Tuesday 8 November 2016

Misc: Shed Renovation

NB - Apologies for any formatting issues; Apple iOS blogging compatibility is pretty poor! Esp. when posting - as now - via iPhone or iPad.

Our new home has a very delapidated shed in the back garden. But rather than tear it down - we won't be able to afford a replacement for a good while yet - I decided to renovate and refurbish.

My rather primitive router set-up.

The first thing I started to work on were two new windows. Pictured above is my very simple router 'fence': timber clamped to the worksurface, with the wood to be routed screwed down! These first four cuts - the shorter uprights for the window frames - came out very nicely.

Routed uprights for my new DIY window frames. 

Next I removed the old door, which was rotten, and quite literally falling to pieces. I bought a 'new' door - solid wood (none of that horrid UPVC rubbish!) - from our local municipal dump, for £5! And collared a friendly local, asking them if they'd mind helping me get the door home. They agreed, kind souls!

I really love my little MX5, but it does present me with some logistical issues. I offered the old folks who generously helped me get the door back a fiver. But they wouldn't take it, and suggested instead that I give it to charity. Bless 'em! So I gave it to the poppy appeal guy at our local Sainsburys.

My £5 door, before surgery.

The lock and handles combo I bought wouldn't go into the pre-existing holes. Alas, my first attempt to reshape the area - rather foolishly without taking the door down - was an unmitigated disaster. I'd done this once before, when fitting new locks front and back, when we moved in. And I'd done it pretty well then, tho' I say it myself. This time it was godawful!

Oh dear! 

It was so appallingly bad - see above pic - I decided to start again using a block of waste wood that I found laying around, which appeared to be about the right size. What a bugger of a job it was, drilling and chiselling, and drilling and chiselling, and drilling and chiselling, and drilling and chiselling, and drilling and chiselling, and drilling and chiselling, and ... ad infinitum.

A chip or two (more like two thousand!) off the old block.

The lock in situ. Sans faceplate. 

Having done all this work, I then discovered that my lock has no faceplate. It should have come with one in the pack, but it didn't. That's it above, nestled into the laboriously carved insert. I'm tempted to go ahead sans faceplate, only the two ruddy great holes on the lock itself are both huge and are not countersunk, presenting difficulties in fixing it.

Window frame #1: clamped, glued, with the glass sitting on a bead of silicone.

So... having hit something of a dead-end with the door (which I'd already hung, to get the positioning right, only to have to remove it when my in situ carving went agley), I decided to resume making the windows. I'd abandoned them because after the first satisfyingly clean cuts, my attempts to route out the 'rabbet' on the longer horizontal elements of the frames was, initially, as disastrous as my first shot at lock-recess carving.

Reconstructing the window frame with 2" x 4".

Having started out by glueing and clamping the frame for one window, I then put a bead of clear silicone all the way around the recess, to receive the glass. The glass was a very tight fit, causing me some anxiety as I sought to get it bedded in. I probably put too much silicone on, as when I pressed the glass down it oozed out all over the place! Once the silicone had started to set I applied a bead of glazier's putty to the outer surface. Again, I put too much on, making it a very messy process when I tried to finish it neatly.

The new frame (and door, etc!) viewed from outside.

The next stage was to replace the missing cross-beams - the previous ones for the window I was working on had rotted away! - tilting the lower one slightly so that any rain or other moisture will run down and away, off to the outside of the shed/window. I also added some of the excess glazing putty I'd scraped off the window frame to seal a gap between the frame and the external wood cladding.

The window in place.

The dark stained verticals needed some planing to make them flush with the new inserts. The final few pics, one above and two below, are of the window seen at night. Above, looking in, and below, looking out. Tomorrow, as well as constructing the second window, I intend to add some more sealant, and paint this first one with some rain resistant outdoor paint.

The new window, seen from inside the shed.

A second view from inside.

I've been getting into the annoying habit of flying by the seat of my pants, DIY wise, lately. With regard to the windows this has meant that I measured quite approximately for the lumber shopping, and then forgot to measure more accurately for the actual window manufacture. 

The end result? My windows and their frames aren't a proper fit for the gaps they're intended for. Still, thanks to the new frame elements, I was still able to fix the window to the structure.

