Follow by Email

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Star Wars : The Last Jedi

We went to the cinema to see this latest addition to the Star Wars canon on Monday afternoon.

I believe there is some controversy around this film. Many long term Star Wars fans are not impressed.

As members of the paying public, as film watchers, B and I thoroughly enjoyed this film, it is a good story that stands on its own merit, it is well written and directed, it has great performances but it is long. As Star Wars followers, both of us felt this film added nothing to the canon but what the heck, we had a good time. So I encourage you to see it.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

New books

This morning, just after B had gone to work, I was stood in the shower waiting for the hot water I hot water. I dressed and checked the boiler and it's not working. Now I am sat here, waiting for the plumber to come so I thought I would write another entry about my reading. A few weeks ago I wrote about two books I had received, "The Last Crusaders" by Barnaby Rogerson and "Maginot Line Gun Turrets" by Clayton Donnell.

I have finished "The Last Crusaders"; this was a terrific read, I enjoyed it very much, it was just what I needed. The author's style was easy, almost non-academic, not much detail because of the geographical spread and the time spread of the subject matter. This was what I wanted and I learnt a great deal, for example I did not know that first Portugal then Spain tried to annex large parts of the Maghreb in the 15th and 16th centuries, these annexations were largely unsuccessful. The main conflict that evolved was between the Spanish Empire and its allies in the Holy League and the Ottoman Empire and their allies the Corsairs, for control of the Med and led to the Siege of Malta and the Battle of Lepanto. All very interesting stuff.

About three weeks ago I found a copy of this book online and at a very reasonable price.

I have read the first two chapters; this is a very different style of book and of writing, lots of maps and tables and numbers. A much more academic work and I think I will finish it but in bite-sized chunks over a period of time.

I was tempted to this course by another book. The Murphey book is my third Middle East history book in a row and I have heard the siren call of my main interests- those of French history and artillery fortifications. Clayton Donnell, mentioned above, has released another book on one of my favourite subjects, the Maginot Line.

Three chapters in and I am very much enjoying it. I have reached 10th May 1940 and Operation Fall Gelb is about to start the invasion of France and the Low Countries. Exciting stuff.

Thursday, 16 November 2017


Our neighbourhood pheasant has returned from his summer hols - a welcome sight and I'm glad to see he evaded the flak of the Glorious Twelfth but I will have to be careful now whilst filling the feeders as he does leave rather large turds.

Also - at B's request we went to see Paddington 2 at Cityscreen. We enjoyed it, full of good humour, plenty of laughs, a bit Laurel & Hardy, very entertaining.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Fiasco 2017

Fiasco is the annual show put on by Leeds Wargamers Club at the New Dock Hall, next to the Royal Armouries in Leeds. (This hall was known as Saville Hall but it underwent a name change after the very unsavoury revelations that occurred on the death of Sir Jimmy Saville.)

This year the event was on Sunday. It is a smaller scale show that is very friendly, the gamers and the traders always have more time for chats and to explain what is happening on their games.

For the last two years I have been pursuing a policy of taking a fixed amount of money - also known as a budget - and only buying what I need, not buying lots of figures or paints or books. This is my haul for my ongoing Ottoman project.

Two more flatpack buildings from Warbases

One book - memoirs from a man who was there

From Colonel Bill's stand, a bag of OG 28mm Akinji

Some spears, a number of my Ottoman figures from Ebay do not have spears

A pair of Austrian 3 pounders from Eagle Figures

Why a pair of Austrian 3 pdrs? Well, a few weeks ago I was reading an article on the Ottoman army during the Napoleonic Wars by Andrew F Booth. He had written a sentence "However, the Turks had a fondness for Austrian 3 pdrs..." I find this to be an intriguing line and that such a battery with Turkish gunners would be a good addition to my army.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

"The Death of Stalin"

Saturday's visit to the cinema. Very funny, very well written, a rather dark comedy, a great cast, particularly good was Jason Isaacs as Marshal Zhukov and Simon Russel Beale as Beria, the head of the NKVD.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Middle East Buildings

Purchased a few weeks ago at the Border Rievers Show

I did some research on colours. In the 1990's I visited Jordan and Egypt and there are books of paintings from artists who travelled in the Middle East in the early 19th century. I looked at some of the ready assembled and painted model buildings on the market - many of those are too bright and pristine, one was so white the buildings looked like they were made from snow.

This is the scheme on which I decided, glue, sand, two coats of Citadel Karak Stone, a dark wash for weathering, dabs of Foundry Boneyard Shade, drybrush Tamiya Desert Yellow and Deck Tan. The figures are 3 Dixon Janissaries and a Hinchliffe Janissary, all now ready for basing.

Different lighting

Tower turned through 90 degrees

This gateway is a model I bought on Ebay two years ago, ready assembled and painted, this is the scheme I have tried to follow.

 I also bought this ruined cottage on Ebay. I think it was made by Jarvis. It was dark grey in colour so I have repainted it.

