Sunday, 31 March 2019

View From The Window

Young, newly married lady came in with her husbands Mothers Day card, worried that it might be too late, I asked if no one had told her that that was part of her duties, to buy and make sure his lordships birthdays, anniversaries etc. are not late, did she not have the handbook, I would photocopy the wife's and hand it in.

I digress, do airline staff have no idea of their own procedures, why do they let people onboard carrying everything but the kitchen sink as hand luggage, carrying anything on sir, yes, a book. I settled in to my expensive airplane seat on the upperdeck of the A380 heading for Vietnam and opened up said book having refused the champagne for apple juice, grrr, and was distracted by ZZZZ, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, ZZZZZZ, what the. Just in front of me an old guy was amazed that his seat could move and was putting it through its paces, ZZZZ, ZZZZ, ZZZZZ. Worse was to come, as the stewardess handed out hot towels to refresh us before we took off, matey took off his shoes, socks and washed his feet! The look on the girls face was priceless. Wait, don't panic, the gent in question was French.

What is it now, once in the air the guy directly opposite found something amusing on the television, he settled down to watch what I suspect was several seasons of some American adult cartoon, Modern Family Burger Guy or some such, I had to put my own earphones on to drown out his guffaws.

Then of course no sooner has the plane touched terra firma than the seat belts come off, a chorus of click, click, click while there is still at least fifteen minutes or more until the doors open or the sign tells you you can take them off, and along with this the mobile phones, just landed thought I would let you know you have another hour or so to wait before I get out of the airport. This usually happens just after the announcement telling people not to switch on their phones. The gangway is now thronged with people and cases and you cannot even see the terminal.

Why do people wear hats and sunglasses indoors, why do you need a hat inside, whether it be a bus, cinema, restaurant or anywhere which has a roof. Not only that, why wear it with the front at the back? It used to be good manners to take your hat off when entering a building, because you didn't need it and it would annoy the old Scotsman in the corner.

And don't get me started on mobile phones, herds of people lost in their own little worlds, taking selfies, pouting and ignoring completely the magnificent views and the world around them unless it is photogenic and fit for Instagram. One woman at Nha Trang airport was so engrossed that I watched her young daughter wander all over the area, I could imagine her showing the police her phone and saying "this was my daughter just before she disappeared."

As I sat waiting for the mother to wake up and look around my sensitive ears heard squelch, squelch, what was that, some kid barely walking had shoes which gave off a squelch with every step, not just bad shoes, this was a deliberate, loud squelch, why? This was then joined by a high screech, what now, it took me some time but I tracked it down to a litter bin that needed oiled. I am a martyr to my hearing. But worse was to come, the plane took off but I still heard ding, ding, ding, I checked the seat belt sign, nope, I put my book down and with further investigation found the guy in front playing some kind of game on his tablet, hence the ding, ding, almost an hour I had to grit my teeth and endure this, I only wished I knew the Chinese for "Turn the bloody sound down mate" but the term eluded me.

With the holiday over and while sitting in the lounge waiting for my flight back to the UK fate intervened again, bells this time, bells! Gliding past me was a throwback from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie complete with bandana, flouncy shirt, beard and bells on his belt!

I had an attack of nostalgia yesterday due to someone clocking the RN badge on my jumper and enquiring on my membership. I googled the navy to see where Radio Operators now stood in the fleet, they are now communication and information specialists and no longer have their own unique branch being lumped in with 'engineering'. I also could not help looking at the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion statement and sure enough I found myself reaching for a bucket. For some reason I also found the term Naval Service rather than Royal Navy got my hackles up. Sad days for we old timers.

Independence day has been and gone and didn't happen, the country now seems to not have a government, MP's are debating motions which are non binding and mean nothing but cannot themselves now seem to bring sense to what is happening or not happening over Brexit. I also find it completely baffling that a bunch of Conservative nobodies are throwing their hat into the ring for the Leaders position when there are maybe only two of them who might have a smidgen of respect left and I doubt anyone in the country cares. Democracy, you can keep it if you ever manage to actually get it, for decades I have went to the voting booth never to get what I voted for, apart from once and it turns out I won't even get that.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019


My first club night in a month and full of enthusiasm I chose Bolt Action and a game against Simon's Russians, 900 points although I would have liked more. I wanted to use my Stummel so in order to do so, as the thing is for some unknown reason classed as a tank, as is the halftrack with the rockets on the side, I had to take two platoons as I also needed something to take on the inevitable KV1. I therefore ended up with four small squads, two of them veteran with two LMG's instead of one and a sniper. My plan was to bring down a lot of firepower on the big Russian squads and wipe them out.

  We rolled for the scenario and got Breakout from the 'Barbarossa to Berlin' book, the Germans had to get units into the western side of the battlefield or off the table, the Russians got points for killing German squads etc. The attack was at dawn therefore sighting rolls had to be made before the onset of daylight. The Russians set up along their line and managed to get two units dug in, this, along with the hidden rules meant these guys were almost impossible to hit, the chance of hitting the others was almost as bad. But hey ho, is that the sun coming up?

Some of Simon's lovely Russians.
 No, it wasn't the sun coming up, in fact the sun didn't appear until move six, this completely ruined my plan of superior firepower as I could not see anything, and when I did my guys either went to ground or missed completely. My so called veterans on whom I had been depending on to deal out death and stop the usual sneaky flamethrower were worse than useless.

Panzer IV

The KV1 turned up after a delay and the Panzer IV managed two shots at it, both hit but bounced off, the KV did nothing in return. My only success was the Stummel as I had predicted, it caught a Russian squad trying to sneak up and assault the Panzer, the HE shot caused enormous casualties and as the squad failed its morale it dispersed. Time was up and I had read the victory conditions wrong, although I had wiped out two Russian units I did not get points for them, I had no one on the Western table side as it would have been suicide to have run guys up there and suddenly the lights came on. Simon had killed one full squad and therefore got two victory points.

