Monday, 22 May 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 5

As we approached Simonstown on the 22nd May we fired a 21 gun national salute followed by a 15 gun to the resident South African admiral, we were alongside the small naval harbour by about 0930. The weather was glorious and as many of the crew got ashore as possible as we were going to spend a long time on patrol after this particular stop. The communications centre ashore took over our signal traffic so only a few RO's were required as duty watch so as many of us as could went ashore.

First stop ashore.

 Aparthied ruled the day back then of course and I found it very strange that there was two of everything depending on your colour, we had one black lad in the crew, a stoker, and he was not allowed to wear uniform ashore, which even back then as young as I was I thought was not right, he was British and serving in the Royal Navy, why should he not wear his uniform, but it was impossible. Whenever a ship docked at a port there was usually a waiting list of invitations to party's, trips, dances etc. which, if there was a lot a notice went up and you put your name down for what you fancied. Because our young stoker was the only black bloke he had his pick of the crop when the invites turned up from the local black and coloured communities, he had a large smile on his face when we left.

On my first run ashore with the help of some mates I sneaked in an all night leave pass, something you were not entitled to until you were eighteen. Our first stop was a South African naval bar where we chatted with an old salt who was happy to get the beer in, then it was the train and off to Cape Town. Some of us had already been to local shops and stocked up on Cape Brandy for the half hour or so rail journey, I can remember several being completely legless by the time we got to Capetown, god knows what happened to them for the rest of the day, at least two RO's were among the casualties, 'Taff' Anstey and 'Lil' New I think. We headed off to the main drag and commenced a pub crawl downing pints of Castle lager, we were welcomed and spoke to by many of the locals. We got split up somewhere and some of we younger guys got lost, a dishevelled old guy promised us that if we followed him he would take us to a club or some such, all he seemed to be doing was taking us further and further from the bright lights, my sense of self preservation kicked in and I insisted we leave him and head back to safety.


At some point we ended up in a very large club where most of the crew had washed up, we found the rest of the lads and settled down in the dark, smoky atmosphere to listen to music and drink, always hoping against hope to 'trap', navy slang for charming a young woman. Later all hell kicked off, a fight started and grew as more and more people joined it, not I of course, I grabbed a nearby waiter or some such employee and told him to get the manager quick only to be informed that the gentleman 'Lofty' had by the throat was the manager. The South African police arrived and they are not the kind of people who will pleasantly inform you of their presence by "'ello, 'ello what 'ave we ere then", batons flew and people were rough handled out and into the back of Land Rovers. I managed to escape all of it, made the station and boarded one of the last trains back to Simonstown sleeping all the way.

The next morning I was hauled up for forging my leave pass, I had enough presence of mind to inform the Radio Supervisor Bart Bartlett that it was his signature on the bottom and that he should have noticed and amended the times, not wanting to make a mountain out of a molehill Bart let it slide but my next all night leave would be in December when I was eighteen, or it might have been seventeen and a half.

I had one more run ashore and it was not as eventful as the first, we got off at the wrong stop on the way to Cape Town and as we left the station we began to be surrounded by a large number of people who seemed to live around the station, they didn't look too welcoming. Lucky for us one white guy in a navy uniform had also got off the train, barked something at the locals and they disappeared back into the shadows. After this we were invited for a cup of tea by a couple of old dears while waiting for a bus, they reminded me of Hinge and Bracket the singing duo, I think we all harboured thoughts of a nubile young niece or two on the premises but we were mistaken. This time of course I had to be back by midnight so the run ashore was rather tame compared to fight night.

We stayed alongside in Simonstown for about a week then sailed to take up station off Mozambique to begin our Beira Patrol for six weeks which was supposed to help bring down Ian Smith's government in Rhodesia.

Roll on Phalanx

What a long day yesterday was, it never seemed to end and I was reduced to playing DOW III on several occasions, I did however manage to finish a terrain tile I was working on, a shattered house. I have again done it on the cheap and used what I had lying around, some red brick debris, left over parts from previous Charlie Foxtrot builds and what was left of my Warlord walls. I also looked again at the buildings I had and weathered them a bit more. I will endeavour to get them all set up and a game sorted perhaps on Thursday to see how they all go together, I am staying with the village/countryside look rather than a large town despite having seen some lovely layouts of the latter. I do still want maybe one more house and a church.



