Thursday 31 March 2022

"Whatever you do, don't choose the cheese sandwich!"

When I was admitted to Ward 15 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, on Wednesday 23rd March, I had missed the deadline for ordering an evening meal.

At just after 6.00pm, the staff began to deliver food to each patient, but as I had not ordered anything, none was delivered to my bed. I asked if it would be possible to get something to eat as I had not eaten since lunchtime, and after some humming and hawing, I managed to order a cheese sandwich and an apple juice.

This was a big mistake!

By 7.30pm, nothing had arrived, and I asked the nurse if he could chase up my order. He did ... and was told that it was on its way.

At 8.00pm the day and night shifts swopped over, and at 8.30pm I asked one of the new nurses on duty to find out where my sandwich was. She did ... and was told that it was on its way.

By 9.30pm nothing had arrived, and she chased up my order for a second time ... and was told that it was ready for me to collect! After explaining that I was in bed and unable to go to the canteen, they grudgingly agreed to send it to the ward using the next available porter.

The sandwich finally arrived at just after 10.00pm ... but without the apple juice I had ordered. Rather than complain, I decided to drink water instead.

The sandwich arrived in a prepacked plastic and cardboard container which proved very difficult to open. When I eventually managed that 'simple' task, I was presented with my cheese sandwich.

What I actually ended up with was a slice of cheese between two slices of processed brown bread. The bread had been holistically buttered (i.e., it had been in the same room as some butter at the time that it was made but had apparently never had any spread on it) and looked very unappetising. The cheese was some sort of mature Cheddar cheese, but of a variety that was very dry and both strong and tasteless at the same time.

My first bite was enough. The bread turned to a heavy lump of pulp in my mouth whilst the cheese seemed to suck all my saliva away. The only way I could eat it was to swallow a gulp of water with every bite, and even then, it seemed to stick in my throat.

I managed to eat half of my sandwich before I gave up and decided that being hungry was better than eating the rest of it.

Next morning, I discussed my experience with the other people in my bay, and one of then said, 'I should have warned you. Whatever you do, don't choose the cheese sandwich! It's inedible!'

It's certainly advice that I passed on when the opportunity arose.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Ward 15, Bay 12, Bed 4

My regular blog readers will no doubt have noticed my absence from the blogsphere for a week ... and I can now explain why.

For some time I have been experiencing medical problems with my urinary system, something that I not unusual in a man of my age. I discussed it with my doctor, who sent me for a blood test and he referred me to the consultant urologist at the local hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. I turned up early for my appointment on 23rd March ... and almost as soon as I arrived, the consultant whisked me into her office and told me that she wanted to admit me as an emergency!

After allowing me time to overcome my initial shock, she explained why. I had had a CT scan done some time ago, and it showed that I had an enlarged prostate. The blood test ordered by my doctor had revealed that bladder was very distended, and my kidneys were not functioning properly, and the consultant felt that unless I was admitted immediately and my system was drained of all the excess urine that it had in it, there was a very distinct possibility that my kidneys would rupture.

My appointment was at 2.30pm, and by 3.30pm I had been fitted with a catheter, my urine drained from my bladder (there were 1.3 litres/2.3 pints of it), and I was sitting in a hospital bed 4 in Ward 15, Bay 12. I remained there until yesterday afternoon, at which point it was felt that bladder was beginning to shrink back to its normal size and my kidneys were beginning to function normally, and that I could be sent home to await further treatment.

I will be having an MRI scan on Sunday to help to diagnose the cause of my enlarged prostate, and once the results are known, I will return to the hospital to begin whatever treatment is necessary. In the meantime I have been fitted with a catheter and have to wear a urine bag strapped to my thigh during the day, and a larger bag on a stand at night when I am sleeping. This is inconvenient but I can live inconvenience for as long as it takes to get well.

I will try to continue to blog regularly cannot guarantee that I will be able to. I will, however, be continuing to work on the PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM and my FUNNY LITTLE WARS/PORTABLE WARGAME project.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

A progress report on my Funny Little Wars/Portable Wargame model warship project

I have been slowly but surely working on the two model warships I am building as part of my ongoing FUNNY LITTLE WARS/PORTABLE WARGAME project. I decided that they are going to be for the navy of Burgundy, and I have based the design very loosely on the Amiral Baudin-class ironclads that were built for the French Navy in 1880s.

The two ships built for the French were named Amiral Baudin and Formidable, and when they orignally entered service they were armed with three 370mm/14.6-inch, 28-caliber M1875–79 breechloading guns mounted in individual barbette mounts. These were distributed on the centreline, one forward, one amidships, and one aft.