The last things I did, prior to taking night time snaps of the window in situ, were, clean the glass inside and out, which involved some trimming off of both the silicone and the putty, and add a strip of hardboard to the gap above the window, which would otherwise remain open to the elements. 

I'm certainly going to need to replace some of the shiplap timber cladding, a fair chunk of which is suffering from both woodworm and rot, around the shed  as a whole!

Tomorrow: window #2, and the door!

Thursday 3 November 2016

Film Review: My Way (2011)

I learned of the existence of this film when I was writing a post for this blog about foreign troops in German service during WWII. In researching that post I became aware of Yang Kyoungjong, a Korean conscripted into Japanese service, who subsequently also fought for both the Russian and German forces. 

The real Yang Kyoungjong. [1]

This is one of many films that start by telling you that what you're about to see depicted is based on real events. Those words 'based on' can, of course, be very elastic! Apparently a South Korean documentary on Kyoungjong has concluded that evidence for his existence was 'inconclusive'.

Korean rioters at a rigged sports event wind up conscripted into the Japanese army

In this story actor Jang Dong-gun plays Kim Jun-shik, a rickshaw driver turned Olympic level runner, and a whole other narrative thread about sporting rivalries - with Joe Odagiri as wealthy and privileged Japanese runner Tatsuo Hasegawa - and colonialism, as they existed between Japan and Korea, is brought into play.

How far any of this extra stuff relates to reality I really have no idea at all! But it does give the film a lot of zesty narrative 'juice'.

I don't want to give too much away, so I'll skip all the sports-related pre-amble that forms the back story to the war sections. For us military buffs, the action proper starts with the Japanese battling the Russians in northern China, at Nomonhan (also mown as Khalkhin Gol). The action is full on, relentless, and of extremely high quality, in terms of the CGI looking, at times, almost hyper realistic.

The action at Nomonhan is impressive.

How realistic it all is in terms of real conflict... well, I suspect it isn't all that. But as far as on-screen action of the war-as-entertainment variety goes, it's superb, and pretty convincing, in a gung-ho over the top kind of way

Joe Odagiri, as Tatsuo Hasegawa, a right Imperial bastard.

Under fire from a Chinese sniper.

There's a whole heap more drama here, that I'll gloss over, and very involving it is to. But leaving that for your own discovery, suffice it to move to the point where Tatsuo and Jun-Shik are made prisoners by the Soviets, winding up in Kungursk POW camp [2], where life is grim and death common.

Captured by the Soviets.

Punishment, Soviet style.

One of the saddest threads of the film, and a nod to the grimmer realities of war, is the evolution of the sweetly comical Jong-dae, from a fun loving romantic to a coldly brutalised killer, whose only desire is, at least initially, to survive.

Jong-dae undergoes a tragic and brutal metamorphosis.

The only way out of Kungursk appears to be death: either at the camp, or the (Eastern) front.

Former rivals are finally united, in survival and escape

Despite freezing winter weather, wounds, and murderous Commies and Nazis everywhere, Jun-shik and Tatsuo survive, just. And that's how they finally end up in German uniforms! And so attired we find them, separated and then reunited, on the Normandy beaches. 

Capture by the Whermacht is a blissful respite from the hell of Soviet imprisonment and service. [3]

Sundered at the point of capture, the two former rivals are reunited in Normandy. [4]

The ending is nothing like the ending that resulted in the famous photograph of Kyoungjong which first alerted me to all this. But I won't spoil it. It is very moving. And I would have to say that, for all its cheesy filmic pretensions, this is an exciting, gripping and thoroughly enjoyable film. Excellent!

An Allied fighter strafes the beaches, as the Allied troops land, and all hell breaks loose.


[1] It's interesting to note, in this alternative version of the pic I originally found used on Wikipedia (which you can see at the linked post), the description - by an American (poss even a captor?) of Kyoungjong as a 'Jap'!

[2] I think this might be a fictional camp. I can't find anything about it online, except in references to My Way itself. There is a Kungursk district, in Perm Krai...

[3] At least as depicted in this film.

[4] In, judging by the sleeve badge, an Indo-Germanic unit!

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Misc: '40s Fun in't Fens!

NB - This post is rather out of sync, having originally been drafted months ago. It's just taken ages to get around to finishing and posting it!

