Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Fourth Wedding Anniversary of Mr & Mrs Arfon Jones

It's June, it's that time again, time to report back about the day we celebrated the day we got married. For the benefit of those keeping count (and don't read titles) this was the fourth. This time Mrs Jones and I spent it in the Land of the Lions in.... London! London zoo to be exact, at the world’s oldest scientific zoo's newest exhibit that not only (decoratively) transports visitors to India’s vibrant Sasan Gir to get a little bit closer to the majestic, mighty Asiatic lions but also the chance to sleep “within roaring distance” of them!

Having long been fascinated with animals and watching copious amounts of television in my lifetime London Zoo is very familiar to me but to be perfectly honest I had never actually visited before. So finally, after 30+ years I finally had the chance to visit Jumbo the elephant's old stomping ground! We spent a hot day navigating through parties of school children seeing the wonderful array of animals the zoo has on offer. Being the nerd that I am I would stop at familiar points of interest such as the Reptile House, the Raven’s Cage (constructed in 1829), the grade two listed Penguin Pool and of course the Snowdon Aviary,
designed by and named after Lord Snowdon built in 1962 and opened to the public in 1965 it was the second largest aviary in the world but the first walk-through aviary in Britain, specially designed to allow close up views of birds. One of the things I enjoyed about the Zoo (apart from the animals of course) was the balance the zoo had between introducing new and fresh ideas and their own history. We saw Giant Galapagos Tortoises, Penguins and Lemurs but unfortunately the anteaters had been relocated to behind the giraffe house to make way for a new dinosaur attraction (leaving me with mixed emotions as I love anteaters and fibreglass dinosaurs...) and then after “oooh-ing" and "aaaaahhh-ing" over Marilyn the two-toed sloth's uncharacteristic 'speedy' constitutional around their jungle environment and the extremely photogenic otter family over at the Otter Holt we made our way to the Gir Lion Lodge to 'check-in'.


Officially opened by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke on the 17th March 2016 (the original lion terraces was also opened by them both in 1976) Land of the Lions cost £5.2m to build and is five times the size of the previous lion enclosure and as previously mentioned designed to resemble Sasan Gir, an Indian village in the heart of the Gir Forest where the last 500 wild Asiatic lions live and the attention to detail is amazing as it both entertains and highlights ZSL’s international conservation efforts to help protect this endangered species. We arrived at the nine brightly painted lodges inspired by the hotels in the Gir Forest and were greeted by the friendly keepers. We were given the Oriole Lodge equipped with en-suite toilet, basin and shower and tea making facilities and a rather nice private veranda to soak up the atmosphere and relax. But this excursion was not just about finding a place to spend the night in London! Once we had settled in, glass of complimentary Prosecco in hand we were given an exclusive after-hours tours of the Zoo offering a glimpse of what it's like at the zoo once the public have left by the friendly, knowledgeable keepers. We met Bhanu and lionesses Indi, Rubi and Heidi learning more about them, their conservation and their upkeep. Interestingly as part of the lions enrichment, sacks soaked in unwanted perfume are given to the lions with Old Spice being a particular favourite (a little discouraging as its also my favourite brand of aftershave and I was wearing it at the time...). We then made our way around the zoo and some of the enclosures and even had chance to feed Thug and Nicky the pygmy hippos before having our own delicious two-course dinner. Once we had finished our puddings we toasted our anniversary (and the birthday of another guest) we had another 'mooch' around meeting two of the zoo's nocturnal residents which I will not tell you about because its meant to be a secret... but they were delightful!

