Monday, 25 April 2016

Darkest Dorsetshire

We've just returned from a long weekend in deepest Dorset, staying at West Lulworth.  We've been here before a couple of yearsa ago (there's a post about it further back in the blog but sadly it succumbed to problems with photos and they're all missing) and I was lucky enough to get to Bovington and to Corfe Castle.

Luworth Cove

I didn't think I'd be able to wangle another visit to Bovington so instead we had a meander around the area and ended up at a couple of interesting places.

First of all was Clouds Hill.  This was T.E. Lawrence's home after WW1 when he was doing his best to slip into obscurity, first joining the RAF under an assumed name and, when this was exposed by the Daily Express (presumably with some link to Princess Diana and Cancer), joining the Tank Corps and changing his name by deed poll.  The cottage is a small 4 room house with the minimum of electricity or toilet (but plenty of local bushes!) and a large supply of tinned food for his guests to enjoy.  The regular visitors included Thomas Hardy, Sasoon, Shaw etc. on the ground floor is a bedroom with a rather impressive reading chair which Lawrence designed.  Upstairs is a rather lovely wood lined room dominated by a gramophone and an aluminium lined store/guest room with a bunk bed and a port hole from HMS Tiger!  A very individual place.

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Image result for clouds hill 

Lawrence (or by this time, Shaw) was tragically killed in his now famous motorcycle accident in 1935...the spot where he crashed is just down the road from Clouds Hill.  The house is an odd basic and remote it reflects Lawrence's desire to escape his public past.

We then wandered on to Moreton (just down the road from Clouds Hill) which happens to be where Lawrence was buried.  We didn't visit his grave but I did want to have a look at the church... St Nicholas'.  This was hit by a bomb during WW2 and was largely rebuilt in the 50s.  Interestingly the windows were replaced not by stained glass but by a series of etched clear glass windows designed by Laurence Whistler.  I'm not religious in any shape or form (quite adamantly humanist) but these are truly lovely and well worth seeing.

The rest of the weekend was a series of dog walks....

Lizzie takes the plunge at Swanage!

...and some very nice beer at the Castle Inn in West Lulworth. 

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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Unexpected Aztecs...

To people of a certain age Aztec could conjure up thoughts of this chocolatey treat....

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..or this fine example of Postcard Records' classic 80's Glasgow Jangly guitar music....

...both of which are classics.  Apparently there was also a 15th Century Empire by the same name....

I've always been interested in the Aztec/Conquistador period although I've never done much about it gaming-wise. My only proper reading (not sure if Ladybird books count here) was Bernal Diaz's Conquest of New Spain.  My son and I were lucky enough to go to an excellent exhibition at the British Museum in 2009 which had some fascinating artifacts on show.  A few years ago I picked up a couple of boxes of the Revell 1/72 Aztecs and Conquistadors with a half-hearted plan to paint them up.  I also bought a box which had been painted up pretty well from Ebay, and I came across this while rummaging for something else in the loft.  You'll have gathered from this and other posts that my loft is a scary, disorganised mess but it does occasionally yield up pleasant surprises.  I then discovered a second box of even better painted figures which I have no recollection of buying!  From an invoice in the box I picked these up in 2009 (obviously inspired by the exhibition I'd just seen) for the princely sum of £2.75!

The question now is what to do with them.  I have a few options.  Somewhere in the loft I have a set of a Central American specific set of rules by Chris Peers.  I also have a set of Irregular Wars which include stats for Aztecs etc.  I'm more tempted however by either using the new(ish) Osprey En Garde rules or tweaking Lion Rampant.  Luckily someone else has done all the hard work for that... I came across this blog....I Live with Cats.  The blog contains a variation of LR entitled (of course) Quetzalcoatl Rampant which look ideal.

The next question is going to be do I have the enthusiasm to rebase the figures.  They are currently a mix of multiple based figures or some singly based ones.  The latter will be fine for En Garde but the multiple bases are of varying sizes so I fear some tedious re-basing is due...

Monday, 18 April 2016

My Salute Loot

So my Salute purchases this year were pretty modest (honest dear)...

As usual there were the usual giveaways in the Salute bag. This year a nice Steampunk figure and a pair of figures from a company called Maelstrom's Edge (me neither...).


