• A Flashback to Reclaim The Streets

    Reclaim The Streets, Manchester, 1996

    Last week’s Extinction Rebellion protest reminded me of Reclaim The Streets, and other demos I went on in the 90s. So I took a dive into my boxes of photos, and found these. The demo closed Oxford Road for a while in 1996. (I checked the release dates of the films on the Odeon billboard to get the year.)


  • Rebelling

    Weekend of Rebellion

    After Pride over the Bank Holiday weekend, this last one was more focused on Anger. Are we working our way through the seven sins? Next week, maybe I’ll just stay in bed for Saturday and Sunday. A big feast the one after.

    I can’t wait for Lust to turn up.

    Extinction Rebellion was in town from Friday to today, closing a section of Deansgate to traffic, and making it civilised. I visited, and took photos, on Friday and Saturday. It actually upset me, in a strange way, because it reminded me of the Reclaim The Streets demos I participated in in the 90s. We didn’t see the change we called for then until fairly recently, and then only slow and flawed. We don’t have two decades to wait for things to get done about climate change.

    Also on Friday was August’s Critical Mass. But I’d walked in, so I just took some photos.

    Saturday saw my second visit to Extinction Rebellion, and the Stop The Coup demo, which started out in Cathedral Gardens, and made its way to Albert Square, despite starting in very heavy rain.

    Then it was down to Platt Fields for something not angry- the Festival of Manchester. I got some nice photos, then there was more heavy rain, so I abandoned it early.

    It’s going to be a busy Autumn, and I’ll try to get to as many of these demos as possible, getting photos and video when I do.


  • Manchester Pride Parade 2019

    Manchester Pride Parade 2019

    I set off late for Pride, so didn’t get as good a vantage point as usual. But, to compensate, I have a better camera than in previous years, and every so often, a shot framed by the crowd in front of me worked.

    Nonetheless, of the 489 photos I took, I only liked 35 of them enough to put into the album. Click on the image to see them.


  • Unboxing Italeri’s 1:24th Land Rover Fire Truck

    From the blog at the Spinneyworld shop.

    You wait for years for a 1:24th scale Land Rover kit to be released or reissued, then two come along at once. Well, almost at once. The Italeri model is out now, with a Revell kit expected in September.

    I’ll be buying both, and measuring them up for components and add ons. I’ve already done a roof rack for Italeri’s 1:35th kit, I ought to do one for its big brother.

    The Italeri arrived today, and I did a quick unboxing and took some photos. Check out the gallery embedded below, or click through to Flickr.

    Italeri 1:24 Land Rover Fire Truck

    Sorry for the blur in some of the photos. I thought I’d try out the SLR, rather than use the phone camera. It was surprisingly dark, and it had issues focusing on the sprues.

    The model is curbside (surely hedgeside, as it’s an offroader), so there’s no engine detail. It can be built left or right hand drive, and, unlike the 35th scale version, remembers to tell you which side to put the breather vent. There’s no obvious flash, and few sink holes or ejector marks. There are a couple of moulding tabs on the front of the roof that will need removing, but they’re the largest issues.

    Sprue D is made up of Fire Truck parts. If I do build the kit, I’ll probably be ignoring it, and using the bits I design and get printed. But if you are going to use it, it contains a lot of neat bits. The water pump in particular is nicely detailed.

    I’ll be doing a comparison of this kit to the Revell one when it arrives. In the mean time, I’m going to design some add on bits.


  • Build report- 1:12th Aoshima Honda CB400T Hawk II

    From the blog at the Spinneyworld shop.

    This is the first build I’m going to be doing that will utilise Spinneyworld products. I’ve been so busy developing them, that I’ve neglected the workbench, and haven’t built as much as I’d like.

    It’s also my first bike model, and, being me, I’m building it custom. Bosozoku are Japanese biker gangs (the most common translation I’ve seen of the name is “running tribe”), who have developed their own style of customising for cars and bikes. On bikes, it manifests as chopper style handlebars, exaggerated seat backs, and aero fairings lifted up so far they’re more likely to detract from the bike’s dynamics. Intricate paint jobs are common as well.