The next morning was fantastic! I normally associate the bustling sounds of cars, sirens and Ring Necked Parakeets with waking up in London so being woken to the sound of macaws, flamingos and lions was a new one on me! I had a quiet sit down on the 'private veranda' before we went to have our Full English breakfast before visiting the old elephant house to see where all the herbaceous animal's meals are prepared. Some Tapirs and gibbons followed before we went back to “oooh" and "aaaaahhh" some more at the two-toed sloth's and otters (not me you understand, but Mrs Jones, although I did make a similar sound when we briefly saw the giant anteaters roaming their enclosure before a fresh party of school children mobbed to the fence) and that was our sunset, after-dark and early morning excursion to London zoo that I highly recommend, as always I hope this was of interest!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Mischievous Memories: Jeremy Beadle


On the 14th of June I found myself wandering around Highgate Cemetery East in London looking for the grave of the most famous prankster in Britain, Jeremy Beadle MBE. 
This was somewhat of a pilgrimage for me, as I explained previously in my first Mischievous Memories I have always been fascinated by practical jokes and for two decades, Jeremy Beadle was known as television's arch prankster and so as a result I looked at him as the quintessential practical joker. Although a little two young to remember Game for a Laugh! I fondly remember Beadle's About, I was an avid viewer and it was an essential part of Saturday nights for me. Each week he played tricks on unsuspecting members of the public in the same vain as Candid Camera (although he disliked the comparison) and then praising them for being a great sport, the show was a massive success. It was the longest continually running hidden-camera show of its kind and ran for eleven series, selling all over the world and at its peak pulled in viewing figures of seventeen million. He stated in his 1998 autobiography, Watch Out!Very few people have made a full-time career out of something as silly as practical joking and to be recognised as the country's Number One in that field was something I took as a great accolade. 'Game For A Laugh' had been my apprenticeship and had established me in the role. 'Beadle's About' marked my coronation! I was now the King of Practical Jokes, The Prince of Pranksters.” The programme received around 30,000 letters a year from members of the public nominating family and friends to be the next show's 'punter' (he never called them 'victims' “we were going to make these people stars, so we called them 'punters'”).

Although those practical jokes were amazingly elaborate Beadle delighted in the simple pranks as well and with his place as the nation's number one practical joker assured, he released the Jeremy Beadle's box of Practical Jokes through Merit Toys and MCP games in 1989 which offered any budding prankster “Classic practical Jokes plus the secrets of over 150 of Jeremy Beadle's rib-tickling favourites” Beadle once promoted this potential box of delights on Children's ITV and I recall asking for it for Christmas! Amongst the hand buzzer, squirting calculator, plate lifter, whoopee cushion, wobbly pencil, bottle of disappearing ink and fake injured finger was the Jeremy Beadle's Book of Practical Jokes which not only informs us how to use our arsenal but also offers a few other gags to try out after running through some 'rules' when practical joking such as, “A practical joke is only funny if the person you play the joke on actually laughs” and “A good practical joker will only play tricks on those people they know will enjoy the gag once it has been revealed”. He makes it quite clear that when pulling a “messy joke” we must be on hand with a cloth or brush to clean up the mess and that we must always praise the “star” for being a good sport before telling us to have fun! (I will also add that Beadle was also keen on magic and also released the Jeremy Beadle Box of Magic Tricks that same year offering 28 magic tricks and the secrets of 95 of his “magical favourites”!).
 

Beadle took his trade to another level in 1991 and joined forces with the subject of the last Mischievous Memories Joke Shop by Post, I recall the above advert in their catalogue, “Watch TV's Jeremy Beadle try Our Jokes” this video was called Jeremy Beadles guide to Practical Joking and was almost like a self help video (which I have uploaded to my YouTube channel) calling itself “the ultimate guide for the beginner prankster who plans on becoming an expert practical joker” it offered tips for kids to try out on unsuspecting 'punters'. ”Beadle will teach you how to shock your family, surprise your friends and make everyone scream for more with over 200 easy to learn practical jokes using mostly everyday household items.” Co written, produced and directed by TV producer Clive Doig (whom Beadle had worked with numerous times over the years once creating a program in 1980 for Children's BBC called April Fool)


