Friday, 31 July 2015

Loose End

Game of Thrones has obviously finished, I quite enjoyed it again, every time I think I am about to give up we get some battles, although I have to admit to being a little lost with the timeline, Stanis' army seems to have been wandering the North about the same length of time as the Hebrews in Sinai. I do wonder at times why it gets compared to the Wars of the Roses, obviously by people who know nothing about the WotR. The Walking Dead affects me in the same way, just as I am about to care less whether they get eaten we get some nice carnage, however the new season might at last be a season too many, stuck in Alexandria, constant flash backs, boring. At the moment I am watching "People Just Do Nothing" about a bunch of socially challenged dimwits running a radio station from a room somewhere in London, another mockumentary, but it has its moments. For excitement I am catching up with Daredevil, but I do hope he gets a decent costume before the season ends. After that I have no idea, Episodes has finished, Ordinary Lies has gone so I'll have to Google something.

Kurupt FM
  It's almost the same with books, I have finished Harry Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome series which went out with a bang, he has now moved on, or rather back with his latest series about what happened before WoR. There were a couple of books near the end of the series which were not perfect and I much prefer political infighting and battles than someone mucking about on the edge of Empire. The series has however tempted me back to fiction, albeit historical, so I might give Simon Scarrow a look next. I still have the spy book to read and I got a couple of Andrew Roberts' books on the back of his Napoleon series on BBC2, 'Waterloo' and 'Napoleon the Great'.

I have managed a few movies recently, 'Mad Max' for which Tom Hardy got paid a fortune for speaking seven words, the woman and the mad biker guy were the best things about the film, it had a pretty far fetched story line. The next was Will Smith in 'Focus' a pointless movie if ever I saw one, and it left a bad taste in my mouth as the con's and thievery for the most part was carried out on ordinary people going about their normal business and it wanted you to glory in how clever they were at getting your wallet, phone or credit card. Talking of pointless here is the third 'Spy', there that's all you get. Now, one movie which was panned by both IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes is 'Child 44' and I was reluctant to give it air time, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, Tom Hardy again by the way but acting this time. Communist Russia is one of my abiding interests along with a few others and its depiction here just after the war I found enthralling, maybe I was just in the mood and the wine helped but it entertained me.

I have completed my Franco-Prussian war era maps and although I have a couple of other projects in the pipeline one is only about three maps and the other is not required for several months so I am back to the Romans.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Bolt Action

I got my introduction to Bolt Action last night at the club and overall I enjoyed the experience. I started real wargaming with Charles Grant's book 'Battle' which was WWII, in those days it was all Airfix figures and my armies were a bit like the movies the German stuff was mainly allied but with a grey paint job and black crosses. I remember being particularly impressed by the movie 'Tobruk' with George Peppard, I think that was the first time I had ever seen a half-track and I wanted one. Things very slowly improved and you could eventually get more than that Airfix Tiger, which was the first tank kit I ever built, PzIV's took a while to turn up if I remember correctly. I eventually gave up WWII and turned to medieval armies.

Oh, one more thing, and it makes me smile even today. Having been brought up on Captain Hurricane, Commando Comics and Matt Braddock, who could loop the loop in a Stirling bomber I was perplexed at why the British had to take a morale check. Obviously the Germans, Italians and Japanese along with our allies would run, but the British?

Back to Bolt Action, I was the Germans and Simon was the Russians, Andy would umpire and explain the rules, Simon also had the rulebook while I had gone online and downloaded some QRS's. I think the scenario was one of simple attrition, I had a Panther, a 50mm A/T gun, a mortar, HMG and four squads, the Russians had a similar sort of force but with a T34/85. The great thing about this WWII game for me is that everyone gets to move, you don't know who or when, but you can formulate a proper plan and attempt to carry it out, you won't have a tank crew stop and brew a cuppa for several hours in this game.

My forces.
The dastardly Soviets.
The main feature of the battlefield was a large ruined church in the middle, I decided to go for it and early on brought my HMG and A/T gun on to keep the Russians away, thankfully I managed this before the T34 turned up, my Panther was also put on the same flank, the Russian tank of course then came on on the opposite flank. I won the race to the church but threw some dire dice and one squad panicked and fled, just great. I recovered extremely well and moved the Panther forward to a small rise where it commanded the ground in front of the church, it also managed to catch a Russian squad in the open and annihilated them. Simon then brought his tank forward to support his infantry and this time the dice gods were with me a Panzerschrek team I had rushed forward took a beautiful shot at the T34 and brewed it.

