greg3

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  1. greg3

    Ballabreek 2021

    Interestingly, comments like this about changes in the real Isle of Man are always popping up in the local media and online forums (and to be honest I often agree with them as I love my history!)... anyway it just goes to show that Ballabreek does mirror real life! Hopefully this week's update will be a bit less "controversial" Today it's the town park that's had a bit of a revamp... new paths/pavements and a good clean! (as part the original layout, some pieces have been there for over 10 years!) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The layout of the park has stayed the same but I have relocated the War Memorial here (This was actually it's original spot before it was moved to near the church). Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr This has meant moving the "Ballabreek Bricks" sculpture/fountain. The iconic golden bricks symbolise the towns past - referencing the town's gold mine and its name which means "place of the brick" in Manx. (it was the first local settlement to have buildings made of brick rather than stone). Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The fountain takes the place of the sensory garden (which was only ever going to be temporary) and is surrounded by wildflowers part of the town's latest project... BallaBee. To find out more, the news crew are interviewing the president of the town's Beekeeper Association... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr He explains that the aim of the project is to boost the numbers of bees and other pollenating insects in the area by planting a large variety of wild "bee friendly" plants in public spaces. The project will also involve the placing of rooftop beehives on a number of buildings. The first "trail hives" are top of the local grocery shop (which hopes to sell the honey produced by the hives.) but it's hoped that more businesses and homeowners can "bee" persuaded to join the project. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The idea of the "BallaBee Project" was inspired by parts of my local town that have been left to become bee friendly areas. I also wanted to find a use for some of the latest CMF figures (the Ladybird Girl will make an appearance at some point too as the project extends to replacing chemical pesticides with natural predators). Anyway, thanks as always for looking and feel free to comment on what you think of the changes!!
  2. greg3

    Ballabreek 2021

    Today sees the opening of Ballabreek's new skate park.. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Sponsored by the healthy sports drink company "Vita Rush", the park will provide a space for townspeople to show off their tricks and skills using skateboards, bikes, scooters, skates and wheelchairs. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr As always, the news team are there to cover the event. Here they're interviewing a spokesperson from the drinks company about why such a facility is so important to the local community. As well as giving predominantly young people somewhere to go, the ramps etc are removable so the area can be set up for as a roller/ice rink or used for music performances and other community events. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr So as you can tell I got the new skate park set and thought it'd fit in perfectly where the church used to be (I've been meaning to get rid of the church for ages as it didn't really fit in with all the other buildings which are modded official sets or have a local theme. It was also too small/cramped to be playable). I also wanted to see the new road parts in person... sadly I was not impressed! They might be ok for starting a new town but to replace all my road baseplates would cost a fortune and there's no curves! One thing I have decided to do is to replace all the old light grey pavements with light blueish grey parts. The old parts are starting to look pretty mucky and I also want to simplify the connections between baseplates to make disassembling the town easier. So far I've just done the immediate area of the skate park but will eventually get the whole town done. Here you can see where the old 9the steps) and new meet... and where the war memorial stood (don't worry - it's just being moved!). I'm hoping to create a ramp to allow wheelchair using minifigs to access the promenade walkway. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Thanks for looking... comments are welcome!
  3. greg3

    Ballabreek 2021

    Well that's been an interesting few weeks!! After 7 months of normality, we were put into a strict 3 week lockdown due to a Covid outbreak at new year. So a combination of having to work from home at very short notice, no local LEGO shopping, very slow delivery from Shop at Home and the fact I'd disassembled the town ready for its first public display (due for next weekend but now sadly postponed to October!) has meant no updates for a while. Fortunately the lockdown has worked and life is back to normal (in real life at least) although Ballabreek is still being put back together but that hasn't stopped its Chinese community celebrating Chinese New Year with a small parade through the town... (luckily my Story of Nian set arrived just in time!) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The centrepiece of the parade is a giant animatronic Nian (a legendary beast that is said to have once terrorised Chinese villages) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr According to the legend it was scared away by loud noises, light and red banners so the parade includes people setting off firecrackers and banging pans and cymbals to create noise... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr They also hand out red envelopes containing money... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The parade ends with a fireworks display... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Of course the whole event is being covered by the local news crew... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Anyway, thanks for looking. As always comments are very welcome.... (Hopefully I'll get the rest of the town put back together soon... perhaps with a few changes!!) Well spotted... let's say he was underwater (he had actually fallen down the side of the desk!!)
  4. greg3