Sadly, he did receive some flack over the years, the most famous prankster in Britain was also nominated as the second most hated man in Britain in a poll by Punch Magazine (behind Saddam Hussein, but as Beadle pointed out it was a list of only 5 people) but this never really bothered him, nor me for that matter having always been one of a small demographic that likes such entertainers/ presenters as Beadle, Paul Daniels, Roland Rat and Noel Edmunds. In his book he reflected on his time as a joker on television, “After eleven years of Beadle's About and Five years of Game For A Laugh, for sixteen years, I have been synonymous with practical joking. For sixteen years I was considered the best. Even if I was to live to be a hundred, I still think that, in my obituary, I will recognised as one of the greatest practical jokers TV has known. I am quite proud of that. I will continue to work with practical jokes. It may be that I won't actually be on camera but I'll never lose the ability to deliver them. Lets just say my crown is tucked away in a little box, waiting to be taken out and dusted off at some future date.” Sadly he didn't live to be a hundred, he died on the 30th of January 2008, aged only 59 of pneumonia he was right about the obituaries though, they refer to him as “TV Trickster” "King of Pranks" and “Presenter and Prankster” before listing his other talents and accomplishments. I found the grave a rather beautifully carved headstone reflecting his love of books, although a little weathered it reads, “Jeremy Beadle MBE Writer, Presenter curator of curiosities “Ask my Friends” “ a rather poignant memorial to a great man

A little more Beadle for your Buck!
This is a little curio from my collection...  Beadle was also synonymous with “camcorder calamities” having presented You've Been Framed! The show featuring humorous clips from viewers' home videos from 1990 to 1997. Viewers would win £250 if their video was used in the show, this is a VHS that we submitted back in circa. 1991 we didn't win anything but the sticker stating that it had been submitted remains on it to this day. Off the back of You've Been Framed! Beadle presented another 'how-to' video, Have Fun With Your Camcorder produced for Comet stores in association with Panasonic, JVC, Canon, Hitachi, Ferguson, Sanyo and Sharp at the height of the camcorder craze of the 1990's. The video promised help from “Top Television and Film experts, Jeremy shows you the 'tricks of the trade' so you can have fun with your camcorder” this video has also been uploaded to my YouTube channel.


© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 12 June 2017

RIP Adam West/Batman 1928-2017

The world is going to hell and the government is in disarray and to make matters worse Batman is dead.
Adam West, Bruce Wayne, Batman, The Caped Crusader, the man that the Gotham underworld tried to unsuccessfully kill each week died peacefully on the 9th of June at his home in Los Angeles after a brief battle with leukaemia, he was 88.
The death of someone that you have known throughout your life but never actually met is a strange feeling to comprehend. As a long time Bat-Fan I grew up with Adam West, he was always on TV and his adventures not only provided me my much needed Bat-Fix but also my much needed escapism during the 'joys' of childhood.
Mr. West's passing is both a sad and bitter experience for me because I was all set to actually meet him in person at next month's London Film & Comic Con for what was to be his last UK appearance, a thank you to all his European fans. Frankly, personally, I feel cheated, the opportunity to meet my hero, shake his hand and thank him for being there all these years has been snatched away from me. I wouldn't have told him anything that he hadn't heard a thousand times before but I wanted him to hear it again and from me, I will instead raise a glass of milk in his honour when I watch his show... same Bat-time, same-Bat-channel...

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Antony & Cleopatra Poster


Following on from last year's successful production of 'The Tempest' at the Morecambe WinterGardens (for which I provided the poster) Attic Door Productions are back for another year and another re imagining of the bard's work, this time it will be Anthony & Cleopatra and I was delighted to be the one responsible for the poster! “The opulence of Egypt and the power struggles of Rome are transported into the faded decadence of forties film noir with Attic Door’s brand new production of Shakespeare’s tale of Lust and Power : Antony & Cleopatra.” Direct from their acclaimed run of The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Lancaster Castle the Attic Door team once again bring a new accessible angle to Shakespeare’s work, bringing the Winter Gardens to life as the magnificent palaces of Egypt and the seedy warehouses of Rome in this exciting new site specific production! So don't miss it! The Winter Gardens, Thursday 20th, Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd July at 7.30pm! Here is a handy link for you so you can book your tickets right away!


© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Dine out before they die out: Wimpy, Rotherham

Wimpy, Rotherham Superbowl, Wortley Road, Kimberworth, Rotherham, S61 1QN. With Little Chef's demise now official I've made it my mission to visit as many of them as possible and in doing so I have neglected the Wimpy Bars somewhat, let's set that right. Located within the Rotherham Superbowl (“It's not just bowling - It's Superbowling!”) I wasn't able to determine exactly how long they have been open but according to one member of staff it had been open for some time and its rather a nice one. It offers the classic Wimpy experience but with the added extra of arcade games, fruit machines and an all night Bowling alley! Serving 10am until late the menu doesn't have all of your Wimpy favourites on it (The Bender and Brown Derby were decidedly absent) however to give them their due the food is of a high quality and served by friendly staff.

Previous Wimpy Sites:
Streatham Wimpy.

Previous Little Chef Sites:
LittleChef Northop Hall.
Little Chef, Wrexham.
Little Chef,Bangor.
Little Chef Dolgellau.
Little Chef Builth Wells.

Little Chef Uttoxeter.
Little Chef Shrewsbury

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Monster Memories: Tommy Boyd: Monster Hunter?

Here is a clipping from Look-In magazine dated the 2nd of May 1992 that states that there was a new book out called Monster Monsters which sets out to educate its readers about, “the weird and wonderful monsters that are supposed to have existed around the world” written by then current face of Children's ITV Tommy Boyd and the article declared that Tommy was “actually a bit of a monster-mad boffin!”. The book, published by Boxtree was published as I immersed myself fully in my fascination with monsters, I was equally a fan of Tommy Boyd who was a regular face throughout my childhood be it from his days presenting Saturday TV-am show Wide Awake Club from 1986–1990 (and Sunday spin-off show WAC Extra) to the time he presented Children's ITV from 1991 to 1992. The book's back cover reads, “Calling... monster trackers everywhere. You come across strange giant footprints leading into a dark, clammy cave. Would you... faint with fright... quietly tiptoe away...or explore further? Tommy Boyd has collected fearsome facts and monstrous myths which will freeze the blood in your veins! Read about the huge body with a serpent's neck which emerged from the dark waters of Loch Ness, or a tentacle half the length of a football pitch which was found on a Florida beach and ask yourself: What is out there?” packed with stories, games, quizzes, trivia, things to do and monsters to make and priced £2.99 it was a terrific read to any budding monster hunter! This wasn't actually the first time Tommy put his name to a monster themed book, the Wide Awake Club released a book entitled Ghosts, Monsters and Legends in a 1986 tie-in with their segment on the show of the same name (although how much Tommy was involved in the writing process is unclear) what is especially interesting in this article however is the closing paragraph, “ By the way, did you know that Tommy's planning an expedition of his own to go off and find the Giant Buru Buru monster* (which you can read all about in the book) very soon and he wants volunteers! Watch out for more news soon.” Did this expedition ever happen? Even in the book he gives map references! Attempts to contact Mr Boyd directly have yielded no results, so does anyone out there know?


* Buru Buru Monster: an aquatic cryptid reptile said to inhabit the Ziro valley, India.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world. 





Wednesday, 31 May 2017

HorrorCon 2017: Some Highlights

I've already mentioned my trip to Rotherham to meet Elvira Mistress of the Dark but I thought I should really recount my first HorrorCon and how great an experience it was and how I am looking forward to the next! So here are my (in no particular order) highlights from HorrorCon 2017.

1) Meeting Elvira herself!
Cassandra Peterson the woman responsible for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, I was finally able to meet her in person! I had an Elvira portrait for sale at the event but I also painted a second portrait of Cassandra Peterson herself and presented it to her as a gift. She seemed genuinely touched by it and insisted that I take a photo of her with it. Here it is! What an incredibly nice lady she is!