I dug through my lead mountain tin yesterday and pulled out several figures which can be added to my forces, some officers, sappers, generals etc. maybe about twenty at the most, so these will be on standby. I also aim to go back to my WWII stuff this week and possibly tart it up or repair some scratches etc then it is more varnish, the excellent Tamiya matt spray which I have just bought.

Phalanx in St. Helens is next month and this show has always been good but it is becoming more popular with traders and grows every year, I am looking forward to it, perhaps I will get that church, some new dice and inspiration. I do hope however that the excellent standard of wargames on show does not deteriorate as more traders move in as this would be a shame. I do have two gripes about the show, one involves the parking which is only just adequate now and will only get worse as the show becomes more popular, the other is the lighting. I have heard people complain about lighting at Salute but last year at Phalanx on walking into the hall I actually thought something had happened to my glasses and that perhaps I still had my driving shades on, it hits you that forcefully.

Right, I have run over time and need to get on with maps, I am back to the trenches this morning with Vietnam in the wings.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

View From The Window

Well, it's not raining and not a breath of wind although it is dull, one of the village cats slinks along the wall en route to cause destruction in an area not its owners. Two old women have died in the last week or so in the village, Winnie had served in the RN during the war and had flown in a Swordfish torpedo bomber at one point, the other reminded me of the Miss Marple actress Joan Rutherford, Ann had a tendency to pick mad dogs from Rescue which must have been a nightmare for her. I always remember one which, when she parked up to come into the Post Office simply went stir crazy in the back of the car and made more noise than a banshee. Two nice old dears.

I registered for the BBC iPlayer yesterday, the service is not going to be free in the near future so you have to have a licence and you have to register to use it, you have about four regular questions then comes the one which causes you to stop dead in your tracks, are you male, female or other? Personally I am annoyed at this but as I belong to a silent majority I can be safely ignored, what has it got to do with watching a television programme and when will these gender fascists give up and admit there are only two genders, male and female. What chance has the human race got in the future when after all our progress we have got to a stage where we are unsure what or who we are? Don't for a moment think this nonsense will not impact you, my seven year old granddaughter is now being forced to read a text book entitled "Bill's New Frock" lest she grow up to be intolerant of people who believe they are neither male nor female. There cannot be any Moslem's at her school because if there were this would never even have been discussed as being a believer of Allah trumps even gender politics.


On the subject of the believers I see that the UNHCR have taken leave of their senses and proclaimed Saudi Arabia, a country where of course women can be executed for adultery and cannot drive a car amongst other lunacies, are in charge of what passes for the department of equality for women. First the EU then the UN?

I notice the Christians are at last fighting back and getting the boot in, sadly, instead of backing the bakers hounded by the gay community for instance they have jumped on a non-starter and are trying to get the King of Twitter Stephen Fry burnt at the stake for blasphemy, I say sadly because Fry's comments were truthfull in the first instance and not many would miss him in the second.

Giant rats will become intelligent and rule the world after destroying the human race, this is my prediction to add alongside this one "Palm trees could grown in the Antarctic if climate change continues". I don't know where you stand on climate change, I believe there is climate change and it is natural, there, no doubt GCHQ are monitoring this and I shall be whisked off to the sound of a truck engine idling and the stamp of jackboots on cobbles at 2 am in the morning. That aside I am old enough to remember some forty years ago reading in a newspaper that I would soon be growing bananas, pineapples, passion fruit and dragon fruit in my back garden if I could brave the solar rays and harvest them. Yes, palm trees 'could' grow wherever and giant rats 'could' take over and on the other hand, perhaps they won't, which one would you put your mortgage on?


And if you doubt the scientists then listen up, this just in, exercise will not now help you to lose weight, I will of course leap on this gem to justify my hours spent in front of the computer shedding pounds.