    I’m going to be copying the seat and handlebars for this build, and trying out some new paints and techniques. The fairing may be beyond me, unless I get lucky on eBay. The handlebars will be designed by me for 3D printing (not started yet, need to get that done), and I’ll also be using some of the foot pegs I designed recently.

    The model I’m working on is Aoshima’s 1978 Honda CB400T Hawk II, which I ordered from Hiroboy.

    The first thing I did was glue the frame together, and the main parts of the engine block.

    Frame and engine basic constrruction

    Whilst the frame went together nice and true. the connection pins for the lower half of the engine block were vague, and, no matter how I lined them up, there was a very obvious seam, which I later had to file down before fitting other components. The two carburettors were similarly tricky to align.

    Golden frame

    Boring black wouldn’t do, so the frame got a coat of gold paint. Wilko own brand rattle can, in fact.

    Motor

    The engine block, and the wheels, got a coat of Citadel Iron Hands Steel, and I learnt that my airbrush doesn’t work very well with a rotted seal on the air hose, on one of the most humid days of the year. Luckily, the paint’s just there to enhance the colour the plastic was supplied in. Those seams I mentioned were filed down, the chrome covers were attached, and the gaps between the fins were enhanced with a little Citadel Nuln Oil.

    Foot rests

    The next job is to get the chrome off the footpegs and their mountings. I’ve already tested oven cleaner on a bit of sprue.

    'Croc jaw' footrests

    Then the pegs will be replaced with these. The ‘Croc Jaw’ pegs, from my very own range.

    I had a moment of inspiration whilst sorting through the mess on the workbench. I’ve bought a number of nail file sets from the pound shop, to use as cheap sanding sticks. They may turn out to be too coarse, but some of them are the exact shape I need to build the seat back. Even better, there are three different sizes of them. I cut out a plastic card back, then glued three of the sticks to it, using a combination of superglue and PVA. The next step is to use filler to build up a smoother cushioned shape, and then fit it onto the back of the kit seat.

    Seat back

    The fuel tank is in the spray booth (which is a plastic crate on its side on top of the fridge, for the time being). I shall do a grand reveal of the paint scheme it’s getting in the next build report.


  • The Ruins of Manchester City Centre

    Manchester, August 2019

    As yesterday was the first day for a week where it wasn’t pouring down, I grabbed the chance to head into the city centre and do some writing. Once I’d got a thousand or so words out, it was time to take the new camera, and have a walk through the back streets on the edge of the centre. There are still some run down buildings in the Northern Quarter, but also a number of more surprisingly unused ones nearer to Piccadilly. I also found an industrial age chimney, rising up out of a building halfway between a couple of the busier streets, that I swear I had never even noticed before.

    Enjoy the gallery (you may have to click on the image to see it at Flickr). I have also added some of the images to the Ruins of Manchester collection in my Redbubble shop, so you can get prints, cards, and other items with them on.


  • FittedUK 2019

    FittedUK 2019

    I know, I know. What’s a Green Party member doing at a car show?

    I like cars, particularly ones with a bit of individuality. If I ever get to the point where I can afford to run one, switching it to electric power will be part of the customisation. Until then, I’ll enjoy the looks and styling of other folks’ rides, and steal ideas for models for the Spinneyworld Shop.

    Enjoy the Flickr album. You may have to click on the image to go to the site, depending upon how temperamental the embedding code is being today.

    I just got a second hand digital SLR, so I was trying it out and experimenting with settings a bit. There was definitely a lot less noise than I got from the last camera I used in EventCity, but even with aperture priority set to its widest, and ISO at 800, exposure times were enough to introduce the occasional blur from shaking. I’ve not included the worst of those, of course. And cars with darker paint jobs are less well represented as well. The autofocus had issues differentiating them from dark backgrounds.


  • In development

    From the blog on the Spinneyworld shop

    The product development process here at Spinneyworld is, well, let’s call it organic. I create items I want to use in one of my projects. Even if that project is scheduled for some unspecified point in the future. As I find the points where my odd interests intersects with yours, no doubt my direction will change again.