I close down the left flank and advance on the church.
 With the open terrain, me holding the church and his tank gone Simon was suddenly on the back foot, his only A/T forces were a medium gun and an A/T rifle, and we all know how effective that is. At this point we called a German win.

The end game with the unlucky T34.

The rules play fast (once learned of course) and for the purists may over generalise certain aspects, I had read about ranges being a problem but I didn't notice anything wrong with this game. I had expected the rulebook to be better considering the background of the authors, it needs an index and we had a few problems finding what we required, the direct firing of HE was not very clear and examples would have been a huge improvement. I only had the opportunity to look at the book a couple of times so perhaps it is better than my first impression.

We have another game scheduled for a couple of weeks away so I shall watch some more YouTube videos and be more prepared, I am not prepared at the moment to sink £25 into the rulebook to play the odd game with someone else's toys, but, like Muskets and Tomahawks it is on the back burner.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

I Never Learn

I once put a post up on a forum calling attention to a firm which refused to believe I had not received my paid for goods, I proved that they had broken the 'distance selling regulations' and on top of that were simply being bloody minded over the whole affair. It turned out that they had sent the package tracked and signed for but not once checked where the package was or who had signed for it. The upshot of my post was that X was a decent chap and so and so had met him and been overwhelmed by his friendly aura therefore I was a prat and troublemaker, as was anyone who agreed with me.

I put a similar post up on a different forum disagreeing about the amount of terrain a certain set of rules allowed in a Dark Age setting, I also mentioned in passing that most Dark Age and Medieval battles usually had less rather than more terrain on them, a ridge, hill or the occasional stream or marsh. I was again put straight on how wrong and cantankerous I was being.

I looked at a list of Women Warriors and Commanders linked to a post about a female knight in armour, not Joan of Arc I might add, just the usual woman in plate armour featured in most high medieval armies and battles. I looked at the list and apart from a few, most examples were gilding the lily somewhat and stretching the imagination. Only one reply bugged me, the others were articulate and intelligent, one merely said the figure wasn't for me then, no it wasn't and I had thought I had made that abundantly clear, but someone obviously thought I needed a put down.

I stopped myself in time from leaping to the keyboard and taking umbrage, well apart from this piece that is. The trouble of course with the internet is that it is black and white, no one realises you also might have some grey in there as well, that maybe you didn't want your post to run to about the same size as "War and Peace" to cover all the angles.

My blog accepts no liability for the content of this post, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided, unless that information is subsequently confirmed in writing. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disagreeing with me, disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. So there!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Battle of Deorham 577AD

The missus was absent babysitting for No.2 son so I decided to have a break from painting and mapping and have a decent battle instead, I chose one of the battles from my Dark Age scenario book which involved the two armies I can actually field. Deorham involves the forces of the cities of Bath, Gloucester and Cirencester who are attempting to halt a so far victorious Saxon army from moving on Bath. I decided the British armies would have two units apiece, one with average morale and one slightly lower, Bath's king would have a more superior Comitatus, the best troops on the field. The Saxons on the other hand had something similar but their units were much larger and almost all had a leader of some kind, whether it be King Ceawlin, his son Prince Cuthwine, a notable Thegn or a couple of mystical Shamans which meant that overall Saxon morale should be much better, they also had a reserve of mounted Duguth warriors.

The armies array.
The British line.
The Saxon line.
The British had the high ground and were prepared to stand on it in shieldwall and await the assault. Javelins, arrows and slingshot opened the fray but neither side had an advantage and as the main lines approached each other the skirmishers eventually sought safety on the flanks or behind the warriors. Ceawlin decided to hit the weaker British left flank first, hopefully defeat it and then force his cavalry through.
The Saxons advance.

Ceawlin forms shieldwall and regroups.
As the Saxons hit the British left a unit of Prince Cuthwine's, urged forward by a Shaman, broke ranks and charged uphill at the British right. To everyone's surprise the Shaman inflicted a rout on his opposite number, swept them from the field and found himself behind the British lines, at the other end the Welsh fighting for Conmail of Cirencester also ran but managed to outdistance their pursuers. In little over an hour or so (game time) it looked like defeat for the defenders. Left with no choice but to break ranks and test the Saxon centre Farinmail and Condidan of Gloucester attacked.