Weight, OK, a family somewhere were being hailed in the press for being frugal and instead of spending a fortune on takeaways, the canny woman made her own, fakeaways, geddit? She has succeeded so brilliantly in this venture that she has also managed to fake the fat content and no doubt the increased health problems, but she has saved £3.46p.



What's your take on novelty funerals, the coffin shaped like a star destroyer or the mourners turning up as the cast of Aliens, would I be happy if my friends and family turned up as Legio XII Fulminata or differing versions of Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant? No I wouldn't. I have given strict instructions that respect will be shown and anyone not in black or chucking on their best jeans, combat jacket or trainers gets turned away at the door.


Do you remember the old days when you fell out with your mate and you shunned him in the playground until you grew up and became best friends all over again. The modern version is far more stupid, you get 'ghosted' your so called mates do not answer your emails, texts or eventually when they fail, your phone calls, this allows the penny to drop and you are persona non grata. Isn't technology wonderful.


That damn Brexit won't be happy until we slide into third world obscurity, the latest victim of all those ignorant, racist, fascist, know nothing votes was poor Lucie Jones, you remember Lucie, the girl who lost X-Factor to the two incredibly talented Irish clowns, sorry clones, Jedward. Lucie suffered Europe's backlash against Brexit by not being voted the winner of Eurovision, I feel ashamed.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Romans vs Romans

Another War and Conquest game last night, it is either famine or feast with this enjoyable game. Simon has wanted to play with Romans for a wee while now and I have always been strangely reluctant because I see the Twelfth as 'my' army and I had not used it many times myself. Now they are veterans however and it is better to encourage others to play or you end up on your own, oh, and they are still 'my' army.

Simon chose three cohorts with heavy armour some skirmishers, a bolt shooter and a unit of cavalry, I had a more balanced army and had one Palatina Legion and two Auxilia Legions nowhere near as heavy as Simon's guys, they were supported by horse archers, cavalry, two bolt shooters, and two large skirmish units. My plan was to hit the enemy cavalry unit with archery then charge them, after this the cavalry would descend on the enemy flank and rear.

Twelfth on the left, Patricians on the right.

Plan A went out the window fairly fast as Simon managed to get a charge in before I could do any damage to his cavalry, this swept away the horse archers and routed the Equites, thankfully the latter rallied off table and would be back, the enemy unit then went on to loot my camp as per his objective. The Aurelian battle line advanced and this time my skirmishers failed to move the enemy and ran for the rear I got one back for a short time but eventually it too dispersed, not a great start, perhaps I was jaded after the weekend.

"Steady lads, steady".

I duly went into shieldwall as the heavily armoured legionaries hit me, I managed to hold all along the line, the Auxilia winning their fights but the Palatina were up against veterans and lost but held. The second round of combat gave the same results, but a third round and a dreadful morale throw caused the Palatina to run, but they did manage to outdistance their pursuers, sadly though this put them in the path of Simon's remaining cavalry and I couldn't stop them getting run down. However this unit had been reduced to a mere four figures and if it lost one more it dispersed, so I wasn't really bothered about it, I had a bolt shooter tracking them.

No, sixes are bad for morale in this game, sigh.

The game ended with my Auxilia defeating their opposite numbers and my cavalry free to do what they wanted. With units lost and reduced to under half strength the game was basically a draw at that point, I think one more turn would have turned the tide, especially if I managed to get the initiative but it was home time. A really good hard slog, because I managed to hold for the first clashes my numbers helped against the armour saves of the heavy infantry, I did seem to have some dreadful luck at the beginning and things were  looking very uncomfortable for a while.

Elsewhere we had a haunted house type game run from an iPad with figures and cards, the usual boardgame with Clive and Dave, Dave gave me a t-shirt which didn't fit him, then there was a 15mm ACW and some Steampunk along with Ryan and Julian testing out the new Runewars. Next week Rob is running a Battlegroup Tobruk game which I have jumped in to.



Monday, 15 May 2017

Slaughter in Somerset: The Results

Well the weekend of killing is over with an uneventful drive home until North of Birmingham then 50 and 40 mile an hour limits with torrential rain all the way to Warton, so that's summer gone.

