musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Month: January 2016

Triang Minic Ships

Many years ago. I had a huge collection of model ships and boats, including two radio controlled tugs. The smaller waterline diecast vessels I had never really indulged in because I did not know that they existed. A visit to the home of one of the friends of a friend opened my eyes because he had the three major liners (Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and United States) in 1/1200 scale, and they were the start of my collection. The links in this page all point to the page, but there is no way of knowing how long that page will exist. 
The first Triang Minic ship I acquired was the Aragon. She was in a poor condition and minus masts and half of her bridge wing. I repainted it and made masts out of pins and put her on my shelf as an oddity amongst my collection. I still have her today, bad paint job and all.

Then things went quiet until I picked up an advert in a local newspaper for somebody selling a collection. There were 2 Cunarders in it, as well as the Queen Elizabeth and two tugs and a light vessel and some bits and pieces of harbour. This was in the pre internet days so there was no real way of finding out what was available. He also wanted R500-00 for it, and given my dead end salary it was really out of my price range. I came very close to buying it, but never did. Awhile later I picked up a slightly used Queen Elizabeth and added her to my collection too. She was resprayed by a friend and her funnels need a lot of work.

I have recently found masts for her, and one day will do something about the funnels.
That was the sum total of my collection for many years. There were rumours of a huge collection being sold out of the country, but I had no way of knowing what was available apart from the two Cunarders I had seen and the three major liners. Nothing happened for a long time but I used to haunt the hobby shops hoping to build onto my collection and at some point I managed to pick up a Queen Mary.
The model above is not my original Queen Mary though, this one I found in Salisbury in 2014.  
I also found a mint United States in South Africa which was really surprising. By now we were in the internet era and I would haunt the net looking for more ships, the problem was no longer a lack of ships, it was more about an exchange rate that made them very expensive and postage that was never guaranteed.   
My last South African acquisitions were on a local auction site, namely the Aquitania which does need a lot of work. 
as well as a Canberra in a poor condition
and a mastless model of the NS Savannah
I have since replaced my Canberra with a better one and found white metal masts for the Savannah. 
Triang also had a range of warships, and while I did not really look for them I would buy them if they were affordable, and I managed to acquire a DKM Bismarck
as well as an IJN Yamato
When I left South Africa in 2013 I left my ships behind, but hoped to get them back with me at some point and to add to my collection until then. 
In 2013 I attended the Maritime Festival in Southampton, and on display there was an almost complete collection of Triang Minic ships and I was able to see what I was missing (and there was a lot).  My first acquisition in the UK was the Queen Mary pictured above as well as a Naval Harbour Set.
That set included HMS Bulwark and HMS Vanguard.
I also started watching ebay and buying modern warships that interested me. Including HMS Daring, HMS York,  HMS Chatham and of course HMS Ark Royal.
I also picked up three very nice C4 Mariner class cargo ships. 
and even bought a Ellermans container ship: City of Durban
and a thumping great bulker too.
I brought my collection across in 2014 and it was still small compared to what it could be.

The 2014 Maritime Festival in Southampton once again had a Minic collection on display and I did quite a lot of drooling over it. 

More importantly, I was able to add the Caronia to my collection, she has since had her upperworks painted in a lighter green. 
and bought a Canberra in a better condition to replace my existing one. 
My most recent acquisitions were DKM Scharnhorst 
as well as SS Nieuw Amsterdam 
Sadly she is in need of a lot of work, but considering that she is quite an oldish model I was lucky to find her. Those missing Cunarders still haunt me though (Carinthia, Carmania, Franconia, Sylvania and Saxonia), but considering how many years it has taken to get to this point anything can happen. I am also on the lookout for an SS France to complete my major liner collection. 
and I would like to add an American battleship to my battleship collection
But that is for the future. Anything can happen in these collections, it seems to happen in spurts and bumps, and who knows what I will have tomorrow.

My passenger ship collection.


The Triang Minic ships are nice momentos for a ship buff like myself, but once again, they are only of worth to a collector like myself, and not to somebody else. So hands off my stash!  (I have images of my 2016 expanded harbour available too)
There is a part 2 to this post which may be found here 


© DRW 2016-2018. Images migrated 02/05/2016. Added pointer to part 2 of the post 20/08/2016, added “open in new tab” option to links and unbolded them. 12/11/2018
Updated: 12/11/2018 — 09:26

Whether the Weather

I must be bored because I am posting about pigeons and potholes, and now the weather.
It has been quite an interesting 2 days actually, the weather reported that we could have snow on Tuesday evening, but that did not materialise. Or did it?  This fine morning (Wednesday), I looked out upon the playing field outside my flat. Last week it was a lake, this week it was a field of frost, this morning it was…. shrouded in mist.
Last Week
Saturday morning
Yesterday morning


This morning

I have to admit I was fascinated, the mist was very heavy and the vegetation had this white covering of ice crystals, even the cobwebs looked awesome! (although eensy weensy spider was probably not amused).


