Saturday 31 December 2022

Back home after a Christmas break

Two days ago, Sue and I returned from a Christmas cruise aboard P&O's MV Arcadia. We were supposed to visit Copenhagen (Denmark), Oslo (Norway), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), and Zeebrugge (Belgium), but as my forthcoming blog post about our cruise will tell, things did not quite turn out as planned!

Arcadia was not originally intended to be part of P&O's fleet. When she was ordered from the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri in 2000, it was intended that she would sail under the Holland America Line flag as their fifth Vista-class vessel. In 2003 she was then reallocated to Cunard Line to become the MV Queen Victoria, but shortly before she was launched on 24th June 2004, she was transferred to P&O Cruises as the Arcadia. As a result of these changes, the ship does not have a similar funnel to that on P&O's purpose-built MV Aurora and has a similar foremast to that on Cunard's RMS Queen Mary 2.

From the news reports that I have read, it was just as well that we did not opt to sail on P&O's latest ship, the MV Arvia, which entered service just before she undertook a Christmas cruise. We have been on a cruise on her sistership, MV Iona, but is sounds as if the Christmas cruise aboard Arvia was a bit of a disaster! Complaints included:

  • Horrendous queues at mealtimes (One passenger is reported to have said that queues to get into one of the restaurants on Christmas Day for dinner stretched for three-quarters of the ship's length along two decks and another said that the meal they ate was still being served at 11.00pm!)
  • Problems with Christmas dinner reservations (Some passengers' dinner reservations were cancelled without notice by the booking system and others found themselves allocated to tables that were double-booked)
  • A lack of internet access (As the 'My Holiday' app used aboard P&O ships for passengers to book meals, places at shows and other entertainment, spa treatments, room service etc., as well as keep track of their onboard spending requires internet access, having unreliable internet connectivity caused major problems for passengers)

I understand that P&O have apologised profusely for the problems that occurred and assured passengers that solutions have now been put in place, but there seem to be a lot of very angry passengers out there who want some form of compensation for their ruined Christmas holidays ... and that – as yet – does not seem to be forthcoming. It makes some of the problems that we had on our cruise seem rather insignificant!

Tuesday 27 December 2022

What next for 2023?

Whenever a book gets finished and published, there is a period of euphoria for the author, followed by a serious scrutiny of the initial sales figures to see if the effort was worthwhile ... and then one begins to ask oneself the question 'Well, what next?'

Having had a chat with David Crook, I know that he is already thinking about what book he wants to write next and that I will be involved in that project, but what will my next writing projects be?

I have two in mind.

Firstly, a second PORTABLE WARGAME COMPENDIUM looks like it might be a very feasible project, and I already have several things that I would like to include in it.

Secondly, I'd like to revisit my PORTABLE WORLD WAR II WARGAME rules, specifically with the Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War in mind. I already have a campaign map and system in place, and a working set of rules that need a bit of tweaking. What I need to do is to bring them together in a more coherent way than they are at present.

I would like to pursue these two writing projects whilst finishing off my Belle Époque and Franco-Prussian War of 1810 projects, both of which I have rather ignored of late due to my need to concentrate on getting THE PORTABLE IRONCLADS WARGAME published and dealing with my ongoing cancer treatment.

These are pretty ambitious goals to try to achieve over the next twelve months, but I'd rather set goals to work towards than just bumbling along flitting from unfinished project to unfinished project.

Sunday 25 December 2022

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all my friends and fellow bloggers a Merry Christmas!

Friday 23 December 2022

Taking a break over Christmas

Christmas is a very busy period for lots of people, and I have decided to take a short break from blogging so that I can concentrate on other things ... like keeping warm and eating far too much!

I will be uploading my usual Christmas greetings to my loyal regular blog readers and fellow bloggers, but other than that don't expect to hear much from me until the end of the month. In the meantime, I hope that you all keep safe and keep well.