The Saxons assault the British right.
The Saxon right in melee, the Black Flag flies proudly.
The pendulum had swung again and this time it was Ceawlin who suddenly found himself holding the centre alone, nearby his son had been cut down amongst his companions as the remainder fled. The British were elated and the only thing stopping them sweeping everything in their path was another Shaman fighting under a black banner who was trading body for body with his young Geoguth against the household troops of King Conmail.
Farinmail charges.
Ceawlin backs off.

Saxon counter-attack.

The delay in routing the Black Flag allowed Ceawlin and the first Shaman to bring their troops onto the flanks of the hurriedly re-organising British centre, it looked like the Gods were smiling on the Saxons. The flank attacks failed to bring results and Ceawlin took several wounds during the melee as did King Farinmail. Eventually the Black Flag Saxons broke having lost over three quarters of their men, Ceawlin's hearthguard was also hit in the flank and his remaining warriors closed around his bloodied corpse.

Ceawlin breathes his last.
Elsewhere the Saxons just could not finish off the Welsh and a wild cavalry charge on King Conmail also came to nought with the cavalry suffering horrendous casualties, despite his wound the old King stood like a rock in the front line.

With their King dead and night about to fall the defeated Saxons fled the field, the British being too exhausted to follow. The cities of the South had been saved for another few years, but at a high cost.

This battle was a triumph for both sides, at first I thought the British were going to suffer not having a reserve but their desperate attack in the centre paid off brilliantly, Ceawlin's equally desperate counter-attack did not, but only just failed. The Welsh managing to rally meant the Saxons could not take advantage of pushing them out of the line and the Saxon cavalry just could not get into a good position before the Black Flag unit broke and freed Conmail's depleted infantry. Saxon morale along with some excellent dice worked the way I wanted it to, it did not make winning the game any easier but it did give them extraordinary staying power, which I would expect from an army flush with previous victories and expecting a walk over.

I was very pleased with the resulting game.

View From The WIndow

I am not even going to guess what kind of day is going to turn up, yesterday was very comfortable, a perfect British summers day, disturbed only now and again by threats of rain from groups of dark grey clouds which thankfully did not appear. I think we may be lucky today as well as although the sun has still to wake up the view is very sharp and clear, so much so I can easily see the windmills turning in the distance. A villager I know on his way to church has just stopped across the road and is puzzled by a number of trays loaded with what looks like plastic containers and a large cake tin, balanced precariously on the wall of Washington House. These will take on the significance of 'who really killed JFK' by the time said villager has completed his duties at church, no doubt others will be drawn to the mystery as the day progresses. See, there is someone else who has stopped for a look, but not brave enough to actually touch them.

Have you ever insulted someone, have you ever picked on someone or some group who cheesed you off so badly that you vented your spleen on them, crushed them with your vitriol, no, neither have I, but be careful because the insult threshold has just been lowered once again. A group of British Cosplayers have taken umbrage at being described as possibly a little barmy dressing up as comic superheroes and have become paid up members of the ranks of victimhood declaring that you should not have an opinion, sorry judgement, on what they do unless you are in complete agreement with them. You don't even need to actually insult anyone either, if someone else deems that what you do or say may constitute an insult to someone, you have had it mate. We have the ridiculous instance of Drag Queens being banned from a Gay Pride march in case Transgender people might find it insulting, no, I can't work it out either.

British Cosplayers the American variety are way different.
 Along the same lines what about apologies, my ancestors were poor farm labourers probably working eighteen hours a day for the landed gentry but Tony Blair apologised on their behalf for the slave trade, and the fact they almost certainly had their hand in the Irish Potato Famine. They also would have been pleased that their ancestors, Catholics way back in the 13th century, can rest easy that the Pope apologised for their part in the sack of Constantinople in 1204AD. It would seem we Anderson's upset a lot of people, mea culpa.

Constantinople 1204, second from the right, he looks familiar.
 I am thinking hard about something I can be upbeat about, but this last week has been particularly galling, I'm sorry but what about John Bercow the absurd Speaker of the House, claiming £170 for a journey which would have cost the taxpayer £7.10 by taxi. But he hasn't broken the rules shouts his office, then change the bloody rules! You must have heard the one when someone hit his car and he got out and said "I'm not happy" and the retort was "Then you must be Grumpy."