The Amiral Baudin-class as built.

Between 1896 and 1898 both members of the class were modernised, and it is this revised design that I have 'copied'.

The Amiral Baudin-class after modernisation..

The centre barbette was removed and replaced by a battery of 163mm/5.5-inch quick-firing guns.

As with all my other ship models, mine will be 'cartoon' versions of the original ships. In other words, the dimensions will be distorted so that the model is only 10cm/4-inches long, but when seen alongside 15mm figures, they will not look too ridiculous. It is also important the the main features of the model replicate those of the design upon which they are based, in this case the barbette guns, the heavy tubular military mast, the imposing funnel, and the 'new' centre battery.

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Hexon II half-hexes

After Arthur Harman's recent suggestions regarding how to set up a hexed Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Wargame, I bought forty half-hexes (twenty of each sort) from Hexon II. They arrived yesterday, and they look like this:

I am not sure when I will get the chance to use them, but they are a valuable addition to my already extensive collection of Hexon II hexes.

Monday 21 March 2022

Meanwhile, back in the model shipyard …

Yesterday I managed to do several hour’s work on the PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM … but as I didn’t want to overdo things, I decided to begin work on some ship models to go with my FUNNY LITTLE WARS/PORTABLE WARGAME figures.

I used a couple of wooden ship models that I bought a few year ago (they were kits for making models of the RMS Titanic) as the basis of the hulls.

I cut them down to a length of 4-inches/10cm, filled in a gap in the upper deck with some spare wood, and shaped the stern. The resulting hulls looked like this:

I’m not quite sure what the models will eventually look like, but I suspect that they will resemble a couple of my previous model ships.

Sunday 20 March 2022

The Portable Wargame Compendium: My 'brain fog' is gradually going ... and I am making progress!

One of the symptoms that has persisted since my recent brush with COVID is 'brain fog'. In other words, until yesterday I found it difficult to concentrate on even the simplest of tasks for more than a few minutes ... but when I awoke on Saturday morning, I discovered that my 'brain fog' had begun to clear.

I am still not back to 100% effectiveness, but I was able to spend several hours working on the PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM ... and at present the Contents page looks like this:

I still have several things to add, including at least two battle reports and a short set of ideas for a set of Portable Sci-Fi Wargame rules. If my improvement continues, I think that my self-set deadline of publishing the Compendium by the end of April is still achievable.

Friday 18 March 2022

A trip the The Works

During a trip to a shopping centre in Chatham, Kent, I visit a branch of 'The Works'. I had been given a gift voucher for the shop as part of a Christmas present, and after a long look around, I bought one of their '10 in 1 Wooden Game Sets' for £12.00.

The box contains all the equipment for ten traditional games:

  • Backgammon
  • Chess
  • Chinese Chequers
  • Dominoes
  • Mikado
  • Nine Men Morris
  • Ludo
  • Playing Cards
  • Draughts
  • Snakes & Ladders

It struck me that it was a cornucopia of useful bits and pieces, and even if I didn't actually play any of the games, the parts would come in useful. The wooden box everything came in is a very useful size and may provide the basis for a travel version of both the PORTABLE WARGAME and the FAST PLAY 3 x 3 PORTABLE WARGAME.

For now, the games set is going to sit on the shelves of my toy/wargame room, but no doubt it will be raided in the near future to provided ideas and pieces for my wargame designs.

Please note that the images featured above are © The Works.

Wednesday 16 March 2022

The Portable Wargame Compendium: A short progress report

Although I am still struggling to concentrate, I have made some progress on putting the PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM together.

I have had a contribution from Martin Rapier that describes the 1st Punic War campaign he fought using the FP3X3PW rules as well as a copy of David Barnes' eighteenth-century rules that are based on the Brigade-level rules from the PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME.

I am still hoping to get the book published by the end of April, but this very much depends upon how much time I can spend putting the book together.

Monday 14 March 2022

Arthur Harman's idea for hexed Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Wargame terrain board

In response to Marc Pavone's suggested hexed Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Wargame terrain board, Arthur Harman has suggested the following slight modification. In his accompanying email, he states that, 'I have been looking at the hex grid for FP3x3PW to see how best to construct it from Hexon II pieces. To recreate the original grid ...

... requires two of the six-hex pieces and twelve single hexes.

In this diagram the light grey areas represent the six-hex pieces, and the white areas are the single hexes.

If one 'loses' the top row of hexes, one can make a slightly smaller area of two six-hex pieces, ten single hexes and two half-hexes to create Reserve Areas which just have a central half-hex to the rear, which could be the site of a camp or baggage train for cavalry to plunder in the ECW, or a chateau headquarters for WWI.