I had been invited down south to play four games against Jenny and Phil over the weekend so after breakfast on Saturday first up was the Twelfth against Phil's German horde. I had gone for Raw Legionaries commanded by Centurions or Generals just to bring their moral up to average, these four cohorts were supported by two skirmish units and my favourite Lanciarii along with an Auxiliary cohort, horse archers, bolt shooter and Contarii. My first objective was to get rid of the enemy skirmishers, slowly advance the infantry and if the Contarii could get into a decent position charge the German cavalry.

Germans on the left, Twelfth on the right.

German cavalry.

The lines steadily advance.
 I used the Lanciarii aggressively and took out the skirmishers on the Barbarian right and proceeded to menace the German rear, the horse archers accounted for another unit, the German cavalry were very wary of the ballista and tried to stay out of its arc of fire. With their right flank under increasing threat it was time for the Germans to test my line so in they came hoping for some quick victories, however the cohorts held and beat them back. Soon most of the barbarians were running for the rear and all I had to do was reorganise my left and sweep the area, Phil conceded and I was up 49/3.

Roman victory.
 In the afternoon the Thunderbolts prepared to meet Jenny's Celts an army with which she is very competent, but my boys were looking for revenge for a past insult. The battle started well for me and once again I threw my left forward with the Lanciarii leading, I got rid of almost all the Celt skirmishers and had my cavalry in the Celtic rear, on top of that I hit the far right hand unit in the flank, what could go wrong? Well, despite losing the combats Jenny kept making her morale tests to stand, the melees were lasting far longer than I wanted. Time was running out and neither side had gained much of an advantage, I had lost my Auxiliary cohort but they had made a titanic effort against the enemy but lost out to numbers in the end. Just as the battle came to an end I finally beat off two warbands only to have two of my own cohorts run, one the result of a dreadful morale throw and the other because I should have retired it rather than risk it being charged, but hey ho. A very close fight and I went down this time 21/24, but of course I took it as a losing draw to save face. The survivors of two cohorts were severely reprimanded later in the evening but overall the Twelfth had come through the day with honour.

A long, deadly struggle in the centre.

Fortified with an excellent fry up Jenny and I met over the field of battle once again the next morning, in order that Jenny could use her Vikings I borrowed Phil's Anglo-Saxons. once again I went for the enemy skirmish screen and got rid of them all except one persistently annoying bunch of javelinmen who proved a pain throughout the battle. This was a typical battle of the period and both lines were soon in shieldwall within javelin range and letting loose to see who would falter first, it looked like me as I suffered tremendous damage from Jenny's shooting. On my left I stupidly threw a bunch of Thegns at a shieldwall and suffered the consequences, I should just have advanced slowly and hit the Bondi in shieldwall, but I didn't. In the centre I managed at last to destroy a bunch of massed archers who had been bothering me but as my battle line suffered and my men fell I was forced to charge. It did not end well, but it was the last move, the result was bad but became even worse as Jenny had managed to pursue and get into my deployment area which doubled her score, it ended 42/11 against. Not a great start to the day but softened by the fact it was not my army and it was my first time using it.

Vikings left, Anglo-Saxons right.

Anglo-Saxons
Vikings.
Shieldwall!

I was back on solid ground in the next game, a Roman Civil War with Phil's Patrician Romans against my Patricians. I had taken four Legions, three Auxiliary and one Palatina as the core of my army, my strike forces were Goth Noble Foederati and the Generals Hun Bucellari supported by Hun horse archers. Yes you guessed it, I took out the enemy skirmishers first while my Goths went hell for leather for the enemy Germans on Phil's right, a much smaller unit than mine, those particular Barbarians had taken the wrong money as it turned out and were destroyed easily.

Rebels top, legitimate troops bottom.

The West is safe.

The Rebel Germanic Noble cavalry now tried to close with my Huns, I used their firepower to whittle one unit down to 50% and wound its officer, these troops are expensive but deadly. Both my cavalry units were now charged, the horse archers feigned flight and escaped while their pursuers made a half hearted pursuit, my Bucellari destroyed their chargers and on following up struck the flank of the other German cavalry sweeping them off the table in rout.