PS. My wife tells me that my attitude to Christmas is very Scrooge-like, possibly because I have been known to say 'Bah! Humbug!' during the runup to the festivities. This is nothing to do with the actual celebrations but the fact that stuff began appearing on the shelves of shops months beforehand, and that the whole thing has – in my opinion – become far too commercialised.

As to Scrooge ... well, I think that he has had a bit of a bad press over the years ...

Scrooge the wargamer dreaming of wargames past, wargames present, and wargames yet to come!

That Dickens chap (with whom I share a birthday and certain facial characteristics i.e. scruffy hair, silly beard, bags under the eyes) has a lot to answer for!

Wednesday 21 December 2022

My additional terrain squares are finished

Earlier this month, I mentioned that I was making some sand coloured 10cm terrain square. This has taken me slightly longer that I expected, but they are now complete.

The additional terrain squares include:

  • 27 plain sand squares
  • 5 sand squares with straight rivers
  • 2 sand squares with 90-degree curved rivers
  • 8 sand squares with straight roads
  • 2 sand squares with crossroads
  • 2 sand squares with T-junctions
  • 2 sand squares with 90-degree curved roads
  • 1 sand square with a straight road crossing a straight river

I am rather pleased with the way these terrain squares have turned out, and I look forward to using them in due course.

A 5 x 5 grid made up of various 10cm hill, river, and road terrain squares.

Monday 19 December 2022

Flower-class corvettes in Kriegsmarine service

The recent publication of the latest book in Antoine Vanner's DAWLISH CHRONICLES series reminded me that back in 2020 I wrote a guest blog post on his blog about warships that had been captured by the German during World War Two and incorporated into the Kriegsmarine. As a follow up to this, I briefly wrote about the British-designed Flower-class corvettes that served in the Kriegsmarine, and by sheer chance, a couple of days ago, I found some photographs of these vessels on the Internet. I did a bit more research and the following was the result.


The French Navy had planned to acquire eighteen build Flower-class corvettes, six of which were intended to be built in French dockyards. These six were all named after old weapons, namely, Arquebuse (Arquebus), Hallebarde (Halberd), Sabre (Sabre), Poignard (Poignard), Tromblon (Blunderbuss), and Javeline (Javelin). The first three were completed to a slightly modified design, but the latter three were never fully completed, although the hull of the incomplete Poignard was launched and later used as a blockship at Nantes in 1944.

One of the Flower-class corvettes in service with the Kriegsmarine. The aft bulwark has been cut down so that the ship's minesweeping gear can be deployed.

The first three were completed by the Germans and commissioned as patrol boats PA 1, PA 2, and PA 3. (PA stood for Patrouillenboot Ausland or captured patrol boat.) The ships looked similar to their Royal Navy sisters but were far more heavily armed. Their armament included:

  • 1 × 10.5cm (4.1-inch) SK C/32 gun (1 x 1)
  • 4 × 3.7cm SK C/30 AA anti-aircraft guns (2 x 2)
  • 10 × 2cm C/30 AA anti-aircraft guns (2 x 4 & 2 x 1)
  • 2 × Mk.II depth charge throwers
  • 2 × depth charge rails with 40 depth charges
This Flower-class corvette has not yet to been completed. Her 4.1-inch SK C/32 gun is already installed in its zariba, but the quadruple 2cm C/30 anti-aircraft gun has yet to be fitted in its position atop the ship's bridge.

They were also fitted with minesweeping gear.

A sideview drawing of the Flower-class corvettes as they would have appeared in service with the Kriegsmarine.

The ships formed part of the 15th Vorpostenflottille, which was based in Le Havre on coastal escort duty until it was forced to leave on 28th June 1944 due to the Allied advance in Normandy.

PA 1 was commissioned on 15th April 1944 and is thought to have been damaged during a bombing raid by 325 Lancaster bombers on Le Havre at the night of 14th/15th June 1944. She seems to have been decommissioned on 24th August 1944.

