Back on Track!

Aside from hammering Football Manager recently, I’ve also kept the modelling mojo going with a kit build, modifying a couple of Hornby ‘Caledonian Pugs’ and planning my new layout.

Firstly, a recent post said I’d taken inspiration from a trip to the Telford Steam Railway. Well, with that in mind I set about recreating their shop, which is located in an old ‘van’ wagon. I purchased a Dapol ‘meat van’ kit and set about building it. Once I’d got to that stage I focused on the interior. Using scaled down pictures off the net (a bookshelf, display case and some Hornby train set boxes) I made a representation of the shop interior.

Although you can barely see it with the roof on, I know it’s all in there and that’s the main thing. It’s not finished yet though; the doors need filling smooth and a sign whilst I also need to weather the thing.

Some of you may recall the loco I repainted and called ‘Amy.’ Well, I’ve never been that happy with the either the colour or the standard of paint job I gave it. So I sanded it down and repainted it blue. Whilst doing so, I found the other Caley ‘Pug’ and decided I’d make a small fleet. The result can be seen below. The other loco is yet to be named and numbered, I’m heading towards ‘Sophie’ and ’10’ at the moment.
I’ve ordered a new loco too. Nothing too flash though as it is Hornby’s rather inaccurate RailRoad range Bagnall Shunter. I’m not too fussed about it’s inaccuracies though, but for £18 figured I could repaint it (and name it ‘Alexandra’ with the number 1877 courtesy of Narrow Planet) to make a rather fabulous private industrial diesel shunter. In my mind I have visions of it shuffling in with a couple of battered mineral wagons on my new layout… which is still very much in the planning stages – although the two locos above are posed on it’s early stages!
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Who’d be a Football Manager?

Back in February Amy, my other half, bought me Football Manager 2016 as part of my birthday present. She knew that ‘back in the day’ I’d been a bit of a FM ‘junkie,’ guiding my beloved Crewe Alexandra to the promised land of… the Conference or, in the case of one noteworthy save, guiding Sunderland (no idea why I picked them?) to Premier League glory with a team packed full of Senegalese talent!

The last version of the game I really got into was FM 2012. Since I played that I’d only ‘toyed’ with other updates before giving up with FM 2014. For the spare time I had it was too in-depth. I bought an X-Box One and focused more on FIFA. Until I opened FM 2016, a purchase I think Amy will soon regret…!

Having installed it I must confess I had a quick go with the Alex (always my team of choice) before thinking it was, like 2014, too complicated. Two days ago I decided to give it another go and discovered the ‘Touch’ version. Streamlined and quick. Just what I need. So I decided to start a new game with AFC Telford United – my new local team – and have absolutely fallen in love with it. There can’t be many people in the world who hang on every touch of the ball Ryan Rowe makes, will Lucas Dawson to boss the midfield or gasp in awe as James ‘Monty’ Montgomery flings himself to his right to make a wonder save, but I’m one of them.

I’ll try and post the odd update on here as and when possible, or rather when there is something to post about such as promotion out of the Vanarama Conference North!

Best go, need to iron out the details on trialist Greig Stewart’s contract…

#Menorca2016

Last Wednesday Amy and myself returned from a week in beautiful Menorca. We had gone to the island for the first time in 2014 and were eager to return so booked the same resort and hotel… even ending up in the room next door to the one we had last time. I won’t say too much, instead I’ll rely on the pictures below to show what it was like.

Beating "Modeller’s Block"

Although I’ve been working on – and thoroughly enjoying – the Lima 47 to keep the modelling going, it’s been several years since I last had a layout that I could run something on. In the intervening period I’ve started to build a few but they’ve all been abandoned and forgotten.
Recently, you’ll remember that I recently blogged about a visit to the Telford Steam Railway. Well, when looking through a few pictures of it again recently, a combination of a few pictures led me to come up with a little idea. The two pictures in particular are below.