I think I can now put my holiday illness behind me and declare myself hale and hearty again, I am still not sure about my arm, it is not 100% better by any means and I had to pull out a bit of the stitching the nurse left behind the other day. Needless to say the wall has not been repaired and the deadline has now passed, the firm have at last told me to go ahead and get it fixed and the money will be deducted from the drivers wages, forgive me if I remain sceptical.

On the bright side No.1 son is returning to the UK from Korea and he will be based in Wembley, so he will have a house somewhere in the commuter belt within shooting distance of London, that means about an hour and a bit in a car according to Google, although I have an idea real life traffic will lengthen that. This should allow me attend several wargame related shows and tournaments during the coming years, result.

I was given a crate of differing ciders recently and had one left so I cooked a chicken dish from the Legatus's food and drink blog, it was superb, I would thoroughly recommend this simple but delicious dish if you enjoy cooking, go on spoil yourself and amaze the girlfriend/missus.
We had potatoes and broccoli.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Salve Vetaranos

I have once again managed to finish a unit in two weeks, this will be my third and the first infantry of my legionary core. These are veterans so I gave them a fancy coloured shield, I am going for red shields for my two line cohorts, the tunics I have painted a colour called Burnt Red and I like it, I had an idea of using proper red for the rest but I might stick with slight variations of this colour, the others are Black Red and Hull Red. At the moment the Praetorians are going to be white or blue.

 The next unit on the tray is not the most exciting in the army, slingers, the reason I have gone for the slingers is that I still need twelve Saxon slingers doing so they are all going to be done in one fell swoop, easily managed in two weeks. After that perhaps another cohort before some cavalry, slower this time as I have a few things coming up in August.

Romans and Saxons

I still have worries about those bendy standards, I have hit the one belonging to the veterans several times now, I might have to look at doing some drastic surgery on the others to make them sturdier.

I won't be continuing to paint over the weekend as I have decided to do a refight of the Battle of Deorham from my Dark Age scenario book and I also have a new map project to be getting on with. I have eight maps relating to the campaigns of Moltke the elder to draw for a new book by Quintin Barry.

Alsace Lorraine 1870

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


I was unsure what was happening at the club and how many were turning up last night, Stuart offered several suggestions and a try at the new GW Warhammer "Age of Sigmar" was top of the list, however true to form Stuart took delivery of the new "Frostgrave" rules from Osprey and brought them along instead.

"Frostgrave" is about battling wizards carrying out quests in a city destroyed by ice, nominally for two people but we managed four quite comfortably. We each had to build a squad of adventurers around a wizard and his apprentice, the wizard had to choose from a certain path, which gave him certain spells and then he could take so many spells from other magical paths to boost these. I took along a thief, tracker, soldier, crossbowman, man-at-arms and a thug (almost the same guys I have a drink with on a Wednesday), the others took similar groups. Our aim was to traverse the frozen wastes find some treasure and escape with it, skeletons were roaming the area and turning up as if by magic from a tower in the centre of the play area, just where most of the treasure was lying.

At first we all concentrated on killing the skeletons and picking up the easy treasures, then we headed for the tower and before long we were involved in skirmishes with the other wizards. We must have been the worst Wizards in the realm and should have taken refresher classes at Hogwarts, you have to make a certain die roll for each spell and if you fail you can end up hurting yourself as the spell fizzles and disappears. I think we had several Wizards down to half strength due to their incompetence, but now and again there was a spectacular puff of smoke, a rent in the universe or mysterious runes turning up, we never did find out what the runes did as it was deemed prudent not to go near them. Although I had lost the soldier I did manage to get most treasure markers so was declared the winner.

It was a night for fantasy as seven other guys were playing a long running D&D campaign next to us. I have to admit I would rather play Sci-Fi than fantasy but it is one of the advantages of the club that you can try out something new every now and again before you decide whether to invest or not. My introduction to Muskets and Tomahawks being a case in point although I won't be getting my own figures until I fulfil my needs vis-a-vis my ancient armies.

