Mother’s Day 2023

Burning the Toast – a National Breakfast Ritual on Mother’s Day.

This is a Land Of Counterpane style Mother’s Day card that I drew a few years ago in 2016 to send to my Mum, on what proved to be her last Mother’s Day.

The toy soldier motif throughout the card links to some of the home cast toy soldiers I had made and painted for her collections cabinet full mostly of bears and tiny Lilliput Lane buildings. Hopefully she understood the whole collecting thing.

My Man Of TIN avatar or profile figure salutes some other Prince August 54mm homecast figures made and painted by me for my Mum’s display cabinet, along with a silicon cake decoration mould Fimo Royal Guard bear that I made and painted for her. Maybe more in theme with her collection of bears?

Quite often on blog posts for Father’s Day or at other times, many gamers and bloggers talk about the contribution played by their Dads to their gaming hobby.

I wonder what we would write on the same topic about our Mum’s contribution to our gaming lives?

Besides the obvious contribution of keeping us fed and watered, alive and well, washed and clothed, my late Mum encouraged my gaming hobby in lots of different ways.

Andy Callan’s Hair Roller Armies claimed some of her stock of spare or damaged plastic hair rollers in 1982, her hair rollers still being in regular use as a trained hairdresser throughout much of her life.

The knitted Action Man jumpers and leggings, welcome at the time, are all now sadly gone.

The dark green baize felt underlay on the dinner table which was supposedly to protect the wood. It was also excellent as a games mat with chunky books below for hills, but all due back in place at mealtimes. Short gaming scenarios were obviously the thing!

The mud and muck of garden wargaming, crawling around on hands and knees must have taken its toll on the knees and elbows of our clothes, as well as the washing machine.

I was usually a careful painter, without too many painty accidents on furniture or clothes.

My Mum was fairly good at tolerating the amount of dusty stuff that you accumulate or make as a young gamer, although you did learn to tidy up and stow away to counter the threat of the uncaring Hoover. Hopefully not too many of my tiny Airfix heroes ended up emtombed in a Hoover dust bag. The same Flymo lawnmower rule applied to untidy garden wargames.

One of the best storage items that I gained from my Mum’s time working in a haberdashery department (naturally, being an excellent knitter) was a surplus display storage cabinet for sewing threads or cotton reels, very like this one below but in plastic.

Imagine a clear plastic version of this wooden cabinet, whichever brand it was. This was my childhood storage for many of my ‘heroic’ Airfix, Matchbox and Esci 1:72 / 1:76 figures and probably some of the smaller vehicles that I had.

Heavy plastic as this cabinet was, it solved the problem of having to sort through many mixed up figures before a game.

I remember this clunky but useful cabinet as I sort through some of those same loose painted or unpainted figures in my Really Useful Boxes today. It is probably why so many of these childhood figures survived.

Being see-through plastic, no labels were required, as you could see what figures were there in each of its narrow storage sections on each drawer. However I think I may later have borrowed one of those Dymo handheld signmaking labelling printer devices to label the shelves.


My Mum had an eye for a bargain and she enjoyed shopping and making up birthday boxes or rainy day surprise parcels for her overgrown children like me and for the genuinely younger members of the family. I still have unmade for a rainy day the odd Airfix plane kit that she found at knockdown prices.

I’m sure we can all list some of the excellent and inspiring books we borrowed from the Branch Library on regular shopping trips or those odd soldier books we received for Birthdays or Christmas. Not sure if it was my Dad or Mum who bought these, but as books seemed very expensive in my pocket money eyes back then in the 70s and 80s, I still have many of them to this day.

Even though our collections did not overlap, I did occasionally very carefully borrow her painted resin / plaster cast buildings by Lilliput Lane (another UK company now sadly gone). After she died, I kept two of my favourite or most versatile of her Lilliput Lane cottages or buildings, whilst the others were sold for a good charitable cause.

I’m sure to my late Mum and Dad, there was some value to me having an indoor hobby such as model making or wargaming. They knew that I was busy at home, warm and safe, albeit probably slightly high on paint and model glue and with occasionally lacerated fingers. Instead of which I could have been out of the house, out on my bike and up to mischief …


I’m sure there are many other things that will come to me over time about how my Mum and my Dad encouraged my gaming and modelmaking.

Anyway, thanks Mum and Dad.

So, treasure your Mum if you still have one or treasure her memory if you don’t.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, Mother’s Day UK, 19 March 2023.


18 thoughts on “Mother’s Day 2023”

    1. Sorry to hear this. I have found that quietly observing or marking this even after your Mum has passed is an important way of dealing with the change. But each to his own circumstances, what helps one doesn’t always help another. My Dad’s birthday \ Father’s Day is always another point of reflection and sometimes shiny toys, as I started collecting lead soldiers for him.

