.
  16. When the money comes out of the ATM scream “I won! I won!”.
  17. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the car park yelling “Run for your lives, they’re loose!”.
  18. Tell your children over dinner, “Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go”.

I hope you enjoyed those. I don’t recall exactly where they came from, especially after all these years, so feel free to plagiarise them to your heart’s content.

In other news, after a slightly rocky upgrade of this blog software earlier, which has left some of the plugins in a precarious situation, I am starting to look at alternatives to WordPress. The WordPress iOS app is also a pile of doodah, too. I can work locally, but it always seems to fail to connect to the server and save the work. This blog was written on the iThing, but it didn’t appear in the drafts on the main computer when logged in. So, I had to cut and paste across a couple of apps just to get here.

Anyway, while I investigate and ponder changes, it’s probably going to be business as usual here until I can set things up—assuming I manage to without too many tears!

More on positivity

If you recall, back in May, I linked to a post by Nick Miners about being positive. I linked to the post because it struck a chord with me about how it is so easy, what with everything going on around us and in the world generally, to be negative all the time. After a few years of things not going so well in my own corner of the planet, I had been generally trying to look on the bright side, and Nick hit home.

Nick’s been following up on the theme. Yesterday, he asked for examples of positivity from his Twitter followers. A mutual friend, Paul Dunning, responded. Paul, like me, is a designer by trade, and his interests are wide-ranging. In the past few months, he has been documenting the unique letterforms used by the local authority in his home town to name the streets. He is now creating letterpress blocks from the typeface, and I suspect a digitised variant won’t be far off.

I had a think, and while I am pleased the modelmaking work has taken off, I felt my positive contribution was Invicta Shutterbugs. I was really pleased with the way a regular local photowalk gathered interest, and how it’s led me to make new friends. Sadly, we haven’t figured out a way to share the resulting photography in a central place yet—something that bugs me and will need to be sorted out if the walks are to continue into another year. Anyway, Nick suggested the modelmaking would be more interesting, so I put some thoughts down and emailed him. You can read them on Nick’s blog.

I’d like to thank Nick for highlighting the need for positivity in our world. With the media churning out, and literally thriving on, bad news it is so easy to let yourself fall into the pit of despair. Realising there’s a lot of good about, and working away at making life better by having a more generally positive attitude to many things, can only make the world a better place.

Danger! Idiot at work!

I’ve been mucking around with the internet for more years than I care to recall, yet I have never fully got my head round the clockwork and gubbins that makes this informational wonder actually work.

Yes, I learned enough about how to access the back office stuff, and where to put certain files, but I have never felt in the slightest bit comfortable rummaging around in the internal workings of an FTP server. Here’s a classic example: web forms. I have developed a complete aversion to creating forms on web sites. I think I’ve only ever managed to make one form work reasonably, and that was some time in the 1990s using a standard ISP-supplied script.

Now, take this blog thing. WordPress is one of the most popular and expandable blogging platforms out there. It’s used by millions of people every day. Usually, I visit the home page, see a new update is flagged for a plugin I’ve installed, hit the dashboard and click “update”.  Things go wibbly-wobbly for a few heart-stopping seconds, and then it’s all fine again.

Except today.

I don’t use many plugins, to be honest. There’s a spam-catcher, and something that links the blog to my account on RebelMouse (I still haven’t the faintest idea what RebelMouse is all about. I noticed it appearing in Flickr stats, and wondered what it was. I found myself an “early adopter” of something that appears to aggregate tweets and blog posts in an easily accessible form. No, I haven’t a clue, either.) I also had a WordPress plugin called Jetpack. It adds all kinds of useful bits and bobs to the standard blog, and up until today it had been working happily. I’ve even updated it a few times.

Except today.

New update to Jetpack! I clicked through to the dashboard, checked out the update, clicked “Go!”. And waited.

As I said, usually a few seconds elapse and everything is back in the room. Today, it breaks. Today, “maintenance mode” becomes the norm. Seconds turn to minutes, and before things turn geological I decide to pull the plug. But how do you do that? The site in is maintenance mode. Argh!

Anyway, some helpful friends pointed me in the right direction. Sadly, it seems I’m the one with the problem download, and despite deleting the old plugin, and playing around with the others to see if they are clashing, Jetpack is borked.