I did read a bit of fantasy a long time ago and started with a guy called Thongor of Lemuria, I have never forgotten that after a long day of slaying palace guards, evil familiars and picking up the odd crown to eventually rule an empire he liked nothing better than to quaff flagons of ale while eating roast Bophur haunch and chips, OK I made the chip bit up. Then of course there was Conan and another character called Tarl Cabot who lived in or on Gor and got around on the back of big birds, after those that was pretty much it for me and I turned to Sven Hassel. I am talking 70's here remember.

Next week Andy is introducing me to Bolt Action, I have watched some of the YouTube videos and am looking forward to giving this a try, I realise there is a bit of contention over the ranges but at least everyone gets to move at some point and you know I don't like the other WWII game. Although I do not like CoC I follow two excellent blogs which do, so pop over to Wargames Table and Tiny Hordes and give them a look.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

View From The Window

It is not promising, there has been some rain during the night and a slight dampness is showing on the pavements and road, the view is fine but as usual it shows that that wind is still there and it is a cool wind which is spoiling any chance of enjoying whatever heat does turn up. Oh wait, there is the rain!

Washington House is now empty as the old lady has had to go into care and up until recently the missus was popping over to feed the cat, someone else has now taken up that job, I suspect the place will be up for sale at some point in the near future and it will cost a fortune. Only slightly for the historical significance, but you know estate agents they will work that one, but it is a large house with a garage and a fair sized garden, there are a lot of big gardens in Warton but not many garages, especially on Main Street. The other house has still not sold, in fact I have not even seen any visitors.

One of the nicest houses in the village, a beautiful big Georgian place in its own grounds, was taken from a drugs dealer, he hit on the idea of making pills which only had a very small amount of drugs in them and flooding the market. Not the cleverest of moves and of course he was caught and the house confiscated.

I don't know if the Sports Day went without a hitch as I had to attend a dance show in which my granddaughter was performing, it was certainly a better day here than in Northumberland when I left. You know how miserable I can be but there is something uplifting watching those kids, from three years old up dancing their hearts out, they work extremely hard to put the show on and it has been a resounding success for the two years I have attended.

I am not a great dancer, in fact like most people I just get up and move bits of me around on the spot, now once I reach a certain level of alcohol that changes, I am certain at that point I could audition for Footloose and give Kevin Bacon a run for his money. I do my trademark Twist, the one where I can almost reach the floor and get back up again, not sure how much longer that will last, I also have a move where I dance past my partner and turn on the spot, cool eh? All this to clarion calls of praise like "who let the old guy in?" Every time I wake up after such a night I promise myself to act with more decorum next time, but I never learn.

I tried learning the guitar at one point, this time I wanted to be Chuck Berry, not Kevin. My son who can play Berry, amongst others has a beautiful, expensive Gretsch here and I thought I would learn to play and surprise him, bang out some Buddy Holly or Eddie Cochrane, how hard could it be? Well it is bloody hard, I got cramp just learning to hold the thing, the ends of my fingers were cut to ribbons by the strings and I realised there was going to be no rock'n'roll jams for a long time. After a couple of months Graham turned up, he played some stuff for his mum, a loyal fan, and then I asked him if he knew ...... Freight Train! I took the guitar in a flourish and nailed it. Well that's how I remember it, it wasn't as seamless as it should have been granted and I made a rod for my own back as now, whenever a guitar pops up at an Anderson gathering there are shouts of "Geez Freight Train old yin" ha ha.

I took the missus for lunch into Morecambe last week, a place we usually stay clear of as its heyday has long since passed, but it has a decent if uninspiring Chinese restaurant we like. I noticed as we later strolled in the sunlight with our ice creams that nearly every third shop was selling mobility scooters, there were hundreds of them. By sheer coincidence I watched a documentary on scooters on BBC iPlayer and like many I am appalled that there are so many available in the UK (300,000 at the last count), usually free gratis compliments of the taxpayer, me in other words. Obviously there are some people who require these machines for quality of life, no problem there, but now it would seem if you have eaten yourself to the size of a No9 bus and can't be bothered to walk or are unable to you can get a scooter on benefits. Surely what these people need is the incentive to walk off the weight, not to be able get around at the flick of their wrist. You can also get one if you have never driven anything before, are half blind or losing your mind, there is no test for your competence, you do not even need to insure it against running a pedestrian down, also if you get the one which trundles along at 8mph you can also inconvenience real drivers by going on the road! Believe it or not you can also hire these things for the day if you feel you cannot trust your legs to get you to the next McDonalds or Subway.

