Thursday, 13 July 2017

Grounds for a Fight

I've been working on the terrain for my display game for Partizan in August.
I wanted to create something that has base boards, hills, and stands of trees that all match.
I've never made terrain in this style before (using textured paint and drybrushing) so took a few risks, and through trial and error produced something which, though fairly basic, is to my mind appealing.
Here is just a quick sample image of a base board (with a small stream/ brook), a hill (adapted from  Last Valley hill), and couple of stands of trees.

And, just as I finished, official notification came through from the Partizan organising team, that I've been allocated a table. So, the game's afoot, and I've got loads to do - the basing depot on my workbench is now overcrowded with horse, foot and guns, amongst other items!

So, back to the storyline...
It's 1747, and in the peaceful Pils-Holstein town of Neerfuncken, tavern gossip is centred around the latest news from around Europe, brought by the merchants and travellers who have descended on the small town for the seasonal summer market.
Tipsi Pipsi has returned to Pils-Holstein, and far away in Astrovia the traditionalist lobby is calling for revenge for her defection. Rumour has it that Brigadier Von Rankl has been ordered to mobilise a strong brigade of Astrovian infantry to support a likely opportunistic French incursion into Pils-Holstein.
Ferdinand-Adolphus of Pils-Holstein is besotted at Tipsi's return, and some say he has taken his eye off the ball. But his trusty adviser, Professor Klickstich, has been busy activating his network of spies and messengers, appealing to Prussia for support. Under normal circumstances, Prussia would make it a standard policy to support Pils-Holstein, but as students of the 1740s will know, Prussia and France are allies in the War of Austrian Succession, and therefore Prussia would not openly operate against France.
However, our parallel world may prove somewhat different. Perhaps Prussian dark blue uniforms will
come to the aid of Ferdinand Adolphus.
Time will tell...

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Parissienne Walkways, Museums and Terrorists

Dianne and I recently had a few days in Paris.
The hotel we stayed in was right by Notre Dame, just across the petit pont. Beautiful.

Below: the view from our bedroom window across to Notre Dame.

Main items on the agenda for this visit were The Louvre and The Musee d'Armee.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves, so here is just a small selection of the dozens of photos Di and I took:


 And then it happened.
The terrorist attack at Notre Dame.
Fortunately we were having an afternoon cuppa in a café just along from the hotel, when all hell broke loose. There were sirens, armed fellas everywhere (in uniform, and out of uniform), and a whole commotion around the Cathedral.

Some nutter had attacked an officer with a hammer, and been shot for his trouble.
We were fine, although Di was a little shaken by the experience.
For a couple of hours we were unable to get back to our hotel because of the police cordon.
When we did, the place was surrounded by journalists as can be seen in the pics I took from our window.

All very dramatic.
The rest of the visit passed without incident, but I reflected on it all.

We had returned from the Musee d'Armee that afternoon, where deeds of gallantry and glory had been all around. Where men serving their country were depicted in paintings and commemorated for having marched, shoulder to shoulder, into a hail of musket-fire, or worse.

So, if a nutter with a hammer thinks he can strike a decisive terror blow against that tradition, against that nation, against that gallantry, then he, and all of his kind (whether armed with hammers, knives, assault rifles, or explosives in their vests) is seriously mistaken.

And as I pondered this, the next morning, sitting in the very same café as we had been in when the attack had happened the previous day, I exchanged pleasantries with a local man and his wife at the next table who happened to have dropped a coin which I picked up and returned. As he left the café, he simply said, "Enjoy the rest of your holiday in Paris" and smiled.

All back to normal.

And while little acts of friendship between nations, between individuals, continue, the pedlars of terror cannot win.

Above: back to normal, after the attack, early evening the square was open again.
Below: later on... across from Notre Dame.
Made me want to break out into La Marseillaise!!

Vive la France!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Return of the Queen

Picking up the Pils-Holstein story...

... the last we heard of Teresa (Tessa) Pepisa, aka Tipsy Pipsy, she had returned to Astrovia at the ailing Emperor's request. Turned out she was not the daughter of an Italian merchant/ financier at all, but none other than that of the Emperor! And now, she was set to inherit the title of Empress of all Astrovia.