So, no fancy bits for a while. I’ll try again another day. I need one of those folding boards you get where cleaners have been at work, but reading “Danger! Idiot at work!”

It’s not you, it’s me

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I’ve always been a “nook surfer”. What that means is I tend to haunt the same places on the internet, rarely letting my mouse take me places I don’t know, or “feeling lucky” as Google puts it. I’m happy with being a nook surfer. I’m not a terribly adventurous person at the best of times, so staying within boundaries online kind of suits me.

I’m not afraid of the internet. I’m not anti-internet. I’ve been designing web sites since the late 1990s. I am still a big fan of email. I am a member on several special interest forums, active on a few, a lurker on the rest. I eventually figured out what a blog was, and dived in with both feet, several times over. I’ve been hooked by Twitter, fallen in and then out of love with Facebook, and share my passions with Flickr and Google+. I am an online social animal, partly driven by working from home for much of the last decade or so. My online life gives me the social interaction I would normally get from co-workers.

Only, of late, I’ve been falling out of love with my online world.

At first, I thought it was down to too much information. This stuff is addictive at times, so I forced myself to step away from the screen and keyboard, and do stuff that didn’t involve a computer. This worked for a spell, and I returned feeling refreshed and excited again.

Since the start of the year, though, I find I have once again fallen out of love. The usual places I frequent bore me. There’s no sparkle any more. I don’t feel the excitement and interest that was there before.

I’ve been working on the modelling bench since the start of January, between spells of trying to get a client interested in their web site project, and I think I’ve remembered there is more to life than sharing links, nattering about stuff and pretending to get annoyed with the world like it makes a difference. I do get annoyed with the world, but that’s another story, as copious posts on this blog bear witness.

2013 has seen the start of active monthly photowalks with new friends. We do share the results online, but beyond that my online interest wanes rapidly. I was all over Google+ a while ago, but these days I find it’s too much. There’s just too much information, too many people. I could prune back my circles, limit my interactions, but even then it all feels so overwhelming. Right now, I’m using G+ as a promotional tool for the photowalks. Twitter just sits there in the corner, and lets me vent my spleen, or follow interesting ideas, limited enough that I can keep up. Flickr is still my main photo sharing space, and I am favouring a hobby forum over others right now. I’ve stepped back from things to a degree, which is probably a good thing. I don’t plan on dropping all online interaction. Too many of my friends are spread too far afield to do that, and online is the only realistic way to keep up with them.

I’ve been giving serious thought to giving up the “day job”. I’ve been trying to find a proper paid job for some time now, and it’s increasingly obvious I won’t be working in the design world again. Those interviews I managed to secure have proved either I’m too good for the position, or I’m barking up the wrong tree entirely. I’m planning on scaling back Imagic Design—if you can scale back something that’s all but dormant. The business bank account will be closed (it costs money to run, after all), and I’ll deregister from VAT (never entirely sure why I registered anyway). I am considering moving into other areas of likely income, all the while looking for any job that pays me a regular wage. Something’ll turn up.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll share my journey here, assuming I can get off my arse and make a go of things.

Losing the knack

I used to love drawing when I was a kid. I’d always be scribbling on the back of envelopes, spare pages in exercise books, scrap paper, you name it. I even got into trouble for doodling in a library book when I was very small. I ended up getting an A grade in O Level Art.

Over the years, though, I’ve lost the habit of drawing. I keep trying to reignite the flame. I bought a lovely spiral-bound sketch book, a whole bunch of pencils (I’ve got the lot in my pencil case, 3H, 2H, HB, B, even a 6B!), and some classy indian ink felt pens. I keep meaning to sit down and sketch, even try and draw from life like I used to.

My problem is I want it to be great. When it turns out not so great, I get fed up and annoyed. I know I can still do it, but I think my patience level has reduced over the years. Hang on, though, that can’t be right. I happily spend hours fettling away at the workbench to make scale models, so I must still have patience.

Perhaps I need to work harder at that spark and see if I can’t get it to flower into flame again. I need to spend more time sketching, doodling, making little drawings of things. Perhaps I should set aside a given time every week just to learn to draw things again. Less time sitting in front of the computer would be a Good Thing anyway!

A bit quiet

Hello. I am still here. I haven’t been anywhere particularly thrilling, or done anything massivley amazing. 

