Wednesday 30 September 2015

Artmaster Brushes

I have been putting some new brushes through their paces and I'm rather pleased with them. I still love my Winsor & Newton Series 7's for the finest work (that will never change) but this set from Artmaster are working out very nice indeed, and at a fraction of the cost. I bought these at a craft show in Kent a couple of weeks ago and have been experimenting with them on a few small projects. 

The set of 6 precision brushes come in 10/0, 5/0, 3/0, 2/0, 0, 2 sizes and are designed for use with Watercolours, Acrylics and Oil Paints. They have 'easy grip' triangular handles which is a bit odd but actually makes for a comfortable and precise grip. My set cost me less than £10 which is less than the cost of one Series 7 Brush. 

Thursday 24 September 2015

The Young Padawan Speaks

Like many wargamers of my generation I have a 'normal' life outside my hobby and that includes a wonderful wife and two great kids. Last week I foolishly agreed to let my youngest daughter write a guest post for this Blog about her experiences as a young gamer. I instantly regretted the power I had just handed her and having read what she has written I now know I was right! Very funny though...

I am Emily, BigLee's daughter and I am 10½

My dad, being a gamer, is sometimes fun and sometimes annoying. There are times where his games are exciting, like when we played a game set in the desert. But there are other times when he has taken a game FAR too seriously for me to enjoy! Dad does a wacky victory dance each and every time he gets a point even though he looses afterwards. [No I don't! - BL] Whenever my dad looses he says it’s because he let me win! 

He pretends to be funny by imitating fictional characters like Han solo from star wars when we play X-Wing. He also thinks he is funny when he does a silly voice... when will he learn?! 

Some of my dad’s games I think are a bit childish, like the board game BEOWULF which a three year old could play, and he’s 46! (Grow up dad!) There is one game I love which is called Lord of the Rings Risk, but dad says it is too long to play... but he only says that to get out of it because he knows I am going to win! 

I like boardgames and card games. One of my dad’s card games is called Cthulhu FLUXX, it’s a game where the rules change constantly during the game. I like it because usually I win or nobody wins! I also like it because I arrange my cards to the point that my dad lays his last good card and I place a totally different card over it (that’s how I win). My tip is that if it is a card game you have to have a face like you don’t have a trick up your sleeve, then surprise them. You also have to plan you trick carefully and swiftly. If you are new to a game don’t play it safe, you have to be competitive.

When my dad writes and describes me as his 'Padawan' he is mistaken because I am the master and dad is my Padawan. [True - BL]

I guess I asked for that! I never knew I'd created such a competitive gamer. The gloves are off for the next game we play!! 

Monday 21 September 2015

Battle of Britain Air Show at IWM Duxford

On Saturday the Wife and I went to the Battle of Britain Air Show at the Imperial War Museum Duxford. Both the kids were otherwise occupied so we were going solo for a change. We headed off about seven am, determined to beat the inevitable traffic jams entering the site. This paid off and we were walking onto the airfield by about quarter past eight. We eventually left Duxford about six thirty pm (allowing the crowds to dissipate before heading back to the car) so we well and truly got our moneys worth from our entry ticket!

This is the first Air Show I have been to since the Shoreham tragedy and I was interested to see what effect the new CAA regulations would have on the event. There were fewer jets and those that did attend were restricted to simple flyby's. I was expecting that but it was also noticeable that the normal approach routes for all flypast's had been shifted a few hundred yards further south (away from the motorway) and that the displays seemed further away from the crowds as a result. For the real enthusiasts - wielding expensive camera's with huge lenses - this small change probably wasn't even noticeable, but for normal folk the aircraft did deem rather remote at times. 

Having said all that the show was still spectacular. As well as the usual Spitfires and Hurricanes there was a newly restored Bristol Blenheim. We were treated to an amazing agility display by a Chinook helicopter and a flyby of the Duxford 'Big Wing'...fifteen Spitfires and two Seafires flying in formation. I shot a load of photo's as usual and here's a selection of my favourites. 

B17 Flying Fortress 'Sally B'

Aircrew in front of a Hawker Huricane

The Flightline - Hurricanes in the foreground and Spitfires further down the line

More Aircrew reenactors.

BigLee having a great time!

Hispano Buchon is essentially a Rolls-Royce Merlin-engined Messerschmitt Bf109

Lots of spitfires in the Flightline

The Buchon in flight

Hawker Hurricane

Bristol Blenheim & 3 Hawker Hurricanes

Spitfire & Hurricane flypast

Chinook Helicopter

The B17 starts its engines prior to its display

'Sally B' in flight

The Finale - 15 Spitfires and two Seafires flying in Duxford's 'Big Wing' formation

The final flypast of three Spitfires
For those that are interested (all two of you probably) I shot all my photo's on my Canon G15 compact. The quality optics, image stabiliser and large sensor mean this camera far outperforms what you might normally expect of a camera of this size. True I could have got better pictures with my SLR and 400mm lens but I would also have had to lug all that heavy gear around with me all day. I'm getting too old and creaky for that! 

Thursday 17 September 2015

The Battle of the Totem Poles

Whisky Galore!
Over the weekend the Rejects gathered for a French Indian Wars game in Posties Shed-o-War. I was a last minute attendee but Postie made room for me at the games table. I would live to regret his generosity of spirit...I should have known he had some devilish toll to exact in return! 