Unfortunately I was using my cellphone camera and not my usual camera, which is just as well because it is useless at night. On my way home I was equally baffled, hoping to take pics of the grass with a flash I found that the light was being reflected off thousands of tiny ice crystals that I could not even see. 
But I did managed to get images of that vegetation again, and it was fantastic. I believe that this phenomena is called “Rime Ice“, or one of the many permutations thereof
and the ice on the barbed wire I found very poignant; leaving me to think of all those who perished behind similar wire during the two World Wars.



The odd thing was that there was a lot of vapour in the air, I could not see it, but the light was bouncing off of it, rendering my pics less than satisfactory. And then I hit the jackpot.

That image made it worth my frozen hands. In retrospect I should have taken my camera this morning, but it is too unpredictable at night, ideally the cellphone works well because the flash charges fast and I can fire off pics quite quickly. Maybe tomorrow night there will be even more peculiar weather for me to photograph, that’s the beauty of something like this, no two images are the same, you just have to take what you can get!

Incidentally it is -2 degrees outside.

And now: bedtime!

© DRW 2016-2018

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:07


Yes, this blog is about pigeons, aka “flying vermin” depending on whether one has taken a dump on your car or head or not. You can either be the pigeon or the statue on this occasion.
Yet these bird brains served the armed services in both world wars, and won a number of medals as a result. The award is often called the “Animal VC”, although that is frowned upon in official circles, instead it is known as the Dickin Medal and it has been awarded to no less than 32 pigeons.  They do not mention how the medal is pinned onto the said bird though, or whether the bird gets a pension when it retires.  Pigeons are also recorded as having been used in the Anglo Boer War. 
In Johannesburg in South Africa there is a statue to the humble pigeon called appropriately enough “Paper Pigeon” on a traffic island near the former “Chinatown” in the city.



That particular island was always populated by a gazillion pigeons, possibly it was their HQ for when they planned their mass bombing runs? I do remember seeing people feeding them there over the years, and even today that is true.
Oh course the humble pigeon also made news internationally when in 2009, a homing pigeon, carrying a microSD card with 4 gigabytes of data was sent on his way to Hillcrest in Natal from Howick (roughly 60km). At the same time the transfer of 4 gigabytes of data was started, using ADSL supplied via a Telkom line. The pigeon won, It makes for great reading and was a good example of how slow and unreliable the internet was/is in South Africa.

My grandfather and uncle used to breed racing pigeons and had large cages in the back yard where they kept the birds, and they used to win trophies for the many races that they won, and of course a few bucks behind the counter from the local bookies. 

They still seem to race them in the UK as I spotted a whole fleet of pigeon transportation vehicles just waiting to unleash pigeons galore.
In the UK pigeons perch on every available space, and nets cover the tops of many buildings and spikes are often used as a deterrent. In some countries raptors find pigeons to be a great source of food, and of course pigeons find humans to be a great source of food too.

So next time you see a pigeon, or feel his gimlet eye fall on you, give a thought to these humble birds that have saved lives, carried messages, ridiculed a telecommunications provider and crapped on as many statues as they could.

For more on these intrepid birdbrains please visit our local pigeon expert
The end.
Coo Coo.
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 19/01/2016
Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:16

MyWireless Wars

This afternoon I was looking for something and found a post that had “Veteran from the Great War of MyWireless 2005” as a signature. I had a good laugh because technically I too am a veteran of the “MyWireless Wars”.
In the bad old days of dial up, the concept of Broadband as we understand it did not exist in South Africa. If you wanted anything faster than 56K dialup there were very limited and expensive options available. One of the first players to enter the market was Sentech, who launched it’s MyWireless broadband service in 2004. with speeds ranging between 128 Kbps and 512 Kbps enjoyed strong uptake.

Typical packages were:

Unfortunately, like so many other things in South Africa the service was abysmal and this was carried through to the popular tech forum MyBroadband. Sentech bumbled from disaster to disaster and could never quite recover from the bad publicity.

I do not remember too much about the MyWireless product, I “leased” the wireless modem from a company called “Nowire” and one evening they installed it and I closed my account with Telkom and gave up my fixed telephone line. I seem to recall I had the entry level package which was supposed to run at 128K with a data cap of 10GB. In my case it turned out to be a solid piece of kit and my surfing became a pleasure. In fact the only problem I had with it was when I bought a new computer and the driver for the modem became unstable and would kill the computer. I tried almost everything to solve the issue which seemed to point to there being a fault with the new computer. Fortunately I found a New Zealand broadband provider that used a similar product that which had picked up the same issue and they recommended using the Vista driver for the modem and that solved the problem. I think I started to use MyWireless in 2006 and I do not remember ever having a day when I had no access.

