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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Aspirant Renault and Sergeant Boudu (2)

 Renault Senior has got his son and his minder, Aspirant Renault and Sergeant Boudu, into the 4th Battalion of Infantry, "Les Vestons Verts", a long established battalion with a good reputation but it has been in barracks for a few months. However, unknown to Renault Senior, the 4th batt has a new commander, Colonel Driant, a battle hardened officer with views on fitness and readiness.

Colonel Driant's first decisions, smarten the men up and improve their fitness, get that kit on, its time for routemarching.

From his horse, he looks down on Aspirant Renault

"As for you young man, you need some discipline and some exercise. You need to find what the Armée is really about. Its feet. Your feet need to do some kilometres. You spend far too much time in Moonbucks and the Moulin Jaune and too many many fancy Italian restaurants. Captaine Rigaud, you stay here and chivy along that supply cart when it appears."

The column sets off.

For the first 30 minutes, the Aspirant keeps up.

But then he and Boudu start to fall behind.

Boudu tells the Aspirant "Driant's not going to like this"

Thirty minutes later and the column is long gone. The two men hear a cart behind them.

The supply cart has caught up with them

The young Aspirant's mood improves considerably.

Renault stops the supply cart. "Ah lunch" he shouts with glee. "Two cappucinos my man and do you have any olive focaccio bread?"

"Nope" thinks Boudu "the Colonel is definitely not going to like this."

(The Colonel and the Aspirant are Foundry figures. Boudu and the 4th Battalion are from Dixon Miniatures. The horse and cart are Irregular Miniatures, the drivers are from Colonel Bill's.)

Saturday, 28 June 2014

A trip to Scarborough for "War Torn"

A very nice day out to Scarborough where the weather was much nicer than here in York.

War Torn was held in the Spa, the building on the right

I was there for an hour when the billed Vulcan flypast took place

Very, very noisy but very good to see

I am reminded just how rubbish I am at capturing moving objects.

The fair itself was quire small, so I was able to have some good chats with dealers, particularly Old Glory UK about Ottoman figures and Adrian's Walls about their small but exquisite range of Middle East buildings. I even bought some figures, a dozen SYW Frei Korps from Eagle Figures.

So,  a good day out - even the trains were on time.

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Long Vac

The end of the academic year is upon us.

Last week was the last of the U3A talks, an overview of the Indian Mutiny.

This week was the last of the Uni of York's Lifelong Learning course on the Emergence of the USA as a Superpower, 1914 - 1941, excellently given by lecturer David Beeston. This was rather like a very good BBC history series, full of interesting facts and figures which go into my brain and add to my general understanding of history and help me fit my studies in French history into context.

Does this mean I will have a carefree summer to watch England v India test series. Regrettably, no. We are to move house in early August. We are to move to Nether Poppleton, outside York's outer ring road, still within the City of York but much closer to my partner's horse stable. Whilst I write this we have strangers crashing around this house, looking into all the nooks and crannies.

Oh well - I could have a day out at Scarborough tomorrow - War Torn is on, not a show I have been to before - and sunshine is forecast.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Research for Metz trip

My trip to Metz is imminent, 1st to 5th July, so I have doing some research. I have started with this new book above, by Dr Douglas Fermer.

Previously I have read Fermer's two volume history of the Franco-Prussian War which I am planning to reread over the summer as I have volunteered to give a talk on the war to York U3A Military History Group.

This new book is a very good overview of the three campaigns and through this narrative account he demonstrates how they are linked, how the concluding campaign affected strategic planning and so the next campaign. The author's account of the "campaigns and the preparations for them treats them as part of a cycle of fear, suspicion, animosity ans conflicting ambitions extending across several generations." (Quote from the book sleeve)

I will be travelling by train, East Coast York to London, Eurostar to Brussels, then to Luxembourg and on to Metz, four trains.

My plan is to see three sites.

First : the Vauban fortress of Longwy, or rather the half that is left, this to tick off one more on the UNESCO list.

Second : one of the German forts built during around 1900 during the occupation of Alsace - Lorraine, Feste Wagner/Fort Verny, to the south of Metz. Part of the fortifications that gave Patton's army such trouble in late 1944.

Third : the new Franco-Prussian War museum at Gravelotte, together with a bit of walking around the battlefield.

There should be time to look at what is left of the Vauban works in Metz.

Longwy - Porte de France


Feste Wagner

Barracks at Feste Wagner

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Blue Jasmin

The start of the cricket season, particularly the test series, has displaced my film watching. The first England v Sri Lanka test match which went down to the last ball and was real edge-of -the-seat viewing (for anyone not familiar with test match cricket, a game lasts for five days, each day of 3 X 2 hour playing periods, a grand total of 30 hours) and it ended in a drawn match. What agony..

