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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Eboracum Roman Festival, York.

"Good morning Eboracum. When we left , 1700 years ago, we said we'd be back. Well. Here we are, a little late maybe, but here we are."

The opening words from the Roman compere when introducing the Legions at the Eboracum Roman Festival on Sunday. The re-enactors are mainly showing the uniforms of around year 125 AD, with a few from 400 AD 9those with the trousers and round shields). The running order was a parade and a march through York, a display of birds of prey, the Romans returned to Museum Gardens for a display of drill and sparring. All great fun.

Here are some of my photos.



















Sunday, 28 May 2017

"R & G are dead"


A great week. International cricket is back. Having previously beaten Ireland in two 50 over matches, this week England have beaten South Africa TWICE.

Mark Wood winning the second match by bowling  a very clever last over
This is a good sign for England as the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy starts on 1st June - South Africa are very strong side and two England wins in these pre-tournament warm-up matches will give us a good confidence boost.

Also - B and I went to City Screen in York for a live broadcast from the Old Vic Theatre in London of Tom Stoppard's play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead". Very enjoyable - really good performances from Daniel Radcliffe as R, Joshua McGuire as G and David Haig as The Player.





Meanwhile - back at home - I haven't mentioned our daily visitor. Since October 2016, this chap has been visiting us for lunch every day.

A cock pheasant who comes to share the seed.

If there is insufficient for his meal he jumps up and knocks the feeder

After lunch he often goes for a sleep behind the flowers in the undergrowth
We are pleased to see him and pleased that he feels safe enough to stay for a post-lunch kip. No sign of a hen yet or of any nest-building; do pheasants make nests?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

"Alien Covenant"




If you liked the first "Alien" film then, I believe, you will enjoy this film. "Both B and I thought this was far better than "Alien Prometheus".

Alien Covenant" is the latest release in the Alien series. It is part two of a four part sequence of prequel films that are building up to the original film "Alien". There is nothing really new here but the craft, the storytelling, the acting are all extremely well done.


Friday, 19 May 2017

Bristol

I spent last weekend in Bristol and had a really nice time. 

City centres are changing, as the economy goes more online and as more people move back into the centres. Bristol is like a number of English cities, it is going through a period of regeneration. A lot of buildings are being repurposed; old warehouses are being gutted and converted to apartment blocks, bank branches are closing and being redeveloped into coffee shops or restaurants with apartments above. Small squares are being opened up for use. As an example, since my last visit a year ago, this footbridge has been installed.


Passed old and new buildings


91M refers to the length of the footbridge

It leads to this canyon between buildings

which leads onto a square holding a (weekly?) street food market

Back on the other side of the river, I came across another street food market.
All this food made me very hungry so stopped and had a delicious Moroccan chicken couscous - how trendy is that.....

It may not be the new Jerusalem, but for me, as a city boy I find these changes away from the old satanic mills to be stimulating and envigorating.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Salute 2017 Review

First - my congratulations to South London Warlords for a great show, very well organised, a very nice day out for this Northerner.

A good start to the day - the Grand Central service from York departed on time and arrived in London on time. From there it was London Underground and Docklands Light Railway to ExCel Centre for the show. I arrived at 11:15 so I missed the initial rush - which was good - and the free figure given to the first 5000 entrants.

When I got into the hall, the first thing that struck me was it seemed to be less crowded; in fact throughout the visit I felt there was more room but whether that was fewer punters, fewer traders or fewer games I cannot say; probably a mix of all three. Anyway, being less crowded was a positive for me.

These are my purchases.



Steve Barber Models - Turkish Levy infantry and a Captain

Minifigs sample blister packs

28mm Ottoman flags from The Flag Dude

Artillery sized bases
I was very pleased to find the Steve Barber Models. I had seen the figures in their on line catalogue but I like to see and feel figures before I buy. I bought the two packs, infantry and an officer. I will order more packs of different figures. The new, 28mm Minifigs of Napoleonic Ottomans I will buy as and when I see them. I tried to purchase some figures from Foundry and Perry but both were out of stock. Also I wanted some flags, found The Flag Dude and bought three flags so that was a success.

