Friday 31 March 2023

Jury Service … is over!

On Monday I had arrived at Woolwich County Court by 9.00am and then underwent a very simple induction procedure. I then sat in the Jurors’ Lounge until I was called down to a court with fifteen other jurors. Twelve were selected at random and then sat in the jury box before being sworn in one at a time. I was not amongst the selected jurors, and I returned to the Lounge in time for lunch.

Later that day I was called down to a different court, and this time I was selected and became Juror No. 11 for the duration of the trial. Once we were sworn in, the judge gave us a brief outline of the nature of the trial (the charges and its likely duration) and the prosecution then read out the names of the witnesses that were going to be called so that if we recognised anyone, we could notify the judge. The prosecution and defence barristers made their opening remarks, after which we were dismissed for the rest of the day.

On Tuesday we were late starting as legal arguments were taking place in the courtroom. When we finally went to the courtroom, the prosecution barrister began presenting his case. A statement of facts that had been agreed by both the prosecution and the defence was then read out, and then the prosecution called their witnesses. These were a detective inspector and a forensic expert. The defence barrister did not cross-examine either of the prosecution witnesses and at that point we were dismissed for the day.

Proceedings started at just after 10.00am on Wednesday, and began with a second charge being added to the indictment. Once the nature of this charge was explained to us, the defendant going into the witness box. He was then questioned at length by his barrister, after which he was cross-examined by the prosecutor. With interruptions and breaks, this took up most of the day, and there was only just sufficient time left for the prosecuting barrister to sum up the case against the defendant before we were sent home.

On Thursday morning the defence barrister made his summing up remarks, after which the judge reiterated the role of the jury and summarised the relevant law and evidence that had been presented. He did this in a very balanced way, emphasising that we were the abiturs of the truth. The jury bailiff was then sworn in and escorted us to the jury room so that we could begin our deliberations. These lasted over lunch, and by 2.30pm we had come to a verdict. We trooped back to the court, where our foreperson delivered our verdicts on the two charges. ... which was guilty on both counts. We were then thanked by the judge and sent back to the Jurors’ Lounge after the defendant’s previous convictions were read out and a date set for the sentencing to take place.

Once back in the Lounge, the jury manager collected in our expense claim forms … and then told us that we would not be needed for the rest of our expected fortnight of jury service as Easter was approaching and they had sufficient jurors to cover the trials that were already booked in.

Yipee! My jury service was over ... and it is unlikely that I will be called upon again before I reach the upper age limit.

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Jury Service

I started jury service yesterday and will be ‘doing my civic duty' for the next fortnight … so I will be blogging as and when I can. Likewise, work on my current projects is likely to be somewhat less than usual.

I am hoping that things will return to whatever passes for normal after Easter. Until then, adios amigos!

Monday 27 March 2023

A bit of a sort out

Yesterday I decided to have a bit of a sort out in my toy/wargame room. This is part of my long-term plan to downsize my collections, and I found a whole load of stuff that I no longer use or that I am not likely to use in the future.

Once I have put together the first tranche of stuff that I’m going to dispose of, I’ll give some thought to how to do that. I could use eBay … but it seems to have become a lot more difficult to use as a casual seller than it used to be. If any of my regular blog readers have any suggestions as to how I can sell my surplus bits and pieces, I’d be grateful to receive them.

Sunday 26 March 2023

The Second Portable Wargame Compendium: A further short progress report

Thanks to one or two matters over which I have very little control, progress on the second edition of the Compendium is not going as quickly as I had hoped. My self-imposed deadline was Easter, but some of the articles have yet to be finished and proofread, and now that I have a fortnight of jury service to look forward to, I'm unsure just how much time I will have to devote to working on the book.

Despite this delay, progress is being made to complete the next Compendium, and from what I have seen, it is going to be a very interesting issue, with lots of ideas for how to use the rules (in all their different iterations) for fighting campaigns.

In the interim – and to whet the appetites of potential readers – here is a copy of one of the campaign maps that I hope to include in the Compendium:

It is based on the map from RISK: EDITION NAPOLEON, which was published exclusively in France by Tilsit – under license from Hasbro – in the 1990s as a numbered edition of 10,000 copies.

Saturday 25 March 2023

Miniature Wargames No.480 April 2023 ... and SALUTE at 50

It seems to be my week for buying glossy wargame magazines! Having bought a copy of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED earlier this week, yesterday I bought the latest issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES.