PA 2 was commissioned in early September 1943 and was sunk in Le Havre during the bombing raid of 14th/15th June 1944.

PA 3 was in commission by 16th November 1943, and after fairly active service in the English Channel, she was also damaged during the bombing raid on Le Havre on 14th/15th June 1944. She was not repaired and was decommissioned two days later.

This is thought to be the incomplete Poignard. Had she been completed and commissioned, she would have become the PA 4.

It is interesting to note that the Germans used these vessels for coastal escort duties, the role that was originally intended for them. It was the need for deep sea convoy escorts that forced the Royal Navy to use them in much heavier seas than they were designed for ... which is why they gained a reputation for being very 'wet' boats to serve aboard.

Saturday 17 December 2022

At long last, I’ve managed to unpack the figures that Ian Dury sent me

Yesterday, I finally managed to unpack the 15mm figures that Ian Dury sent me some time ago. He gave them to me to help me expand my Belle Époque collection to include several additional ‘European’ imagi-nations, and his gift included both painted and unpainted figures. The former were mainly Austrians-Hungarian figures and are all based. (I think that the cavalry is Romanian, but I am not absolutely sure.)

The were also a number of Zubian-style figures, some of which were not based.

The unpainted figures included the following:

  • 24 x Austrian Infantry
  • 8 x Austrian Jagers
  • 12 x Austrian Gunners
  • 7 x Austrian Artillery Officers
  • 7 x Austrian Drummers
  • 5 x Mounted Austrian Generals
  • 18 x Russian Infantry
  • 14 x Russian Hussars
  • 18 x Romanian Infantry
  • 3 x Romanian Hussars

This was a very generous gift and should form the basis of at least two more armies for my collection.

Friday 16 December 2022

Nugget 349 Colour Supplement

I have just uploaded the latest issue of THE NUGGET Colour Supplement to the Wargame Developments website, and members can now read this issue online.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this issue of the Colour Supplement accompanies the fourth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2022-2023 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 13 December 2022

The latest Portable Wargame book is now on sale!

I am pleased to announce that the latest PORTABLE WARGAME book has been published! It is THE PORTABLE IRONCLADS WARGAME and was written by David Crook and edited by me.

The book is 96 pages long and is available in four formats at prices to suit the pockets of all wargamers.

The book is described as follows on its back cover:

This book builds on the earlier Portable Wargame rules for fighting battles during the so-called ‘ironclad’ era of naval warfare that were included in ‘The Gridded Naval Wargame’. In this book, the author has created a set of rules that are mainly aimed at the American Civil War, a war that saw both sides embrace the new concept of armouring warships to make them less vulnerable to the more powerful guns that were being manufactured. The fact that both sides were capable of building or extemporising such warships – sometimes in a very short time and in very difficult and trying circumstances – is testament to their ingenuity and skill, and to the pioneer spirit exhibited by so many Americans in those days.

The Americans were not – however – unique in having the capacity to both build and operate ironclad warships, and as the book shows, the French and British were more than capable of building sea-going ironclads – and the guns with which to arm them – in large numbers in a relatively short time. They soon became the suppliers of ironclad warships to the world, and many of the warships that took part in the other naval conflicts of this era were launched in British or French shipyards. The rules in this book can be used to recreate these other battles, and it is hoped to produce appropriate supplements at a later date.

The book's contents look like this:

  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Acknowledgements
  • A short history of the development of the early ironclads
  • Wars in which ironclads saw action
    • American Civil War
    • The Second Schleswig War
    • The Chincha Islands War
    • The Third Italian War of Independence/Seven Weeks War
    • The War of the Triple Alliance/The Paraguayan War
    • The Boshin War
    • The Russo-Turkish War
    • The Peruvian Civil War
    • The War of the Pacific
  • Designer’s Notes – How I got to Where I got to and Why!
  • The Fundamental Rules of Wargaming
    • The First Rule of Wargaming
    • The Spirit of the Wargame
    • If in doubt ...
  • The Rules
    • Sequence of Play
    • Combat Resolution Overview
    • The Rule of 1 and 6 – Gunnery or Ramming Attacks
    • Firing
    • Movement
    • Ram Attacks
    • Mines and Spar Torpedoes
    • Damage and Sinking
    • Forts, Shore Batteries, and Offshore Defences
    • Ship Specifications
  • Examples of Ship Specifications: The American Civil War
    • Union Ships
    • Confederate Ships
    • Generic Vessels
  • Examples of the rules in action
    • Firing Arcs and Firing
    • Ramming
  • The Rules in Action – More Trouble along the Missenhitti
    • Introduction
    • Six months later …
    • Setting the Scene
    • Dramatis Naves
    • Blueberry Bend, at the Confluence of the Missenhitti and Yahoo Rivers … November 1863
    • In conclusion
  • Modelling the warships of the American Civil War
  • A Review of the Fleets
    • The Union Fleet
    • The Confederate Fleet
  • Final Thoughts, Further Thoughts, Errors, and Omissions
  • Bibliography and sources of information

This is a great addition to the PORTABLE WARGAME series of books and will hopefully not be David's only contribution.

Sunday 11 December 2022

My new storage trays have finally arrived

Some time ago, Ian Dury sent me some painted and based figures to add to my Belle Époque collection. Once they had been delivered, I decided to order some additional plastic storage trays from the manufacturer and wait until they were delivered before unwrapping the well-packed figures.

I was notified by email that the trays were on their way to me and eagerly anticipated their arrival. I waited … and waited … and waited. Finally, I got in contact with manufacturer to find out when my trays were … and was told that they had been delivered by courier a couple of days after the email had been sent to me. I told them that they hadn’t, so they investigated, and sent me a photograph of the box containing my trays on a doorstep. The problem was it wasn’t our doorstep!

Emails went back and forward between me and manufacturer, including a picture of our front doorstep to show that it wasn’t the same as the one in the courier’s photograph. The manufacturer finally agreed to supply me with some replacement trays for the ones that had been lost … and then there was a knock on our front door. Standing there was a man I’d never seen before, holding a box containing the missing tray!

It turned out that the courier had delivered the box containing the trays to a house some streets away. The house had the same number as ours, but not the same street name or postcode. The homeowner had contacted the courier about the wrong delivery, and they had agreed to collect the box … but hadn’t. In the end, the homeowner decided to deliver it to the correct address themselves, for which I am mightily thankful.

I can now begin to unpack the figures, and I will feature them on a blog post sometime very soon.

Saturday 10 December 2022

Britannia’s Rule: The latest book in the Dawlish Chronicles series.

The latest book in the Dawlish Chronicles series - BRITANNIA’s RULE - was published on Wednesday, and I am looking forward to reading it.

The published story line reads as follows:

1886: Captain Nicholas Dawlish, commanding a flotilla of the Royal Navy’s latest warships, is at Trinidad when news arrives of a volcanic eruption on a West Indian island. The situation is worsening and only decisive action can avert massive loss of life. He races there with his ships to render help. His enemy will be an angry mountain, vast in its malevolent power, a challenge that no naval officer has faced before.

But Dawlish’s contest with the volcano is just the prelude to a longer association with the island. Its sovereignty is split – a British Crown Colony in the west, and in the east an independent republic established seven decades earlier by self-emancipated slaves. When wrenched from France through war, both seemed glittering economic prizes. Now they are impoverished backwaters where resentment seethes and old grudges fester.

For many, in Roscal the existence of a ‘black republic' on its doorstep is resented, an affront to be excised. In France, a man of limitless ambition, backed by powerful interests, sees the turmoil as an opportunity that could bring him to absolute power. And, if he succeeds, perhaps trigger war in Europe on a scale unseen since the fall of Napoleon.

