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Saturday, 25 September 2021

Jon Solway's generic Portable Napoleonic Wargame setup

Jon Solway, who is one of my regular blog readers, sent me the following photographs of the generic PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME setup he created over the summer. It makes an interesting comparison with Mark Cordone's, and show just what you can do with a bit of imagination and whatever you have to hand.

In his accompanying email, Jon explained that he created the game using whatever came to hand from the games cupboard at his parent's house, and that the glue dots just about worked long enough to hold the figures in place for the battle he fought. It was set in Belgium and fought around the village of Monopolie.

It strikes me that Jon (and Mark) have shown just how easy it is to use existing bits and pieces to create truly portable PORTABLE WARGAMEs! If I was commercially minded, I might even have considered producing a boxed version of my games ... and ended up rivalling the might Games Workshop! (It's a dream, I know ... but where would be be without dreams.)


Please note that the photographs featured above are © Jon Solway

Friday, 24 September 2021

Nugget 338

The printers did a sterling job, and I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET from them this morning. I hope to post it out to members tomorrow. In the meantime, members can read this issue ...

... and the Colour Supplement online from the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the second issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2021-2022 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you some time ago. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Mark Cordone's generic Portable Napoleonic Wargame setup and Martin Smith's ongoing ACW campaign

I was very interested to see that Mark Cordone has created a set of generic PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME armies using the figures from the game RISK.

He has kept the original colours of the figures but toned them down somewhat by using a simple drybrush and wash technique. The effect is interesting and makes them look a lot less stark.

In addition, he has put together a selection of terrain tiles made from 4"/10cms squares of wood, and the whole lot can easily be stored together in an easy-to-transport box.

In the meantime, Martin Smith has fought yet another battle in his ongoing American Civil War Snakes & Ladders campaign.

The work that these players have done to turn my ideas into a truly portable wargame is magnificent, and I salute their continued efforts.


Please note that the photographs featured above are © Mark Cordone and Martin Smith.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Nugget 338

The editor of THE NUGGET sent me the latest issue on Sunday, and I passed it to the printer this morning. With luck, it should be ready to be posted out to members by next weekend.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the second issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2021-2022 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you some time ago. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

I have been to … Greenock, Scotland, aboard MV Britannia

Once it was obvious that the cruise industry was gradually returning to something approaching normal, Sue and I booked another cruise aboard P&O’s MV Britannia. Unlike our cruise in June, which went around the coast of the West Country and back, this one was to Greenock, Scotland, and back, with several seas days to get there and to return.

Sunday 12th September: Southampton

We set off from home at 8.10am, and by 9.15am we had driven around the M25 to Junction 12, where we joined the M3. Just over thirty minutes later, we reached Winchester Services, where we stopped for a rather mediocre breakfast and to restore our personal comforts. We were scheduled to arrive at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal at 11.00am for our pre-cruise COVID-19 lateral flow tests, and we were only a couple of minutes late getting there due to the extra traffic in Southampton. (The Southampton Boat Show was being held in the Mayflower Park, and this meant that there were far more vehicles on the local roads than normal for a Sunday morning.) The testing started at 11.30am, and once our paperwork had been checked, the lateral flow test was conducted. Once this had been done, we were told to drive to the Ocean Terminal, which was where MV Britannia was moored.

We had to drive out of the docks, along the main road, and back into the docks via a different gate. Once inside, we were directed to join a queue of cars which were waiting to be dealt with by the valet parking service. The wait was not very long, and by just before midday Sue and I had loaded our luggage onto a trolley and the car keys had been passed over to the valet parking service. We then set off for the terminal building, and on the way our luggage was take from us by a porter. Once we had entered the terminal, we went up the escalator into the main reception area … and had all our paperwork checked again!

As we were in a suite, Sue and I were given priority for the check-in process, and within a few minutes we were sitting in the priority boarding longue waiting to go through the security checks. At 12.30pm, they opened the security screening facility, and by 12.45pm Sue and I were walking aboard Britannia. As had happened on our previous cruise, we were directed to our emergency muster station to be scanned in, and then told that we could go to our suite. This was on Deck 11 Portside Forward, and we were there in a matter of minutes.

Our suite was at the forward end of the deck, and comprised a large bedroom with plenty of storage, …

… a seating area, …

… and a ‘Jack and Jill’ bathroom and toilet.