The enemy flanks were now wide open Goths and Huns were in the enemy rear, the usurper had no choice but to throw in his infantry and hope to break my Legions, he did manage to break one unit but the other held and soon the Bucellari came to the rescue and hit the enemy in the rear causing them to disperse. The two remaining enemy units were now surrounded by the army of the legitimate Magister Militum for Gaul and duly surrendered. I tallied the score at 47/7.

What about the points you ask, if you insist, overall I had 128 to Jenny and Phil's 76 over four games, done as individuals it was 66 for Jenny, 64 for me and 10 for Phil. We were all winners of course as we had a good weekend.

So, that was it, a weekend of wargaming using beautiful armies which the photographs do not do justice to, obviously I like mine but the other four armies were truly unique in figures, composition and painting.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

View From The WIndow

Spring has certainly sprung and global warming has turned up at last in my immediate vicinity after several decades of gloom and doom prophecies, or perhaps it is just an early summer. I have missed a lot of madness but it never disappoints and just keeps coming, like much of the population of the EU, they have even reached Skye and John O'Groats which did surprise me, although the majority of the workforce does seem to be locals, there can't be a lot of spare jobs in Skye. What did shock me was the number of leather clad young men of middle eastern origin roving the streets of Inverness and generally being a nuisance, they must really be running from something to end up in Inverness.


Manchester will be happy that Andy Burnham won the mayoral election rather than Mr. Mohammed Aslam who made his keynote speech and distributed leaflets for the position in Urdu. I watched an interview with Mr. Aslam who obviously had difficulty with the English language, who saw nothing wrong with his campaign and in a strange way he may be right as English is not the language of choice in the part of Manchester he is from.


Why do criminals increasingly get to avoid facing their victims or the families of their victims in courts now by 'appearing' on a video link. Not for them the inconvenience of turning up to face their accusers and receive their punishment face to face, make up, lights, camera, action, then back for another bowl of gruel.

Victoria Beckham OBE for services to ...... fashion. Much like services to sport, entertainment, working abroad, paper folding etc. How many real women can afford to wear anything made by Victoria Beckham, what exactly does the Empire get from a woman who seems to go out of her way to present herself as miserable as sin to the world.


And what about Prince Phillip retiring, how the media crowed about the fact he can now take it easy, go on big man, no more exhausting days cutting ribbons, hand shaking and waving for you. Getting up at five, going down the pit, cycling off to the steel works, no wait, wrong Phillip. No wonder the Royals last so long, they do nothing to wear out, they do not even squeeze their own toothpaste!

Schadenfreude, what a great word, pleasure from the misfortune of others, trust the Germans to come up with that one, but we all enjoy a bit of 'up yours matey' when justice comes calling. Noel Edmonds the man who began the dumbing down of British television and brought us Mr. Blobby (Morecambe was going to have a Blobby World, long story, didn't end well for Morecambe) and the 'game' show where people opened boxes his hit the end of the track again. Mr. Edmonds wants £73 million from HBOS as he was asset stripped by a bunch of fraudsters working for the bank, now those particular fraudsters job was to help failing, yes, failing businesses, so how his failing business was looted of £73 million may be a bit hard to explain in court. Noel is a believer in the lunatic idea that if you want something you simply ask the Cosmos for help and voila, the Cosmos has given up on you Noel, he doesn't like you, No Deal mate. And I am sick of asking for that Lamborghini.


That's all I have time for this week, but the list is full.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 4

(13 May)

St Helena can be seen from miles off on a clear day, it is simply a large, mountainous rock in the middle of nowhere. I was interested in the place because it was where Napoleon spent his last days the equivalent of which today would be like putting Putin on the Moon and leaving him there, it is a measure of how fearful Europe was of that one man.