Through this maelstrom Nicholas Dawlish must navigate a skilful course. Political concerns complicate challenges that can only be resolved by ruthless guile and calculated use of force. Lacking direct support from the Royal Navy, Dawlish must fight some of the most vicious battles of his career with inadequate resources and unlikely – and unreliable – allies.

Looks like it’s going to be yet another rip-roaring adventure, and will no doubt give me lots of enjoyment when I read it over Christmas.

Friday 9 December 2022

It's a coming! More news!

Amongst all the other things that I have been trying to do over recent weeks, I have been putting the finishing touches (I hope!) to the latest book in the PORTABLE WARGAME series (THE PORTABLE IRONCLADS WARGAME), and I hope to get it published in the week before Christmas. The time schedule is very dependent upon things like the Royal Mail delivering proof copies in time, and as they are currently staging a number of strikes, there might be a delay.

As a tantaliser, here is a draft copy of the book's cover design:

The book is biased towards the American Civil War (mainly because that is the most well-known conflict in which ironclads took part), but there is some coverage of the other wars that took place up to 1880 that involved ironclads. It is hoped that they will be covered in more detail in later supplements.

At present we do not know how much the selling price might be, but we (David Crook and I) hope to produce it in three editions – hardback, softback, and PDF – with prices to suit the pockets of most wargamers.

Thursday 8 December 2022

Wanted, lots of ideas!

One of my regular blog readers is Ken Hanning, and like me he is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. At present his treatment involves chemotherapy, as a result of which he has to spend quite a lot of time each day sitting in a treatment chair. Like most wargamers, being inactive is almost an impossibility, and he has been using his enforced immobility to think about his next wargames project, to which end he contacted by email me on Wednesday.

The following is an extract from that email:

'If you were planning an early 1920’s mythical campaign using Late WW1 figures and equipment which rules would be most fun and engaging for participants?

A question for the whole class. I’m planning a foolish 12’ x 6’ table divided into four quadrants of 6’ x 3’ each. Divided by rivers or mountains with a castle and small town in each quadrant! I’m going to call it 'A very crown princely land grab'. A sort of Bob. Cordery or Henry Hyde style 'imagi-nations' approach. My late and dearly missed Wargames chum Steve Sykes and I did a version of this using two imagi-nations (People’s Republic of Brost and the Veritanian Principality!) using mini figs WW1 Russians and Germans.

So the first thought is rules?

The second thought is figures and scales. I have four Airfix forts or castles, which are treasured and it's time to use them. They include Sherwood Castle, Fort Sahara, Fort Laramie and the Roman Wall Gate Fort.

I wondered about the HAT hard plastic WW1 figures and equipment, but I’ve never used them, and my painting talent has eroded after years of Dupuytrens disease and carpel tunnel syndrome in both hands.!! (Don’t get me started on my eyesight!)

But I’m keen to press on with the planning as it’s a brilliant distraction from the ongoing chemo unpleasantness.'

He also included a sketch of his projected campaign map:

My reply included the following:

I enjoyed reading about your ideas for a four-way campaign set during the post-WW1 period. Assuming that you don’t want to use my PW rules (sorry for the plug but …), I’d suggest looking at something fast and simple. Morschauser’s rules fit the bill, as do Donald Featherstone’s. I was thinking of the rules he wrote for low-level warfare and for fighting actions on the NW Frontier. My personal preference for figures would be to go with 15mm, mainly because of the range of stuff that is available, although if you really want to go retro – and have the time to paint them – Jacklex do some interesting 20mm metal figures, as do several other manufacturers.

My latest painting attempts have all been 15mm, but when I was faced with painting a large number of Russian soldiers some time back, I opted for a very simple painting method that produced results that were good enough to pass the 3-foot rule. I undercoated them using a mid-grey colour, the painted them with earth brown paint. Once that was dry, I dry brushed them with sand coloured paint. All that was left to do was to paint in any smaller detail (hands, faces, boots, weapons, packs, belts) and then, once that had dried, I used a nut-brown ink wash. This enhanced the shadowing and tended to obscure any minor flaws in my painting. The figures were then varnished and based. I’ve used a similar system to paint German figures, the exception being that I used different main and dry brushed colours. My painting skill and eyesight a both pretty bad, but they were good enough for me, and that is what counts!