2) Chocolate Krites eggs and Krite!
I love the Critters movies and so I simply had to have a chocolate Critter eggs with chocolate Critter inside! Available from Janine on the JanineMakes Cakes stall, check out her site for more amazing examples Sinister Cakes!






3) Elvira Cosplayer
Elviras? Elvirēs? a great many walked around the convention supporting Elvira t-shirts but these lovely ladies decided to go the whole hog and dress up as the mistress of the dark, very nice they were too. If I haven't credited you please drop me a line so I can rectify that!

   
Peachy Poison as Elvira
 
 
4) Hatters Top Tables
I had the pleasure of being seated next to Hatters Top Tables'... table. Purveyors of hand crafted bespoke items and props for “all theme parties or film nights” offering all manner of cool stuff for any event. It was impossible to not stop and admire their wares! Follow the link and agree with me, tell them Arfon sent you!     

 
 
 
5) Claire Rainbow as Lilly Munster
Met Claire at the event dressed as my favourite TV mom! I've already mentioned in a previous post how much I adore the Munsters, she looked fabulous! Oh how I wish I brought my electric chair with me!











6) The Monster Charity Project
I was able to catch up with my good friend Rob Taylor at the Monster Charity Project who was one of the 28 top UK SPFX Artists responsible for creating 28 Bespoke, re-imagined, customised Frankenstein Monster Busts to be auctioned for Make A Wish UK. Had a nice wander round, the work and level of detail was amazing, check out their Facebook page marvel at their work and show your support!


 

 
7) Ash Williams and Velma Dinkley
I love Bruce Campbell and I love Scooby and these wonderful people highlighted how cool an Evil Dead/ Scooby-Doo mash up would be!















8) Hellbound Media's table and everyone that came up to chat and buy stuff! I had a terrific time at the Hellbound Media table and thank head honchos Mark Adams and Matt Warner  for letting me tag along for the weekend. Thanks to everyone that came over to say hello, buy comics and my prints. I doff my hat to all involved in the organising of the event and I look forward to seeing you all at the next one!

 
StevenMonkey Mason came over to the Hellbound Media table and documented it on his YouTube channel. He gives me a mention and gags on my business card vampire teeth about 17 minutes in!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 22 May 2017

New Comic! Slashermania!

Remember the Freaktown Comics Kickstarter I mentioned last year? Slashermania? I am delighted to say that it's out now and it's brilliant! Celebrating the slasher movie genre this 168 page graphic novel tells of a contest featuring 10 masked maniacs battling to win the Slashermania Slasher of the Year award and I commend writer Russell Hillman and artists Ron Joseph and CJ Camba on their efforts.
The book also includes a 12-page pin-up section featuring the work of “the best artists in the world of indie and alternative comics” (their words not mine) where you will find a mock horror poster for 'Summer Camp Slaughter' featuring one of the story's 'contestants' Franklin Frost painted by yours truly. Read it? What did you think?


© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dine out before they die out: Little Chef Shrewsbury

Bayston Hill Services, Hereford Road, SY3 0DA. Here we are again, my seventh Little Chef! This time on my travels through Shrewsbury, sharing it's premises with a Burger King this one has been serving since 1994 and received a makeover in 2011 to help maintain, “a classic, retro Little Chef experience”. I was delighted to finally find a Little Chef that hasn't had its opening times restrained to 7am -3pm, seemingly keeping to the opening times stated on the official website! Thus allowing us to have dinner at 4:30!
I had the 'The Works Burger' “Our flagship burger. Two 6oz burgers on a bed of mixed salad leaves, two beer battered onion rings, tomato slice, back bacon rasher and melted mature cheddar cheese. Taste it to believe it.” I did, it was delicious! Tasty food aside, when I visited their website I was also drawn in by the promise of a singing toilet! “Our singing toilets have to be seen to be believed” I can confirm that they do indeed sing! Bird song and the sound of flowing water in fact, 'piped' into the wash-rooms as demonstrated by this short video that I recorded.