On the subject of ice-creams have I missed something, is there a shortage of ice-cream and it is now a luxury item? In Italy I got ripped off nineteen euros for two, in Morecambe it cost £3.98 for two small cones and last night at the show it was £4.50 for two small tubs, and they spout these prices as if it is the most natural thing in the world and you have money to burn, of course I have I am buying ice-cream.

Now this is how to play a guitar ......... hit it!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Lead Mountain II: Where do I hide this stuff.

It would seem I was a tad harsh on ParcelFarce, I received the latest and last (?) part of the Romans before lunch yesterday. It seems very daunting as I look at the pile of lead, thirty-six cavalry are amongst that lot and not the easy all armoured stuff, this time they are all horse. I have one possibly contentious unit amongst them, Contarii, they were in the army but it is hard to tie them down precisely. It is the type of unit that that one guy, the one with the Iron Maiden T-shirt, who is the size of a bus, who smells and knocks everything over with his backpack at shows,  just loves to point out shouldn't be in your army for at least another six months historically. No matter, they were in the army, look cool and Aventine sell them, job done.

And why am I posting at 0500 hrs, can't sleep, too much wine and cheese last night, home alone.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Auxiliary Archers, Sorted!

Not speed painting by any means but it has taken about two weeks to finish the second unit of the Roman army, eastern Auxiliary Archers. Aventine's eastern archers do not have the usual long skirt associated with this troop type, in my research for colours I did notice a few reconstructions which did not have the long skirt so I bow to their superior knowledge. I also added a number of western archers into the mix whose only difference is their headgear, possibly new recruits or just using up supplies from the armoury, I am of the opinion the Romans were mainly uniform, especially at this point in time, but there would have been differences here and there as new armour and helmet designs made it to the front line troops, or new recruits would have been kitted out in the latest gear.

Then of course we get to the whole can of worms on tunic colours, I am still unsure what to use for my main cohorts, but archers in most illustrations seem to have been green so I went with green, three different shades but green nonetheless. I also decided to give their centurion a green cloak in order to pick him out easier on the battlefield. These guys can form up as a solid unit or skirmish if need be, a handy skill on the WAC battlefield and one I intend to exploit in the future.

I now have my first cohort on the paint tray, veteran legionaries, I had planned to do more Auxiliaries but ran out of metal spears. I don't know about you but I much prefer the wire spears which do not bend and on occasion stab you in the finger. This will be the first army I have ever had which will rely on the manufacturers products for weapons and standards, the legionaries require pilum not spears and the standards are gorgeous and I have no skills to replicate them in any other way, so I shall simply have to be uber careful when using these guys, I cannot have even one bendy pilum in the army!

The rest of the figures for the army are set to arrive today, but as the carrier is ParcelFarce my expectation is pretty low, 48 hours in their language usually means double that, am I being unfair or my usual glass half empty self, no, don't forget I own a Post Office and have personal experience of this particular depot (shhhhh it's in Preston).

Varnish, not again you say, but yes. I have chucked out the Army Painter brush on and went back to my old staple, Winsor and Newton, for some reason when I put it on it kind of foams, like that stuff modern chefs put on a dish, like frog spit, but tasting of cauliflower or mushroom or whatever. Also a word of warning if you did take my advice and go for the Tamiya X19, let your guys dry for a good 24 hours at least before putting it on, it did take a little paint off my troops (cloaks, quivers) as I put it on the armour when they were nearly complete and not dry enough, on armour only it is no problem. I really must learn patience, my own fault.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

"Biffo's" Bought It!

Having a rather large collection of aircraft for Wings of War, now Glory of course, I thought it was about time I got the chaps up in the air so put on a show for the blokes at the club, why have I suddenly regressed to 1918 speak or what passes for a poor imitation of it.

We played out my 'Camera' scenario, a recce plane has come down in no man's land and the pilot expired on impact, the photographs are important and need to be retrieved so a rescue mission is organised, in this game it consisted of three Scouts and a two seater. Things were slightly complicated in that the observer of the downed aircraft had to free the camera which had been damaged in the crash (a D6 told how many turns this would take) so that it could be got to safety.