'Bungy' our St. Helena native was given VIP treatment and was flown in the Wasp helicopter to land and meet his parents on the Governor's lawn, his first visit in ten years, he enjoyed every moment of it. The rest of us when we anchored off had to use local boats to get ashore, and that was an entertainment in the heavy swell and slippery steps. The few local bars were soon awash with sailors ready to part with their cash, most of the crew had to go ashore in two lots but we off duty Radio Ops had most of the time to ourselves so I took the advantage of heading off to Napoleon's house 'Longwood'.

Jamestown.

The route was very picturesque and a fair drive from the harbour, no doubt they did not want him hopping on a boat, the house is modest and looked surprisingly modern to me, I duly signed the visitors book, which as you can imagine does not have a lot of people in there. We were shown the modest first grave of the great man and met several giant tortoise's which roamed the grounds. These creatures we were told were there along with Napoleon, especially one called Jonathan who at the time was reputed to be 200 years old. I took this with a pinch of salt but after reading in the news a few years ago about one dying at around 250 years old, my tale of knowing a tortoise who knew Napoleon now has a touch of authenticity. Despite these being slow I made sure I was ready to leap to safety at a moments notice while touching Jonathan for posterity.

Johnathan and I.

Longwood House, well, the side of it.

By the time I got back to the ship the streets of Jamestown were littered with drunken sailors taking advantage of our few hours on terra firma, I didn't manage a drink as I had the Midnight watch and it is not a good idea to have a sore head for that, but it didn't stop Lofty, who was fortunate not to end up in trouble and slept most of the watch in the corner of the Radio Room, I had to wake him up so he could go to bed at 0400.

The ship had been open to visitors for a few hours and a dance had been held ashore for the lucky few, but the idea of sailing at 0115 was not conducive to lasting relationships although it did not stop the over imbibing.

Our next stop was to be Simonstown the naval base in South Africa which was a short train journey from Capetown. Wherever a Royal Navy ship went there were always old salts who would pass on decades of information gathered from thousands of run's ashore, Sugars in Gib and The Black Angus in Puerto Rico are examples, in South Africa it was the local Cape brandy, in Mombasa it was, well we have to get there yet.

Nothing eventful happened on our way to Simonstown apart from the RSAAF dropping us some mail from a Shackleton, whose antecedent of course was the Lancaster bomber.

Mail drop.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Slaughter in Somerset

It's dry again and cool, could warm up later which is just as well as I am off on another road trip in a few hours to darkest Somerset the land which gave us such talent as the Wurzels, a group before their time who would be loved on Britain's Got (no) Talent. I digress, I am off for a weekend of War and Conquest to make up for missing last weekend, also why not, I still feel like I am on holiday.

I have my lists ready, the Patrician and Anglo-Saxon I am happy with but not so sure with the Twelfth who are fighting two battles tomorrow. I am trying something which may simply bring disaster down on my head but I shall trust the boys to come through despite their general, the dice of course are another matter, I am taking two sets just in case.

My right shoulder is sore and it is because I have been playing the long awaited Dawn of War III set in the W40K world. It is early days and although no doubt I shall get my money's worth I am still on the fence about how long my interest will be sustained as I think it is needlessly complex and requires more imaginative maps. The former may just be me as I am not as quick on the ball as I used to be and the latter usually does turn up as a game ages along with other factions etc. Despite all the little complexities, choice of doctrines and elite hero units, so far I have found that Stalin's maxim of 'quantity has its own quality' seems to work fairly well. I know it is early days yet but I have only been abused once so far with "Help, C(word)" directed at everyone on the team but the idiot typing it, such are the joys of online anonymity.


Anyway, a weekend of real wargaming coming up with good company, real people, beautiful armies and perhaps the odd slurp of wine along with the fake beer. We march!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Yankee Hurrah, Rebel Yell

My feet have still not grounded yet after the holiday, the beautiful weather is also not conducive to getting on with things, albeit there is a cold wind here which was not present up north. I am also catching up with several things which have been set aside, car repair (the wife's, my fault), doctor, dentist, hospital, army lists, painting, figures etc.

I also indulged this week at the club and asked Simon to take part in an ACW game although he has never played the game before, I just felt it was time to get the boys back on the table. I kept it simple as with any new game there is a lot of explaining to do and also not having played myself in over a year now, yes, my own memory may be hazy as well, heaven forbid.