 
 
 
Little Chef Uttoxeter.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Deadly Ernest Horror Show

I tried to get this painting and post out for Halloween 2016 but with October being a busy time for me I missed the deadline... No matter, better late than never! Last time I tackled horror host Dr Walpurgis (later changed to Dr. Terror) host of the Vault of Horror which ran on BBC 2 from 1992 to 1996 and I mentioned that some regard him to be Britain's’ first television horror host and that this was not in fact the case. The first British horror host was Deadly Ernest who had actually left our screens a year before the good Doctor Walpurgis made his debut having been on Sky Channel (later renamed Sky 1) since 1985 hosting a Friday night horror show entitled, The Deadly Ernest Horror Show. Ernest (not to be confused with the Australian horror host Deadly Earnest) was a vampire that introduced the Friday night horror movie and if one consults the all knowing internet about the show Jack Hardy is credited for playing Earnest however, Jack Hardy was in fact one Mr. Jim Bywater, actor of stage, screen and television roles perhaps most notably playing Wilf Starkey in Coronation Street. I “consulted” the internet about Ernest and it provides despairingly little about him and the show online, and not even Sky 1, the very channel that originally aired the series could help me in my research, a great shame because Ernest was one of Sky's regular faces back in the day. When the Sky channel celebrated its 5th Birthday in 1987 he made up the group of Sky presenters singing along on Anita Chellamah's 'Join the Family of Sky' music video promo alongside fellow presenters such Anthea Turner, Tony Blackburn, Pat Sharp and DJ Kat! Everything seemed to change when Rupert Murdoch expanded Sky's service and formed the Sky Television Network in February 1989 Ernest was 're-vamped' with a new wardrobe and sidekick, Scarlett Aorta, played by model and former Page 3 girl Jilly Johnson.
As for the movies that featured in the early days YouTube gives us some idea, 'The Late Nancy Irving’ and ‘Sweet Scent of Death’ are mentioned suggesting that they aired the feature length episodes of Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense from 1984. In my quest to find out more I turned to vintage issues of TV Guide because the main British listing magazines didn't start publishing cable and satellite listings until 1991. Here is an ongoing list of episodes that I hope to keep open and update accordingly.

Friday March 9th 1990 11:30pm Dick Barton- Special Agent (1948)

Friday May 25th 1990 11:30pm The Outer Space Connection (1975).

Friday June 29th 1990 11:30pm Sophisticated Gent (1981).

Friday July 6th 1990 11:30pm Vogues of 1938 (1937).

Friday July 20th 1990 11:30pm Bobbikins (1959).

Friday July 27th 1990 11:30pm You Only Live Once (1937).

Friday Aug 3rd 1990 11:30pm The Rollicking Adventures of Eliza Fraser (1976).

Friday Aug 10th 1990 11:30 Sleeping Dogs (1977).

Friday Aug 24th 1990 11:30 Manbeast! Myth or Monster? (1978).

Friday Aug 31st 1990 11:30 Atragon (1963).

Friday Sept 7th 1990 11:00pm Attack of the Puppet People (1958).

Friday Sept 21st 1990 11:00pm Deranged (1974).

Friday March 1st 1991 11:00pm Zontar The Thing From Venus (1966).

Friday March 8th 1991 11:00pm Vampire (1979).

Friday March 15th 1991 11:00pm Master of the World (1961).

Friday March 22nd 1991 11:00pm Dark Star (1974).

Friday March 29th 1991 11:00pm Fer-de-Lance (1974).

Friday April 4th 1991 11:00pm Killer Bees (1974).

Friday April 12th 1991 11:00pm Trilogy of Terror (1975).

Friday Night 19th 1991 11:00pm Night Drive (1977).