In our first game it was a German spotter, a Rumpler CIV which had crashed and the rescuers turned up with two Fokker DVIII's (Stuart) a DVII and a Halberstadt CLII (Andy), a very deadly group. The British had two SE5a's (Simon) and two Sopwith Camels (me), they also managed to arrive on turn one, and as the Rumpler had sustained a lot of damage on landing the poor observer had his work cut out to free the camera (six turns). This was a quick game as my two Camels blew up in mid air within minutes of each other, however the German elation was short lived as the SE5's ignored the enemy Scouts and concentrated on the downed aircraft, within a few turns the Rumpler was in flames and had to be abandoned by the observer as the film went up in smoke, still stuck to the fuselage.

The incredible ground battle.
We reversed roles for the second game, the British lost one of their Camel's and received a DH4 as the rescue aircraft, the Germans kept their line up as the Halberstadt was every bit as manouverable as the others, well nearly, and it had a rear gun. The downed aircraft this time was a French Breguet 14 and had sustained very little damage in the crash, the camera would soon be released (three turns). This time it was the Germans' turn to be astonished as one of the DVIII's went up in smoke, I decided to land the DH4 right away and proceeded down to ground level. The DVII from Jasta 18 led the SE5's a merry dance and they quickly forgot about the mission and concentrated on their own deadly duel. It was at this stage that Andy took us all by surprise and landed the Halberstadt next to the Breguet and a ground battle ensued between the observer on the Breguet, my observer in the rear of the DH4 and the German rear gunner. Stuart's DVIII added to the mayhem on occasion strafing the DH4 and my Camel waited on the periphery. Andy got the worst of the firefight and decided to take off again, he managed it by the skin of his teeth, meanwhile we got the camera into a shot up DH4 and also took to the skies, this time with a badly wounded observer and a dodgy engine, the plane could take no extra weight and Frenchie was left behind. Things got worse, just as the DH4 got airborne she had her rudders shot to bits and could now only fly straight and slow, towards the German lines! I landed her again and brought the Camel down for the camera, the crew then burned their kite and waited for the Boche. The Camel took off and made a turn for the British lines. I think by this stage the DVII had gone for a burton and I was surprised that the DVIII was not coming after me, it later transpired that it too had rudder damage and would take forever to get on my tail. At this point we declared a narrow win for the British.

Deadly duel.
A very exciting second game with some unexpected results, the DVIII exploding, Andy landing and then the DH4 becoming useless. In both games Andy suffered from having useless armourers back at base as his guns jammed more frequently than the rest of us. For myself I was a tad miffed at losing both Camels almost at the beginning of game one, I was allowed to get one back so that I could participate but I didn't do much in game one. I only managed to get some pictures of game two and in the excitement almost missed them as well.

I was pleased at getting the game out again and am working on doing some ACW before the summer is out as they too haven't been on the field of glory in an age.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Roman Army Museum

I first visited the grandly titled Roman Army Museum on Hadrian's Wall when my sons were children, I found out that recently it had had a facelift and of course the PR people had done their job and praise was heaped on the place, it now had a 3D film! Who could resist such technology these days, so off I went, I would normally have sat around doing nothing (for this read wargame stuff) all day but decided to live dangerously, besides the Batmobile needed a good run out after sitting idle during the holidays. Needless to say I did not manage to get the top down as it rained all day.

I was not disappointed in my expectations, which is one way of saying I expected disappointment and got it. The revamped museum has only had some interior designers in and moved some of the exhibits and walls around, if you don't watch the 3D movie it would take you around 45 minutes to wander through it. It quickly becomes obvious that the whole place is aimed at children and people who have no clue and only a passing interest, say 24 hours, in what the Roman Army was. Four hundred years of Roman occupation and you get a brief overview of an early Imperial Legion, for the life of me I can't say for sure if they even mentioned the names of the Legions which actually stayed here.

Hadrian's Wall is magnificent and some of the sites along it are worth any amount of your time to see, if you have your kids with you then by all means buy a ticket which let's you into the really interesting sites as well as the Army Museum, you can have your picnic in the grounds if it is not raining. But if you know anything at all about the Roman Army you can safely miss this attraction.

