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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Other people's Portable Wargames ... at the Victorian Military Society's recent seminar

Last Saturday was a very important day (and I am not referring to the Royal Wedding or the FA Cup Final!) as it was the date of the Victorian Military Society's Seminar: INVASIONS SCARES AND THE 'BATTLE OF DORKING'.


Unfortunately, I was unable to go, but I understand that during the lunch break, the Battle of Dorking was re-fought using 15mm figures, my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, and a purpose-built terrain board. I have seen some photographs of both the figures and the terrain, and it all looked very, very impressive. These can be seen on the Society’s Facebook page.

I hope that more information about the game will become available in the fullness of time as it is exactly the sort of wargame I envisaged being fought using my rules.

Monday, 21 May 2018

A busy couple of days ahead

I have a busy couple of days ahead of me.

One of the people proof reading my gridded naval wargames book has sent me several pages of notes that I need to go through in detail so that I can correct the mistakes he has found. (The mistakes are mainly typos and sentences with mixed tenses.) I will then send him back the corrected proof so that he can do one final check before I have some proof copies of the book printed.

I also have to attend two Masonic meetings, one in London (this afternoon) and the other in St Albans (on Tuesday). The London meeting is a Third Degree ceremony, but due to the sudden and unexpected death of a senior member of the Lodge, I fully expect to be asked to take an active part in the ritual rather than sit on the sidelines as a spectator. The Tuesday meeting is the Installation of a new Worshipful Master into the chair of his Mother Lodge, and he invited me some time ago as he serves as the Inner Guard of the Hertfordshire research Lodge of which I am currently Worshipful Master.

In addition to all of this I am also trying to ensure that Wargame Developments (of which I am the Treasurer/Membership Secretary) is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations by the deadline ... which is in four day's time.

Have I taken things easy since I retired? I don't think so!

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Designing my latest book's cover

Besides having a bit of a tidy up of the detritus that seems to have accumulated of late in my toy/wargames room, I spent part of yesterday afternoon designing the cover for my forthcoming book about gridded naval wargames. I chose a navy blue colour for the cover and an image taken from one of my Zubian mini-campaign battles. The result looks like this:

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Today I am mostly ... having a rest from writing and trying to avoid watching the TV

Be warned ... the following blog entry might appear to be rather whinging in content and express views that some people of a certain disposition (or dispositions) might find offensive ... or even boring!

Within about ten minutes of waking up this morning I realised that I didn't have any work to do on my latest book. The draft text has gone off to my proof readers, I have already selected the photograph I want to use on the book's cover, and the book's blurb is ready. I am not yet in the mood to start my next writing project (it will be about the members of the Hertfordshire Masters' Lodge who served during the First World War) and I just want to spend the day doing very little. Unfortunately for me this has happened on the day of a royal wedding and the Football Association Cup Final, which means that chilling out in front of the TV is going to be a bit of a problem.

Before I get accused by my wife and others of being a GOM (Grumpy Old Man), I would like to state that I have nothing against either Prince Harry or Meghan Markle, both of whom I am sure are nice young people, and I wish them a happy married life. I am glad that I live in a constitutional monarchy rather than an elected one (I have yet to see a republic where the President is not an elected monarch ... some of whom have been 'elected' by a very small electorate indeed!) and I think that the majority of the Royal Family perform useful roles and help to boost the country's tourist trade enormously.

What does annoy me about today's royal wedding is the media hype and coverage that we have had to endure over the past few months, and particularly the last few days. It will culminate in what looks like blanket TV coverage on all the major channels, starting at around 9.00am and continuing for most of the morning and afternoon ... and followed by edited highlights this evening. I may well watch the actual ceremony, and possibly the procession to and from St George's Chapel, but do I really need to listen to all the 'talking heads' and interviews with people who are going to be in Windsor etc.?

Once the wedding is over, the TV coverage seems to be switching over to the next great 'event' of the day ... the FA Cup Final. I used to follow football, but once big money got involved in the 'sport', I lost interest. Everything seemed to become a version of Moneybags United vs. Bigwallet City, where success appeared to be due to how much a team could spend 'buying' the 'best' players from around the world rather than nurturing local talent. The players and managers became 'celebrities' whose every action and opinion (or lack of opinion) was deemed worth of media coverage, and whose employment and importance seemed transitory at best.

Luckily I do have a few DVDs and the Talking Pictures Channel I could watch (the Talking Pictures Channel is owned by the British Film Institute and features lots of old black and white films from my youth and even earlier), and my wife has already intimated that there are several programmes on the Drama Channel she would like to see, so things might not be so bad after all ... and if I cannot chill out that way, there is always the possibility of fighting a wargame.

Things are already looking better ...

Friday, 18 May 2018

And now my work is almost done ...

Wednesday was a rather busy day for me. I was trying to get more work done on my book about gridded naval wargames as well prepare for an important Masonic meeting. (We were installing a new Worshipful Master into the Chair of my Mother Lodge, and as one of the older and more experienced Brethren, I was expected to perform certain parts of the ritual … including singing the Master’s Song!) As a result, the last chapter of the book – which is an explanatory battle report – remained incomplete until yesterday.