In this diagram the light grey areas represent the six-hex pieces, the white areas are the single hexes, and the dark grey areas are the half-hexes.

In both the above diagrams, the red and blue area are the Reserve Areas used by the opposing sides and the green areas are the Flank March areas.

It is worth noting that Arthur uses the half-hex as the unit of measurement for ranges and movement in his battles, and that half-hexes are available from Hexon II.

Please note that the diagrams featured above are © Arthur Harman.

Sunday 13 March 2022

Possible designs for Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Wargame terrain boards

Overnight, Marc Pavone (who is one of my regular blog readers and commentators) sent me three diagrams of potential Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Wargame (FP3X3PW) terrain boards which he has no objection to me sharing online.

The first two are similar to designs developed by others and are based around a 3 x 3 square grid with a Reserve Area at each end and a Flank March area on each side.

The third uses hexes, and due to the difference in the way that hexes tessellate with one another, the central row of hexes has four rather than three hexes.

In his accompanying email, he states that, 'I'm thinking those two hexes in the center will give players a little more room to maneuver and make controlling the center a little more tense'. I certainly agree that it adds a dimension that I had not thought about when I tried – somewhat unsuccessfully – to produce a 3 x 3 hexed version of the terrain board.

I'd be interested in any comments that other FP3X3PW users would like to make, especially about the hexed version of the terrain baord. As someone who has invested quite a lot of money in Hexon II hexes, being able to use them for FP3X3PW battles would be great!

Please note that the diagrams featured above are © Marc Pavone.

Saturday 12 March 2022

The slow road to recovery

As regular readers will have noticed, I have not returned to my normal schedule of writing daily blog posts. The reason is quite simple; both Sue and I seem to be taking longer than expected to recover from COVID (and which a medical professional tells us might be an instance of mild long COVID), and I am having to undergo a number of medical tests related to the aftereffects of my operation in December 2020.

The operation left me with a minor problem, but it was expected that it would clear up as I recovered. Unfortunately, it has not. In fact, it has got worse over the last few months and my GP has instigated a programme of tests that should identify the cause of the problem. So far, they have been able to rule out diabetes, but there are a range of other possible reasons why I have not returned to 100% fitness.

As regular readers can no doubt understand, my mind is somewhat distracted by my health problems at the moment. Once the situation becomes clearer and whatever treatment that is needed is identified and put in place, I fully expect to return to my regime of writing daily blog posts. In the meantime, I will blog as often as I can.

Friday 11 March 2022

Other people's Portable Wargames: Flank marches and the Balkan Wars

There are no blog posts about other people's PORTABLE WARGAMES, and then like buses, several come along at once!

Arthur Harman has written a very interesting contribution to the PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM about how to simulate flank marches in the FP3X3PW, and he has since suggested that a couple of area be added to the basic 3 x 3 grid so that units that are attempting a flank march can be placed there in the same way that units that have yet to arrive on the battlefield can be placed in the Reserve Area. If this idea were adopted, the 'new' battlefield would look something like this:

In a reply to Arthur's comment about this, Mark Cordone replied 'I'm thinking that if both sides are attempting a flank march to the same side of the battlefield, the units involved would fight a combat against each other with the loser being the first unit to take a hit whether it takes casualties or is forced to retreat. It would then arrive in its army's reserve area on the next turn and the winner would then get to make a flank attack on its next turn. If both units take hits, both flank marches would fail.'

This seems like quite an elegant solution, and one that needs further investigation.

Mark Cordone has also been fighting a fictional battle from the First Balkan War, the Battle of Vizya, using one of his 3 x 3 terrain boards. The battle took place when a Bulgarian army launched a surprise attack on the Ottoman army stationed to the north of Istanbul.

In his conclusion, Mark states that 'This was a fun, tense game that took a little over half an hour to play and showed Balkan Wars battles transfer very well to 3 x 3 games.' In reply to a comment, he further states that 'It would be a fun Matrix Game with an opponent, or Snakes & Ladders solo. You could have three armies on the Snakes & Ladders matrix at the same time with battles whenever any of them lands on a battle box. (Ottomans, Bulgarians and Serbs and their allies.)'

This has certainly given me several ideas that I want to follow up on ... when I have enough time!

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

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Other people’s Portable Wargames: Battle in a box

Enthusiasm for the FAST PLAY 3 x 3 PORTABLE WARGAME (FP3X3PW) continues to grow, and recently Ion Dowman (AKA Archduke Piccolo) has been working on a campaign involving the Byzantines, Bulgars, Pechenegs, and Abasgians, has just fought the first battle.