I like the idea that you are going to use stuff that you’ve had around for some time. Might I suggest that the style of castle might set the tone for each of the forces you raise. My suggestions are:

  • Sherwood Castle: Obviously a very Ruritanian country, with a bit of a German/Middle European feel. Uniforms would be somewhat like those worn by the Syldavians in Tintin’s KING OTTOKAR’S SCEPTRE; practical, but with a bit of colour to enliven the look of each regiment.
  • Fort Sahara: This could be the base for an army based upon the French Foreign Legion and their North African allies. Mainly dressed in light sand-coloured uniforms, but with a bit of colour when it comes to headdress.
  • Fort Laramie: This brought a sort of Boer/US army to mind, something along the lines of the mobile army described in John Buchan’s COURTS OF THE MORNING. Lots of mounted infantry supported by light armour/tankettes.
  • Roman Wall Fort: My immediate reactions was that this would be an ideal base for an army that was a mixture of French/Italian/Spanish-style troops. A bit showy but a bit out-of-date as well.

These are the idea that I came up with, but I am sure that there are plenty of my regular blog readers who could add to my suggestions. If you can, please leave a comment or send me an email and I will collate them and make them into a follow-up blog post that Ken can read whilst undergoing he chemotherapy.

One final word, just to reassure any of my regular blog readers who might be concerned that I have shared a personal email with other people, I did ask Ken's permission first!

Monday 5 December 2022

A busy week ahead

This week looks as if it is going to be a busy one.

On Monday I will be going to my second Masonic meeting in three days! This will be a meeting of my Mother Lodge (The Grove Park Lodge No.2732) ...

... and will be taking place in Halsey Hall, the Masonic centre in Cheshunt.

The meeting is going to be an Initiation (again, my second in three days) and as I don't have an active roll, I can just sit and enjoy the ceremony and the quiet companionship of the Lodge. The meeting is being preceded by the dedication of a newly-installed organ in the lodge room or temple that we use. The organ was donated by the widow of the recently deceased Brother who Seconded my application to join The Craft, and it will not doubt be both a sorrowful and a joyous event.

On Tuesday I have an appointment with my GP to review my cancer treatment and to arrange for treatment for my underactive thyroid. Hopefully this will all go without a hitch, and I will leave with a prescription for the medication that I need.

This will be followed by another visit to the local GP's surgery, this time for yet another blood test. I am having these at such regular intervals that I am beginning to feel like the late Tony Hancock! *

I am also hoping that work on the latest book in the PORTABLE WARGAME series (THE PORTABLE IRONCLADS WARGAME) will be approaching the stage when we (David Crook and I) can draw a line under it and get it published.

So much to do, and so little time to do it!

*This refers to a famous comedy sketch entitled 'The Blood Donor' when Hancock is told that they are going to take a pint of his blood and he replies, 'That's very nearly an armful!'

Sunday 4 December 2022

More terrain squares

Some time ago I made a number of 10cm square terrain squares. These were mostly made from green felt that was glued to squares of plywood, and I made a total of forty-nine squares. These comprise:

  • 19 plain green squares
  • 5 green squares with straight rivers
  • 2 green squares with 90-degree curved rivers
  • 8 green squares with straight roads
  • 2 green squares with crossroads
  • 2 green squares with T-junctions
  • 2 green squares with 90-degree curved roads
  • 1 green square with a straight road crossing a straight river
  • 4 light green squares (to represent wooded areas)
  • 2 rounded hills (brown felt)
  • 2 rough hills (brown felt)

Over the past week, I’ve begun to make some more of these terrain squares, but this time I’ve used sand rather than green felt.

The intention is that the two sets of terrain squares will be compatible, and I hope to get them finished by next weekend ... if I am lucky!