I didn't actually get to experience Deadly Ernest the first time round, despite constant desperate pleas to my parents our household didn't join the Sky revolution until around 1994 before that occasion it was recordings of movies, or shows such as ALF, WWF Wrestling and The Simpsons recorded by family and friends already signed up to Sky but even then it would seem that Sky had laid Ernest to rest, the Friday night film ran without him all the same but under the guise of Friday Fright Feature.
RIP Deadly Ernest, 1685- 1991
Britain's First Horror Host.




© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

 

Monday, 15 May 2017

HorrorCon 2017: The day I travelled to Rotherham to meet Elvira Mistress of the Dark in a steel mill

January 1992, I walked into our local Woolworths armed with my recently acquired 13th Birthday money and made use of their '3 VHS' for 2' deal. The videos were Labyrinth, The Monster Squad and Elvira Mistress of the Dark, and I suppose that day played a part in making me the well rounded individual you know and love today. Like a great many of us in the UK at the time I didn't know who the gal that, “put the boob in boob tube” played by Cassandra Peterson was but her 1988 horror/ comedy set that right and I have a been a big fan of the Valley girl Vamp armed with cleavage and a quick wit ever since. She is and always will be my favourite horror host, because (obvious two reasons and sniggering aside) she was my first horror host, and she was the one I grew up with. She has been a familiar figure throughout my life and even though the VHS's that I bought that day have long gone my affection for the character still lives on and I continue to watch her DVD's today, often playing in the background while I paint. I have long had a list of people that I would like to meet and she was at the very top of it, and this weekend I was able to have the genuine honor of meeting Cassandra Peterson at this year's HorrorCon.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Dine out before they die out: Little Chef Uttoxeter

A50, Ashbourne Road, Uttoxeter, Staffs, ST14 5AA. Another month and another Little Chef to add to my mission list! We have actually used this one a couple of times in the past, located on the busy commuting road between the M1 –M6 it has been serving customers on the A50 since 1995 and according to its website it's known as the “best roadside restaurant on the A50”. Manager Alison Moore has been at the helm since 2004 and she along with her trusted deputy Kate “always provide a warm welcome, great service and the best Olympic breakfast this side of the east Midlands” and I can't really argue with that, we had the 'Royal Breakfast' (the classic Olympic breakfast “crowned” with a griddled 6oz sirloin steak) cooked to our specifications it was perfect, and we enjoyed it whole heartedly. Much like all the other Little Chefs, this one is also due for closure in six weeks, with no clue as to what the future will bring as preparations are underway outside for an A50 'Growth Corridor' a multi-million pound Government investment aiming to, “cut congestion, address safety concerns, support local businesses, create more jobs and opportunities for Staffordshire people”... and bypass the Little Chef site! So if you are on the A50 and hungry don't stop at the McDonalds, cross over to the Little Chef and enjoy the before listed features.

Previous Little Chef Sites:
Little Chef Northop Hall.
Little Chef, Wrexham.
Little Chef, Bangor.
Little Chef Dolgellau.
Little Chef Builth Wells.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 1 May 2017

'Rebeka'

Dungeons and Dragons, much like Warhammer (previous post) was something that I always wanted to be a part of yet, despite watching the cartoon series during the 1980's, playing with the action figures and reading a few Endless Quest (choose your own adventure) books I never actually played the game itself until I was in my late teens in the late 1990's. A great shame because I always felt that I would have submerged myself in it had I known someone that played D&D, I didn't so it passed me by.
So when I discovered that Mrs Jones was a keen D&D'r back in the day it pressed all the geek buttons that I required in a mate, and I fell in love with her all over again! So much so that it was commemorated in this painting (named after her character name) that I painted for her that not only marks her Dungeoneer days but also my love of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. The A3 acrylic painting contains a poem wot' I wrote and some Victorian symbolism finished off with a frame with six varieties of jewel like Dungeons and Dragon polyhedral dice embedded in it.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Outing 'N Abouting: Warhammer World

