Thursday 18 August 2022

Project Creep

Some years ago I bought a shed load of 1848 Danish and Prussian troops for some Imagi-Nations gaming as well as using them for a variety of mid-19thC European scenarios using Bloody Big Battles rules. As with most of my projects, they then lay in their bags for several years, which is of course a sad state of affairs. Then just before Covid hit, Dave and I started basing them up (I gave him loads as I'd ordered far too many!) so we could get some games in with them. Naturally lockdown put pay to any chance of playing games, so the project hit the pause button. 

Things kicked off again last year with the plan to put on some small games at the Cotswold Wargames Day using the excellent Rebels & Patriots rules. So I started painting in earnest again only for Dave to unavoidably not be able to make it and once again the pause button was hit. Things were certainly not going my way with this project!

A year on and the plan is to once again try and field these forces at the CWD, but using BPII and a larger game on a 6' x 4' table. I thought I had painted three Brigades worth of troops but it turned out I had only finished two. Whoops! Time to get the brushes out and check the paints as it had been a good few months since they were last used. Luckily only one pot had completely dried up during the recent heatwaves.

Whilst looking at which Brigade to paint next, I looked at some Grenzer type Battalions I had included just because I liked the troops (from the Pendraken Afghan North West Frontier range) and my mind then thought of increasing them to a full Brigades worth of troops. This had not been my plan at all! So luckily I had based a load of units a few years ago for use in a sort of 'Great Game' type setting that came to nought and they had the right look and feel to fit in as slightly more regular troops.

With the infantry sorted, another cavalry unit was added (again previously based) but there was a gap on the artillery front. After a brief spell of painting this morning it was a case of into the attic to dig through the lead pile for the artillery I knew lurked there somewhere. Come evening I now had two artillery units of different calibre all based up and just waiting for grit and priming.

So in the space of a few days I've gone from painting some extra Brigades and Squadrons for the game, to having now added two units of infantry, one of cavalry and two artillery units, none of which were planned at all. Talk about project creep! Will it ever end? I think not...

Until next time stay safe and keep healthy.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Colours 2022

As Summer begins to wane my mind tends to move away from the garden and back towards wargaming, as the former needs little attention now whilst the latter most certainly does. Also I feel mentally it's time to focus back on painting, gaming etc as the nights begin to draw in and the show season kicks off near me.

Colours was always the start of Autumn wargaming for me and certainly tended to fuel my interest and give me ideas for new projects etc. This was aided slightly by the local IPMS show in Thornbury in August adding a wargames element, which was good. For some reason there was no advertising for this and so I missed it as it was a week or so ago. Shame as it's a nice little show with the added bonus of loads of superb models on display. Then my good friend Keith Flint began to organise the Cotswold Wargames Day, which whilst not a show per se, kicked off around the same time as Colours. So as you can see early September can be a busy month on the wargames front

This year Colours 2022 is back on Saturday 10th September after being postponed for obvious reasons in 2021. Normally I would not hesitate in attending, but with the current fuel price issue, inflation and cost of living rises that we are all having to deal with, frankly I had to give this some thought as whether I could justify it or not. I know this may sound mad to some but it is the harsh reality for us as a family and many others for sure. To help me decide I checked out what games were on and what traders were attending, but really it's the game that swing things for me, given my current desire to stick with a few core periods, projects and rulesets etc.

Whilst there are no competition games this year, there are some demo games, but maybe less than in previous years? Also there is free entry to help with the issues outlined above and to encourage attendance. Obviously if no one goes then the shows die, which would be a crying shame. Given that some have and others are likely to, it imperative to attend them if we are able to. Anyway, back on track and the following two games really caught my eye:

Bruce Weigle will be putting on his superb Battle for Malta campaign which I saw courtesy of the Little Wars TV chaps on Youtube (clivk the link). I've had the pleasure of meeting Bruce before and chatting with him at previous shows, so to say I'm a tad excited he is putting on a game again is a massive understatement!

Another game that is getting my creative juices flowing is the Battle of Pakozd by the Oxford Wargames Society using Chris Pringles superb Bloody Big Battles rules. Lately the 1848 period has really caught my fancy and I eagerly await his planned scenario book for the Hungarian War of Independence. He has also published the first of two books on the conflict that I hope to check out at the show.

Honestly these two games instantly made we want to go to the show and SWMBO was more than happy for me to have a day of quality me time (or maybe she was just glad to get me out of the house...) which is a rare thing these days, what with being a full time carer and all that.

I imagine that after a quick wander around the show, looking at the book sellers and chatting with Leon at the Pendraken stand, most of my time will be spent on these two tables, if they'll have me of course! Hopefully I will get to bump into a few familiar faces (but not rucksacks) and chew the cud as we tend to do when we meet up. After some 3-4 years since the last show I'm really looking forward to attending once again. Let's hope it's not too busy in the sense of having space to move around, but with no competition games, I think it will be OK. Maybe I'll see some of you there, if not I'll take some pics and post thoughts on the day once I'm back home.