Useless veterans.
 A very disappointing game for me, partly due to me being a bit useless and partly down to terrible dice luck, for instance, four LMG's firing and getting no casualties at point blank range. The main reason though was not getting daylight until the very end turn, how unlucky is that, this negated my Plan A and I had no Plan B. I also think that the scenario has to be chosen before we start so that the forces can be tailored somewhat for that objective, because it is a game and not a simulation. We did manage to get through the visibility/night fighting rules which otherwise we would not have bothered with, would I use them again, probably if I had to or give a more specific intervention of daylight. My commander's watch must have been fast. At least the Stummel came through, yessssssss.

I have at last got back to my SYW painting, I am at the lace stage for the grenadiers and managed to do five of them in 45 minutes the other night, home alone tonight so I hope to get all the lace done on the remaining figures.

I have went a bit daft again with the cash lately, I got a couple of books, some new Winsor and Newton Series 7 brushes (ouch) and two more pieces of kit for Bolt Action, one for each side.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

The Never Ending Hobby

The day before I went on holiday I received two trucks for my Bolt Action forces, an Opel Blitz and a CMP 15cwt, having returned I put my guilt aside re finishing the grenadiers on the tray and built them both on Thursday, primed and undercoated them yesterday and have now finished them today.

Both kits are Rubicon. The CMP is beautifully ugly, I just had to get one of these, I found the build fiddly, especially the box at the back, I am sure there is a technical term for it but to me it's a box, I also found the canvas supports a bit fiddly as well having decided not to put the canvas top on. My problems usually arise due to my lack of patience and perhaps someone else would find it easier. I base coated the vehicle in Russian Uniform and used Dark Rubber for the tyres, the whole was then given a watered down Army Painter Dark Tone wash and then a drybrush with the base colour plus a little white.

The Opel is a far superior model to the Warlord version and is an easy build, nothing fiddly about this one at all. Once again I decided not to put the canvas lid on, I should mention that both kits come with drivers, I did not add these either. This truck was base coated with Green Ochre plus a touch of white, again the tyres are Dark Rubber. The wash this time was Army Painter Soft Tone and the drybrush Dark Sand. Unless mentioned all the paints are Vallejo.

Despite knowing better I have now looked up the paints necessary for WWII Russians, no intention of getting any of course, Russians that is, you always need new paints. I have a mind to get some more vehicles and possibly some new troop types for my existing forces here and there throughout 2019. I really do need to get back to those grenadiers.

I have just finished the Waterloo book I got recently and I found it very refreshing and didn't realise how far the British centre had been pushed back during the battle and how close it had been to breaking. On the strength of this I bought Tim Clayton's latest book this afternoon as I have nothing standing by at the moment, I also realised I have an earlier book of his which was a superb read on British submarines during WWII. I highly recommend this author if you have not read any of his stuff.

Catherine Nixey's book on the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire that I mentioned earlier was also a great read, I also think there is a lesson for us in it, a small, almost unknown minority, manage to take over their known world, while here we are also being taken over by minorities with their new 'religions' and cannot gainsay them.

I almost forgot, I have pledged my second ever Kickstarter, Terrain Tutor Mel's upcoming book. Looking long term I would like to upgrade my terrain at some point.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

I'm Back.

My first duty on arriving home was to look at the mail, sure enough a small box from Warlord Games was waiting for me. Inside were a few goodies, some dead livestock to litter the Normandy battlefield and the new Fortress Budapest campaign book, this came with not only the special figure, a Hungarian legend of the siege but also a sprue of around six soldiers, I think these too are Hungarian although I have not looked too closely at them yet.

"Sword behind the Shield" Helion.
 I got the book because it piqued my interest and I have drawn maps for a serious history of the campaign in the past, I also wanted to get the scenarios to add to what I have, I will have to adjust the troops used as I do not plan to get Hungarians or Soviets (yet) but don't see that as a problem. I already have a Warlord campaign book and thought it OK, another lazy effort on their part. This book has a completely different feel to it, the historical information is just enough to hook you in but the scenarios seem to be much better thought out and look very interesting. It was obviously written by someone not just intent on fleecing the reader but someone who has put a lot of effort and work into providing a useful tool for Bolt Action players which happily coincides with Warlord's aims. The recent Western Desert campaign book has also received a lot of praise so on the back of this along with 'Budapest' I have pre-ordered their upcoming D-Day campaign book.

What about the holiday you ask, or may close down at this point. It was great, Vietnam is a wonderful holiday destination and the people are wonderful as well. There is a nice contrast from the more old fashioned and restrained North through the slightly more touristy Centre to the madness of the thoroughly modern South. The country has a very young population which is as much preoccupied with Facebook, Instagram and selfies as the rest of the world, they are however very polite, helpful and on the face of it happy. The late war does not seem to overshadow anything although don't make the mistake that the Americans were allies and not invaders or you will be swiftly disabused, unlike John Cleese I did not mention the war and when it was brought up I politely nodded and kept my opinions to myself. The only people the Vietnamese do not like are the Chinese. Chinese investment in the country however is very high and large portions in the Centre and South will soon be turned into the Florida of the Far East, do visit before this if you can. I do have to mention that despite the nation not having any fat people and all the women being impossibly slim they do love their food, it is a foodie's paradise, we had two food tours and a cooking course and I had to beg off half way through them all as I simply could not eat any more. So there we have it, a great time away and back fully recharged wondering what I was doing at this time a week ago .......

Goodbye Vietnam