Having left her beloved King Ferdinand Adolphus back in Pils-Holstein, the latter had reacted with bitterness and heart-break in equal measure. And his old friend Professor Klickstich's network of spies had been hard at work to find out all that was happening in the court of the soon to be crowned Empress.

Now, whether by their own machinations, or not... things had begun to go awry for Tipsy Pipsy.

Her life had revolved around King Ferdinand Adolphus, around the fair lands of Pils-Holstein, and love-sickness and home-sickness began to set in. Coupled with the shock of discovering her true heritage, and the weight of responsibility now sitting on her shoulders, she found herself alone in a strange court, in a strange land, not knowing who to trust.
Her father was ailing very quickly, a man she had never known. And courtiers, particularly those at the traditional end of the spectrum, were doubting whether the new arrival would be able to lead Astrovia in the way that was "best for the Empire".
Despite her arrival in Astrovia initially being greeted with a wave of enthusiasm for her charms by the people of the capital, certain rumours, grumblings, and "spin" had begun against the Empress in waiting.

And than it happened. Major Ligue, Tipsy's trusted ADC, reported murmurings amongst the troops who had defected from Pils-Holstein with her - The Holstein Hussars, and Transvladak Uhlanen, for whom she was Honorary Colonel.
Many of these men had families back in Pils-Holstein, and the realisation dawned now that they could well find themselves at war with their homeland. Ligue reported these facts with courtesy and calmness. He knew the possible outcome.
Love conquers ambition.

And so it was that Tipsy Pipsy began the ride home, to Pils-Holstein, to Ferdinand Adolphus, with the two Light Cavalry units as an escort, just as they had previously left for Astrovia in the middle of the night.
Professor Klickstich had already informed King Ferdinand Adolphus that, in his estimation, she would be on her way very soon. And so, when the gates of the palace courtyard were opened to receive the entourage, rousing cheers of a huge crowd accompanied the long awaited re-uniting. At last!

As Tipsy Pipsy dismounted and rushed across the cobbled courtyard of the Palace of Altgard in the capital of Pils-Holstein, into the arms of King Ferdinand Adolphus (her "sweet FA"), far away in Astrovia, the father she had never known breathed his last.

Above: Tipsy Pipsy and Major Ligue.
Below: The Holstein Hussars


You've seen these pictures before, but a blog update without pictures seemed a little lame.

I've got loads of basing in progress on the workbench, and stacks of terrain bits n bobs that I've been working on of late, all gearing up for a Display Game at Partizan in August.
So with Tipsy Pipsy reconciled with King Ferdinand Adolphus, there's only one thing for it... an excuse for The Astrovan Empire to offer support to the French who have designs on Pils-Holstein.
The scene is set... And King Ferdinand Adolphus has only one place to turn for support. Prussia!

Over the coming couple of months I'll report on some of the build up to the action, in the hope that those who follow the online preparations might come along on the day and see the table at Newark on 20th August.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Faith Restored - Partizan

Well, Partizan last Sunday certainly did the trick.
After the disappointment of Salute (in my eyes at least), the turnout of "proper" historical demo games at Partizan was right up my street. A real tonic, just when I was starting to wonder if I was in a completely different hobby, out of step with the rest of the wargaming world.
It was as if the "Old Guard" (and I say that with all due respect), had been ordered in to save the day, with the names running the games being in many cases the same guys who were running games at Partizan 20+ years ago. The Perries, messrs Andrews and Morrison, Barry Hilton, Graham Cummings, and so on.

Here are just a few images (I know I'm late to the party as many pics have already appeared elsewhere, but...)

Starting with Graham Cummings' game featuring his own Crann Tara range of figures. Excellent game, Graham.

Next, Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews' WWI masterpiece...

The Perries' Napoleonic affair in the desert sun.

Steve Jones' Bunker Hill game.

Apologies to the games I didn't get round to photographing. I was so engrossed in the positive atmosphere and chatting away with fellow gamers all day that I often simply failed to get my phone out to snap the pics.

