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Monday, 28 April 2014

Under Milk Wood & Generation War

An interesting weekend just gone, from a culture aspect.

First - on Saturday we went to York's Theatre Royal to see "Under Milk Wood", Dylan Thomas' work of genius. This was a Clwyd Theatr Cymru production and really well done, very enjoyable. 

We read this play in class at Grammar School - you know the thing - boys reading parts - I didn't understand it. I went to Aberystwyth University and then came across the Richard Burton recording, so I  had a completely different understanding of the play, when the names really meant something, Dai Bread, Evans the Death, Organ Morgan, Nogood Boyo. Saturday was the first time I'd seen the play on stage. I believe this production is touring the UK, if you can I recommend you go to watch it.

BBC Television has shown Part One of a German production "Generation War : Our Mothers, Our Fathers". Three parts in total. This was good to see, a German production addressing the actions of some parts of the Wehrmacht in Russia. I shall watch parts two and three before I make up my mind on the production.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

"Calvary"


Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Brendan Gleeson & Aiden Gillen

M. Emmett Walsh, Isaach de Bankolé & Chris O'Dowd
We went to Cityscreen yesterday, to watch this film, described as a black comedy drama. We loved it.

Brendan Gleeson plays a good-hearted, well intentioned parish priest in a small town near Sligo, Western Ireland. One day, in the confessional a parishioner threatens to kill the priest because he is a good man. He will do it not immediately but a week on Sunday, so we follow the priest around for that week.

I have suspected that the authority and reverence for the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland had been seriously undermined by the child abuse scandal and the financial crises of 2008. This is the first time I have seen this on screen, the cosiness and timelessness of Ballykissangel and Father Ted are shattered and consigned to history. It is a wonderful film, lots of very dark humour, great performances.

Calvary is "..a spiritual saga that is smart enough to take the route less travelled, the low road to glory. Calvary touches greatness." (Xan Brookes, the Guardian)

Friday, 18 April 2014

Russell Crowe is Noah


Yesterday was another day with nothing planned, so I went to the cinema to see "NOAH".

I enjoyed it. Reasonable acting, always good to see Ray Winstone and Ms Watson seems to be coming along well, good production, good use of CGI, not sure about the costume work, but £4.50 well spent, included a free coffee and biscuit (Thursday afternoon package for silver screeners). Creation myths are great stories and so, if big enough, make great cinema.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Circulaer Walk - Byland Abbey - Mt Snever Observatory - Oldstead - Byland Abbey

Yesterday the sun was shining, I had nothing I had to do, so I thought I would go walking. A few weeks ago I was planning a walk on an Ordnance Survey map, North York Moors Western Area, I noticed a marked structure "Mount Snever Observatory (disused)". The usual question followed, what's that?, so I did a little research and planned to include a look in a walk. Yesterday was the day for that walk.

I caught a bus from York to Byland Abbey, about 50 minutes journey. North Yorkshire has more than its fair share of ruined abbeys from the Dissolution.

An artist's impression of Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey as it is now

Start of the walk
From Byland the route was up, onto the ridge and onto land owned by the Forestry Commission.

Looking back, down to the village of Wass


Much of the forestry was planted between the World Wars and later, but some of it was old. Through an older patch, round a corner to find Mount Snever Observatory.

Situated on the edge of the ridge, built in 1836.

Built for a local landowner, John Wormald

Unfortunately the views are obscured by trees
The route was almost straight down the ridge, into Oldstead, then along the valley, back to Byland.

View of Cocker Dale

The remains of the Abbey's gatehouse

And so back to the bus stop
A very pleasant walk, with good views. Around 5 miles, or 2 hours 20mins. I met nobody, I had it all to myself.

Arial photo, pinched from the web.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Salute 2014 Freebies and Rats

My first time at Salute, rather like a kid in a sweetshop

I received a couple of free figures at Salute. If anyone would like either of them, please let me have your name and postal address. This is a sculpt by Michael Perry of Captain Colin Maud, or rather Kenneth Moore playing the role of Maud in "The Longest Day". Maud was the Beach Master on Juno.
 The second give away is from Spectre Miniatures and is a CIA agent.
 One of my purchases was this "Rat Catcher" from Midlam Miniatures, something a little different for me to paint. He seems to be quite proficient at his metier, but not as good as the poilus below.