My main purchase was a copy of Star Wars Rebellion...I'd spotted several stalls selling this for a variety of prices but when I came across a set at £55 I decided that was going to be the best price I'd get.  I then had the dilemma of striking quickly and buying a copy (I've been caught out before, delaying picking something up and then finding it's sold out) vs having to lug around a fairly hefty and bulky box.  I went back to the Dice Shop Online stall and saw they only had a few copies left on display, and one of them was making it's way to another customer so that clinched it....

I bought a few packs of bombers from the Ironclad Miniatures VBCW range of armed miners (which will hopefully end up looking something like this)...

Looks like his bottle of Buckfast has spontaneously combusted...

...some bases from Minibits, and a Frostgrave Thief and Barbarian (very Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser) stocked at Bad Squiddo games.  I had a look at their female Soviet troops which would be good fodder for VBCW games and the new range of female ogres which looked good too, but resisted buying anything .

My final figure was from Eureka exchange for saying "G'day" I got a free kangaroo!  No idea what I'm going to do with it but I couldn't resist a freebie....

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Salute 2016

I'm a bit late with my Salute report...several other bloggers somehow managed to post theirs yesterday evening...notably Eric the Shed who appears to have photographed every game on the day.  I'm afraid last night involved resting my aching feet and self-medicating with wine.  Today has been spent walking the dogs, snoozing and watching The Princess Bride on TV.

As always I've seen a few complaints online about Salute and Excel, the docklands venue it's been at for quite some time now.  I've always quite liked Excel...easy to get to, plenty of space, nice salt beef bagels for lunch.  I know it has its critics but generally I haven't shared the grumbles.  I remember Kensington and Olympia and this seems a better location.

This year, apart from the pretty unforgiving floor which left me with aching feet, I thought it was well laid out and smoothly organised (can't really blame the Warlords for the state of my ageing joints!).  I arrived at Excel at 11 and walked straight in with no sign of a queue...speaking to people who were there before opening it sounds like the wait was pretty minimal this year...I guess the pre-ordering of tickets and smooth organisation has helped a lot with this.

The show itself seemed pretty busy as always.  I was struck by the number of games being run by companies as opposed to clubs this year, all plugging their latest offering.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, after all it gives us a chance to try before we buy, but it tends to mean the games are smaller and does, I think, take away some of that community feel. There were still the traditional large scale games but these seemed to be in the minority.  While I enjoy playing smaller games it's nice to see the grand scale versions at shows.

I was also struck by the amount of SF games on show...I've no idea on the stats but I'd guess there was a clear majority in this genre.  Given that the theme was Steampunk, there was very little of this actually on display.

I had a wander, bought a couple of packs of figures (I'll post about my loot in another post) and then got roped into playing the Warlords big Star Trek game...good fun although I wasn't quite sure what the objective was.  As I was playing the Klingons I decided to concentrate on killing Spock and trying to avoid being killed in turn by the Gorn.  Eventually the Enterprise blew up or something.  A good game but a bit fuzzy around the edges (although that might just have been me).

I had a chat with guys who are producing the forthcoming Congo game (Studio Tomahawk I think).  Their display game looked excellent and they described it as being pitched somewhere between Saga and Muskets & Tomahawks in complexity.  The rules are complete and are due for an English Language release in June...looking forward to these

I also had an interesting chat with Russ Charles from Clockwork Goblin miniatures who was doing a demo of 3d be fair I'd no idea what he was talking about once he started getting technical but it was fascinating to watch him at work and see the stages the model went through on the computer.

As this technology becomes more accessible it's going to be interesting to see how it affects the hobby

I briefly said hello to Annie at Bad Squiddo Games and saw her latest release, a range of  female ogres which looked really good.  I nearly bought some of her female soviets which would be good for VBCW troops but resisted (for now).

Looking at other people's photos has highlighted just how much I missed.  This happens every year and I shouldn't be surprised...there's just too much to take in... but I was annoyed I missed the  the modern air war demo and the 19th century Afghan game, both of which appealed.

I managed to finish the Star Trek game just in time to make the Bloggers meet...and was able to catch up with Stephen and George (who I'd never actually met previously in the flesh, so to speak!), amongst others.

The Bloggers (photo from Tamsin's blog)

And now some assorted photos, with captions if I can remember where they came from.  I didn't take loads this year as I was too busy chatting which is a sign of a good show!!!  As always, a grand day out.

Impressive Vietnam game


Greek Myth game from (I think) Skirmish Wargames

Huge fantasy game...don't know who put this on but it was very large...

Nato vs Warsaw Pact game in 6mm using Sabre
Squadron rules...must look out my armies for this period

Interesting looking WW1 Belgian game by (I think) the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp...looked fun and different

SF game which combined rules from Infinity and Muskets & Tomahawks

Not sure but I'd guess Hastings?