    [MOC] Paddle wheel steamer

    Very nice! I especially like the deck seating, the rigging and the way the hull curves out around the paddles. Is it based on an actual vessel? Thanks for sharing.
  5. greg3

    Ballabreek 2021

    Happy New Year to you all! What better way to start 2021 than with a new topic to chart the ongoing lives of the citizens of Ballabreek, my LEGO town (now in its 10th year) This scene is from yesterday when a number of the more adventurous minifigs took part in a "New Year's Day Dip" by jumping into the (freezing cold) sea!! This is based on a number of real life dips that take place locally (not that I took part in any... maybe one year!!) The brave dippers... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr As well as a large number of spectators, there's a life guard and medic on hand (just in case!) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Fresh from their trip to a Galaxy far, far away (see last year's Ballabreek topic), the local news crew are back and on hand to record the event... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr In they go... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Some dippers think it's only fair that the spectators get wet too... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr So what's 2021 got in store for Ballabreek? Well next month the town will be going on public display at a local "Brick Show" (hopefully!) so at the moment I'm experimenting with how best to disassemble/transport it (which is why this update is so brief and I can't show the rest of the town at the min). Apart from that, who knows what the year will bring us, but these 2 will be there to cover it... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Thank for looking - comments are always welcome!!
  6. greg3

    Ballabreek 2020

    Well as 2020 comes to an end there's time for one final update and it's only right to focus on the minifigs who have made it all possible... the local news crew!! Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr This year they've covered it all; floods, fires, community events, strange local customs, business news, heartwarming animal stories, local history, sporting events and of course the impact of the pandemic on this small community. In recognition of their hard work, I've given them the week off and after hearing them say they'd like to spend it "sipping cocktails somewhere hot and sunny" I knew exactly where to send them... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr (Not sure it's quite what they had in mind but at least they won't have to self isolate when they get back so they'll be around to bring us Ballabreek 2021!!) In the meantime here are a few of the times when reporting the news didn't quite go to plan... Rogue waves... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Cheeky children... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr An even cheekier seagull... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr And he didn't stop there... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr And finally the infamous "lens cap incident" Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr So there we have it... Ballabreek 2020 comes to a close. Thanks to everyone who's followed the adventures of my little town this year and I wish you all the best for 2021!!
  7. greg3

    Ballabreek 2020

    Unfortunately I haven't had much "Ballabreek time" recently (as well as being busy at work, I've rediscovered my love of Star Wars so my Lego time has been taken up rebuilding all my old sets from a "galaxy far far away"!!) But there's always time for a quick festive scene.... after an "unusual" year, the locals are having a low key Christmas. Here they're holding a Christmas Eve sing song around the tree... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr And of course, our news crew friends are there to capture the event... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr As always, thanks for looking.... and best wishes for the holidays. Screenshot 2020-12-24 at 21.03.07 by g.nat, on Flickr
  8. greg3

    Ballabreek 2020

    As today is Remembrance Sunday, the people of Ballabreek have gathered at the town war memorial to observe a 2 minutes silence... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr This year the silence was signalled by the firing of a restored WW1 gun... a QF 13 Pounder Anti-Aircraft gun mounted on a period Thornycroft j-type lorry. (Gun/lorry by Brickmania) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The town mayor, lays a wreath on behalf of the townsfolk... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr And as always, the whole event is covered by the local news crew... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr This was a just a quick update to mark Remembrance Sunday (and an opportunity to make use of the Brickmania WW1 Anti-aircraft gun and lorry!) Thanks for looking... comments always welcome.
  9. greg3

