Part of my holiday reading has been Juan Cole's "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East". As I was reading the chapter describing the march from Alexandria to Cairo I found some first hand descriptions of the local villages. Two passages captured my imagination.
The first passage reads; "...Rahmaniya...a village where the typical dwelling consisted of 'a hut, the walls of which are made of earth or sometimes sun-baked bricks, four feet high. The size is proportional to the family. One can only enter hunched down—one cannot get in standing up straight. Typically there is a pretty structure above, gracefully constructed, serving as home to a great quantity of pigeons.'" This provides the inspiration for some upcoming buildings, although just how I am going to make a building that has only four feet of wall height not look a bit comical I don't yet know.
The second passage reads; “Next to every village in Egypt, there is a date grove, trees of very great revenue (each date tree generates about seven francs per year). These groves are more or less extensive, depending on the population and wealth of the villages. They make for most agreeable scenery." Now this was a simple project for me.
I chose to make my grove about 150 mm square with nine palms. Using a jigsaw I cut an irregular shape from some hardboard. Then I cut a slightly smaller piece, glued them together and put them under a heavy weight until the glue set.
When I removed the weight I found that the two pieces has slipped a little - the result if putting too much glue on the surfaces and not spreading it! The result was that the sheets had come too close in one edge. So to conceal this I chose to put a stack of stones there. So I mixed up some quick set epoxy putty, pressed it around the affected edge an then pressed some small gravel into the putty.
The putty took about five minutes to set then I drilled the holes for all the palms and fixed the first four palms by putting a blob of rapid set epoxy putty under each one and then pressing it tight around the base of the tree.
When this putty was set I applied the first batch of base cover. This had to be done at this point because once all the palms are in place it would be impossible to get a palette knife some of the areas of the base.
Next I added the rest of the palms using the same putty technique as above and when the putty was set, applied the final coat of texture paste.
A coat of sand coloured paint, a wash of thinned down Games Workshop Seraphim Sepia, a light dry brush of white and a few grass tufts and it was done.