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  1. A wonderful post that has brought back a lot of fond memories and brought a tear to my eye. Almost four years since I lost my Mum….feels like yesterday. Thanks Mark.


  2. Lovely post! I suspect our parents ( especially mothers ) needed a lot of patience once messy and evil-smelling paints and glues were in use, and toy soldiers, tanks etc started occupying floor areas and tables. I particularly remember when aged about 11, Airfix WW2 armies occupying most of my bedroom floor for days on end as 3 or four friends fought large-scale battles, loosely based on Charles Grant’s rules, during school holidays – that must have been a trial for my house-proud Mum!


    1. I don’t think I ever got away with that ‘lay out’ for long in the house. The garden was another matter …
      At least your parents knew where you were, who you were with and what you were (or weren’t) up too. A wonderful memory to think back on.
      Few rulesets I now come across seem to capture or recreate the freedom, rulebending, invention and cinematic excitement of those early games.


  3. Mother’s Day is a day where l remember my daughters’ mum more than mine and try and support them through the day .
    My mother tolerated my toy soldiers as well as playing Subuteo cricket with me. She created the first imagination for me called “Blue Bay” where a blue towel spread on the table was water and rice or fish dressing was something for my diggers and truck to move around. The corgi water skier set sailed on the blue towel sea.


    1. Thanks Alan. I wondered how you handled Mother’s Day as this is a difficult day once a Mother has passed away at any age.
      It is for me a small chance to celebrate the Mums now in the family, and share memories of my dear old Mum.
      An unusual shared interest in cricket, an interest with TMS that obviously still persists. We had Subbuteo Cricket and the tube of two Howzat dice (still have these), along with Subbuteo rugby? I had some time for the football game and played / toyed with spare Subbuteo figures in place of the early issues Miniature Wargames tribal fighting game of figures on beer bottle tops. A sort of shive happenny. If not in sporting use, our Subbuteo pitch cloth did fair service as a gaming mat upside down. I believe the original box of Subbuteo recommended marking up an army surplus blanket with (dressmakers / tailors?) chalk?
      A great early memory of games with your Mum. Have you considered reviving a version of your first ImagiNation of Blue Bay somewhere in Tradgardland or its coastal colonies? It’s proper powerful and memorable Wellsian Floor Games, Bronte Glasstown or RLS Land Of Counterpane stuff. Boats, diggers, water skiers – it sounds a little like what I created with the Weebles (another Airfix part of my early 70s childhood) before Star Wars took over c. 1977/78. Still have them boxed up safe, having survived a second or third generation of children …


  4. My dad bought the odd Almark book home for me as a surprise, particularly memorable was the ACW volume. He also bought me Military Modelling regularly, bringing it home from the West End John Menzies near where he worked.


    1. Snap! I too had some odd obscure Almark style titles from my Dad as a surprise for birthday or Christmas, such as the uniform booklet “Jäger and Schützen: dress and distinctions 1910-1914, a Paperback by Bellona / Argus 1977 with a few interesting colour plates, written by H. Kinna. I still have this, it was almost useful for WW1 Airfix pickelhaub figures and early WW1.
      My Dad also brought home Military Modelling and then later Miniature Wargames as well from the early to late 1980s. I suspect he bought them at the station newsagents and enjoyed a read of the history articles on the way home and maybe even the updates on new military equipment and vehicles, as he had served / trained as a Craftsman (or Private) in the REME during his National Service 20 years before.


  5. The other Almark book l still have from those days is the volume about German uniforms of the First World War . I really liked the pages of dress and field uniformed figures. They were done in that slightly squashed looking figure style, if you know what I mean.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if my Dad read Military Modelling on the train home as John Menzies was was just across the road from the Caley Station where he got the train from or just near the office car park in latter years.

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  6. MoT, as usual an intriguing and thoughtful post. Quite simply my mum built my airfix models on her ironing board. And given I had to peek over the edge looking up I must have been very young! So my early memories are of the redbarons triplane, acw figures painted complete with fine yellow stripes on the union trousers. Alongside were airfix rail kits – for me the very memorable cement wagon, signal box, station etc. so long before I discovered wargaming my mum introduced me to models and model making – then it was not a big step into gaming those models I had amassed, when I discovered rulebooks at the local library. It was only in later years I realised the very early connection when my mum talked about making the kits because I was too young to do them.


  7. Thank you for bringing back the memories of the Christmas stocking Airfix gifts, the encouragement and love I had that was so generously given.


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