Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Tuesday 20 February - Some hills north of Glendevon

There was a time when Ben Trush (OS Thrush), Green Law, Sim's Hill and John's Hill could be approached easily by the Cadger's Path (Borland Glen), the Glendevon Youth Hostel's small car park providing a convenient starting point. A house now stands on the YH site and the small car park has been absorbed by its driveway. A walk down the busy A823 from Castlehill Reservoir's parking spot and then a loop via the quiet hamlet of Burnfoot is now one of two routes to the former YH start. Apart from the A832 bit it's a pleasant enough walk.

Today though we chose the second option, one which I never imagined walking even in my wildest nightmares: via the appalling Green Knowes Windfarm. Not only did we use the access road but passed under the massive turbines to drop down to the glen. The noise was horrendous, the whole place an abomination. Our intial intention was to cut over Ben Trush's south shoulder into Borland Glen but the turbines are almost as close when in the glen, the noise not much less (or so I thought) so I kept walking up the access road. Lynne was a bit behind watching some roe deer on the other side of Eastplace Burn so was not consulted!

I was wrong about the noise. It was almost unbearable: howling, screeching, whistling, whining, grinding. If you think this is 'green' then you're colourblind. I took a photograph of part of the once lovely route by the wall from Ben Trush's cairn and could have wept.

Passing between two turbines we gained the Cadger's quickly and were soon on the gentle slopes of Green Law, the change in our mood palpable, the feeling of well-being restored.

These are lonely hills, not often visited even from Corb Glen which is easily accessed from the Dunning road. We have been regular wanderers in this area for over thirty years and have watched the wreck shown below turn from a fairly intact turqoise-coloured vehicle to the present heap of rust. It has, as Lynne said, almost attained sculpture status, though it's as unwelcome here now as it was when it first was dumped. There's a second one near Sim's Hill which has been there for about twenty years I think. Why?


It's been a cold snowy winter up here, by recent standards at any rate, and although these modest heights had lost their snow cover, spring felt a long way away in the chill wind. After lunch on John's Hill's sunny slopes, where spring did not seem such a distant prospect, we quickly returned to the glen and the stroll down the grassy path.

A short climb through thick grasses led to a wall which we followed to the small cairn on Ben Trush. We turned to face south rather than look at the first of the turbines straight ahead. The higher Ochils were still holding snow and tomorrow we'd be crunching over it.

60m turbines. A peaceful place, full of memories, trashed.

Pleasant walking from Green Law to Sim's Hill and left John's Hill

Near the Cadger's Yett

Our hills for the following day

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Revell USS Voyager NCC 74656

As a boy I built my fair share of both plastic and balsa wood models, mainly aircraft but also the odd battleship (in plastic). I returned briefly to this hobby when, a few years ago, a knee problem kept me off the hills but these were small Airfix planes such as the Spitfire and Hurricane along with the bigger Lancaster.

USS Voyager at about 52cm long is the biggest and in terms of detail painting and attaching decals, all 162 of them, it's the most complex I've built.

I've learned an enormous amount about painting a model like this, mostly through making numerous mistakes not all of which were possible to correct. The tiny windows were well nigh impossible to get right even though I probably spent as much money seeking out numerous small paint brushes as I did on the model itself and Revell acrylic aqua paints. Later Lynne bought me a craft lamp with magnifier which would have helped.

My introduction to using modeller's putty on the seams was mixed: sometimes it worked, sometimes not despite watching many videos on how to do this seemingly straightforward procedure. The problem was that I painted the model before assembly which was recommended to me by anyone and everyone I consulted. Consequently smoothing down the dried putty invariably meant the paint was removed down to the plastic necessitating re-painting of that area.  Nevertheless I still think painting prior to assembly was the right thing to do because painting the assembled model would have been a real trial I think. Possibly a disaster.

My introduction to using masking tape was more successful but not on the numerous curved parts of the model. I now know that Tamiya make tape for use on curves.

The Revell paints are excellent though acrylics dry very quickly and need thinned, but water is fine for this. Several thin coats work better than a single thick one.  I needed twently one small pots but some colours were hardly used - a few drops on the end of a cocktail stick applied to the sensor arrays, for example. I chose to paint the hull in matt but would use silky matt in future since it gives a better finish, though the final result is very close to the original studio model designed and created for the Star Trek Voyager series. The later CGI model was lighter in colour - as will be my next Voyager build (I've bought it already!)

Lots of people light the inside of the model with a custom LED kit and I considered this, but try as might I could not source a model with the lighting kit included, and no shop, online or otherwise, could obtain one for me - except from Revell Germany which came with wiring instructions in German. In any case all the tiny windows require to be drilled out and stories of some people ruining the model in the process put me off (for the moment).

The decals are the most detailed on any model I know of and most are very, very small.  Mostly I had no mishaps but a full extra decal sheet is on its way to me free from Revell via (excellent service) to replace the two single decals I damaged when applying.

Despite my mistakes and occasional frustrations when building Voyager - I started mid-November - this has been one of the most satisfying things I've done for a very long time and I've renewed my aquaintence with the story around USS Voyager and Star Trek lore/science in general. Lynne reckons I could go on Mastermind! No I couldn't.

Anyway, here are a few photos and a photoshopped one from my cousin Hugh, an expert modeller himself. The email correspondence with him while building this model has been incredibly informative and as enjoyable as building it;  many of the mistakes I didn't make were down to him. If only I'd listened to him about using primer! But overall I'm more than pleased with the final result.

At warp speeds the engine pylons rotate upwards