Friday, 11 April 2014

"The FrenchForces in America 1780 - 1783" Lee Kennett


This was an interesting book. A few months ago I read Stephen Brumwell's biography of George Washington. This was my first venture into AWI/ARW, apart from a few boxes of Airfix AWI figures about 40 years ago. A few weeks later I went to a talk by Prof John Derry who made the comment that the Americans owe more to the French Navy in 1781 than they acknowledge. I spotted this book on EBay, together with the Osprey Men-at-Arms book.

In 1780, the Government of Louis XVI decided to send the "Expedition Particuliere", a force of around 7000 troops, to support the American Continental Army. The Expedition was commanded by Comte de Rochambeau. It arrived at Rhode Island on 10th July 1780 where it stayed for a year, then marched to join the Continental Army and lay siege to British forces in Yorktown.

This book describes the process of putting the Expedition together, its funding, its organisation and its actions. I found the book to be an accessible read, very informative, with detail I had not thought of before, such as they wanted to take around 100 horses, not a huge number but the unpredictable weather on the trans-Atlantic voyage meant that several ships worth of fodder and extra water would be needed, so extra were needed to fund the purchase of horses in America.



Comte de Rochambeau


The other book I bought.


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Feste Wagner



These two photos are from a Facebook page this morning "ADFM, Feste Wagner, Groupe Fortifié L'Aisne". The photos were posted because the ADFM has finally got the turrets working again. BRAVO.

ADFM - Association pour le Decouverte de la Fortification Messine.

This fort is located a few miles south of Metz near the village of Verny, it forms part of the outer ring of Fortress Metz. It was part of the Western Border of Lorraine, so of Imperial Germany; it was built during the 1890's and 1900's. The artillery is 100mm cannons.

Alsace Lorraine reverted to France in 1919. The fort became part of the rear areas of the Maginot Line, the Metz area was garrisoned by the 165e Regiment d'Artillerie de Position.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Fort du Haut-Bruc





Downloaded from the Facebook page "Passion Fortification" this morning.

Built between 1874 and 1880.. Situated south-east of Paris. Part of Séré de Rivieres works. The fort had 32 rampart guns, 10 flanking guns and 10 mortars (4 indirect firing). Full garrison complement was 820 men and 9 horses. Did not see much action. Plans to modernise the fort were put forward in 1911 but not started. Some damage in 1944.

Between 1979 and 1995, the fort was owned by the military contractor Thomson. Abandoned in 1995.

This fort may be very important as it was not modernised.

A Note of Explanation on Séré de Rivieres.

1871. The German states defeated France in the Franco-Prussian war. France lost Alsace and part of Lorraine. France decided to build defences along the new border. in 1874 Raymond Adolphe Séré de Rivieres (20.05.1815 - 16.02.1895) was appointed Directeur du Service Genie  (Military Engineering Service) and he was charged with building defences from Dunkirk to Nice, a total of 196 forts and 330 other works. A number of the forts are open to the public, such as Forts Douaumont and Vaux at Verdun. Most of the works are in the country, in defensive rings outside towns and cities, to defend those towns from the longer ranged artillery of the period. Some of the forts have Associations, such as Fort Villey-le-Sec, volunteers who work to restore the fort and open it, but many forts are still occupied by the French Army, others are in private hands, others are abandoned and are slowly falling into ruin.

Friday, 4 April 2014

"Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis" and another Vauban site to add to my list


This film was released in the UK about four years ago. I missed it at the cinema; it was released on DVD shortly after and I have been waiting for  the price to fall, without success; I had to pay full price.

The plot is a simple one - a Southern French Post Officer manager wants to transfer to the Cote d'Azur, he cheats on his application form and is transferred to Bergues, close to Dunkirk, as a punishment. The local dialect is ch'timi. At first, he is depressed by the posting but quickly settles in.

This film is funny, I laughed out loud, very enjoyable but I wont keep it, it will be on EBay very soon. However, during the film there are some helicopter shots of Bergues and I was looking at the buildings thinking "That looks like a Vauban pattern guardhouse and that looks like a Vauban barracks block" so I had to check. Sure enough, Bergues was in the first line of the Pré Carré and there is a lot of his works in situ, GoogleMaps show these very clearly, plus on the few miles of road between Bergues and Dunkirk there are two star forts and a 1900 fort. So - another Vauban visit to add to the list.