https://www.games-workshop.com/en-GB/Home?_requestid=4839224Games Workshop, a world famous publisher of wargames and role-playing games and a brand that I have been familiar with most of my life, be it in the model shops that I frequented, seeing their product ranges in magazines and catalogues I read or their stalls at the conventions I visited. Yet, with the exception of HeroQuest and Space Crusade I had never directly supported them, but not intentionally I might add! I really wanted to as it had all the makings of something I would have been 'into' but (much like Dungeons & Dragons) I didn't know anyone else that was 'into' Warhammer and so it never happened. This didn't stop me from admiring them however, despite the stories and characters being lost on me it never stopped me from admiring the miniatures and the way they were painted and that's why I was excited to learn that there was an actual Warhammer Museum at GamesWorkshop's global visitor centre! I visited last year and deliberately left it off my '2016 New Years blog post, thingy' as I thought it was worthy of its own post. So without further ado...
The global visitor centre is located at Games Workshop's base of operations in Nottingham featuring three retail stores including the world’s only Forge World and Black Library stores selling a range of exclusive merchandise and miniatures there is even an events hall made to resemble a castle courtyard filled with gaming tables which are free to request, reserve and use where regular tournaments are held highlighting how much of a social event Warhammer is, as several tables had players setting up on them. Even eating keeps within the Warhammer theme as players can stop off for a drink and a bite to eat at Bugman’s Bar (I understand it is named after the greatest dwarven brew-master) dressed up to look like an old tavern (be sure to try the Bugman Burger) where players can discuss the franchise over a flagon of ale (or coke). After a very nice lunch we turned our attention to their terrific museum open to anyone for a very reasonable entry fee. the exhibit starts with several cabinets of classic Citadel miniatures documenting the company's humble beginnings as a bedroom mail-order company first formed in 1975 that is guaranteed to have visitors saying “I remember that one” a few times, before opening up to 4 exhibition areas packed with thousands of Citadel and Forge World miniatures.
The miniatures have been painted by the renowned ‘Eavy Metal, Army Painter and Forge World teams. It has 17 specially built display boards featuring over 20,000 miniatures that are regularly changed showing off the work of guest displays with miniatures painted by members of the painting community. All rounded off by the impressively vast 'Battle For Angelus Prime' The biggest display board Games Workshop has ever created which is impossible to not be blown away by! I had a very long wander around the exhibition, as I said the stories and characters were unknown to me, but I still derived just as much pleasure from examining the details and marvelling at the little ad ons and the artist's abilities, it really is an art exhibition worthy of a visit and I urge you to seek it out.

 
 
 
 

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Strange Times in Little Happining book launch at Chepstow Steampunk Spring market

I've been out 'n about again! Last Saturday Mrs Jones and I paid a return visit to the beautiful town of Chepstow for this year's Steampunk Spring market. Following on from the very successful market held last year, Lady Alice of Frugonia organised another opportunity to update one's wardrobe, home ware and accessories while catching up with friends old and new and mingle with some of the most talented, friendly and finely attired folk in Britain oh, and launch a new book! Strange Times in Little Happining written by my talented wife Beth Jones (and illustrated by Moi) was officially launched at the event. As mentioned in a previous post this is a tale of mysterious murders and strange occurrences in the quiet (fictional) rural town of Little Happining and even though the book is available on Amazon, Chepstow seemed ideal to officially launch it, and we were right, it was very well received. Inspector Mandalay's most demanding case intrigued many a market patron who purchased copies promptly signed by Mrs Jones. The table also had a small display from the Little Happining museum and cakes from the Little Happining Tea Rooms presented free with each book! A big thank you to all that bought the book, I know you will enjoy it (Incidently, once you are done how about joining the Facebook group? or even leaving your thoughts and feedback on the Amazon page?). My/Our sincere thanks to everyone that come over to the table and supported the book and likewise to all involved in its organising, and running congratulations it ran like a well oiled cog and we look forward to the next!

Cakes from the Little Happining Tea Rooms and artefacts from Little Happining museum


Laser Supremos Rachel White and Andy Dingley of Atelier Fabry-Pérot

Charming, immaculate and all round good egg, Kolonel Mustard
© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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