Saturday 3 December 2022

A visit to Loughton, Essex

Later this morning I will be travelling to Loughton in Essex to attend Saturday daytime Masonic Lodge meeting.

Most Masonic Lodges meet late in the afternoon/early in the evening, but a number meet during the day or on a Saturday. The Lodge I am visiting (Brooke Lodge No.2005 in the Province of Essex) meets at 11.00am on a Saturday, which is very unusual, but from what I gather, this has made it a very attractive Lodge to join for people who find meeting on a weekday afternoon or evening.

I will be attending the meeting as a guest of the Worshipful Master, who I helped to Initiate into Freemasonry … and today I will be watching him Initiate a new Freemason for the first time. There is a nice symmetry to this … and that is one of the reasons I’m particularly looking forward to this meeting.

Friday 2 December 2022

It’s a coming’!

Yesterday I finished the layout of the forthcoming THE PORTABLE IRONCLADS WARGAME book that has been written by David Crook. I’ve written a couple of appendices for the book as well as editing it … and we hope to publish it in time for Christmas.

We intend it to be available in three formats:

  • Coloured hardback
  • Coloured softback
  • Coloured PDF

We don’t yet know the price of each format, but we hope to keep them as low as possible.

Thursday 1 December 2022

‘So he marched them up to the top of the hill, and he marched them down again’

Well, if the Grand Old Duke of York lived near me, this would have been the only way to get anywhere!

On Monday, Thames Water closed the road I live on to replace part of the water main. They didn’t warn us about this; they just arrived and started digging. The fact that having dug a deep trench halfway across the road, they’ve done no further work is frustrating enough, but since then there the only bus service that serves the top of Shooters Hill - which is one of the highest points around London - has been diverted so that locals are left with a choice; stay put or walk up and down a very steep hill.

The latter option only works if you are fit and healthy … so if you are an old age pensioner, infirm, or have mobility problems you are effectively restricted to the top of the hill. (Luckily, we do have a small grocers shop and a pub on the hill, otherwise getting something to eat or drink would be very difficult.)

I checked with the relevant websites (Thames Water, TfL, Royal Greenwich Council) and discovered the work had all the proper permissions … but no one thought that was worth telling the locals. As a result, none of us got any prior notice of the road closure and could plan accordingly. I therefore tweeted about this, making sure that I included @thameswater, @TfL, @Royal_Greenwich, @BBCNews, @CliveEfford (our local MP), @NewsShopper (our local newspaper), @DanLThorpe, and @iviswill. (The latter two or our local councillors.) Interestingly, Dan Thorpe got back to me almost at once, offering to find out what was going on. Our other councillor has also now taken an interest … but to date, I’ve heard nothing from Thames Water, TfL, or the local council.

I did get a response from a local journalist who works for MyLondon, and yesterday morning he interviewed me and my next-door neighbours next to the roadworks. As a result, I appeared in a news item on MyLondon yesterday afternoon.

I have no idea if and when Thames Water will get around to sorting out the hole or when we will get our much-needed bus service back … but yesterday I saw a sign warning motorists that the road our road connects to - and which also forms part of the bus route - will be shut from 5th to 23rd December!

It looks as if I’ll have to rely on my car to get anywhere from now until Christmas.

Thank you for your Christmas present, Thames Water!

PS. Since I began to write this blog post, I have now discovered that the story has made it onto the front page of the local news paper's website (the News Shopper), and that the local Council has got involved. (I suspect that this is down to the interest shown by the two councillors for our Ward!)

According to the News Shopper:

A Greenwich Council spokesperson said:

'Thames Water made us aware of their planned work, and we were assured that a letter was sent to all residents to inform them. We’re sorry to hear that this update may not have reached everyone.

We have called Thames Water to ask them to complete the works as quickly as possible and asked for the road closure to be removed and replaced with a two-way lights system to manage traffic.'

It will be interesting to see what happens next.