The only thing which did interest me was a crest which had been dug up at Vindolanda, a poor show for half a day's campaigning. I was also very fortunate to find a space in the very small free car park, otherwise the local council wanted £4! This is why I am loathe to go all the way south and visit the Richard III centre in Leicester I just know my expectations would be dashed on the rocks of mediocrity.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

View from the Window

Remember last week I said the Lancashire heatwave would arrive in the afternoon, well it didn't, but the rain did. This morning it is damp, the rain turned up during the night, it is grey and showing no signs of brightening up so no doubt more on the way. I can't see Ingleborough or the windmills, I can see that there is a fairly strong wind as the flags hanging outside the window and along most of the buildings are fluttering. I say flags, they are actually triangular pieces of tea towels, bed sheets, curtains etc. with the odd pair of knickers and bra inserted for comedic licence.

Why flags? Well it is the village Childrens Sports Day next Saturday and we are wearing our Sunday best. I usually make an effort and go along to show my face as an upstanding member of the community and to schmooze, both of which have had no effect on my customer base so far. The Sports Day was revived years ago and has been on the verge of disappearing like a lot of things, bus services and library for instance, but manages to survive due to the unstinting work of a small number of people who refuse to give in to apathy. I helped out one year in a proper heatwave at the coconut stall, despite my lads being grown men and nowhere near the village, the organisers thought I had also volunteered the missus, and I was left to do a two man/woman job alone in blistering heat. I ended up so done in I started elbowing the bloody things off the sticks and giving them away just to end my torture. It was a very popular sideshow for about half an hour.

I am not good with over exertion and heat, not so bad when I was a young gazelle on the borders of Empire, eyeball to eyeball with the Yellow Peril in the Malacca Straits but as I got older the less tolerance I had. I took part in my third American Civil War re-enactment at Spring Hill in Tennessee and my outfit decided to forgo tents for extra realism and campaign like men, so we slept under gum blankets on straw. Normally that would have been fine as the weather was pretty warm, but on the first night we got torrential rain, I pretty much did not sleep at all, only people in tents did. After a gruelling days fighting and marching we retired, but decided to put up a small tent for three of us, it was a pretty tight squeeze and I snore like a bear. The snoring pretty much didn't matter as the rain came back and soaked the tent so much that if you touched the canvas the rain simply latched on to you through the canvas. At some point in the early hours we abandoned ship and went and slept in the car, well I did, no doubt my companions were wishing they had left me in the tent. The next day I went through more mud and bullets but I could not take part in the finale, I chickened out, I had had enough and joined a growing number of deserters back at the camp. When my comrades dropped me at my hotel in Nashville and before I took a well earned shower I looked at myself and it was if I had just been through a mugging, I was black and blue all over from the musket straps, the haversack and other bits and pieces I had been carrying. Despite this all three adventures were fantastic experiences which I am glad I took part in.

I am on the left.

 Would you buy or do you have a personalised number plate? One of the guys who is always in the pub of a Wednesday afternoon mentioned he had a number plate which would just suit me and especially the Batmobile "GEO 8X". I have a small number of possessions which give me more joy than others and I see as 'mine' rather than 'ours', not including the troops of course, and the Batmobile is one of them, when I bought it I was at one of life's crossroads, if I don't get this car now I may as well get a people carrier and be done with it. Needless to say I did not get the people carrier. Reckless as I can be however I refuse to pay £1,000 for a number plate, so I am changing my name to PE57 WUU! Come on, you gotta laugh.

Some time last week someone hacked my sons game account on Steam and began to play the games as him, this allowed him to take advantage of around £400 of games and of course my sons carefully built up characters and experience. However this was not enough for our socially-challenged wizard, he also found my sons business website and proceeded to destroy it. This is the type of person who used to pass phone boxes in the old days throw away the telephone book and then proceed to rip the phone from the wall, or is of the same mentality as the morons in the village who regularly break in to our one public toilet and steal the supplies of toilet roll, cleaner and hand towels while destroying anything else which does not take their fancy. The worst thing I ever done was knock on a door and leg it, and after being chased and caught one night suddenly lost my enthusiasm for pranks. A tad harsh perhaps but anyone caught hacking or cyber bullying for me goes up against the wall.

Ah, the wall I hear you ask. I had the threatening letter actually in the mailbag only to have the firm come back to me at the eleventh hour and promise to send a guy to fix the wall. Sadly I am obliged to let them try, I have however given them a date and warned that if it is not up to standard I will get the guy I want to fix it. What a bleeding carry on.