I actually bought it for two things. Firstly, Arthur Harman's article entitled 'Return to the Wells', which included some simple ideas for improving the rules from H G Wells's LITTLE WARS, and secondly for the guide to this year's SALUTE wargame show. I wanted to see what was going to be taking place at the show before deciding whether or not to go.

Having read the SALUTE guide, I'm still undecided as to whether or not I will go, but as I can actually see the venue (ExCel, London) from the driveway of my house, it seems silly not to. I'm certainly going to give it a bit more consideration before I make any final decision, but on balance I think that I am more likely to be there than not.

This SALUTE marks the fiftieth year that the show has been running, and over that time I have probably been to at least half of them. South London Warlords had been staging their show for seven years before Wargame Developments was founded and at various times WD has put on games at SALUTE. Looking back through my files I can find photos from several of them, and I have included some of them below. Quite a few of them feature members of WD either taking part and/or running a game at SALUTE.

2003: Restless Natives

2005: Megablitz

2006: Red Flags and Iron Crosses

2009: Solferino in Thirty Minutes

Friday 24 March 2023

Bone scan

Back in May last year I had to have a bone scan to check if my bowel/colon and prostate cancer had spread to my skeleton. The results were negative, but as part of my ongoing treatment for prostate cancer I had to have a second bone scan yesterday.

The scan took place at University Hospital, Lewisham, and Sue came with me to keep me company … and to drive me home if I felt unwell afterwards. My appointment was for 10.30am, and I wanted to make sure that I was in the Nuclear Medicine Department well beforehand. In fact, we were so early that we were able to go to the local bakers – H Hirst & Sons – for breakfast. We both ate a delicious sausage in a bun, washed down with a very good mug of cafe latte.

Accompanied by Sue, I signed in at Radiology Department’s reception desk and then we took the rather tortuous route from the desk to the seating area outside the Nuclear Medicine Department. Once there, I was asked to fill in a questionnaire about previous scans that I had had before I was fitted with a cannula. I and the other patients then had to wait for the radioactive material we were going to be injected with to arrive from Bart's Hospital. Its arrival was delayed by heavy traffic, but the courier finally delivered it at 11.00am.

By 11.30am I had been intravenously injected with a small quantity of radioactive material and then told to come back in three hours for my scan. I was also told to drink at least a litre of water during those three hours. This three-hour gap and the water was to help the radioactive material in my blood to fully circulate around my body.

Sue and I decided to go for a walk to fill part of the time we had on our hands, and although is was very overcast, we were able to walk around the edge of the northern part of the nearby Ladywell Fields, ...

... a distance of nearly 2.5 miles. With the occasional stop for me to drink some of the water I had taken with me, this took us just over an hour and a half. We then returned to the hospital and after walking what seemed to be at least a mile along corridors that snaked through the hospital's buildings, we found the onsite restaurant where we were able to have a very reasonably-priced snack lunch.

By the time we had eaten lunch and returned to the Nuclear Medicine Department, it was just after 2.00pm, and although I was not expecting to be scanned before 2.30pm, I actually went into the room housing the scanner at just after 2.15pm. The scan took about thirty minutes, and at the end I was told that there had been no change since my previous scan ... which was good news.

It had begun to rain by the time we got back to the car park, and this and the slightly heavier traffic we had to drive through to get home slowed us down somewhat. Nevertheless, we were back home by 3.15pm and having a refreshing drink ... and a chance to rest and recuperate.

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Warships of the Soviet Fleets 1939-1945

I’ve had a long-term interest in the Soviet Navy, and when the first volume of this three-part series was published, I was determined to buy copies ... and I have finally managed to buy the first two volumes!

The first volume covers the major combatants (battleships, cruisers, destroyer leaders, fleet torpedo boats, submarines, monitors, gunboats, armoured motor gunboats, armed boats/rocket boats, and motor torpedo boats) as well as chapters that deal with:

  • Ship types and classifications
  • The Fleets and Flotillas
  • Shipyards and constructors
  • The warship building programmes 1922-1945
  • Mobilisation of civilian tonnage
  • Quality of Soviet warship
  • Performance
  • The composition of the Soviet Navy 1939-1945

The second volume covers escorts and smaller fighting ships. These include:

  • Escort ships
  • Large submarine hunters
  • Small submarine hunters
  • Patrol boats
  • Floating artillery batteries
  • AA defence ships
  • Minelayers
  • Netlayers
  • Minesweepers
  • Minesweeping boats
  • Landing vessels and craft

Whilst quite a few of the ships covered in the books are reasonably well known, some of the smaller fighting ships (and especially those that have been extemporised from merchant ships) are often rather quirky. For example, there are several paddle wheel gunboats and a class of gunboats that were converted from German-built dredgers.

