Category Archives: Off Topic

Concrete Sniffing in Vienna

Vienna was not intended to be concrete-sniffing holiday, but the  Die of Fate rolled and came up with a six. The lovely Mrs K (Suzanne) had booked us an apartment in a residential area between the Danube and the “Donau Kanal“, which meant that we were on a rather large island outside the old city walls, but near to the Augarten park and railway station. Our morning walk took us through the park and cafés into the city centre. We could have taken the tram, but then we would have missed this:

The Leittürme were smaller than the G-Türme!

Even Suzanne was impressed. We have both seen Flaktürme before in the Ruhr, and to find one looming unexpectedly over the trees in a park was a surprise. Then we walked around the corner and saw this:

It reminded me a little of the Emperor Dalek from the ’60s as it sat there with a squat malevolence that time had done nothing to diminish. Naturally, the locals had dialled it out of their mental landscape and only tourist such as ourselves gawked and photographed it.

 

This larger GefechtsTurm had come off second-best with time*, so part of the lower balcony had been removed post millenium, and steel cables girdled the structure, having pulled  the upper platform a good  metre or so out of alignment. The towers operated as a pair, with the L-Turm controlling fire for the G-Turm. Three such pairs protected Vienna in a triangle.

The Viennese, being pragmatic folk, have turned one Turm into a climbing wall, and another that sits rather inconveniently in the centre, into a Sealife Centre.

The rest of the holiday was filled with excellent Age of Enlightenment sights, food, and a concert in the Anna Kirche that need not concern us here, other than to say that Vienna is well worth a visit even without the concrete.

*And the attention of mischievous children,  who set fire to 2,000 flak rounds that still remained in the tower in 1946, the little scamps!

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A Civil Day Out

Lawrence of Arabia Ambushes a Turkish Train in the Arab Revolt

Newark is a splendid place to spend an afternoon, with a plethora of small eating and drinking establishments, and the “National Civil War Museum”. In the same descriptive vein, NQM is the Nation’s “Most Comprehensive WW2 Wargame”.*

Lest this review sound as if the place is not worth a visit, I should hastily add that it is, but that what you find is an excellent local museum that covers the sieges of Newark, and sets it in the context of the English Civil War.** When we visited, a Lawrence of Arabia exhibition was on, which was fun. Who doesn’t love the film? 28mm Figure fans will enjoy the diorama of a train ambush.

Shifting Sands Exhibition Train Ambush 1

The museum exhibits give a good Royalist, town-centric view of the conflict, which is fine, because where else would you go to find out stuff about the sieges of Newark? There is also a rather nice exhibition regarding battlefield medicine and surgery, including an interactive exhibit that allows you to use a musket ball extractor on a suitably gory arm. The ball probably hit the brachial artery from its location! The claim that advances in medicine would not be equalled until WWI are overstated though, (anaesthesia in 1829, inoculation in 1796 and nursing in the Crimean War all spring to mind. Proper Anoraks can visit the two-room Museum of Anaesthesia at the Royal College of Anaesthetists opposite the BBC to have their senses thoroughly deadened.

As has been commentated on previously, by others; museums nowadays are interactive experiences to keep the kiddies happy, so we were in our element! Kiddies learn that armour is heavy, and the Governor’s mansion can be destroyed with one ranging shot and one shot for effect by a heavy gun that has digital sights. Adults are left wanting a more balanced view, and more stuff to look at. A diorama of one of the sieges shown on the website was not in evidence. Cromwell was the ghost in the building (Visit Huntingdon for the opposite treatment).

One of the interactive displays gave a good flavour of the shifting balance of power through the war(s) without detail such as town names. Chandler did it better with a few maps, without having to swat kids away that squeeze between you, aimlessly press a couple of buttons, then who wander off to the next exhibit that makes cannon-shot noises. This leaves you back at the default menu, trying to recover the events of 1643 on the interactive timeline.

Honestly, curators, having to press a touch screen to bring up pop-up boxes is not a good way to scan information, I do it for a living, so I have an opinion! We went on an uncrowded Sunday, a crowded one would have been worse. Information was there, if you took the time to read a lot of  typeface on boards in a relatively dimly lit main room (but I can do that in a book). It seemed to me that there was a disconnect between the hard information and the interactive stuff

My idea for an interactive display, is a set of stocks that lock for a pound a minute. Anyone can add coins when your child is in there. Proceeds to widows and orphans! In the Tudor Hall, Prince Rupert was holding forth in full cosplay; we gave him a miss. So, in summary, the museum is worth a visit if you are passing, but should be titled the “Civil War Sieges of Newark Museum“.