Even so, I have decided to get things moving with a local photo walk thing I’ve been mulling. I spread the word on Google+ and I have been blown away by the support. Okay, it’s not going to be dozens of people, but I am happy if we reach a manageable ten or so. 

I have been trying to learn to code HTML and CSS, with reasonable success. I’m not doing it because I enjoy it, more so I have a much better handle on what other tools I use for web design are trying to do. I would like to create a whole web site from scratch using the techniques I have been learning, but I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while. It’s too easy to fall back on the tried and tested software to do it for me.

Since my DSLR can record HD video, I have been learning more about how to get the best out of it. There’s plenty on the interwebz specifically aimed at the Canon EOS 7D, so I now have a pretty good idea what the machine is capable of, and what all the different buttons are supposed to do! I really want to make another short film, but I don’t have a good idea for a storyboard yet. 

So, while I haven’t been posting all and sundry here, I have actually been trying to improve my knowledge and understanding on various subjects. If there’s one thing I love, it’s being an autodidact.

Have I been a bit quiet?

I have been rather quiet for a while, apart from the occasional flurry of links to various things that catch my eye. I haven’t been updating the blog with reports from my real life, mainly because I have been a little too busy to get around to it.

So, here’s an update.

I finally got through to a model railway magazine editor. He liked my model photograpy, but couldn’t promise any work. Right there is the story of my life. Promises, promises, promises. Still, it was a step forward, and I have now contacted one other editor with the same pitch. If I get any work from either source, I will be pleasantly surprised. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

I have had a small web site job for the significant other of a friend. I am currently waiting for them to get back to me with their thoughts on what I have done so far. That reminds me I had better chase them up—may make a phone call instead of email.

Another potentially long-running freelance job is beginning to rumble into life. I’m not entirely sure what I will be expected to do at this stage, or how much I will be paid. I guess I ought to find out sooner rather than later. 

While there’s nothing concrete, then, things are beginning to look a little brighter round here. This is a Good Thing.

Meanwhile, I am finding myself engrossed on the modelling workbench, busily building three commissioned 7mm scale railway coaches. You may recall I built a coach for a friend last year. He asked me if I’d build some more for him, so I have three BR Mark 1 corridor seconds on the go. 

I built one kit to see how the thing went together, and to work out what modifications I might need or want to do before I embarked on the other two. I got that first coach to a stage where it was all but complete, aside from paint and final details, and then set about the other two in a batch. Some of the work is fiddly, and some is fiddly and tedious, but it keeps me quiet and occupied, doing constructive things with my hands.

Perhaps I go beyond the call of duty—certainly beyond what my friend is paying me to build these kits for him—but I enjoy the details. I also consider these models as portfolio pieces I can use to perhaps get more work in this field. It’s not a field that will make me rich, but I think there’s a niche for me somwhere.

I am nearing the point where I will want to break out the airbrush and get paint on the models. Sadly, my spray booth is in a garden shed, and the weather of late round here has been a bit cold for that kind of environment. I think I will have to rig up a spray booth in our loft workshop, where it may be cold but at least I have access to electricity, heating and hot drinks!

That’s what’s been going on round here for the past few weeks. I just wish some of the things I am supposed to be involved in would firm up and give me some regular income again. 

Shhh!

I have been quiet. My last post was around five days ago. Yes, I am still alive.

The thing is, sometimes I am simply not in a bloggage mood. There are times when real life tends to intervene, and I find myself far enough away from my computer and the internet that I can ignore it for a good deal of the time.

Mood also plays a part. There are times when my internal struggles kick in, and I have to take time out to deal with them. I had a bout of what Churchill called his “black dog” a while ago, and he’s still lurking in the shadows. It probably won’t take much to entice him out to attack me again.

I could go on. I think it is the turning of the year that brings this stuff on. The fact that I am seemingly unable to find gainful employment, either in a full-time capacity or as a freelancer, is also weighing on my mind.

Without income, I cannot feed my hobbies. The project to create a scale model of Wolverton Station has foundered, I am unable to afford the lenses I want to complete my collection, and I find I am yearning for a medium format film camera. Replacing my car, completing some DIY projects around the house, and several other things that all require some financial input at some level are currently on hold.

I won’t go on. There’s little point. Something will happen, hopefully positively. Until then, I must uphold the family motto: In Quod Ut Pars—Onwards and Sideways.