The third volume will be published in July, and I have already pre-ordered a copy.

WARSHIPS OF THE SOVIET FLEETS 1939–1945: VOLUME I: MAJOR COMBATANTS was written by Przemyslaw Budzbon, Marek Twardowski, and Jan Radziemski, and published by Seaforth Publishing in 2022 (ISBN 978 1 5267 5193 5)

WARSHIPS OF THE SOVIET FLEETS, 1939-1945: VOLUME II: ESCORTS AND SMALLER FIGHTING SHIPS was written by Przemyslaw Budzbon, Marek Twardowski, and Jan Radziemski, and published by Seaforth Publishing in 2022 (ISBN 978 1 3990 2277 4)

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Free paper model buildings from English Heritage

Sue and I are members of English Heritage, and recently we received the latest issue of the member’s magazine. It contained a children’s supplement entitled THE KIDS RULE! GUIDE TO VICTORIAN ENGLAND, ...

... and I happened to notice that there was a link to a section on English Heritage’s website where ...

Scroll down this page to find the links to the free model buildings.

... it was possible to download paper templates to build the following buildings:

  • A Bronze Age Roundhouse
  • A Roman Prefect’s house
  • A Saxon Thegn’s house
  • The Great Tower of Dover Castle
  • The south tower of Stokesay Castle
  • The gatehouse of Cleeve Abbey
  • A monk’s cell
  • St Mawes Castle
  • Boscobel House
  • Apsley House
  • Stott Park Bobbin Mill

Click on whichever of the buildings you want to construct, and it will take you to the appropriate page ...
... where you will find information about the building. If you scroll down this page ...
... it will take you to the link to the PDF templates for that building and instructions on how to put the model together.
An example of the first page of the PDF template for Stott Park Bobbin Mill.

I’m not sure what scale they are, but I don’t think that it would be too difficult to scale them up or down.

Monday 20 March 2023

Wargames Illustrated No.423, March 2023

For the second month running I was tempted to buy a copy of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED.

Yet again, it was a couple of articles that tipped the balance.

The first was Jervis Johnson's article about the campaign system (STRATEDY & GUILE) that he has developed to work with his latest Napoleon rules, VALOUR & FORTITUDE. Whilst STRATEGY & GUILE are designed to work with these rules, they look as if they can be easily adapted for other periods. Movement is on a point-to-point map, and it looks as if the amount of admin that the umpire or umpires must do is reasonable and not too onerous.

The other article that attracted my attention was by Jim Graham, and was about Operation Polo, the Indian annexation of Hyderabad in 1948. Having already designed and played a game about Operation Vijay (the Indian annexation of Goa in 1961), I've looked at refighting this very short campaign myself several times ... and this might just be enough encouragement to do so!

Sunday 19 March 2023

I have been to … Tiverton … again!

As I have reported on my previous visits to Tiverton and its surrounding area in detail in previous blog posts, I’ve decided not to write a blow-by-blow daily account about what we did and saw. Instead it’s going to be edited highlights.

Our journey to Tiverton using the M25, M3, A303, A358, M5, and A361 was much quicker than any of our previous ones, even though the weather was quite bad for most of the way. We arrived at Tiverton Castle at 3.45pm, having left home at 11.00am and having a stop about halfway to have a drink and to restore our personal comforts.

We were met by one of the castle’s owners, who gave us the key to the house we had rented for out stay, Castle Lodge.

Castle Lodge.
The tower of Tiverton Castle, which is just behind Castle Lodge.

By the time that we had unpacked and settled in, it had stopped raining and we spent until 7.00pm enjoying the restful atmosphere of the castle and its garden. Sue and I then walked into the centre of the town to have dinner in a newly-opened Italian Restaurant, the ‘Ponte Vecchio’. The food, ambience, and service were excellent, and we left feeling very full.