He set up his terrain board in a box, the sides of which were painted to act as a background. The resulting battle looked very impressive …

… and the battle report was very interesting to read.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Ion Dowman.

Monday 7 March 2022

We're all doomed! Is it the end of blogging? I certainly don't think so ... yet!

I follow lots of blogs, most of which are about wargaming. One of these is 'Big Lee's Miniature Adventures', and in a recent blog post and associated YouTube channel posting, he discussed the question 'Are Wargame Blogs Dying Out?'

To watch Big Lee's YouTube posting, press here.

The main thrust of what he discusses is covered in a short statement on his blog:

'I used to have over 600 Bogs in my Blogroll, but one by one they have stopped being updated or have been removed entirely. Meanwhile wargame content is proliferating on other social media. So it has to be asked, are wargaming blogs dying out?'

This set me thinking, and to a certain extent, I agree with his assertion that the growth in wargame-related blogging has appeared to have plateaued off over the past couple of years. I still follow a large number using Feedly, but inevitably some have blossomed for a short time and then become moribund, whilst others continue to appear regularly (or irregularly) whenever the blogger has something that they want to bring to the attention of a wider audience.

Big Lee points out that since blogging started back in 1999, other social media have appeared and to a certain extent have replaced it. This is true ... and I certainly have used some of them for my wargaming. That said, my blogs have been the mainstay of my online presence (My God, that sounds so pretentious, but I cannot think of another expression to use!) and I suspect that they will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Blogging is dead! Long live the blog!

Some interesting social media dates:

  • Blogger was launched on 23rd August 1999.
  • FaceMash (the forerunner of Facebook) was founded on 28th October 2003. (It became Facebook on 4th February 2004).
  • YouTube was launched on 14th February 2005.
  • Twitter was launched on 15th July 2006.
  • WhatsApp was launched in November 2009.
  • TikTok was launched in October 2016.

Sunday 6 March 2022

Other people's Portable Wargames

It is some months since I wrote about other people's PORTABLE WARGAMES, and quite a lot has happened in the interim.

First and foremost, the Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Wargame (or FP3x3PW) has come to the fore, thanks to Mark Cordone. It has since been taken up by quite a number of players, and a variety of variants have appeared on the group's Facebook page.

The most recent additions have been Mark's Operational-level World War Two variant ...

The opening move of Mark Cordone's refight of the Battle of Rostov ...
... and the situation at the end of Turn 3 of the battle.

... and Mike Taber's ideas for pre-generated terrain layouts.

I have already 'signed up' Mark's latest rules for inclusion in the PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM, and I certainly want to include Mike's ideas as well if it is at all possible.

As work to the PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM ... it continues at a slow but steady rate. Thanks to my recent COVID-19 infection, I am still finding it difficult to concentrate at times, but each day I seem to be able to do a bit more.

Please note that the images featured above are © Mark Cordone and Mike Taber.

Friday 4 March 2022

A new edition of Funny Little Wars is on the way!

Yesterday I received an email from Paul Wright – the author of FUNNY LITTLE WARS – that informed me that he is about to publish a new and revised edition of his rules.

The cover art for the new edition of Funny Little Wars.

They are described as 'Edwardian garden wargames in the style of Mr HG Wells' and having had the opportunity to take part in some of the play test battles, I can assure potential buyers that they are great fun to use!

Once a definite publication date and price have been settled, I will write a more detailed blog post about this new edition.

Thursday 3 March 2022

The Portable Wargame Compendium: A progress report

Now that I am recovering from my recent brush with COVID-19, I have been able to resume work on the PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM.

To date it includes the following chapters:

  • The ‘Snakes & Ladders’ Campaign System (including a campaign report: 'Stalbanian-Khakistan War')
  • Swords, Sorcery, and Squares: A Fantasy variant of the Portable Wargame by Justin Barrett
  • The Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Wargame Phenomenon
  • The original Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Wargame Rules by Mark Cordone
  • Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Colonial & Late Nineteenth Century Wargame Rules (including a battle report: 'Somewhere in the Sudan')
  • Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Eastern Front Infantry Combat Wargame Rules (including a battle report: 'The assault of Portagrad')
  • Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Little Wars Rules by Arthur Harman

In due course I hope to add several other chapters to the book, including one containing Gary Sheffield's Fast Play 3 x 3 Portable Napoleonic Wargame Rules.

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Thanks ... and a progress report

First, a big 'Thank You' to everyone who sent me messages whilst I had COVID-19. Usually I try to respond to each comment made on my blog, but in the early stages of my infection I really was not well enough to reply.