It was very similar in layout to the suite we had on our previous cruise and was larger than many one bed flats on sale in the new Royal Arsenal Riverside development in Woolwich!

Waiting for us was an invitation to go to a special lunch in the Meridian Restaurant (Deck 5 Midships), so after dropping off our hand luggage, we went back downstairs for lunch. As usual, the food was excellent, and whilst we were there having a pre-lunch drink, we logged on to P& O’s ‘My Holiday’ smartphone portal. This enabled us to do things such as book meals in any of the ship’s restaurants, book shore excursions when we reached Greenock, check our onboard accounts, and to access all sorts of other customer services.

After lunch we went up to the Sunset Bar (Deck 16 Aft) for some fresh air before returning to our suite to unpack our luggage. This did not take very long, and whilst we were unpacking, our cabin steward – Bharat – and our butler – Simon – both paid us a visit to introduce themselves and to check that we didn’t need anything.

After we had finished our unpacking, I had time to go out onto our suite balcony. From there I could see two other cruise liners, the Anthem of the Seas

… and the Ventura

… as well as the Ro-Ro ferry, Anvil Point, which was moored at the military port at Marchwood.

Sue and I had a break to rest before going down to the open deck area on Deck 7 Midships. We sat there for a time before going back to our suite to get ready for the evening meal. During the course of the late afternoon, both the Anthem of the Seas ...

... and the Ventura set sail, ...

... the Anthem of the Seas doing so astern and just missing a two-masted sailing ship coming into harbour as she did.

We had already booked dinner in the Epicurean Restaurant (Deck 16 Forward), and at about 7.15pm we returned to the Sunset Bar for a pre-dinner drink. We had a short chat with another couple who were sitting at an adjacent table before going to dinner at 8.00pm.

The restaurant was somewhat fuller than we had expected, but the service and food were – as usual – second to none. At 10.00pm, whilst we were eating our dessert, the ship cast off and set sail. After dinner Sue and I paid our final visit of the day to outdoor area on Deck 7 Midships before returning to our suite to sleep very soundly indeed!

Monday 13th June: At sea

Overnight Britannia had sailed to a position off the southern coast of Dorset. At 9.15am, Sue and I went to the Epicurean Restaurant for breakfast, after which we went along to the Sunset Bar for some fresh air.

We sat there until about 10.15am, when we made our way down to Reception (Deck 5 Midships) to collect some handy pocket schematics of the ship. Sue fancied a short walk around the ship’s shopping area (Deck 6 Midships), but there was nothing new on sale, and after a short discussion we went the to Live Lounge (Deck 7 Aft) to listen to the daily lecture.

This was entitled ‘Treasure and Treachery’, and it was delivered by Eileen Goulding. It was mainly about piracy around the south and west coasts of England but included information about the buccaneers of the Caribbean and the Barbary pirates.

Before returning to our suite, Sue and I went out onto the open deck area on Deck 7 Midships, and whilst we were sitting there the captain – Marchin Banach – announced that due to predicted bad weather, the ship’s visit to Greenock had been moved forward from Friday to Wednesday. Having seen the weather forecast for Friday on our in-suite TV, this was no great surprise to us, although some other passengers did seem to think that the change was unnecessary.

We returned to our suite to read for a while, and at about 1.30pm we went to the Lido Grill (Deck 16 Midships) for a snack lunch. We then spent half an hour or so in the Sunset Bar, where we saw another cruise liner (possibly the Ventura or a similar-looking ship) apparently at anchor or moving slowly eastwards.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in our suite reading and resting before getting ready for the first formal dinner of the cruise.

After having a pre-dinner drink in the Sunset Bar, Sue and I had dinner in the Peninsular Restaurant (Deck 6 Midships). The menu had been devised by Marco Pierre White and included several of his signature dishes. The food was very good, and the service was excellent … and due to the COVID-19-related restrictions that the ship operates under, the restaurant was not overcrowded.

Sue and I went up to the open deck area on Deck 7 after dinner, where – despite the light rain that was falling – we had the opportunity to chat with other passengers for about ten minutes. We then returned to our suite, where we watched TV until it was times to go to sleep.