The whole day was refreshing, and I was particularly delighted to meet up with wargaming pals who I hadn't seen for a number of years venturing south from Scotland.
One of those fellows was Steve Shaw. Now, Steve was the guy who designed the master figure for my mid-18th century infantryman for the Pils-Holstein project. And it just so happens that only last week I was over at Griffin collecting almost 500 fresh castings, this time including some cavalry too.

This represents the move into the second phase of the project.
And coincidentally, I'd already agreed that I'll put on a game at Partizan II in August, so Pils-Holstein will finally get a public airing! After the inspiration of the past weekend, I'm really looking forward to it. Based on the quality of games seen at Sunday's show, I'd better get my act together, and "up my game!"

All the best for now...

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Terrain and Re-enactment

In short, that's what I've been up to. Terrain and re-enactment.

I haven't made much terrain in quite a while, but decided that I needed to rectify this with the prospect of a display game at a show later in the year. So I've been visiting Homebase for the requisite materials, and getting very conversant with different shades of green paint!

I've booked to be at Salute this coming weekend.
I've got a few items to buy, a couple of people to meet, but mostly it's a "list-free" roam around excel... dangerous!

Other news: I had a very pleasant meeting recently with fellow hobbyist Steve at a rather nice little pub in The Cotswolds (The Plough in Stretton-on-Fosse - it being equidistant for our get-togethers). Three hours of putting the wargaming world to right culminated in a possible collaboration on a new horse and musket project. We're at the embryonic planning phase... that exciting bit where manufacturers' lists are studied, uniform references poured over, and orders of battle drawn up. Rules have been discussed, and I think we're getting close to the fateful moment when little lead men are ordered!

Meanwhile, yesterday saw the start of the re-enactment season, with a muster at Basing House.
Dianne came along and snapped a few images... more of which can be seen on my King's Dragoone blog.

Above: forming up in the pub car park! Some of us arrived very early to form up, and took our time over it!

Above: "Give Fire!" I'm on the extreme left of the block.

Below: we had a little powder left over at the end of the event, so myself and a couple of fellow dragoons from the regiment returned to the field to loose off some shots.  Here we are seen in the post-volley smokey haze, reloading. On the right is Rob Grace whose name will be familiar to some wargamers, then yours truly in centre, and Bob on the left of picture.

Like I said, more over on the King's Dragoone blog.

That's all for now. See some of you at Salute, no doubt. I'll be the one with no list, but bags of goodies! Probably!!


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Local history

"Walking is the Best possible exercise.
Habituate yourself to walk very far."
Thomas Jefferson.

On my walks, since moving into our new home around 18 months ago, there are a number of points of interest.
We live about three-quarters of a mile from the picturesque village of Berkswell, Warwickshire.
When working from home, the regular lunchtime stroll takes us across fields, down the hill and into the village (sometimes stopping at The Bear Inn for refreshment!!).

I decided to take a few iPhone snaps of items of historical interest, and share them, for no particular reason!

Above: the local Church.
Below: the information sign in the village gives details on some points of interest.

The Well, from which the village gets it's name.
Pronounced "Burk's well", as opposed to "Bark's well" - many people think it's pronounced like "Berkshire" which is the mistake that marks you out as an outsider round these parts!

Above: Notice anything strange about the Stocks on the village green? Have a close look...
Below: Canon captured from the Russians in the Crimea in 1855.

Beow: picturesque little thatched cottage. Lovely!

This coming weekend I'm heading to WMMS at Alumwell.
And ... I have a list.
I've even done some pre-ordering!

I may also be loading some very old (1970s) stuff onto the bring n buy - I've got three 15mm ancients armies that are simply sitting at the back of a cupboard when they could be doing battle on someone's table, along with a bundle of 25mm fantasy stuff, some books, and a few oddments.

Anyway, I may see you there.

Oh, and yes... I believe there are some Prussian infantry, clothed, and about to make their way south from the brush of D Jarvis, esquire. Looking forward to their arrival.