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Newark Castle is also worth a visit – the river facade is impressive,  I expected it to feature more in the museum though. The river walk is pleasant, with pubs clustered around the town lock (what could possibly go wrong?) There is a nice micro brewery tucked away behind the riverfront, and an excellent teashop by the old post office behind the market square. We scoffed, quaffed, then came home.

*It isn’t.

** You are firmly corrected and told that they were the British Civil Wars, covering Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The NHS conducts this sort of rebranding exercise for fashionable diseases all the time.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Off Topic

A Grand Day Out

Grab the Ball!

The Medieval folk that run around hitting each other with sticks were out again at Delapré Abbey this weekend. We wandered down, because Delapré is one of our regular winter walks, and because Trebian was presenting his battle of Northampton game; a Cracking Game Grommet, in which Lancastrians discover that cheese tastes best when toasted …

Cracking Game Grommet

Suzanne played for the first time. Within seven moves, she had sacked and burned Northampton (move 1),

Scrope Sacks Northampton

rampaged through the Lancastrian camp, capturing the King (move 6),

Rampaging Through the Lancastrian Camp

and executed a pile of Lancastrian Nobs, reminding me why I generally avoid arguing with Yorkshire Folk!

So That Will be No Quarter then!

That’ll be no quarter then!

I've Always Wanted To Sack Northampton!

At lunchtime, a pair of re-enactors of ample girth were tucking into a medieval meal that seemed to comprise of a lot of wine and pork pies.

Lightweight Camping Chair With Peasant Porter

Elsewhere, a blacksmith of much leaner thew was hammering an iron bar into a sickle, and some enthusiastic medieval gunners were creating loud bangs and rolling banks of acrid smoke. By way of light relief, I bought Suzanne a solid oak medieval folding camp chair, then had to carry it a mile or so back to the car, through the woods, fortified by a rather good pie at the new Delapré café. Personally though, we miss the old volunteers cafe, with its quirky service, homemade cakes and 1950s price structure.

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Marking Time

It has been a while since the WHELKS* have all been seen together in public, so it was rather fitting that most of them were at Will Whyler’s 70th birthday party. Rather than show a series of photos of 50-70-year old beardies and baldies, here is the the tank that I presented Will with, so that he has no excuse for not being able to get around the battlefield. I must master manual focus – the table is crystal clear!

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Also present was Graham Fordham (no relation to Cap’n Birdseye), who recently celebrated his 60th. My focus was better on this one. He is a Copplestone Beastly Belgian masquerading as a French Naval Officer …. aww, who cares; the figure looks like Graham!

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… even if the hair on the model is too short at the back!

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*Wellingborough Historical andEverso Loosely Kultural Society. Present were:

Chris Ager, The Dormouse, Graham Fordham, Graham Hockley, Sarge, Trebian, Will Whyler, Chris Willey, YesthatPhil, and Tony Hawkins in his professional capacity as a magician (The Amazing Anthony).

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Truescale German vs Heroic 28mm

truescale-german

The Grand Duchy of Stollen recently published a rather ernest American lass telling us about common painting mistakes  – I know all about that sort of stuff, ‘cos I make those mistakes shortcuts all the time. Buried away in the video though, was this direct comparison of a teenage reenactor against his 28mm heroic counterpart.

If I met someone proportioned like this, I would definitely run away to the nearest pie shop to bulk myself up. Even though they are scaled to pretty much the same height, the truescale chap looks to be both taller and further away.; rather like the Father Ted sketch with Dougal.

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Heavy Metal – Lamming and Hinchcliffe

Hinchcliffe and Lamming Medieval Cavalry Form UpThese fearsome 25mm fellows last saw light in Armati games over 15 years ago, but their high medieval heyday was in the basement at Knox Road, when they would regularly be roughly handled by YesthatPhil – usually from the flank or behind. Nobody wanted to try their luck from the front!

 

Baron Shagnastie's ChevaucheeThe oldest model in the picture above is Baron Shagnastie – a veteran of the Scottish Campaign at Sandhurst from the late ’70s – he is the stumpy chap with a red duck on his head, and I think he might be a Greenwood and Ball figure, or possible, a Garrison. He is a single-piece casting, and like most twisted meglomaniacs, is a little short in the saddle.

 

A Profitable ChevaucheeI am proudest of the Hinchcliffe Sergeants – they were all individually modified in my second year at Uni. Most of them still have their arms, I didn’t know about pinning or superglue in those days. they were a raggedy crew, straight back from a chevauchée, complete with looted sheep and stuff slung across their saddlebacks. They are based for Armati.

 

De Gough's BattleSir Frederick appears here with a big heap of Lamming knights and sergeants. The different style of sculpting is very noticible, the Hinchcliffes being far more fluid in every way, but en-masse they just blend in amidst the welter of heraldry. The De Goughs were traditionalists, and have clung on to older styles of armour, deeming the more modern bascinets to be “a bit poncey“.