Impressive Napoleonic game...O'er the Hills

'Tanks' Skirmish game from Batlefront...essentially World of Tanks
on the tabletop which could be fun

Friday, 15 April 2016

Salute tomorrow...

So, my Salute ticket has been duly paid for and printed out (a huge £8 difference if you pay on the door...I suppose it helps cut the queue down a bit),  train info checked (shouldn't be a bad journey...I only live on the southern edge of London so it's an easy trip usually) and shopping list prepared.

Actually the list is pretty blank...I don't have anything that I really need .  Of course this doesn't usually stop me buying unnecessary things...that's the whole point of Salute!

I'm looking forward to the day though...catch up with some.old friends,  take in some impressive games and, of course, meet my fellow bloggers at the now traditional Bloggers gathering at 1pm.  See some of you there!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

This week I have been mostly reading...

I usually have a box in the sidebar of the blog with a pic of whatever I'm currently reading and I thought it would be an idea to summarise a random assortment of my reading matter over the last little while....

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Flag 4 by Dudley Pope
If you have any interest in Coastal Naval Warfare in WW2 this is an excellent book.  Focusing on action in the Mediterranean from North Africa, to Italy and finally to the Adriatic it's very readable and gives some great insights into these small but ferocious actions.

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Len Deighton meets Love craft... Charles Stross' books are really fun and hugely entertaining...go and read them!
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The Plantagenets by Dan Jones
I'd previously read his book on the Wars of the Roses which I found both very clear and understandable given how messy and complex the WotR were.  I was keen to read ths 'prequel' which obviously has a much wider historical range.  Again he makes a very convoluted period of history seem much more understandable...perhaps simplifying too much in the process for some but as a primer it's well worth getting hold of.

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Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
This cropped up on one of my regular Amazon bargains emails so for £1 it seemed worth taking a punt.  I'm never convinced by modern authors taking on previous works like this but I have to say this was an excellent read.  Opening with Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty plunging to their 'deaths' at Reichenbach  (oops...does that count as a spoiler!?) it moves to London and a quite dark and violent tale of murder and crime. 

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Britannia by Simon Scarrow
I've always enjoyed Simon Scarrow's books...pretty undemanding and fun reads...but I do think he's beginning to slip into Sharpe-mode with every minute of Macro and Cato's lives being filled with battles, plots and must be very exhausting!  This latest book is set in North Wales and sees our heroes besieging Anglesey.  Like his other books it's easy and entertaining but it would be nice to see him produce something different.

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The Princess Bridge by William Goldman
One of my favourite films (I annoy my wife and son by reciting dialogue whenever it's on...sad, I know) I wasn't sure what the original novel would be like but this was lovely.  A knowing take on fantasy and fairy tales that still manages to be charming and fun.

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Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre
Chris (up until recently billed as Christopher) Brookmyre is a brilliant Scottish writer.. part of the Tartan Noir genre.  His earlier books ('A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away', 'All Fun and Games Till Someone Loses an Eye' etc) were very funny, violent thrillers, often featuring  journalist, Jack Parlabane.  An attempt was made a few years ago to produce a TV version with James Nesbit which sank without trace thankfully. 

More recently he has produced a series of straighter police/detective novels as well as a couple of rather strange forays into SF/Fantasy..Pandaemonium and Bedlam (Bedlam especially didn't work in my opinion).  Black Widow is another Parlabane novel and a very good return to form. 

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Bloodline by Conn Iggulden
This is the 3rd in his Wars of the Roses series...the first 2 were excellent so I'm looking forward to this one.  I haven't started it yet but it was on sale for £3 the other week in WH Smiths so I couldn't resist buying it...the only downside was I had to buy a copy of the Telegraph as well but I've washed my hands since...

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Us by David Nicholls
I'm part-way through this at the moment.  David Nicholls has produced 3 novels which appear to be following my life...Starter for 10 about someone at uni in the 80s (just like me although I never appeared on Uni Challenge), One Day (about a couple who meet in the late 80s and which follows their relationship on the same day each year...not quite the same lives as my wife and I but some similarities) and finally Us about a couple who's son is about to leave for college...has he been stalking me??  To be fair the couple in Us are having a major relationship crisis and try to resolve it by travelling in Europe...we're off to Wales with the dogs and blissfully happy, looking forward to the peace and quiet when our son clears off to Uni!!