Until next time, stay safe and keep healthy.

Monday 8 August 2022

Walking With Royalty *

A few days ago, my wife and I took one of our favourite walks near to where we live, namely from Swineford, up to North Stoke and onto to Landsdown Hill, site of the famous English Civil War battle. We are very lucky to be so close to such wonderful countryside as well as so much history, from the Iron Age onwards. I'll cover more in other Blog posts, but for the moment I shall concentrate on this walk. So without further ado.

The view from the car park at the start of the walk. The small hill topped by trees just off centre at the top of the ridgeline is Kelston Round Hill. To me it always looks like the classic hill that young children draw. Only recently did I find out that the summit had a tumulus burial on top of it. Not a bad place to be buried.

The Lord of the Rings moment on the walk. This is an old and still legal road that runs down from North Stoke to Swineford and is an ancient trackway. It is the easiest route down from the village. Time and erosion has made it 12' deep or more in places.

Another view back down the trackway.

Old workers cottages in North Stoke. Some years ago one was being renovated and the decorators had come over from Switzerland. Let's just say that you need some serious money to be able to live there, or at least in these older buildings.

My wife on top of the steps leading to the parish church of St Martins. Normally to the right of the picture as spring from up the hill is constantly providing water to a cattle trough, but due to the exceptionally dry weather this year, it has dried up.

A view from the church steps to the main farmhouse, which has the most stunning views and a very nice garden too. Frankly the sort of house, garden and view I would love to have!

The church of St Martin, built on the site of a Roman temple.

A rather poor shot looking towards the original west entrance of the church. There has been much restoration from the 19thC onwards.

The original eastern end of the church can be seen by the archway.

Wall plaques marking the families involvement in India. Fascinating stuff for a chap like me.

More of the same.

Rather hard to read, even in the best of lights, but one family memeber died on the day War was declared on 3rd September 1939.

The baptisimal font was carved from an old sacrificial altar.

I found this very moving and poignant.

Fighting that Harry Patch attended the dedication. He lived for another year after this.

North Stoke is behind the treeline on the middle left. The track by the wall is part of the Monarch's Way, the route taken by Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The view is towards Bristol and not clear in the photo, but you can see the Black Mountains in Wales on most days.

Another view across towards the Severn Valley and beyond. 

A view towards the Mendips and Keynsham, but the latter cannot be easily seen. Over this hills in the middle distance came the Duke of Monmouth and his army. He got as far as Keynsham before turning back.

A stone marker at the end of the Parliamentarian left flank on Landsdown Hill, carved with a contemporary image. 

Information boards are dotted across the original line at the start of the battle.

A view towards where the Royalist troops, most particularly the Cornish one, attacked from. The terrain is rough and broken but the defending troops would not have seen them until almost the last minute and most likely would not have had too much time for more than a few shots before the attackers could have closed with them. 

The hill in the middle is one side of the saddle over which both sides cavalry fought a running battle before the main battle was joined.

Another nice marker stone.

Sir Beville Grenville's monument.

Sadly falling into disrepair in places. The monument is covered in graffiti, much of it from a long time ago, than can only be seen easily in centre light.

The info board from the final Parliamentarian position.

Another marker from the same place.

Looting was obviously part and parcel of battles and campaigns during this and many other wars.

A view from the Parliamentarian position and the clear and open ground that the Royalists would have had to have crossed at the end of the battle. I can see why they were reluctant.

The Parliamentarian soldiers lined the stone walls, which made a very strong defensive position. 

The rather beautiful valley that the Parliamentarian troops retreated down, unbeknownst to the Royalists.

You'll have to take my word for it, but the next field to the stone marker and there are the remains of an iron age settlement, which can just be seen if you look carefully enough. In this photo, there is a small ridge running on the left side of the image to the middle of the trees at the top. For much better photos and information, see the following:

* The reason I chose this title is for no other reason than walking part of the Monarch's Way and the fact that my wife is a Princess. Sadly this does not make me a Prince, but just a commoner!

We are certainly spoilt for choices of places to go round these parts, but I hope to visit a few more places that might be of interest from a gaming  and history perspective. At present we are entering yet another heatwave where it will be too hot to paint (currently forecast to be 34C on Thursday!) or to much else to be honest. As always plenty of plans but for once the glorious weather rather than lethargy on my part of putting pay to any progress.

At least I feel over Covid now and am trying to build up my stamina again for bike rides, but am not overdoing it, as I don't want to regress having come this far. So until next time keep healthy and stay safe.