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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Sledmere House, nr Driffield, Yorkshire

On Sunday, B wanted to see the hunt meet at Sledmere House and I went along for the ride and a walk.

Sledmere is located approximately 20 miles to the South-East of York and on the Yorkshire Wolds. We left home in good weather but as we climbed onto the Wolds we ran into low cloud and rain.

Sledmere House was built and extended in the period 1751 - 90. It is the home of the Sykes family.

Sir Mark Sykes inherited the title and the property in 1912. Two years later he formed the Wagoners, a territorial army unit to provide transport troops in the event of war. They were called up in August 1914. There is a small museum in the grounds.

Just outside the house a monument to the Wagoners was erected to a design by Sir Mark Sykes.

The hunt meet was a drag hunt, that is the riders and hounds chase a human scent, not a fox (which would be illegal). Everything went well despite the rain.

The hunt getting ready

Standing at the front of the house, waiting for the riders and hounds

The hounds are always keen to get going and can be difficult to control during the sending off

Partaking in the stirrup cup, a fortifying drink for the riders

the "blessing" of the hunt by the current Baronet Sykes

It has stopped raining

B is very much part of the horsey world, so she stayed outside to watch. I retreated to shelter from the weather in the Farm Shop. This is where the Estate sells mementos and tourist items and local produce. While looking through the shelves of jams and china cups and the like, I found this book and had a mini-thunderbolt moment "oh... that Sykes".

"At the age of only thirty-six, Sir Mark Sykes was signatory to one of the most reviled and controversial treaties of the twentieth century. The Sykes-Picot Agreement was a secret pact drawn up in May 1916 between the French and the British, to divide the collapsing Ottoman Empire....Agreed without any Arab involvement, it negated an earlier guarantee of independence to the Arabs......Controversy has raged around this shady treaty ever since and, a century later, much of the political instability and viscous ethnic and sectarian violence in the Middle East is attributed to it." Quoted from the flyleaf of the book.

I bought the book, and a pot of jam, I could not resist either.

I don't know whether the hunt caught the human, we left shortly after the hunt set off after him. In the evening B reported they were out for about three hours so it sounds like they had a good run out. For me, the jam is very nice and I am looking forward to reading the book later in the summer.

Friday, 17 March 2017


A short note to recommend this film. It is the story of the assassination of the SS General Rienhard Heydrich on 27th May 1942. Specially trained Czech born SOE agents were parachuted into occupied Czechoslovakia to lead the successful operation.  I watched the film on Wednesday and found it a very gripping and well told story.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Belvoir Castle, Jordan Valley, Israel

On one of my forays around t'interweb I have tripped over this model castle in 28mm scale.

This is Belvoir Castle in Eastern Israel, 500 metres above the River Jordan. It is a crusader castle, begun in 1168 by the Knights Hospitalier.

It is a very early example of a concentric castle. In 1187, after the Battle of Hattin, Saladin's forces besieged the castle. The garrison resisted for 18 months, only surrendering in January 1189. In later times, it ceased to be a military facility and was occupied by local Arab people as a village until the first Arab - Israeli conflict in 1948.

This is how it looks now.

From my reading of various French websites, I believe the modeller was a chap who goes by the name of Captain Yapudo.

Captain - if you looking at this entry, my congratulations to you, I think this is a magnificent model, fantastic, well done sir. I would love to see this.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

"Hidden Figures" and "Hell or High Water"

Its Oscars time again. Last week I saw these two films, both of which are in the Best Film category.

We went to Cityscreen in York yesterday (Sunday) to see "Hidden Figures". It is based on a true story of three African American women who challenged the racial segregation that was rampant in the USA during the fifties and sixties. All three women worked for NASA and participated in the design work for the sixtes' space programme. A good story with great performances.

On Blu-ray I watched "Hell or High Water". I loved this film. I have been a fan of Jeff Bridges since the early seventies; he continues to provide performances that are awesome (in the sense that I am awestruck). A great story, really well directed, such an atmospheric feel with stunning photography and locations. Marvellous.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Vapnartak 2017

No cinema trips this weekend as B was competing (dressage) plus Sunday was Vapnartak  at York Racecourse. Vapnartak is a viking word which, some say, means a gathering of the swords. It is the largest wargaming fair in Northern England.

I spent a very good three hours there, did some buying and some chatting and some checking out of different products.

My purchases. I am continuing with assembling an Ottoman force, a slowly but definitely growing collection.

From Dixon Miniatures.

Some janissaries and some infantry

A few sipahis

From Irregular Miniatures

Last year I bought some Old Glory artillery and crews, these are the limbers for them plus a camel waggon

A unit of Wallachian irregulars, eight figures for twelve pounds.

Also, I thought I should have a commander for my force.

From Warlord, Suleyman the Magnificent, the Lawgiver

During the last eighteen months I have been reducing my metal mountain, so I restrict my spending at shows. This time I took 100 pounds as my budget and I spent 84 pounds. Success, plus the infantry and the limbers will help me to finish some units I have started.

So I had a good day at Vapnartak. I bought some good figures, stayed within budget, had some nice chats and, being over 60, I got free admission. What more could a man want?

The tughra or seal of Suleyman the Maginificent purchased on one of our holidays in Turkey

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

"T2:Trainspotting" and "Denial"

Two trips to Cityscreen in York with B.



The best of British  cinema at the moment. Both really good films, full of excellent acting, good story telling.

The language in T2 was very ripe but I think the film captured the inner-city juxtapositions of decay and hopelessness against development and gentrification. I know it is fiction but it felt very real - where do individuals go when they cannot keep up. Good throwbacks to the original film without being sentimental.

"Denial" - totally different. A courtroom drama, so much of it was claustrophobic and contained but it had a really steady, but quickening dramatic pace that pushed me to the edge of my seat. Brilliant acting, particularly Tim Spall.

Two very different films but I recommend both.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

George III

From BBC Breakfast News this morning. The Royal Archive in Windsor has been working for sometime to place on line thousands of George III's documents. He is Britain's longest reigning king and was acknowledged as being very hard working, earning and liking the nickname Farmer George. He was the last king of North America and the first king of Australia and survived the upheaval of the French Revolution.

The BBC has been filming the work of the Royal Archive staff for a documentary to be broadcast on Monday evening (30th Jan) at 21:00hrs on BBC2.  This includes sight of a draft abdication letter written by George during the American War of Independence, drafted but not used. This should be a fascinating programme.