Back at the ranch others were having massive problems and dropping the product like a hot potato. At the end of my 2 year lease period I continued using MyiWi right until it was officially turned off in November 2009.

I even found my original post on that forum when it closed down:

“I had them for 4 years and in my experience it was stable, reliable and I very rarely had problems with it or was down for longer than a few hours. Yes, it was slow, but my 128 connection and 10GB was perfect for me. When I moved house last year it worked on the day I switched it on. It is a pity that the plot was thrown out with the bathwater, the stable, horse and everything else.
Their reseller Nowire was/is abysmal. For 18 months I never received an invoice from them, their “support” was non existent and to this date I have had nothing else from them apart from the form letter that Sentech was going phut. I have no idea who owns the modem, or whether the debit order will be cancelled or even whether I would be interested in any other “service” they provide. They sure are hungry for business aren’t they?
I hope Neotel goes and reads the now defunct Sentech forums and tries to avoid the pitfalls and booboo’s, but somehow they seem to be making the same mistakes.
Byebye MyWi.. I will miss you.” (dated 30/11/2009)”

Neotel was touted as the new fixed line operator and made the same mistake that Sentech did when problems started to appear: they buried their head in the sand and denied that there were problems. I would have taken up Neotel’s offering but after reading about their woes I had to go back to Telkom and have adsl put in and fork up vast amounts of dosh once again.

MyWireless Modem,

The moral of the story was that when problems occur companies deny it, and then eventually when it becomes a storm they then appoint a scapegoat spokesperson and deny it even more. In South Africa we saw that all the time and it is still true. When I packed up my goodies to leave SA I found that old MyWi modem and photographed it for old times sake, There were not too many of them around.
Their competitor at the time was iBurst and I recall when I was doing my homework to find out what was the best possible solution for broadband I approached them as well as a reseller to find out about their service. Neither did me the courtesy of a return call, and consequently they lost my business to MyWireless. As at 2017, the original iBurst offering is being closed in favour of there new “high-speed LTE-Advanced network to replace its wireless network. 
ADSL is a matured technology now, and when I entered it the entry level was 384K, when I left SA in 2013 it had been upped to 1MB. I originally saw DSL in the USA in 2000 and it was already running close to 1MB, whereas in SA it had not even been released as a connectivity technology.

Those were heady days on the net in South Africa. How many of us adopted the R7 “Callmore time” strategy of connecting to the net at 19H01 on a Friday evening and pulling the plug on Monday Morning at 06H59? My last modem was a Duxberry and it was incredibly stable and I literally stayed connected right through a weekend, keeping the line alive by downloading whatever we could find to keep the line active.

Nowadays I am spoilt for choice as to what broadband to take up, so when I saw the mention of MyWireless I ready had to add this post to my record of the past and what a lost opportunity MyWireless turned out to be.
Out of curiosity, I did a post at my allatsea blog all about Beltel, which was where I had my first taste of the internet.

© DRW 2016-2018

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:21

This has also been true for January 2016


Yes it is true, it has been a very quiet 2016 so far, although in South Africa the old racism issue has raised its ugly head once again, and frankly I am not interested in that. Tewkesbury however is the same as usual, the only difference is that the water level has risen with the recent storms that the UK has experienced, the Avon and Severn have become one, and the flood plain outside my window has become a lake. The Carrant Brook that barely burbles is running strongly, and the local squirrel has probably started to take swimming lessons. 
Now ordinarily that building in the middle is where the Severn/Avon locks are. I posted about it last year, but currently it is easier to just go over the locks as opposed to through them.

Tewkesbury is prone to flooding, it is one of those things and probably has been like that since forever. Unfortunately it sits on two rivers, it is expected.



So, unless the weather improves and the Avon and Severn start dropping in depth things where I am may be a bit wet. 
Meanwhile, in South Africa there is a drought.  I would post some water back home but the SA post office is liable to steal it.
It never rains, it pours.

Update: 16/01/2106
The river is slightly down and the lake outside my flat is subsiding, the locks are also starting to re-emerge.


It was however a sparkling morning, with frost on the ground, ice in the streets and a nip in the air, one of those beautiful mornings that I love so much with its stunning light and a chill that is not too uncomfortable.


I believe it may snow on Tuesday evening….

© DRW 2016-2018. Images recreated 17/03/2016
Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:22
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