On the following day the rain had stopped and we walked past the local parish church (St Peter’s) …

… into the centre of Tiverton, across the bridge over the River Exe, and on to the factory shop attached to Heathcoat Fabrics. Sue was able to buy some great dress material at a much-reduced price, which made her very happy!

We walked back through the centre of Tiverton, buying a few things that we needed along the way. Our route back to Castle Lodge took us back through the Pannier Market, which was very quiet even though it was almost midday.

Sue and I decided that we fancied lunch at the seaside, and by 1.00pm we were parked on the seafront at Exmouth. The Pavillion Bar and Cafe was open, …

The Pavillion Bar and Cafe, Exmouth.

… and we were able to eat delicious, freshly-caught cod and chips.

During the holiday season the seafront is usually very crowded, but on the day we were there, there were very few people about and the beach was almost deserted.

The seafront at Exmouth, looking upriver.
The seafront at Exmouth looking sewward.
The tide coming in met the flow of the River Ex going out, resulting in considerable turbulence.

The next day was interesting in that we were able to see the crew of HMS Enterprise exercise their right to march through Tiverton.

HMS Enterprise is the second of two Echo-class multi-purpose hydrographic survey ships. Her sistership (HMS Echo) was decommissioned in June 2022, and HMS Enterprise will follow her at the end of March 2023.

The ship was granted the freedom of the town when she was first commissioned, and as she is about to be decommissioned for the last time later in March, this was a somewhat poignant occasion.

The ship's company paraded at one end of the Pannier Market place ...

The ship's company of HMS Enterprise.

... and they were supported by the Band of the Royal Marines from their base in Lympstone.

The Band of the Royal Marines, Lympstone.
The percussion section of the Band of the Royal Marines, Lympstone.

After the parade and an address by the mayor, the ship's company, led by the band, marched around the centre of Tiverton.

The march around Tiverton was led by the Band of the Royal Marines, Lympstone.
The Band of the Royal Marines, Lympstone, ...
... followed by the ship's company of HMS Enterprise. These were led by the colour party, which was followed by a group of armed sailors, the ship's officers and senior Petty Officers, the rest of the ship's company, and the local Sea Scouts.

Unfortunately, Sue and I were unable to stay to see the who thing as we had an appointment to meet my nephew for lunch. He is the general manager and licencee of the 'Lord Poulett Arms', a gastropub/bed-and-breakfast hotel in Hinton St George.

The Lord Poulette Arms, Hinton St George.

It took us just over an hour to drive there, and we had a very enjoyable lunch with him in the pub's excellent restaurant.

The following day we went to Taunton to meet some old friends of ours who had moved to Congresbury in Somerset two years ago. We had a very enjoyable lunch in 'The Brazz', the brasserie restaurant that forms part of the 'Castle Hotel' in the centre of Taunton, and we were able to catch up on everything that had happened to us since we last met up.

The Castle Hotel, Taunton.

Our journey home on Friday started off quite well, but an accident on the M25 caused a long tailback of vehicles onto the M3. As a result of this and several further holdups and bad weather, our journey from Tiverton to home took us nearly six and a half hours ... nearly two hours longer than our journey there!

Saturday 18 March 2023

Rating ironclads for my Computer Assisted Wargame

Following on from my recent rediscovery of my first ever wargames publication, I looked at some of the ships that the rules were designed to be used with and calculated their ...

  1. Flotation Factors (FF)
  2. Manoeuvrability Factors (MF)
  3. Ram Effects (RE)

... using the formulas that were incorporated into my rules. The results are as follows:

  • HMS Dreadnought (1875): FF = 56; MF = 5; RE = 10.
  • HMS Superb (1875): FF = 46; MF = 6; RE = 9.
  • HMS Victoria (1890): FF = 64; MF = 5; RE = 12.
  • HMS Trafalgar (1890): FF = 71; MF = 5; RE = 14.

These make for interesting comparisons, and when time permits, I may well do these calculations for other ships from the period.

HMS Dreadnought (1875).
HMS Trafalgar (1890).

Friday 17 March 2023

Relaunched Wargame Developments website

The new Wargame Developments website was launched yesterday … and in my opinion, David Burden has done a great job in making it look a lot better. It really looks professional … unlike my rather amateur original. 10/10, if not better!

Please pay the new website a visit and bookmark it as well as add a link to it if you can.