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Sunday, 27 March 2016

Fortress Silberberg - Twierdza Srebrnogorska

Another Facebook find.

This mammoth fortress is on the border between Silesia (modern day Poland) and Moravia (The Czech Republic).

Built on the orders of Frederick the Great of Prussia, between 1765 and 1777 to control the Eulengebirge Pass, the principal architect was Ludwig Wilhelm Regelera.

The fortress has the massive donjon, four separate forts and seven other works and measures 3 km across

The fortress had a garrison of 4000 men and 264 pieces of artillery

This photo looks pre-WWII, before the wartime damage

Fort Ostrog, bottom right in the plan
Christopher Duffy in "The Fortress in the Age of Vauban and Frederick the Great" page 144 describes the fortress as "a most curious complex of detached forts sprawled crab-like over the surrounding hilltops."

Various improvement works were carried out in the 1800's but the fortress fell into disuse in the 20th century Some restoration work has been undertaken more recently. The fortress was never taken.

The photos I took from Google Images and are uncredited, but I would like to thank the photographers.

Friday, 25 March 2016

A Funeral and a trip to Bristol

Monday started in a sombre mood with the funeral of my uncle Alan, my mother's brother-in-law and a widower since aunt Beth died a couple of years ago. Alan liked to joke and kid around, so as children we all found him to be very funny but I had not seen much of him since I moved away from Manchester in 1981. He was 92 when he died. He was called up into the army in 1942 or 43, not sure which. He was something at the D-Day landings but he never talked about it. A sad occasion, but it was good to see the extended family.

From Manchester we had to go to Bristol (with an overnight stay in Walsall just off the M6 motorway). B had to attend her employer's Bristol office for Tuesday and Wednesday so I went as well, a good chance at a free trip, too good to miss.

I like Bristol very much, it is very similar to York but bigger.

Bristol has more water than York

and some interesting bridges

and a lot more seagulls than York
In particular I like St Nicholas' Market which has some great lunch stalls.

An overnight stay at the very comfortable Mercure Holland House Hotel then, while B went to her office, I went on a train trip to Bradford on Avon. This is a small town at the Southern end of the Cotswold, so nice old houses and narrow streets in Cotswold stone. Very nice.

Very narrow streets, this photo was taken outside the hardware shop

A reused mill

The Saxon / Norman church

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Sheffield Triples

Yesterday I made my first trip to Sheffield Triples (I meant to ask why is the event called Triples - but I forgot).

It is an easy journey by public transport. Bus from Easingwold to York. Train from York to Sheffield. Tram from Sheffield rail station to the venue, almost to the door.

This event is somewhat different to others I have attended in that there was room to swing several cats. No standing around waiting for gaps to open in the sea of people or waiting to get close to a stand. This made for a much calmer atmosphere and seemed to generate more time to look at figures and books.

I made a few purchases. Some artillery and a few infantry for my burgeoning Ottoman force (which is progressing very slowly).

Plus this biography of Sir John Moore. When I was researching my talk on Wellington invading France, I came across the 1808/09 campaign in North-West Spain where Moore died and I thought the campaign would be a good subject for a talk.

Also, as I was leaving I stopped at the stand of a Napoleonic re-enactment group "21e Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne-Recréé" and had a long chat with him about his Charleville pattern musket and headwear. His kit and clothing are modern recreations. His musket was made about 15 years ago on the North-West Frontier where there are still a lot of gunsmiths who make old firearms to order. All very interesting.

A very good day out.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Forte Centrale by drone

One of the sites I follow on Facebook is a French site, "Passion Fortification". They have published some photos using a drone over Forte Centrale in the Alpes Maritime. The photos were taken by Drone de Regard.

The Italians built a number of forts on the border between Italy and France during the 1880's and 1890's. These were taken into France at the end of WWII, in 1947, I assume as part of the peace treaty between France and Italy.

I think these are stunning pictures.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

"Hail, Caesar!"

We visited our favourite cinema on Sunday (Cityscreen Picturehouse in York) to see "Hail Caesar!", the latest film from the Coen Brothers. We loved it, very funny, very well written and directed, some great scenes and acting. George Clooney and Josh Brolin, both excellent. Channing Tatum, singing and dancing. Ralph Fiennes trying to teach a young cowboy actor how to speak. I could go on, there was plenty more. We recommend it.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Amsterdam Trip

B and I have returned from a very pleasant weekend trip to Amsterdam. The hotel was very nice, warm, clean and comfortable and was very close to the Museum Quarter. We found some good eateries as well.

Our principle reason for going was to visit the recently renovated and modernised Rijks Museum and the Van Gogh Museum.

Rijks Museum, Amsterdam

Part of the atrium (the obligatory café and shop)
The Rijks Museum is known for its Dutch art, principally Rembrandt and Vermeer. The light levels are low and the use of flash is banned so photography is difficult but here are a few photos to give you a flavour of the museum magnificent collection.

This is the main attraction, Rembrandt's "Nightwatch". We could only smile and admire the painting.

"Louis Napoleon, King of Holland" by Charles Howard Hodges, 1809

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte

"Landscape with Rocky Cliffs and Waterfall" by Gustave Courbet, 1872
There wasn't much in the way of military history in the museum. There were a few cabinets of firearms and polearms and so on. There was a room with a very large cabinet of model warships, fascinating work, such skill.

Then, there was the Waterloo room. This had the two portraits of the Bonaparte brothers and a huge work depicting the Battle of Waterloo towards the end of the day, painted in 1824 by Jan Willem Pienneman. Wellington is the central figure (quite right too). To the left is an officer on horseback waving his hat, to signal the arrival of the Prussians (hooray). In the left foreground is a wounded officer on a litter, this is the Prince of Orange.

Postcard bought in the Museum shop

I must draw your attention to my favourite person in the painting, the senior French officer at the extreme left edge,. He looks seriously hacked off with the day's proceedings, he has what my gran called "a face like thunder". This is General Cambronne of the Old Guard, he of the famous "Mot de Cambronne". On seeing this, the thought "Ah, the Legion d'Honneur around his neck, I wonder how long he would keep that before someone relieved him of it". That bit of souvenir hunting would have made his day.....