    Ballabreek 2020

    A whole month without an update!! I blame work. (Actually it's more the fact I've been spending my "Lego time" rebuilding all my old Star Wars sets after getting the Mos Eisley set and falling back in love with a galaxy far, far away!!) Anyway, back to Ballabreek and what could be more topical than a Halloween (or Hop-tu-naa as it's known here in the Isle of Man) scene. This weekend, the owners of the Wizard's House B&B have put on a "fright night" event... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Locals are greeted by "Lady Arachnia"... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The gateway is protected by a giant dog-like beast!! The dog/wolf is from a Thor set and I used it to represent the Moddey Dhoo, a local mythical creature taking the form of a black dog that was said to have terrorised the garrison of a local castle. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Those brave enough to pass beneath it and enter the building will learn the secrets of the mad professor who lives there (and maybe meet some of his creations!!) Unfortunately I never got around to creating the interior... maybe next year! But you can see that some of his experiments have escaped! Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Even the river where he dumps his "failures" isn't safe! Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr For those still feeling brave there's tractor ride through the nearby woods... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr As always, the TV News team are there to cover the event... although the reporter is about to get a bit of a shock! Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr As you see, for this update, I picked up the Halloween Hayride set - and dug out some series 14 CMFs and put them to use! As always, thanks for looking... comments are always welcome.
  10. greg3

    Ballabreek 2020

    This weekend has seen the townsfolk head out into the countryside for the annual Swivenhodge match. The origins of this sport are long forgotten but each year the citizens take each other on in teams of 4 to see who can use a floor brush to hit a ball over a hedge the best! Usually, the event is held in May to mark the arrival of summer but this year's Covid lockdown has seen it postponed to today. Of course the news team are there to report on all the action... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The rules are pretty simple... each team take turns to hit the ball over the hedge (the ball can only be hit with the brush end of the broom). If they miss the ball or hit it into the hedge or out of bounds their opponents get a point. First team to 21 points wins. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Many of the townspeople get involved - either playing or supporting. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Refreshments are available Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Unfortunately, as with most of the fun things in life, injuries are common (most usually caused by a teammate's mistimed swing!). Luckily first aid is always on hand... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr In keeping with my Harry Potter theme at the moment, this build was inspired by the Wizarding game of Swivenhodge (featured in the book Quidditch through the ages). The true origins of this "muggle version" have long been forgotten here but at Hogwarts it is still played properly as you can see in this topic which allowed me to make use of the recent Quidditch set. The scene is also loosely inspired by Cammag (a game played here on the Isle of Man every year on Boxing Day) It's a bit like hockey but with no limit to players on each team (usually North v South) and played with any sort of hitting implement you can find! (I've never played it but maybe one year!!) Anyway, thanks for looking....
  11. From the book "Quidditch Through the Ages" (Chapter 2 - Ancient Broom Games) "Swivenhodge is played with an inflated pig's bladder, with players sitting backwards on brooms and using the brush end to knock the bladder back and forth across a hedge. A point is awarded every time an opponent misses and the first to 50 points wins. The game originated in Herefordshire and, while never achieving widespread popularity, is still played in England." Reading this gave me an idea of how to use my official Quidditch set (I didn't want to buy another set to make a full Quidditch scene... nor would i have the room!). I imagined that a group of students have formed a Swivenhodge club at Hogwarts and have created a court for practise and matches (after a few "incidents", using ordinary hedges out in the countryside has been banned for drawing unwanted muggle attention!) Here we see a couple of players testing each other's skills - overseen by Madame Hooch (who thinks the game may help with training the Quidditch teams!) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The "hedge" is constructed using wooden posts filled in with vegetation Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr I'm planning to enlarge the court to cover 2 full baseplates so there will be plenty space for spectators (if the game ever finally increases in popularity - I'll get round to adding a crowd!) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr This was a fun little build and I think it's a good way to use the Quidditch set - I might look at recreating some other "broom games"!
  12. greg3