I have been thinking that as my Ottoman force grows I should get some buildings so I had a good look around for ideas. Adrian's Walls models are one option. These are really nice.When visiting the Warbases stand I saw that they have a range of flat pack Middle Eastern buildings at very competitive prices. I have not bought any of these IKEA style MDF buildings or vehicles. If anyone has I would be very grateful for any feedback on your experiences.

Ideas for buildings - Adrian's Walls look very good
One surprise for me - I resisted the temptation to buy a book or two.

The journey home was the same except in reverse and everything went well. I met B and we went to Pizza Express for dinner. All round, a very good day.

Sizes - l to r - Warlord, Barber, Minifigs  28mm, Barber, Old Glory, Dixon.




Friday, 21 April 2017

Travels in 2017

Almost as soon as I pushed the "PUBLISH" button on yesterday's note, I realised I had forgotten to include another photo. Here it is:



This is the book I am planning to read on the train to and home from London. Well - the one or two chapters that cover events in 1917. I bought it a few years ago. It is a fascinating book for someone (like me) that is interested in the French Army during the Great War, over 500 pages, written by a retired US Army Brigadier General and West Point lecturer. The reason that I am rereading parts of the book is for my next talk. In mid-June I am addressing the York U3A Military History group on the Spring Offensives of 1917, that is the Battle of Arras and the Nivelle Offensive on the Chemin des Dames.

As well as the trip to London I have arranged a few others.

In May, when B is going to the Royal Windsor Horse Show with her family, I am going to Bristol for three nights. This is a city I really like - not yet decided what to do when I am there except maybe a trip to the Tank Museum at Bovington.

June - I have splashed out on a rather expensive trip with The Cultural Experience called "A Near Run Thing", four days tour based in Brussels, with trips to Ligny, Quatre Bras and Waterloo. From Brussels, instead of returning to London I am planning to visit Lille for three nights to see the museums and the fortifications. The Citadel is one of the finest Vauban works in France. It has been maintained to a very high standard, primarily because it is still a working base for the French Army and so access is very restricted.



The Museum of Fine Arts has a number of the relief maps made around 1700 showing France's fortifications.

Relief map of Lille Citadel
Also there is the Lille's Gunners Museum, this sounds rather intriguing.

Late September - the annual holiday with B - this time to Taormina in Sicily, as the summer heat is waning and after the kids have returned to school.

In addition, I am hoping to do a few day trips to various historic sites in North East England and we have tickets for the Saturday of the second test match of England v South Africa series at Trent Bridge in Nottingham in July.

A good spread of trips across the summer. The planning for 2018 has already started - Royal Opera Company has announced their 2018 programme that includes performances of Lohengrin during June. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Salute 2017


Saturday - I shall be travelling down to Excell London for Salute 2017. I am looking forward to it, very much.

The train journey, York to Kings Cross London, is just under two hours each way so I have chosen a good tome to read - Robert Doughty's "Pyrrhic Victory" - as part of my research for my next talk. With luck I should finish the two chapters on 1917.

Last year I went to Salute without a plan or an idea of which traders to see, so this year I have bought the April issue of Miniature Wargames as this is the "Show Special". I have identified several traders, principally for my ongoing Ottoman Army project. I am particularly interested to see Steve Barber Models and Essex Miniatures.

Recently I ordered a couple of siege pieces and a bag of artillerymen from Old Glory UK. I will visit them so they can tell me just what is this gunner supposed to be doing because I am flummoxed.



To me, he reminds me of someone doing that 1990's dance move that I've seen on television, you know, big box little box, but that cannot be right.


Monday, 27 March 2017

"The Lost City of Z"



We had a very good lunch at Carluccio's in York yesterday and then went to Cityscreen to see this, "The Lost City of Z". It is a good story, based on the lives of the two explorers. Their quest was to find the lost city in the jungles of the Amazon on the borders of Brazil and Bolivia.

The film is long and somewhat flat, the tempo is a little too slow. Good acting, terrific locations and camerawork but...I cannot recommend it.

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.