This week was my absolutely, definitely completely final exam.

I had to give a fifteen minute presentation of what I’ve been doing in the last year  working in a social enterprise for people with addiction and psychological issues, and then some questions on the report I wrote. There’s a panel of four people: our tutor, the course director, another lecturer and civil servant from the state government.

There are no grades: you either pass or fail.

Fortunately I’d recovered from the flu and managed not to cough all over people. I’d also been reciting my presentation in every spare moment to make sure I didn’t dry up after six minutes.

We all had to say our piece, and answer a couple of questions, then wait while the examiners decided if we were any good or not.

Five minutes later I was asked to go back into the room, where the civil servant in the room told me I’d passed. That was it.

After six years (three years cabinet making and three years Occupational Therapy training) I’ve got no more learning, preparing coursework, carrying index cards, reciting presentations while cycling to work and trying to retain too much information at once:
No more exams, ever*. I’m finished. Finally.

I will of course milk this for all it is worth and post my certificate when it comes through…



Somehow, after mostly recovering from the cold of a couple of weeks ago, I managed to get a flu/stomach virus his week, so instead of going to work tomorrow, all bright and eager, I’ll have to go back to the doctor.


Knowing my local doctor he’ll probably take it as a personal affront that I am refusing to be healthy.

I need to get better soon though, as I have my final presentation the week after and I don’t thing spluttering and sniffing all over the exam panel will improve my chances.

Normal postings will resume when I can write in coherent sentences…


It turns out that modern freight wagons are deceptively complicated

Having assembled the 192 tiny parts to make the uprights on this wagon, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until someone on the NGRM Online forum pointed out that I now had to paint them all.

I really should think about these things more.

This is somewhat important on this stage, the ‘rust’ layer. Once everything visible is dark brown, I can probably get away with missing a gap or two when I add the ‘final’ colour by pretending it’s supposed to look that way. I can’t get away with that with light grey primer.

My plan was to do this in stages after work, but what you see took about 20-30 minutes of painting, rotating the wagon and trying to look at every section from any possible angle, then going back again when I inevitably found a bit I’d missed.

That’ll teach me to get all excited about a wagon in a photograph and start building with no plan whatsoever…




My goodness, a bare two months since I primed the panel van and I’m already using a rattle can on the next model. This could be some kind of personal record. And before someone suggests it, I have sprayed the van, not just posed it here. I know an unsprayed wagon is a bit dull, but let’s face it, a sprayed wagon is just as dull, and camouflaged.

Could it be that having a list of things to do is good for my theoretical but as yet undiscovered work ethic? I’ve found that since January I’ve been relatively more disciplined at not just starting any new project that takes my fancy, usually to avoid difficult bits that I’m not sure how to deal with: knowing there’s a list of extra things to do means I tend to find solutions a bit faster and just get on with the job in hand.

“Faster” is of course a relative term with me, but still…



It’s not my fault I missed the last weeks blog entry: it’s due to the European political situation.

Lets face it, that beats “The dog ate my homework” as an excuse any day.

I seem to have managed to end up with several important official deadlines within a week or so of each other, the main one being getting the paperwork together for the boys naturalisation as German citizens, as the German government has decided that all applications made before the 29th of March by British nationals will be dealt with as applications by EU citizens and therefore eligible for dual nationality.

I also needed to hand in my final project for my Arbeitserzieher/Occupational therapist qualification, ready for my Colloquium next month. As with last year I’m not entirely sure if I wrote something sensible or complete and utter gibberish but my Mentor says it is okay and she wasn’t even laughing so I sent that off last week.

We managed to hand in almost all of the naturalisation paperwork last week as well, and bless them, they allowed us to send the missing items in as a scan two days later, so that’s hopefully sorted.

In theory this means more free time, except that it seems my system had been pushing to keep going while those were unfinished & now I’m done various parts are calling in their accounts. A cold that had been hanging about on the margins has come in with a vengeance, started a party with my asthma, and invited a few friends, so now I’m coughing and sniffing, and likely to be signed off for the week.

Mind you that’s just as well, because I’ve got to deal with the paperwork for the exams, and prepare my final presentation, so I wouldn’t have had time to go to work anyway…

Return of the Tank

As observed recently, I’m rather better at starting a project than finishing it, so you can imagine the excitement this week when the Steam Powered Tank was finally completed.

Part of the problem was that the generic blue/grey I’d used looked more ‘Teutonic’ than ‘generic’ as intended. I also forgot that with a dark topcoat the underlying ‘rust’ didn’t contrast very well. On the other hand I found the Hairspray method used with an old toothbrush is startlingly effective, rather too effective in fact.

So, once again, it was back to the primer, ‘rust’ layer, varnish, hairspray; and after completely overthinking things as usual, a sandy green topcoat. I rubbed this off with a paintbrush this time to avoid great slabs of rust, then completely failed to ‘ink’ the cracks with black ink, as usual.

The Boiler end would probably be filthy from clearing out the ash, so this got a scumbling of black, then a very light drybrushing of white and silver in an attempt to make the milk bottle cap look like it was made of metal. The worst mistakes made so far were covered by several shades of pastel powders for general road dirt, and as an experiment I rubbed a soft pencil on some of the exposed ‘metal’ surfaces.

I’m still wondering if I should add brass on some of the pipes: on the one hand it seems silly because that would ruin the ‘camouflage’ effect but I’ve never let logic stop me before…


Loose ends

Leaving a model for a while can be very helpful: I come back with fresh eyes and can see problems with proportions or decide some detail or other is missing, or indeed on this occasion, wonder what on earth I was thinking.


I seem to have decided to simply glue the ends of what are supposed to be air brake connections straight onto the frame of the wagon. I‘m not sure why.

The problem here is that on a flatbed wagon such as this you can‘t allow delicate things like brake pipes to come above the deck, because sooner or later an overworked crane driver will misjudge the distance and drop a twenty ton log on them. On the real thing the solution is to allow the pipes to hang down below the frame, but on a model this doesn‘t work because they will get walloped by the coupling every time you go around a corner.

Even so, this wasn’t going to work.

My solution thus far is to compromise: I‘ve ignored the length issue and simply focused on a vaguely convincing anchor point.


Of course it isn‘t ‘realistic’ because the pipe is far too short now but I suspect I‘ll get away with it, just as long as I don‘t tell anyone…