I boarded the train at Euston Station in London and made the one hour journey north to Coventry, where Phil O. met me to give me a tour of the area, a visit to Griffin Moulds, and a visit to a proper English pub.
I was very impressed with my journey on British Rail and only wish that we had a transportation system like this in the USA. The coaches were clean, had wifi connections, decent food, a smooth ride and none of the "airport hassle" that we all know and loathe.
The ride was over in about an hour and I was sort of wishing that it would not end. I enjoyed zipping across the countryside and watching the scenery go by, while sitting in a comfy chair and noshing on some breakfast.
Phil O. met me at the Coventry station and it was really great to meet someone who I've known for about five years, via the Internet, but had never met face to face. I look forward to meeting more friends at Partizan on Saturday and Sunday.
We dropped off my luggage at Phil's house and I had an opportunity to view his beautiful collection of SYW and TYW figures, before heading off to Birmingham and Griffin Moulds. The visit at Griffin was really interesting because I was able to learn a little more about how the Minden and Fife & Drum moulds and figures are made, and to meet some of the people who make it all happen.
Jane, who was Stewart's partner, gave Phil and I a tour of the new factory that they recently moved into. She is building up the production staff in order to reduce the backlog that built up during Stewart's passing and it looks like things are getting well organized on the administrative side of the business. Here is a picture of the new mould racking system that holds all of the master and production moulds:
Here are some other photos of the factory. I was actually able to watch some of my Minden orders being cast by Rob and had a nice chat with Martin, the head mould maker.
We spend several hours at Griffin this morning and it was time well spent and was one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Afterwords, we drove back to Coventry and visited the site of the ruin of the Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed during WW2. The site has been turned into a public park of sorts where one can meet friends or sit quietly and contemplate the ruins, which are very haunting and moving.
Next stop, the pub, where Phil introduced me to a proper pint, over which we solved a lot of the world's problems. Apparently I was enjoying the experience:
We went back to Phil's house and his gracious wife Diane joined us for a wonderful dinner in the town of Kenilworth, the restaurant located across the road from Kenilworth Castle, which is still imposing even in ruin.
Returning home, we spent the rest of the evening quaffing a Macallan and giving Phil's collection a closer inspection, and dare I say, solving even more of the world's problems. I want to thank Phil and Diane for being such gracious hosts and welcoming me into their home.
Tomorrow will be a more leisurely day as we wend our way over to Grantham where we will meet up with more of the "A Military Gentleman" forum members and make preparations for our demo game on Saturday.