Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Well that's one task completed; only a load more to do ...

I've spent the last three days putting together the talk I have to present when I am Installed as the new Worshipful Master of the Veritatem Sequere Lodge in Hertfordshire. It is the Province's Research Lodge, and it is a tradition that the incoming Master gives a talk on a subject of their choosing.

I have chosen to talk about the Halsey family of Great Gaddesden, Hertfordshire. They held the major offices in Freenasonry in Hertfordshire for a period of over one hundred and fifty year, and many of them had distinguished non-Masonic careers in politics and the armed forces. The latter includes a naval captain who wore a Maori war-skirt on the bridge of his battle cruiser at the Battle of Heligoland Bight and the Battle of Dogger Bank!

They don't breed them like that anymore ... or do they?

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Miniature Wargames Issue 414

After some considerable thought, I decided to renew my subscription to MINIATURE WARGAMES for a further three months. As a result I received the latest issue by post yesterday, and have now had the opportunity to read it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: Good things in small packages by Conrad Kinch
  • Frontier Warfare: Part Two - Rules and Strategies by Chris Jarvis
  • Reinventing an old friend: Part Two by Jon Sutherland
  • Customs Office: Scenery building using 4Ground models and stuff from the scrap box by Roger Dixon
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!: Aerial Adventures in an Alternative World by Tony Francis
    • Uhtred and the Fire Dragon by Gordon Lawrence
  • Wargaming My Way by Dave Tuck
  • Creighton Abram's War: Fast-play microscale World War II rules for Battalion/Brigade Level wargames by Robert Piepenbrink
  • Recce
  • Tower of Balsa: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Show report: Claymore 2017 by John Treadaway
  • Club Directory
So what did I enjoy in this issue?
  1. Well it goes without saying that as Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence was written about his use of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, it came out top! His article shows how easy it was for him to create his own version of the game, and his suggested rule changes to make them suitable for re-fighting American Civil War battles make a lot of sense. Furthermore he has included three short scenarios that I will certainly copy and use at some point.
  2. The second part of Chris Jarvis's Frontier Warfare came a close second ...
  3. ... with Robert Piepenbrink's Creighton Abram's War coming third. I don't think that I will stop using my own World War II rules and start fighting battles with these, but it was nice to see someone designing a set of rules for a game that can be fought on a small tabletop.
Not an outstanding issue, but good enough to justify my decision to re-subscribe.

The one downside of this magazine is the continued presence of the Club Directory section. In my opinion it is an utter waste of paper ... and should NOT be in every issue!

A copy of the Derby Worlds 2017 Tabletop Wargaming Convention Official Show Guide also came with this issue.

I won't be going to the convention (competitive wargaming has never held any attractions for me, in addition to which it is quite a journey to get there from where I live), but it was nice to see what demonstration and participation wargames be available to see and/or take part in.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Byzantines vs. Bulgars: Portable Wargame battle reports from Archduke Piccolo

Having created Army Lists for the Byzantines and the Bulgars, Archduke Piccolo has now used them in a couple of battles, which he has reported on his blog.

Judging by the photographs he has used on his blog, the two battles seem to have been full of action.

Battle 1

Battle 2

He has also made several interesting comments about the rules, and made a suggestion with regard to the card-driven unit activation system that others might wish to copy and/or experiment with. I am certainly going to do so ... when I have enough time!

Please note that all the photographs featured above are © Archduke Piccolo.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Open House London: Sunday 17th September 2017

Following on from our visits on Saturday, Sue and I decided to visit some Open House London venues that were somewhat nearer to where we live. We left home close to 11.00am, and by 11.30am we had parked our car in Greenwich in the National Maritime Museum's car park.

We walked across the front of the museum ...

... and into the small adjoining garden, where we were able to visit the Devonport Mausoleum ...

... that originally formed part of the former Royal Naval Hospital's graveyard. The building is actually the entrance to the now-sealed underground burial chamber, and it is adorned inside and out with memorials to some of those buried inside and in the immediate vicinity of the mausoleum.

Edward Riddle wrote A TREATISE ON NAVIGATION AND NAUTICAL ASTRONOMY that became the standard navigation textbook used by the Royal Navy. His son died in an unfortunate accident in his classroom when he injured himself falling off the dais his desk was on.