I enjoyed making and repainting the buildings. I will buy a couple more from Warbases, such as some steps for the wall. I shall also keep an eye on Ebay for more bargains.

Monday, 9 October 2017

BladeRunner 2049

We had a trip to the cinema on Saturday. I have waited YEARS for this. I was very well rewarded. This film is fantastic, for once the hype is true. I was awestruck. The director, Denis Villeneuve, has done a wonderful job. Great acting, great locations beautifully filmed, a really good story that is allowed to develop and evolve throughout the film. Without hesitation - 5 stars, 10/10.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

A good week - books and a course

This week the postman left two books and a DVD, all of which were purchased from Amazon traders.

First - following on from the holiday reading of the book on Saladin, this book covers the period of 1415 - 1575.

Second - this new volume from Osprey, my library of French history continues to grow

Third - I don't know how or why I have not seen this film before, I am a big fan of Ridley Scott and this was his first feature film. Something to look forward to one afternoon next week.

I always feel guilty about buying online from Amazon. The company has been accused of setting up an internal structure in Luxembourg with the aim of reducing its tax bill and I feel as though I am complicit in and encouraging their tax avoidance. To counter that, the pricing is very attractive, the Osprey book was 8.40 pounds, in a bookshop (if they stocked the book) it would have cost 11 pounds, so I saved around 25per cent. In itself, this is not a huge monetary saving, but over a year because of the number of books and films and CDs I buy, the saving is quite substantial. What a dilemma.

October is the start of the new academic year. This week I began a course with the University of York's Centre for Lifelong Learning, "The Spanish Civil War" for the Autumn Term, 10 Thursdays, 13.00 - 15.00 hrs, purely for the learning and for interesting discussions with fellow history geeks. This is the second year that David, the lecturer, has run the course. Last year I was too late with my booking, the course was already full. This year I booked as soon as I could to ensure my place. 

This is the lecture outline for week one.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Taormina Books & Theatre

Being away from the computer and the tv for a week, I did some reading.

Allan Mallinson has written a series of books about a young chap making his way up to command of a regiment of light dragoons. I read the first one, set in the Waterloo campaign. This is my second and is set in 1830, during a period of civil unrest (no constabulary at that time) and then in the Belgian war of independence. I enjoyed the novel, it's not something I usually read but when on holiday...I found the author's moralising a bit heavy handed, but apart from that, a good story.

Then back to history for my second book, "Saladin", just read because it looked interesting when I was in Waterstones. A very good book, very informative, for example, I did not know he had trouble with the Assassins. It may have provided some back story for my Ottoman project.

This was our fifth holiday in Taormina. Each time we say will visit the Roman Theatre - this time we made it. Here are some photos

The theatre is on a promontory overlooking the town

It is one of the largest in the Med


Very stylish sandals

The theatre is now used for concerts and other events

From the top, the view looking north

The view of Taormina

The view looking South

Monday, 25 September 2017

Taormina, Sicily

Yesterday, B and I returned to Yorkshire from a very good holiday in Taormina, Sicily. We spent a week at the Villa Angela Hotel. Every room has a balcony with views of Mount Etna, the sea and the bay on the left and the hill town of Castelmola on the right.

On opening the curtains on the first morning

We spent the time relaxing by the pool, reading, eating too much pizza and partaking in some fine dining in town. No visits to forts or battlefields, no military museums, just relaxing in the sunshine. We did visit a Roman theatre and a couple of ruined castles, so we got some history. I have more photos to sort out and share later, but here is one of Mount Etna on our last morning, taken as we waited for the transfer to the airport.

Overnight, a cold front had moved in and the volcano had its first snow of the autumn. 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Border Reivers Show, Gateshead

Saturday, 2nd Sept. I caught the train from York to Newcastle, then the Metro to Gateshead International Stadium for the Border Reivers Wargaming Show.

This is a small show, about 30 traders and a similar number of demos, but size isn't everything, I could get close to all the stands and chat to the dealers.

A few items were purchased.

From the bring and buy, a bag of Dixon SYW Prussian Grenadiers, 16 grenadiers, two ensigns, a drummer without a drum and a Garrison Prussian Fusilier. For ten pounds, a bargain, I will buy a command group from Dixon.

Fortunately, I really like the Garrison SYW figures

Then a couple of camels for the Ottoman baggage train and a very aggressive looking priest from Footsore; a figure I have wanted for some time.

From Warbases, a couple of buildings for the Ottoman project and some bases.

The buildings are laser cut MDF, so they are very flat, not like any middle eastern building I have seen. Talking to the seller, he suggested PVA glue and sand, the same as I use for figure bases. I will give it a go.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Polish Winged Hussars Demonstration Team

Yesterday, we went to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds for a display put on by

"The Hussar Banner of the Marshall of Pomorskie Voivodship"

a Polish re-enactment troop of winged hussars. This took place in the museum tiltyard and lasted about 45 minutes. All very exiting. These are the photos I took.