I began to feel unwell overnight on Friday 18th/Saturday 19th February, and by the time I got up on Saturday morning, I felt as if I had the worst 'flu/cold I had had in years. I was shivering, coughing repeatedly, sneezing regularly, had a runny nose and a bad headache, had little sense of taste or smell, my eyes were itching, my vision was blurry, my throat was dry and felt sore, and I could hardly concentrate on anything that I tried to do. I took a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) ... and the result was positive for COVID.

I was supposed to be fighting an online wargame on Saturday morning with Gary Sheffield, so I contacted him to cancel it. I also registered the result of my LFT with the NHS 'Track and Trace' service ... which took me nearly thirty minutes as I just could not concentrate hard enough on what I was doing to answer the questions that they asked. In reply I was told to self-isolate until 1st March, although it I had two consecutive negative LFT results from 24th February onwards, I would no longer need to self-isolate.

I have very little memory of what happened on the rest of Saturday or Sunday other than I ate very little, drank a lot of fluids, and slept fitfully for about sixteen hours on each day. One thing that does stand out was the firework show that seemed to take place in my head every time that I closed my eyes to sleep!

By Monday 21st February I was beginning to feel slightly better. I felt tired all the time and was still sleeping or dozing on and off for much of the day, but I was able to concentrate for long enough to sort out one or two problems that needed urgent attention. Foremost amongst these was the need to cancel an appointment with my GP about a problem that may have arisen as a result of my stoma and to cancel my annual NHS Health Check. I also had to arrange for a stand-in for a talk I was due to give to a Masonic Lodge on Friday 25th February. These three simple tasks took me hours to complete, thanks to my fatigue and inability to concentrate properly.

Ironically, I did see the Prime Minister announce the end of the need for people who were fully vaccinated to self-isolate if the had a positive LFT result ... and was amazed when the NHS 'Track and Trace' service sent me a reminder two minutes after he began his statement that as I had become ill before the announcement, I was still bound by the legal requirement to self-isolate until 1st March!

As the week progressed, I began to feel slightly better. By Thursday 24th February I still had the runny nose and general feeling of lethargy and was dozing off regularly whilst sitting in my chair in front of the TV. I was also finding it difficult to do anything that required a physical effort or serious concentration. For example, climbing the stairs required me to sit down for a couple of minutes to recover each time I went up, although coming back down again was less tiring. I did try to do some modelling and some writing, but after about ten minutes on each, I gave up. This was great pity as I had plenty of time to kill as a result of my self-isolation.

Thursday was also the first day I could take a LFT to see if I was no longer infectious ... but the test gave a positive result. This was also the first day when Sue's daily LFT showed that she was testing positive for COVID, which meant that she was going to have to join me in self-imposed purdah.

The news on Thursday was dominated by reports about the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. We followed events as best we could using the numerous online news channels that we can access (BBC News, Sky News, Al Jazeera, and RT) and the different slants put on events by these news outlets was, to say the least, interesting.

Sue and I slept quite badly on Thursday night, and when we awoke neither of us was feeling any better than we had done on the previous day. I was so concerned about events in the Ukraine that almost as soon as I had a drink and my morning shower, I wrote a somewhat rambling blog post in which I outlined my thoughts. It received quite a number of comments over the following two days, and I was just about able to concentrate for long enough to reply to them.

On both Friday (25th February) and Saturday (26th February) my LTFs indicated that I was still testing positive for COVID, and that my period in isolation would have to continue. I did manage to have an online consultation with my GP about the problem that may be linked to my colostomy, and he arranged for me to have an ultrasound scan of my lower abdomen once I was clear of the virus. Other than that, I managed to do very little over those two days other than watch TV and to put together some ideas for the forthcoming PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM.

I was expecting that the LTF I took on Sunday would indicate that I was finally free from COVID-19 ... but it didn't, although the line indicating that I was still infected was much thinner than it had been on the previous day. I now felt as if I just had a very heavy cold and although I still felt very tired every time that I tried to do anything that involved physical effort, my concentration span was longer, and I actually managed to spend an hour working on the COMPENDIUM!

Monday's LFT was negative ... which meant that if Tuesday's was also negative, I would officially be free of COVID-19! Unfortunately, I was not free of the symptoms of a heavy cold, but my concentration was much improved, and I did some more work on the COMPENDIUM. Sue is still testing positive, and we are going to continue to remain isolated until she is clear, but with a bit of luck, ours will be a COVID-free house by later this week.

I will be taking today's LFT in about an hour ... and I have my fingers crossed that the result will be negative. If it is, I can al least walk to the local post box and post the latest issue of THE NUGGET!