Tuesday 14th June: At sea

Overnight, Britannia sailed around Land’s End and by 8.00am she had reached St David’s Head on the Pembrokeshire coast. After breakfast in the Epicurean Restaurant and a spell in the Sunset Bar, Sue and I returned to our suite to read. At just before midday, our butler paid us a visit, and we had a long chat with him about the ships we had been on and places we had visited. Just after he left us, Britannia passed another cruise liner – the Regal Princess – which was sailing on a reciprocal course.

After some discussion, Sue went down to the Future Cruise Desk (Deck 7 Midships) to see if she could book us a suit on a cruise aboard P&O’s most recent addition to her fleet, MV Iona. She returned somewhat disgruntled as having waited for over twenty minutes to see a member of the Future Cruise staff, all she had come away with was an appointment on Thursday morning to make a booking.

At 1.30pm we went up to the Sunset Bar for a drink, and whilst we were there, we struck up a conversation with a couple of other passengers who were also very experienced cruisers. After a very enjoyable hour of conversation, Sue and I went into the Horizon Self-Service Restaurant (Deck 16 Aft) for lunch. From there we went down to Deck 7, and whilst walking past the Future Cruise Desk we noticed that the more senior member of the three staff was free. We asked if she had time to help us book a cruise on Iona … and fifteen minutes later we had. Furthermore, because we booked today, we were each given triple the standard amount of onboard credit … which would not have been available if we had waited until Thursday!

Feeling very pleased with ourselves, we returned to our suite, and each had a very refreshing mug of tea. To make matters even better, the sun was shining, the sea was calm, and we had been given some complimentary Belgian chocolates, which we ate.

Sue and I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and relaxing until it was time to get ready for dinner. We went to the Sunset Bar for a pre-dinner drink, and then ate in the Peninsular Restaurant. After dinner we spent a short time on the open deck area on Deck 7 before returning to our suite for an early night.

Wednesday 15th June: Greenock and Glasgow

Although we had set our alarm for 6.30am so that we would have plenty of time to get ready to go ashore at our only stop during the cruise, the sound of the ship’s foghorn awoke us much earlier. Visibility was very poor, and the ship crawled her way towards her berth in Greenock. As she did so, a number of warships that were at anchor appeared through the gloom.

Sue and I were amongst the first to eat breakfast in the Epicurean Restaurant, and by 8.45am we were making our way ashore. We had to wait for about fifteen minutes before our coach tour (Highlights of Glasgow) was ready, but by 9.15am everyone was aboard, and it was driving out of the optimistically termed ‘Ocean Cruise Terminal’. (The terminal consists of a pontoon with a couple of gangways that connect it to the shore, and a small carpark for the coaches!)

The drive into Glasgow to about forty minutes (we seemed to have to stop at every set of traffic lights along the route ... and there were lots of them!), and our first stop was the cathedral.

The hill behind the cathedral is the site of the local necropolis (where the refomrer, John Knox, is buried) …

… and just outside the cathedral’s main door is a statue of the explorer, David Livingstone.

Across the road from the statute was what is reputed to be the oldest house in Glasgow.

Our next stop was in George Square, …

… one side of which is dominated by the City Chambers.

It was originally intended that a statue of King George III was to be placed in the centre of the square, but after the loss of the American Colonies, one of Sir Walter Scott was put in its place.

In front of the City Chambers is a large war memorial dedicated to the men of Glasgow who died in the Great War.

Dotted around the square are a number of other statues, including Lord Clyde (Field Marshal Colin Campbell, 1st Baron Clyde, GCB, KCSI (20th October 1792 to 14th August 1863)), …

… Sir John Moore (Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, KB (13th November 1761 to 16th January 1809)), …

… William Gladstone (William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS (29th December 1809 to 19th May 1898)), …

… and James Oswald MP (2nd May 1779 to 3rd June 1853), who was the city’s first MP after the Great Reform Act of 1832.

The inscription on the latter is of interest as it states that the statue was erected ‘by a few friends’ … which seems to imply that some didn’t of his friends did not subscribe to its erection! In truth, the statue was originally erected in Sandyford Place, off Sauchiehall Street. It was moved to the north-east corner of George Square in 1875 after the Council received a petition from Oswald's friends and family that his statue be accorded the same prominence as his political opponent Robert Peel, whose monument had been erected in the square in 1859.

Our final stop was at the Kelvin Hall and Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum. The former is on one side of the main road …

… whilst the other occupies a somewhat higher position.