The inscription on Edward Harris's memorial records that he 'was 18 years a slave in Barbary'!

Inside the grounds of the mausoleum is an oak tree planed to commemorate Captain (later Admiral) Hardy, who served a term as Governor of the Royal Naval College.

Nearby is the tomb of Admiral James Alexander Gordon, another of the Hospital's Governors, ...

... and a memorial to all those sailors and Royal Marines who lived out their days in the Hospital and who were buried in its cemetery, and officers who served as Governors and Lieutenant Governors between 1749 and 1869.

There is also a small but unique memorial to Thomas Allen, Admiral Horatio Nelson's faithful shipboard servant, who although not a sailor, was allowed to end his days in the Hospital.

Only a short way away is the memorial in memory of Captain Thomas Boulden Thompson, who had an illustrious naval career and who later became Comptroller of the Royal Navy, a Member of Parliament, and finally Treasurer of the Royal Naval Hospital.

The final memorial in the grounds is that in memory of Captain John Simpson, who rose from being an apprentice to the rank of Post Captain, and who end his career as Senior Captain of the Hospital.

As we still had plenty of time before we had to leave, we crossed the road and entered the former Royal Naval College (which occupied the former buildings of the Royal Naval Hospital) ... which is now the main site of the University of Greenwich.

Walking through the grounds it is not difficult to understand why it has been used as a location for numerous films.

Most of the tours around the site were already booked up, but we were free to wander around if we liked. Our first stop was to the skittle alley ...

... which is located near to the Chapel's undercroft.

This is now used as a cafe/canteen, and is adorned with several boards displaying the names of naval officers who served at the Royal Naval College as Presidents and Directors, ...

... Staff College Directors and Deputy Directors, ...

... Naval Staff College Directors and Commodores, ...

... and the Joint Directing Staff.

We then went upstairs to the College Chapel, which proved to be lavishly decorated.

In the entrance to the chapel were two monuments to Admiral Hardy ...

... and King William IV (who was known as the 'Sailor King'), ...

... as well as numerous other people who were associated with the Royal Naval Hospital.

As the skies were beginning to darken and we were only a few minutes walk away from where we had parked, Sue and I decided to return home for lunch and a much-needed rest.

A Legacy of Spies

There are some authors whose newly published books I read as soon as they are available. John le Carré is one such author, and I have just finished reading his latest book, A LEGACY OF SPIES.

The main character in the book is Peter Guillam, who appears in most of John le Carré’s books that feature George Smiley. It is set in the modern day, but concerns itself with the operation that was the subject of one of the earlier books, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. In a climate where a litigious blame culture is prevalent and ‘someone has to pay’, the children of Alec Leamus and Elizabeth Gold – who were killed at the end of the earlier book – are seeking to find out who in the Service (AKA the ‘Circus’) had their respective parents killed. Their motivation seems to be either financial (in the case of Christoph Leamus) or political (in the case of Karen Gold).

As the book unfolds we find out more about Peter Guillam’s early life, his reasons for joining the ‘Circus’ as well as the background to the operation that ended up with the death of Leamus and Gold. Other characters from the earlier Smiley novels also appear, if only in passing or in a comment. These include Oliver Lacon (later Sir Oliver Lacon and even later Lord Lacon of the Treasury), Inspector Oliver Mendel (ex-Special Branch and whose first name – also Oliver – I did not know until I read this book), Jim Prideaux (former Head of Scalphunters, who was shot in TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY), and Millie McCraig (the best Housekeeper the ‘Circus’ ever had). Even George Smiley himself makes a fleeting appearance as a self-exile living in Switzerland and doing research in a university.

I expect that this will probably be the last of the George Smiley novels that John le Carré will write, and it tied up so many of the loose ends from the other books. I enjoyed reading it, and found it so engrossing that I did so almost at one sitting.

A LEGACY OF SPIES was written by John le Carré and published in 2017 by Viking Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House) (ISBN 978 0 241 30854 7). The cover price for the hardback was £20.00 but I bought mine from Amazon for £9.50.