Why so inspirational? Well, with only a little space available for a model, a single line terminus (which was my last completed model too) seems to be the right idea. Horsehay and Dawley (above right) is an example of this, as to is Lawley Village at the other end of the line… although I didn’t take any pictures of that for some reason. Indeed, Lawley Village – or rather it’s Pagoda shelter – is the basis for the station. The picture above left is of the Telford Steam Railway’s shop. I loved this, so thought that I’d add that to the model as something a little different. Yes, it will take up some space, but the other idea is that the line is preserved but is only very small and operates brake van rides, nothing more.

So, with all that in mind, I ended up with the following…

I’ve ordered a few Dapol (formerly Airfix) kits for a brake van and a meat van to act as the passenger service and the shop. I’ve enjoyed working on the Lima 47 so much I decided I’d rather kit build my stock, rather than just buy ready to roll off the shelf. I knocked a quick foam core base board up the other day. It’s tiny (even by my standards) but will suffice. The trusty Wills Pagoda shelter is perfect for the station whilst, finally, my revamped 08, Clara, will do just the job for the motive power.
So far today I’ve primed the parts to the meat van, and painted the components of the under frame black too. They are just drying now.
Beating modeller’s block? Maybe not, but it’s a start!

All things Derbyshire County Cricket Club…

Although I’ve blogged about cricket previously, I’ve not really blogged massively about Derbyshire County Cricket Club, my team. The main reason for this is because of the excellent blog that already exists, Peakfan’s Blog by Steve Dolman. However, today I feel a ‘Falcon’s Blog’ is the order of the day.
At the start of the season, there was high hopes about Derbyshire’s chances. Last years short comings, the batting department, had been addressed with the signings of Neil Broom and Hamish Rutherford and, although the departure of Mark Footitt left a big gap in the bowling, the emergence of several quality pace bowlers and the signing of Andy Carter meant supporters were confident of a decent season.
At the start of August the team hadn’t won a game in the 4-day game, had been knocked out of the T20 competition and, barring a bit of a miracle, were going to be knocked out of the 50-over competition today too.
So what’s gone wrong? Well, in many ways there has been good progress. The T20 game saw the team get off to a flier. Injury to Wes Durston saw Alex Hughes skipper several of the early games to great success. Eventually a couple of one run defeats made the difference as, although having one of their better seasons in the format, the team fell two point short of a quarter-final place.
In the 4-day game, the issue has been an inability to bowl teams out twice. Andy Carter failed to make the expected impact, to the extent his two-year contract was cancelled in July and he moved to Hampshire. Tom Taylor, an excellent prospect, struggled with form before picking up a season-ending injury. Tony Palladino has been his usual steady self but, at 33, his best days are now probably behind him. Will Davis has looked a good prospect and Shiv Thakor enjoyed a stellar start to the season but generally bowling teams out twice has been an issue. Despite this, the batting has shown improvement although the returns from Broom and Rutherford have been disappointing. Chesney Hughes has made huge strides this season, Ben Slater has made three 1-day centuries and Billy Godleman and Wayne Madsen have been their usual run-machine selves. 
Add to this the departure of Head Coach, Graeme Welch and things add up to a team that has not had a great year. 
So how do things improve next season? Well recruitment is required. This year, Rutherford was signed as the overseas pro, but his returns – and the lack of wickets taken by the bowling unit – indicate that a strike bowler might be the preferred option. Finding one of course, is a different matter. Take out Rutherford and the batting still looks good. Ben Slater and Billy G are a good opening pair, then with Chesney Hughes, Neil Broom and Wayne Madsen you have a good 3,4 and 5, whatever order they play in. Another wicket-keeper, and one who can contribute with the bat, is a must. After Tom Poynton’s retirement we are left with 19 year-old Harvey Hosein -a fine prospect – but it is unfair to expect him to play every game of every format. Steve Davies from Surrey would be a great addition but finances would be a sticky issue there for sure.
Finally, a new head coach is required. John Sadler has taken over for the rest of the season and done well, however is he the best long-term choice? I don’t know and there are certainly better qualified people than me who will make that call. With Chris Grant, club chairman, at the helm, I am sure the future looks good. It might, though, take a bit longer than all us Falcon fans hoped.