Moving house has seriously interfered with blogging. We've moved from rented Georgian splendour to our own 'umble Victorian abode. Guess which is which:

As well as the move itself, there's much redecorating to be done, and even some renovation. And the garden? Aaaargh!!! It was the Fenland equivalent of the Amazon rainforest when we moved in: massively overgrown and possibly quite dangerous to enter, only with very dull vegetation and wildlife - just the odd rogue horny-toad [1], and forests of brambles!

One odd thing that I noted during my recent absence from posting here was a massive - but sadly short-lived - spike in traffic to this 'ere wee blog o' mine [2]. I do hope people return in droves!? [3] Otherwise I'll feel I missed an opportunity...

Moving into The Fens is, as alluded to above, a kind of mutant-homecoming, of sorts, for me (if not perhaps for Teresa). But, swiftly leaving that topic on one side, I was amazed and very pleasantly surprised that the very weekend we moved in, March - our new home town (not the month!) - was host to a 1940s themed event.

The posters for said show made it very obvious that the military aspects of the '40s would be central to the event, with re-enactors, vehicles, and even a Spitfire fly-past. Cool, methinks. March is shaping up to be my kind of place! 

When we got there I was a trifle disappointed there wasn't more stuff of the sort I was looking for - WWII German uniform apparel, basically. Nevertheless, although there wasn't half as much as I'd hoped for, there was some. I bought a German officer's hat, a green military style shirt (of no obvious affiliation), and sundry other bit and bobs, inc. some vintage mags for the Mrs.

Here are a few pics from that March event:

I've subsequently discovered that I was perhaps overcharged a little for my Panzer officer's 'crusher cap'. But I love it, so what the heck. It's a replica, by the way. [4] I think the guy that sold it to me may have suggested it was an SS Panzer officer's hat. The pink piping means it certainly is Panzer-crew. However, another stall-holder (at a similar event in nearby Ramsey, only a few later) said that the 'death's head' badge doesn't equal SS per se... so I'm confused now!

Anyhoo, as already mentioned above, less than a month later, there was a similar but even bigger event, just outside the nearby town of Ramsey. Here's a pic from that show:

A confused outfit that would almost certainly distress many a fussy re-enactor.

I didn't get the 'Dad's Army' style Home Guard sergeant's tunic. I really wish I had! But the Mrs sagely suggested that the post-purchase cash-flow rather mitigated against such spur-of-the-moment outlays. There were also a great pair of WWII SS oak-leaf camo' trousers that I'd really like to have bought. Maybe I'll have opportunities to get these at other similar shows? I really don't want to have to wait a whole year to do so!

Several things I did feel I could run to were: a replica 'potato-masher' grenade, some vintage Commando comics (nostalgia bites deep again!), a couple of Osprey titles, and firing two clips of 'BB' ammo on a mini shooting range. I fired a replica 'broom-handle' Mauser first (pictured below), followed by a replica Luger. My shots were at least more or less all on target, if not hyper-accurate. These replicas fired pellets, not bullets. But, Gott in Himmel, it was fun shooting them!

A replica 'broomhandle' Mauser.

My two clips of ammo: left was the Luger, right, the Mauser.

I enjoyed both shows. And I've definitely got the '40s bug (perhaps, being in my 40s myself, I'm particularly susceptible?), both civilian and military. I have to admit I found the re-enactment odd, albeit still enjoyable. It didn't seem very realistic, with 'marshals' wandering about (I think they were supervising the explosions), and the large contingent of overweight or overage re-enactors, all of whom (whatever their age/weight!) generally behaved very much as if they were safe in the knowledge it was all just dressing up for fun.

But who am I to criticise that? Especially as I've definitely contracted the dressing up for fun bug. I plan to gradually acquire a British WWII outfit, poss Home Guard, and lots of German gear. I'll probably just wear such stuff around the house, especially when engaged in my military hobbies, or to shows. Outside of those activities... hmmm!? Probably best avoided, esp. the 'Jerry' stuff. People might get the wrong idea!

[1] It transpired I wasn't the only priapic web-footed creature in the undergrowth!

[2] That's wee as in small, as opposed to wee as in micturate... obviously!

[3] Droves are, we've discovered, plentiful in the fens, if not of the kind I'm after here.

[4] My mum was somewhat relieved to learn it wasn't a genuine WWII Nazi's hat. I think, bless her, that she was worried that if it were, it might, whilst sat atop my noggin, somehow infect my brain with an aura of evil!