Anyway, two brigades each and as Simon had the First Division of the First Corps I also gave him an extra officer, this division only contained two brigades at Gettysburg so he was entitled. I took two brigades from Hood's Division, Army of Northern Virginia so did not take John Bell Hood along, this gave me command problems as my regiments fragmented and my brigadiers ran around trying to get things done.

Texans.

Georgians.
The game was a simple meeting engagement and I didn't really have a plan apart from maybe holding on the right and attacking with the Texans on my left, a lot of time obviously was devoted to showing Simon how the game worked. Simon had the same idea. I had to advance skirmishers in the centre to stop his artillery shooting at the Texans as they advanced, these boys held the line for quite some time before succumbing to musketry and shell and did their job. I slowly got the 5th and 1st Texans into a firefight with the Iron Brigade and they seemed to be winning as the ground allowed me to have two regiments firing on one, the Yankees tried a sneaky outflanking manoeuvre with some skirmishers but I met it with mine.

The Iron Brigade.

I had a couple of regiments in the centre which I would have liked elsewhere but could not find enough spare orders to move them with everyone else in action. My artillery on the right was charged by a brave bunch of New Yorkers and I really did expect to knock them back, however the dreadful morale throw by the gunners ensured their destruction. This charge would have forced me to disengage my right and form a new line had we continued, but we ran out of time. You can never take anything for granted in Johnny Reb and the battle ebbs and flows and a lot of effort is normally required to win outright, very much like the real thing during this period, which of course is why I like the rules.

The fight.
The club was busy with a Renaissance game, what looked like a Sudan game with Rob's lovely figures but using new rules while Julian and Ryan had their first game of Runewars. I have several things stacked up for today and it is also Pub Wednesday at three, something which has not been regular for the past month or so but should now be back on track, my old mate does enjoy an hour or so at the bar. I am also heading south this time at the weekend for some War and Conquest games at Jenny's invitation so have army lists to sort out for that as I am using both my Roman armies and borrowing an Anglo-Saxon or should it be the more politically correct these days, Anglo-Danish, army to fight her Vikings, nope, Anglo-Saxon, come on Harold.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Missed Out

While away on holiday I missed another War and Conquest gaming weekend in Newark, I actually thought I would motor down yesterday for the day but after 1,000 miles in the Highlands I decided another six hour round trip was a trip too far.

I have seen scores of pictures of the event and, despite the small numbers it was another successful two days of gaming. Also at the moment it would seem there will indeed be another weekend in November for which I have already cleared my calender. Looking at the pictures I see that over the last wee while some players have started using massed archery, if on target this can be quite devastating, if on the other hand you fall out with the dice gods or the unit has to move it is less so. It would seem though that I now need more archers to always have that choice with three of my armies, it never ends.

I am travelling again this weekend down to Jenny's in Somerset for my own WAC weekend, Phil is organising the games. The Twelfth hopefully will be enforcing civilisation on the Celts and Germans while the next day the Patricians will be trying to maintain the Empire in the West.

So, without more ado here are some pictures from the two days battling.

Carolingians vs Vikings (Stewart and Jenny)

Republican Romans (Gary)

Romano-British civil war (Michael and Dave)

Saxons vs Vikings (Trevor and Jenny)

Some of 1st Corps Romano-British/Late Roman cavalry (Michael)

12th C English vs Carolingians (Michael and Stewart)

Carolingians vs Late Roman (Stewart and Gary)

Not looking good for the Black Horse.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

View From The WIndow

No lochs or mountains this morning as I gaze out the window, it is a beautiful morning, but cool. I came back last night from a road trip to the north of Scotland which covered just over 1,000 miles so I am fairly upbeat from my experiences although the madness did not stop while I was away.