    This week’s deigns are spun off from a motorbike project I’m about to begin, if not immediately usable in it. For a while now, I’ve wanted to build a bosozoku style bike. I purchased the base kit last month- an Aoshima 1978 Honda Hawk II CB400T- so it’s time to start work on the accessories it needs.

    Except, I’m easily distracted.

    A bosozoku bike will usually sport a pair of chopper style ape handlebars. Whilst searching for reference to base my design on, I found a different pair of handlebars, and made them instead. The Clubman bars are suited to hardcore cafe racers and ton-up machines. Don’t let the picture fool you, they’re not risers. They’ve been rendered the wrong way up. The curve doesn’t lift the bars up, but is supposed to drop the bar ends down, so that they’re on a level with the bottom of the fuel tank, and the rider can get down into an aerodynamic position.

    They’re available in plastic or aluminium. At the moment, I have to order them on demand from Shapeways, but I will endeavour to get some in stock for a quicker turn around, and possibly a lower price.

    Another cool looking accessory that isn’t very boso, is the bar end mirrors I designed yesterday. They’re more modern sport bike than cafe racer or Japanese gang. I shall be ordering in a batch, and making them available here and at the ebay shop primarily.

    bar end mirrors design

    Next up is foot pegs, which are mostly inspired by chopper photos, but will be closer to the theme of the build that either of the previous two designs. I’ve been scribbling designs, and taking measurements, and shall be getting on them soon.


  • Not my MEPs

    Going through an old hard drive yesterday, I came across the files for the “Nick Griffin is NOT my MEP” design I did when that disgusting little racist toad slimed his way to a seat in the European Parliament. It seemed appropriate to update the design.

    Ann Widdecombe is NOT my MEP and Nigel Farage is NOT my MEP, are available on a variety of items- from T shirts to tea cups- in my Redbubble shop.


  • Chosen Ones and new directions

    Chosen Ones, part 1, page 1

    The Short Version- This is page 1 of Chosen Ones, my new comic. The elevator pitch goes- “What happened to Harry Potter next?”* A bunch of former teen heroes and heroines, bored now they’ve fulfilled their prophesied destinies, set out to have more adventures.

    Pages will go up on the Patreon as they’re finished, then will be published on The Duck webcomics later.

    The Long Version- I’ve not been as productive as I’d like so far this year. It’s time for a rethink. I think I’ll get more done by putting aside the projects that aren’t working out, and try some new things.

    I still want to work on Didn’t Bleed Red, but I need to leave it for a while, and build a better outline. Then I’ll be able to attack it properly.

    On the comics front, Uninvited Guests is not getting finished any time soon, and I did too many pages that I wasn’t happy with. So I’m taking it down from the webcomic host, and starting again with Chosen Ones. I’m drawing it on smaller pages, and in shorter episodes. As said above, Pages will go up on Patreon first, then I’ll work out a schedule for wider publication. Right now, I have six more pages pencilled, and I’ll be attacking them in the next week or two.

    Hopefully, I’ll have more new stuff for you soon.

    *Yes, I know what happened next was shown in the epilogue (I’ve only ever seen the films), but the cliche of the elevator pitch is that you have to relate you project to an existing successful franchise.


  • 1:350th Cigarette boat models


  • Support your local indie author!

    I don’t sell enough books to make a living, mostly because I’ve never been much good at self promotion. But, increasingly, also because I’m not a cheat, it seems.

    You can help independent authors like me- real people, writing because it’s what they love to do- fight back. If you’ve read one of my books, and enjoyed it, please leave a review. They feed into Amazon’s* algorithms, pushing my books up lists and getting them in front of more potential customers. If you didn’t like the book, contact me directly, and I’ll take the criticisms on board and try to do better next time.

    If you think it’s cool that one of your friends is an author, show that appreciation by buying one (or more) of their books. They cost less than that pint you were going to buy them the next time you’re in a pub together. Sales push books up the charts, another way to raise a book’s profile and get it seen by more potential customers.

    I can’t ask that you stop buying the churned material barfed out by scammers. Part of the scam is that customers don’t know they’re being scammed until it’s too late.

    *Other ebook sites exist. My books are available from most of them, as well.