The chapter is now finished, and although I won’t spoil matters by telling my regular blog readers the result, I can say the Mimi and Toutou did go forth with a degree of success.

SMS Kingani under attack by HMS Mimi. By attacking from astern, HMS Mimi is outside the limited arc-of-fire of SMS Kingani's 6-pounder gun.
All I have to do now is to finish adding books to the bibliography before doing a grammar and spelling check. I’ll then do a final read-through myself before sending copies of the text to my trusty team of proof readers. With luck they will get back to me within a fortnight, and then I can proceed to make any necessary corrections before I have the proof copies printed. Once that is done and final checks are made, the book will be published … and then I can move onto my next project!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Mimi, Toutou, and Kingani

I am about to start writing what I think will be the last chapter of my book about gridded naval wargames, and it will feature an explanatory battle report about the fight between the British gunboats Mimi and Toutou and their German opponent, Kingani.

The models I am using are approximately 1:600th-scale and were built from various bits and pieces I had in my spares box; in other words, some spare ships' boats and light guns from Airfix warship kits. For ease of handling they were stuck on pieces of Plasticard and labelled. They are not the most beautiful models I have every built, but they serve me well enough in several tabletop battles.

Mimi


Toutou


Kingani


The story of how Mimi and Toutou got to a lake in the centre of Africa is an epic tale that inspired C S Forester to write THE AFRICAN QUEEN and would make a wonderful film.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

HMS Empress

The model battleship featured in yesterday's blog entry was HMS Empress.


I built her nearly six years ago (doesn't time fly when you are having fun!) from basswood, bamboo skewers, and pine dowel and she has served me well in several tabletop battles ... although not always under her given name!

Her design was based on that of HMS Victoria (hence the name HMS Empress) ...


... with a touch of HMS Rupert.


The former sank after accidentally colliding with HMS Camperdown in the Mediterranean on 22nd June 1893, and the latter spent most of her career in reserve or serving as a port guard ship around the world (Hull, Pembroke, Gibraltar, Port Said, and Bermuda).

Monday, 14 May 2018

Today I am mostly ... trying to finish writing the chapter about coastal operations

It was my intention to end my book about gridded naval wargames with a chapter that covered coastal operations, particularly how my PORTABLE NAVAL WARGAME rules work in conjunction with my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

What started out as a couple of pages has grown into a full-blown battle report that covers how the rules work together. For inspiration I went to Donald Featherstone's NAVAL WAR GAMES and have adapted his THE RAID ON THE KRIEGSTAATZ BATTERIES scenario from the imaginary Anglo-German War of 1885. In my case the battle is entitled THE ATTACK ON THE KRIEGSTAATZ FORTRESS, and the tabletop looks like this:



I am several turns into the wargame, and it is developing into quite an interesting battle. I have no idea how it is going to end, but hope to find out later today. Once it is concluded, I will be able to finish this chapter, which will leave only one other to write before the book's text can be sent off for proof reading and correction.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Miniature Wargames Issue 422

The latest issue of Miniature Wargames arrived in the post on Friday, and I have been reading it on-and-off over the past two days.


The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: With cat-like tread by Conrad Kinch
  • To think again ...: Wargaming the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion by Alex Webster, with photographs by John Treadaway
  • St Crispin's Day: 1415: North East France, on 25th October by Jon Sutherland, with photographs by Diane Sutherland
  • Show Report: Salutations: A tired shuffle around Salute 2018 in London by John Treadaway
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Heading West: The story behind Wild West Exodus
    • K9 Gun Dog Painting Guide
    • Leave 'em for the vultures: An exclusive scenario for Wild West Exodus
  • Into the woods: Two scenarios with options a plenty by Robert Piepenbrink, with photographs by John Treadaway
  • Recce
  • Well trained: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Thukela & Blood River: The Boers and Zulus clash in South Africa by Dave Tuck and Malc Johnston
  • Club Directory
So what did I particularly enjoy in this issue?

At first glance I thought that this was going to be one of the less interesting issues for me to read. The addition of a sprue of Wild West Exodus K9 Gun Dogs to the front of the magazine was rather off-putting for me (I am not sure what I am going to do with this 'free gift' worth £17.00!!!), as was the related articles in the Fantasy Facts. However, once I had overcome my initial reservations I discovered that there were several articles that I will probably want to keep for future reference. Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence was good value as ever, and Dave Tuck's and Malc Johnston's Thukela & Blood River was very much up my street. I also enjoyed Diane Sutherland's Well trained article as I have done similar conversions of cheap Christmas train sets myself, and her article included one or two ideas and techniques I had not though of using.

Final judgement ... not an outstanding issue, but the magazine still remains worth its subscription cost.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Madasahatta Campaign book: A fitting tribute to Eric Knowles

I have just finished reading the printed proof copy of a small, hardback book that I have compiled about the late Eric Knowles's famous Madasahatta Campaign. I created it as a tribute to Eric's pioneering work in the world of UK wargaming, and the book will be published in due course. In the meantime I am having copies printed for Eric's family and friends.

As can be seen from the images of the front ...


... and back covers ...


... the book contains all the background information to the campaign as well as copies of the campaign newspaper and reminiscences of some of those who took part.