No play yesterday so I was able to watch this film, "Blue Jasmine", written and directed by Woody Allen. After a few below par films, Woody Allen is back. This film is magnificent, I was locked into it, throughout the film I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

The two female leads are very, very good. Cate Blanchett won the Oscar for Best Actress, due recognition of a great performance. It's good to see Sally Hawkins acting so well, keeping up the high standards she has shown previously.

A 5-star film, not for everyone but if you are a Woody Allen fan I think you will love this.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A germ of an idea

I don't do a lot of figure painting, roughly about four hours per week, but I really enjoy it. These are my latest figures. A company of freebooters called Les Dragons Franches de Colonel Drogin. They are League of Augsburg/Warfare Miniatures Enthusiastic Horse figures.

Before I chose to specialise in French history I was very tempted to study Middle East history. The main reasons I chose France were its proximity, my French A-Level, my love of French cuisine and my love of Vauban. Still - the Middle East does exert some pull on my emotions.

That pull became much stronger at Salute 2014 in April, when I saw this layout, Crusaders besieging Jerusalem, by Gripping Beast I think.

The game was being run by a group of gamers from Burgundy so I could chat to them - all very interesting. It did leave me with a hankering to paint some Ottoman and Arab figures. I bought three packs of Foundry Mamelukes which I will start when my current painting figures are completed. I intend to buy some other figures, maybe the Gripping Beast plastic figures, the Zvezda Ottomans or something I can pick up on EBay. They don't fit in with my 18th century figures but the temptation is too great.

This brings me to my germ of an idea. Recently the BBC broadcast a three part series on the Crusades. The third programme talked about the 7th Crusade. In 1249 Louis IX of France and his brother, Robert of Artois, led a large army and invaded Egypt - the theory being if you want to kill a snake, cut of its head, Egypt was the finance behind the Muslim forces so kill that and you will kill the opposition in Palestine. On 11th February 1250, the Crusade was seriously defeated at the Battle of Al Mansurah.

My germ of an idea - Louis IX won the Battle of Al Mansurah and went on to reconquer Jerusalem and lay the foundations for a European style kingdom in Palestine. This kingdom lasts into the 18th century, sometimes at peace, sometimes fighting its Ottoman or Egyptian neighbours.

This will involve a lot of painting - three years to balance the European figures I have painted so far. That gives me plenty of time to think this through.

Monday, 9 June 2014

X-MEN Days of Future Past

A very pleasant way pass a couple of hours on a wet Monday afternoon, well acted, well directed, good CGI,  just leave your brain at home.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

England 2 Sri Lanka 3

Woe is me - not the start to the summer I was hoping for. Well done Sri Lanka.

A controversial game yesterday, with Sri Lanka's Senanayake running out Jos Buttler by a Mankad. Buttler was warned and Sri Lanka were within the rules. But. Definitely NOT what we should see, NOT the way to play. That leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth.

"Howzat?" - thanks to the Guardian.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Partizan - in a tent..

A good day yesterday. My first visit to Partizan. The sun was shining, B was off at the horse hospital, so I thought I would go to Partizan in Newark. I checked on Google and printed a map and set off.

A 40 minute train ride, York to Newark on East Coast Main Line. Then a 60 minute walk to the village of Kelham and Kelham Hall for Partizan. This year it was held in a marquee as there was a double booking (with an art deco fair I think). A couple of hours in the tent, then a 60 minute walk back to the rail station, a disappointing sandwich from Costa, and a 45 minute train ride. Back home by 15:30.

I bought nothing. I had in mind a few bits and pieces, such as a couple of generals with staff, but nothing tempted me. I did resist some more FIW figures, these from Galloping Major and some arab warriors for a future project.

That was a good fair, well organised and well run, a little cramped around some tables but no real issues. Fortunately it did not rain so no mud. There was a freebie, pictured below. This is not my field so if anyone would like it, please email me with your name and address and I will post it to you (

"Xmas Truce 1914" sculpted by Bill Thornhill

28mm British soldier/footballer in scarf and balaclava

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

Yesterday I watched this film, on blu-ray from Lovefilm. I enjoyed it very much, Oscar Isaac put in a very good and convincing performance as the young man trying to make big in the folk music business in early 60's New York. The Coen brothers were able to capture a good sense of period.

It brought back some memories. Not of New York, I have not visited the city, nor of the time as I would have been at primary school then, but at grammar school in the late 60's, as a teenager, Bob Dylan records were my first musical exploration. Yes - I'm still searching to find how many roads.....