The grounds of the gallery contained several war memorials. The most impressive was dedicated to the men of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) who died in both World Wars.

The others were dedicated to those who died whilst serving with the 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force …

… and those from West Scotland who died during the Normandy Campaign.

Just visible behind a screen of trees was the tower of Glasgow University, the second oldest university in Scotland.

We returned to Britannia just before 1.00am, and after dropping of our coats and bags in our suite, Sue and I went up to the Sunset Bar for a much-needed drink. By this time the early morning fog had pretty well dispersed, and it was possible to see the warships that we had glimpsed as well sailed into Greenock.

The were the Portuguese NRP Corte-Real (F332), a Vasco da Gama-class frigate, the Netherlands HNLMS Van Amstel (F831), a Karel Doorman-class frigate, the HMCS Fredericton (FFH337), a Halifax-class frigate, and the HMS Pembroke (M107), a Sandown-class minehunter. After lunch, they were joined by the RFA Mounts Bay (L3008), a Bay-class Dock Landing Ship.

Sue and I decided to have a snack lunch in the Lido Grill, followed by a short spell on the open deck are on Deck 7. We then returned to our suite, where we both had a much-needed nap.

By the time that Britannia set sail from Greenock at just before 6.30pm, the warships had all departed, and we were played out by a number of pipers in Highland dress.

By 7.30pm we were both ready for dinner, and as usual had our pre-dinner drink in the Sunset Bar. After a short debate we decided to go to the Peninsular Restaurant for dinner. The choice on the menu included some of our favourites, and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening meal. Afterwards we went up to the open deck are on Deck 7 before returning to our suite for the night. Before going to sleep, we watched Eddie Izzard’s recent film ‘Six Minutes to Midnight’, which turned out to be better than we had expected.

Thursday 16th September: At sea

When we awoke, the expected bad weather had not arrived. The sky was blue, with hardly any clouds, and the sea was calm. After breakfast in the Epicurean Restaurant and a short break in the Sunset Bar, Sue and I returned to our suite. Whilst there, we had a chance to have a long chat with our butler, who described the massive changes that were taking place in his home city, Mumbai.

At 12.30pm we went to the Live Lounge to listed to another talk by Eileen Goulding. This talk was entitled ‘Preventioners and Owlers’, and it dealt with the age-old struggle between smugglers and the Customs and Excise service. It was very informative and covered not just the traditional smuggling of French brandy and wine into Britain but also British wool to the Continent.

The talk finished just before 1.30pm, and Sue and I went up to the Horizon Self-Service Restaurant for lunch. After that we went outside to the Sunset Bar, but we did not stay there long as the wind changed direction and it became quite cold. Whilst we were there, a warship sailed past Britannia some distance away. It was difficult to identify which ship it was, but it was obviously a frigate of some sort.

We were back in our suite by 3.00pm, and except for a short break for afternoon tea in the Horizon Self-Service Restaurant, we stayed there until it was time to go to the second formal dinner of the cruise. We ate in the Peninsular Restaurant, after having had a pre-dinner drink in the Sunset Bar. We paid a quick visit to the open deck are on Deck 7 before returning to our suite, where we read for an hour or so before going to bed.

Friday 17th September: At sea

Overnight, Britannia had sailed south as far as the Bristol Channel and had turned towards Hartland Point and Lundy Island. At 9.00am, the latter was clearly visible as Sue and I went for breakfast in the Epicurean Restaurant.

The weather was overcast and although the air temperature was 16°C, the wind made it feel colder. As a result, we only spent a short time in the Sunset Bar after breakfast before going down to the Live Lounge to hear Eileen Goulding’s talk about ‘Sunken Treasure’. We arrived there well before she started her talk, and were able to sit and read until she began.

We returned to our suite just as Officer-of-the-Watch made the customary midday announcement. This told us how far we had sailed over the previous twenty-four hours and the average speed at which Britannia had sailed.

Because it was so cold and windy on deck, we stayed in our suite until 2.00pm, when we went up to Deck 16 to eat. After looking at what was available at the Lido Grill and the Pizzeria, we opted to eat in the Horizon Self-Service Restaurant. Once Sue and I had eaten, we did venture outside to the Sunset Bar for a drink, but when the ship changed course – having sailed around Lundy Island and along the northern coast of Cornwall for some time – it suddenly got colder as the wind direction shifted. After finishing our drinks, Sue and I returned to our suite, where we remained until it was time to get ready for dinner.