Your Last Ten Seconds of LifeTo emphasise the point, this is the view that an unlucky man-at-arms would have from the front rank of the opposing army.

Moonlighting in Skirmish GamesYou can see from this view of the bases that some of the lads have been moonlighting in skirmish games and RPGs. Dungeons and Dormice was a legend in its day!

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Filed under 25mm Medieval, Off Topic

Robbin B’stard and his Merry Men

No medieval wargames collection would have been complete in the Eighties without a merry band of outlaws. Here are two of mine.

Robbin B'stard and Little Jim wait in AmbushWhat could be more innocent than two people enjoying a country stroll?

The short fellow dressed in Lincoln green is Little Jim – a Minifigs Wood Elf, if I recall correctly. I forget which firm made Robbin B’stard. I’m pretty certain that he was a fantasy figure picked up at a show somewhere – not chunky enough for a Lamming, and not arched enough for a Greenwood & Ball or regimented enough for a Minifigs. *sigh*. Perhaps someone will recognise him?

The Knob on the End of your Staff, or your Life!Got any more gold, Mister?

The Bishop of Boston (Lincolnshire, not America!) has had the top of his crozier robbed. He is a Minifig, and a very undernourished bishop by today’s heroic 28mm-going-on-32 standards. His carriage and retinue are nowhere in sight. Some of the Humbrol enamels used to paint these figures have chipped a little over the years, but on the whole, they have fared pretty well.

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Buried Treasure – Sir Frederick de Gough

Sir Frederick de Gough

You know how it goes – finally, the tidying up in the Man Cave reaches that pile of box files patiently sitting in the corner, and you open them. After the puff of dust subsides, you see forgotten treasure glinting in the gloom!

Sir Frederick de Gough and his brother (the one with the big pointy stick) were the very first pair of Hinchcliffe 25mm metal figures that I ever bought (From Sherman’s Model Shop in Scunthorpe). It must have been over 45 years ago now.

I even soldered the florist’s wire lance on and felt very grown-up doing it. Chromate primer was followed by oils and enamels that have stood the test of time. He has battled his way up and down the length of the (25mm) British Isles over the years. Fred earned his name and achievements from the local Grammar school. Only he remains unchanged.

I will be a bit busy until June, so expect more burrowing into the past as boxes come to light.

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Merry Christmas

Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

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Every year, the Germans show “Dinner for One” on New Year’s Eve. It is largely forgotten in the English-speaking world, as the Germans purchased the broadcast rights some years ago.

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In a year that has had more than it’s fair share of intolerance, I shall be raising my glass to friends on the continent, and doing my best to improve the bit of the world that I have influence on for everyone, not just the ones that think and believe exactly as I do.

Peterborough Christmas Lights

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Relentlessly Modern – With Added Pigs

Art Deco with a Modern TwistSuburbs of Stuttgart

The reaction of everyone we told that we were going to Stuttgart for a midweek break was:

“Why?”

Put simply, Stuttgart has an excellent Christmas Market, museums featuring Porsche  Mercedes, Lindt Chocolate, and the largest* pig museum in Germany, if not the world.

Helipad at a New Hospital ExtensionNote the new Hospital Helipad

By day, Stuttgart is relentlessly modern, its railway marshalling yards having had more than their fair share of RAF and USAF attention. Despite this, large swathes of mature parkland cut through the northern part of the city, making a pleasant day’s walking between fuel stops.

Stuttgart has lots of Hills and Trees

One such was at Killingberg – a well-executed modern estate in cubist white. It works because the Germans do not try to decorate their public spaces with large amounts of fast-food litter.

The New BrutalismVery New Indeed

By night, the Centrum turns into an illuminated fairyland, and the locals crowd in to enjoy Bratwurst, Pommes, Lebkuchen and Germ Knödel; all washed down with Glühwein, Blonder Engels and Eier Punsch.

Weinachtsmarkt Stuttgart

The highlight of the holiday was a walk deep into the industrial riverside, where, by the gasworks, was the Slachthof (Slaughterhouse Inn) and aforementioned Pig Museum.

Schweinbahn

Almost everything Pig-related was there. Not since the Dutch National Airline Sick Bag  Collection has there been such eccentric devotion to a cause.

Zinn Schweine - for Phil SteeleZinn Schweine for Phil Steele

Pigs Being Rude

More Rude PigsPigs Being Rude – for Martin Goddard

Suzanne Expresses Surprise at the Quantity of Pig-related LiteratureAre all these Books about Pigs?

The line that hooked us was “Pig enthusiasts can visit the museum then enjoy one of the relatives in the Schlachterhof next door”. Judge for yourselves. Lekker!

Schweinshaxe in a Vegetable-free Zone

*Size claims should be treated with suspicion. Here is the largest maze in Holland.

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