An Indian war band is returning from a successful raid on a British settlement. They have taken several women prisoner and helped themselves to cattle and other loot in the process. Unbeknownst to them they are being pursued by several British units intent on recovering the booty and rescuing the women.

Order of Battle
c/o Major (Mark)
 2 Indian Character figures
   55th Foot
   Rodgers Rangers
   Militia Unit 
   80th Foot 
   Gordon's Rangers 

French /Indians
c/o Major (John)
 1 Indian Character 
   Compagnies Franches de la Marve
   Coureurs de Bois 
   Indian Warband with Prisoners
   Indian Warband
   Indian Villagers

The Action
The Indian Warband returning from a raid with prisoners and other loot

The Indian village. 

Meanwhile a unit of Coureurs de Bois navigate the river on rafts piled with more stolen loot

The full sized table was used for this game - 6ft by 12ft and lots of trees.

The view from the other end of the table. Pictured from left to right are Postie (Stuart), Surjit, Richard and; wargaming newbie, Wendy.

My troops, Rodgers Rangers.

Richard, Surjit, Mark, Wendy, Postie, Ian and John

Very large hidden movement markers denoted units yet to be revealed to the other players. These were French and Indian reinforcements. 

A rather blurry picture of a single stationery marker...what could it be? My rangers were ordered to sweep through the woods and flush out hidden units so this marker was in my path. I'd get to the bottom of the mystery token eventually, and I wouldn't be happy with what I found.

French rangers disembark the rafts to attack the flank of our Militia.

Meanwhile French regulars move up to the end of the woods near the Indian village. They know that any British unit crossing the open to attack them will have a hard time.

Protecting their flank an Indian Warband. 
Meanwhile my rangers have begun to outflank the warband with the prisoners. One Indian takes the prisoners back to the village while the rest of the unit seems to prepare to attack my men. In one quick move my unit forms up in a firing line. 

Some of these Indians have had a little too much stolen whisky!

British reinforcements in the form of Gordon's Rangers arrive on the table and rush forwards to support the beleaguered Militia. 

An overfiew of the action by the river. Gordon's Rangers and the Militia are by the river and the 55th Foot are lined up on the edge of the forest overlooking a wide clearing. 

Meanwhile Rodgers Rangers have engaged the Indians. In a stroke of luck the Indian leader is killed and enough casualties are caused to enable the rangers to outnumber their opponents in the next turn of melee.

Meanwhile the 55th Foot are desperately trying to 'spot' the French raiders in the forest across the clearing. Until the French are spotted they cannot be targeted by musket fire and cannot be charged in melee. 

Close quarters shooting and viscous hand to hand combat finishes off the Warband facing Rodgers Rangers. 

Last to fall is the drunken Indian, too drunk to know what killed him!

Gordon's Rangers and the 55th Foot prepare to cross the clearing even though many of the opposing French cannot be seen and targeted. 

Outnumbering the French defenders the fight is bloody and costly to both sides. 

And now for something completely different.... The Battle of the Bear Essentials:

Having dispatched the Indian Warband my rangers continue their orders to sweep the woods clear of enemy. Then the umpire throws a Grizzly Bear at me....!!! 


The Bear eviscerated one ranger with ease and pounced on a second man also ripping him to shreds before the rest of my unit were able to bring the beast down with a volley of shots. 

Back to the game....

Hand to hand fighting eventually cleared the wood of French rangers allowing the British to move forward. 

But another gap in the woods, and a fresh French unit stand in their way. (again sorry for the shaky picture....I was still smarting after the Bear Incident)

The French begin to retire as the British regulars and Rangers push forwards...but darkness is descending and the game comes to a close. 

The game was declared a French/Indian win despite the steady advance of the British troops. None of the stolen booty or hostages were recovered by the British. When Postie checked the points scores it was a closer run thing than expected with the French ending with a narrow lead. 

Crossing open ground against concealed troops in woods has always been a tough proposition in these FIW games. More so when the trooped faced are hardened woodsmen. Having said that the British units on the left flank did succeed is beating back the French, but it took far too long. Belatedly Mark agreed that one of the reserve units (the 80th Foot) should have been directed to my area to exploit the flank I had swept clean, but to be honest it had taken so long to do this (did I mention I faced a f***ing Bear!) I'm not sure we would have had time to exploit the success. The main advantage of a right hook would have been to draw more troops away from the left flank....but hindsight has always been a harsh mistress. 

Monday 14 September 2015

6mm Nissen Huts

The latest addition to my collection 6mm airfield buildings is a pair of corrugated Nissan huts from Leven Miniatures. These are typical of the sort seen at RAF sites across the country and indeed across the Empire (as it was then). With territory - and therefore airstrips - in North Africa switching hands several times during the campaign its not unreasonable to expect buildings like this to be employed by whichever side happens to control the territory at the time, so these could be used for Allied or Axis airfields.

The Nissen hut was actually a WWI design for a modular and easily portable building that could be erected or dismantled quickly (6 men could build one in just four hours). One hundred thousand were built in the first world war but the design was again adopted for military use during WWII. Leaky and drafty in winter and stifling hot in summer these were not comfortable buildings but they did serve a vital role and many were converted to civilian use after the war.