During the afternoon we watched a documentary about the ‘fake news’ phenomena entitled ‘After Truth’. It was very interesting, and dealt with topics such as Pizzagate, the use of social media to assist the election of the Democratic candidate for the Governorship of Alabama, Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before a Congressional Committee, allegations of sexual misconduct made by certain right-wing lobbyists and influencers to smear the Mueller investigations, and the deplatforming of peddlers of right-wing conspiracies and ‘fake news’.

For a change, Sue and I ate dinner in the Epicurean Restaurant. We were booked in for 8.30pm, and despite the wind and the cold, we had a pre-dinner drink in the Sunset Bar. The meal was even better than our first in the restaurant, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Once we had finished, we went down to the open deck area on Deck 7 for some fresh air, where we discovered that the wind had dropped, and the air temperature was warner than it had been some two and a half hours earlier!

Before going to bed, we had a bit of a sort out of some of the things we had to pack on Saturday and watched the news on the in-suite TV. Sue and I then got ready for bed and read for a time before going to sleep.

Saturday 18th September: At sea

During the night, Britannia sailed out and around the Scilly Isles before turning eastwards towards the English Channel. When Sue and I awoke at 8.00am, she was just south of Land’s End, sailing on a north-easterly course towards the southern coast of Cornwall. Whilst we were getting dressed, we saw Land's End ...

... and St Michael’s Mount on the horizon.

After eating breakfast in the Epicurean Restaurant, Sue and I decided to go straight to the Live Lounge to sit and read before Eileen Goulding started her final talk of the cruise. It was entitled ‘Women in Piracy’ and covered the role of women both as pirates and supporting piracy. She finished just before the Officer-of-the-Watch made his midday announcement.

We were both feeling rather thirsty, and so we went up to the Sunset Bar for a drink. The weather was warmer than we expected, and the absence of a breeze meant that is was very pleasant there. In fact, we stayed there until 1.30pm, when we went to the Horizon Self-Service Restaurant for lunch.

After lunch, it was time to begin packing our luggage. It did not take us very long to get three of our bags packed and ready to be left outside our suite for collection whilst we were eating dinner. We then spent the rest of the afternoon reading and resting.

Our butler – Simon – paid us a visit at just after 5.00pm to deliver some canapes for us to eat. Sue and I were able to have quite a long chat with him before we thanked him for everything that he had done for use during our cruise. Later on, we were able to do the same to our cabin steward, Bharat.

Sue and I had a pre-dinner drink in the Sunset Bar before eating our last dinner of the cruise in the Peninsular Restaurant. As we had booked a place at the final show in the Headliners Theatre at 10.30pm, and we had finished eating at just after 9.12pm, we spent some time outside on the open deck area on Deck 7 and in our suite before going to the theatre at 10.15pm.

The show – ‘Mr Tinkerton’s Clockwork Circus’ – was one of the most original shows we have seen performed on a cruise ship, and we thoroughly enjoyed it as it made a great end to our last evening on board Britannia

We got back to our suite by just after 11.30pm, and once we had packed and put out our last piece of luggage, we went to bed.

Sunday 19th September: Southampton … and going home

One of the drawbacks of having a suite near the bows of the ship is vibration whenever the ship has to use her thrusters to turn and manoeuvre when docking. Britannia reached the Ocean Terminal at just before 6.00am, and as a result, Sue and I were awake well before our alarm clock was due to go off.

As we had everything we needed already prepared, it took us less than an hour at an unhurried pace to get ready to disembark. We had our last breakfast in the Epicurean Restaurant, returned to our suite to collect our hand luggage, and then made our way to the Headliners Theatre, which was our disembarkation muster point.

Almost as soon as we reached the theatre, we were directed towards the disembarkation gangway, and by 8.30pm we had collected our luggage from the luggage reclaim hall, made our way to the valet parking area, collected our car, loaded it, and were on our way home. We stopped at Winchester Services for a comfort break and to buy a few essential food items, and got home at 11.00am, having had no holdups on the M3 and M25 motorways to deal with.

Our short cruise to Greenock and back was over ... and hopefully our next one will not only be longer but will also take us outside the British Isles!