The trip was for my wife's birthday and it started properly when we got to Inverness, the Highland capital is not very attractive, a lot of concrete and modern designs sit uncomfortably within the old town and it looked fairly run down to me, the modern shopping centre must take a lot of the blame for the empty and dull streets surrounding it. We stopped for a drink in Lauder's, an establishment which housed an eclectic mix of tourists and locals, one of which gave me 'the look' as I was between him and the pint he left at the bar, I looked back, the tension slackened and he slumped off. I then got the impression we were trespassing as a local posse obviously wanted our table to be beside their mates, more looks. We finished off with an Indian meal which was rather bland, Glasgow Indian cuisine does not travel unfortunately.

On our way north the next day we stoped at the Whalligoe Steps where local women used to bring up the catch in baskets on their heads on a rather steep path up a cliff, the wind was very strong and I wouldn't have liked to have done it carrying fish. As we parked an irate local stormed towards us with "that's a bloody stupid place to park" he then informed us in a very loud and agitated voice all about the 'b^£$*(d' who owned the cafe and how she had ruined the place and his life before eventually giving us his blessing to leave the Batmobile where it was.

A few hours took us to just outside Wick and the magnificent Ackergill Tower, fought over by local landlords until 1623, we were encouraged to explore the tower and indeed open cupboards, drawers and family albums etc. during our stay. I came across some very interesting military memorabilia but as a lot of it named a certain Thomas Atkins I doubt the authenticity but applaud the detail of the forger. On our second morning my wife got her breakfast and I was seemingly forgotten, when the lad again hove into view my wife pointed this out, his bemused look and reply left us in stitches, "are you in a hurry, like?" Normally of course we would have marched off in high dudgeon, but the lad was likeable and laid back so no harm done.

Ackergill Tower

While there we went to Scrabster and a highly recommended seafood restaurant for dinner, The Captains Galley, we turned up to be told they did not normally open on a Monday night, despite taking the booking, but wanted us to come in nonetheless, what could have been a disaster turned into a memorable night as we were entertained by owners Jim and Mary. Once Jim had finished in the kitchen we swapped sea stories and got on really well. The food by the way was exceptional and Jim chooses his fish each morning as the boats come into the quay about a hundred yards away.

Dunrobbin Castle, peasant status confirmed.

Another day in the area then off around the top of Scotland, mostly on a single track, windy road which thankfully had plenty of passing places and not many cars. As we approached Ullapool where we were staying for the night the brake warning light came on and I checked the front wheels, by which I meant I looked at them, one did not look right and I stopped at a local garage for advice. I was told not to drive home on it but it might get me to Skye, our next stop. Panic set in and although our bed and breakfast was four star we were too anxious to really enjoy it, I decided to go back to Inverness the next morning and hopefully have the car repaired there as we were more likely to get the parts and if the worst happened hire a car and continue to Skye that way.

A real view from a window.

We arrived at Kwik Fit Inveress to be told the car should not be driven around Skye or anywhere else, but they had three jobs in front of me if they could get the parts. Chris the manager listened to my tale of woe about the wife's birthday and seemed sympathetic, we headed off into Inverness wondering whether we would make it to Skye in time to eat. Within about an hour and a half I got a call from Chris saying the car was ready, I was overjoyed, the holiday had been saved. Well done Kwik Fit.

Smiley face back.

We arrived at The Three Chimneys with more than enough time to spare, and from our arrival until we left it was superb, from the decor and comfort of the room, the stunning views, all the way through to the excellent food and wine and wonderful staff. We decided not to have coffee during our last meal, there was an espresso machine in the room, and stopped to talk to the reception staff before retiring, a minute later a waiter caught up with us holding a box and a pair of tongs informing us we had not had our chocolates, thanked and told we did not want them he then offered to put them in a bag for us.



The Three Chimneys

It took ten hours to get home at the end of our tour, one pit stop and half an hour hold up for an accident along with the usual roadworks, sunshine all the way until we entered Lancashire. It had been so hot in the north that I had had to buy sun cream. Coming back slowly to earth now and real life, we had a great time and best of all a mountain of brownie points in the bank, albeit the bank is empty of cash.


 We met and talked to a large range of people from all different backgrounds during the week but Jim and Mary at Scrabster, Chris in Inverness and Karen at the Three Chimneys stand out.

My moaning self will be back next week.