    Ballabreek 2020

    Despite its growing minifig population, it's been a while since any new houses were built in the town but this week changes that (and as always, the news crew are there to tell us all about it!). As you can see, the main residential area has undergone some changes. A new modern family home has been constructed and a new road put in (where there had previously been a single parking bay) This road would lead to more houses and parking area for residents (but there's a wall in the way!!). Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr In keeping with my Harry Potter theme, the house is the official 4 Privet Drive set with a few MODs. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The main MOD involved narrowing the build so it'd fit in the available space... so unfortunately the stairs had to go (but luckily, like other buildings in the town it has the "Hand of God Vertical Transport System" to allow minifigs to get upstairs) I also had to MOD the fireplace. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr It also turned out that Ballabreek Social Services didn't consider a cupboard to be a suitable place to keep a child so I converted the space into a kitchen area. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Upstairs the main bedroom now has extra space which the new owners could use to create a child's nursery, home office or en suite bathroom. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr And here are the new owners... a young couple with their baby... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Just unloading the car (I've always thought that being a wizard would make moving house much easier!) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr It wasn't long before the neighbours pop round to give them a friendly Ballabreek welcome (cake and flowers!) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Finally a view down the street and an overview of how this area of the town now looks... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr I'm quite pleased with how well the house fits in (I'd had this idea as soon as I saw the Privet Drive set!) I'm not sure how easily any other Harry Potter sets will fit in though!! Anyway thanks for looking... comments welcome as always.
  13. greg3

    Ballabreek 2020

    The news crew "filmed" this update last weekend as the citizens of Ballabreek made good use of the last weekend of the summer holidays. The town's small seaside area has proved especially popular this year (with foreign holidays out of the question due to Covid many people are opting to support local businesses by having a "staycation" instead)... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The open-air swimming pool is busy (despite the "chilly" water!! Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Ice cream and entertainment has been provided to amuse the kids... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Those wanting to make their "staycation" bit more of an adventure head off into the countryside for a spot of camping... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr One business hoping to benefit from the people wanting to enjoy the fresh air is the "Wizard's House" - a basic hostel/B&B providing accommodation to those who want more than a tent!! The news team are going to show us around... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The building was originally a Toll Gate on the main road in and out of Ballabtreek during the early 1700s but when the toll road fell out of use it became the local jail (it's said that for a while, hangings were carried out from the nearby tree!) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Inside the tower (which was the toll collector's and later the jailer's accommodation) are dormitory type rooms and a kitchen where guests can relax and prepare for a day of exercise and fresh air! Eventually the owner plans to add another dormitory in the roof space. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Comfy beds... Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Delicious food Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr And if after a long day hiking/biking, you fancy a nice hot shower, then the old strongroom (originally used to store goods/money collected as the toll and then used as the jail) is now a modern shower/toilet block. (unfortunately it doesn't yet have a proper interior) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The business has helped to revitalise the old camping area as guests can also hire mountain bikes, rafts and kayaks to explore the countryside. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr So why is it called "The Wizard's House"? Most people assume it's because of the pointed roofs but according to local legend, the real reason is far more sinister! During the Victorian times, the building became the country retreat of a local man, Thomas Riddle, who was rumoured to have used it for occult magical experiments. After becoming linked to a number of grisly murders and disappearances (known as the "Death Eater Murders", Riddle mysteriously disappeared before he could be arrested and the house was found abandoned. Many people assume he simply fled overseas but others claim that he hid the secrets of his powers somewhere in the building just waiting to be found.... but of course that's nonsense.... ...or is it? Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr So after "Underwater Explorers" month, this month I'm planning to focus on the Harry Potter sets and getting some of them into Ballabreek. This is actually an old build which was originally just an abandoned building and campground. I thought re-inventing it as holiday acommodation made sense (the idea of staycations has become big here recently!) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Anyway thanks for looking - comments welcome as always.
  14. Hi I recently bought the new Creator 3-in-1 Pirate Ship (31109) and found it a really enjoyable build and a nice looking model but the sails bugged me. I don't mind them being brick built but the foresail and rearmost sail just didn't look right so I had a go at creating a furled look (it's very basic but I didn't want to have to change the masts/yards.) Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The foresail is my favourite bit... I used the spare bit of rigging to try and make it look a bit more realistic. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr The rearmost sail (mizzen sail?) was the one that bugged me the most as the original triangle shape just didn't seem to look right/make sense (not that I'm any sort of sail/rigging expert!) so I've reimagined it as a gaff-rigged sail. Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Side view Untitled by g.nat, on Flickr Overall I'm pretty pleased with the result - the ship is now in my Lego town harbour as a tourist attraction/floating museum! (it has a made up history and back story but I'll leave that for another day!) Thanks for looking - comments are very welcome!
  15. greg3

    Brickchester 2020

    Nice update... I need to get round to finding space for a skate ramp in my town!! Looking forward to seeing what you do next!