Thursday 31 August 2017

Too chilled to blog!

The family and I got back from our holiday to Crete in the early hours of Sunday morning and we managed to keep the relaxed holiday pace going for a couple more days. I went back to work today so its back to reality until next summer! Any readers that also follow me on Facebook will have seen a small selection of my pictures from the holiday (I took nearly 2000 in total!!!) and will know that between eating good food, swimming and exploring the countryside we also managed to squeeze in a little bit of history and a couple of museums. Unfortunately I didn't get to visit the Battle of Crete and National Resistance museum, something that will have to be rectified on another visit!

So time to show a few photo's. I'll spare you the many pictures of the amazing scenery or us swimming or enjoying local food and just focus on some of the historical sights we visited. 

For the fantasy/mythological minded this magnificent cavern is supposedly the birthplace of Zeus. To reach here we had to climb 300m up a 1 in 4 pathway in 33°c nearly killed  me! 

Having crawled the last few meter's we found access to the cave involved descend 180 steps to the bottom.and of course climbing 180 back out. The view was utterly worth the effort though. 

Visiting Crete means visiting the partially reconstructed Minoan ruins at Knossos. The site was very interesting (we had an excellent guide) but very very busy. 

After Knossos our guide took us to the Archaeological museum in Heraklion. The vast majority of the best finds from all the islands Minoan sites are kept here making this a world class collection. These ceremonial swords date from 1400 to 1300 BCE

While in Heraklion I made a lone detour away from the main group to visit the Battle of Crete Memorial. This magnificent monument is often overlooked by tourists (ironically the majority being Germans!) but is well worth visiting. 

The monument is surrounded by bronze plaques showing details from the Axis invasion of the island in May 1941 and the resistance that followed.

I also found this other monument spanning the period of the Balkan War of 1912-1913, WWI 1914-18 and the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922

Another day and another trip out, this time by boat to the island of Spinalonga. The Venetians controlled the island from 1205 to 1669 until the Ottomans took control. The Venetian garrison on Spinalonga however held out for another 30 years before surrendering. 

To pass the time the Garrison played boardgames.

Spinalonga was a very strong fortress just a few hundred yards from the mainland and their Ottoman besiegers...but in the end they ran out of provisions and had no choice but to surrender. 
While in the small coastal town of Hersonissos I managed to persuade the family to visit a small nautical museum

This model shows a Minoan ship and is based on illustrations found in the excavated temples on Crete

On another trip out we visited a small mountain village and an old Cretan
house that has been turned into a museum. It showed how the people lived
just a generation ago but I was more interested in some of the photo's on
the walls....these people have been fighting for their independence for
a looong time. This guy was probably fighting the Turks.  

This photo looks like it dates from about the turn of the century so could represent a local militia

This looks like it dates from about WWII but it could be slightly later. 

Every village we visited or passed through had a war memorial of some kind. Even in this small mountain village there was a memorial covering various conflicts from the Balkan Wars through WWI and of course the Battle of Crete (WWII).

Out on a boat trip I saw this WWII observation position cut right out of the rock of the coast near the port of Agios Nickoloas. 

After visiting the very busy Knossos I was eager to visit one of the other major archaeological sites of the Minoan Era. The 'Palace' at Malia is similar in layout to that at Knossos but is not nearly as frantic.  

The small museum on site also has some excellent 1/250 scale models of the layout. Is it just me wondering how to use this in a game?  

This site doesn't have the 'reconstruction' seen at Knossos but that means the real layout con be seen and explored easily. 
I took many many more photo's but I couldn't possibly show them all here without sending everyone asleep. Now that life is settling back into its usual routine I'll start playing games and blogging again in earnest next week. 

Saturday 12 August 2017

Brace yourself Crete, the Hadley's are coming!

Big Lee's Miniature Adventures will be going quiet for a couple of weeks because my Family and I will be jetting off to Crete later today. This will be our first foreign holiday for many many years and we are all looking forward to it. Its also the wife and I's 25th Wedding Anniversary in a few days, which is why we are pushing the boat out a bit with our summer holiday this year. 

Sun, sea and museums (don't tell the kids!)
We plan on doing a lot of the usual sightseeing and swimming but I also have a couple of museums on my hit list so expect me to come home with plenty of pictures to share. I promise there will be no photo's of me wearing budgie smugglers around the pool... the thought even makes me shudder.  

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Mercenary Warband

Another group of figures for Frostgrave, this time a mixed group of Humans and Dwarves. They look like a typical mercenary type group of adventurers and rogues set on a little plunder for profit.

I have plenty more models that can be worked on over coming weeks. Some just need re-basing while others need the occasional repair and a little touch up of chipped paintwork. I'm also on the lookout for a suitable game mat and some cheep terrain and then I think were good to go.

Friday 4 August 2017

Horns of the Bull

I have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks reading my growing collection of books on the Anglo Zulu War of 1879. I've also been collecting as many rule sets as I can find online, hoping to come across the 'perfect' system for wargaming this period in 6mm. There are a lot of great rules out there but many are not suited to 6mm and in my desperation I am considering writing my own set of rules! 

One thing I was struggling to decide on was basing of units and to that end I decided to experiment with some unit tokens printed 'to scale' for me to test the rules before I buy and paint any figures. I found some suitable 'overhead' style unit markers for the period and printed a full British Infantry Battalion of eight companies and enough Zulus to put the wind up any colonial troops. My initial idea was for a figure ratio of about 1:5 so this lot represents a little under 900 men and officers while the Zulu units represent approximately 6500 warriors. 

The Horns of the Bull curve around the British line

I'm still looking at existing rule sets for inspiration so all options are open. I'm currently reading The Men Who Would Be Kings by Daniel Mersey. I quite like his rules for leadership and the system in general seems simple and easy to play but I'm not sure it would translate for 6mm gameplay. I haven't made a firm decision yet, but its definitely a contender and until I make my mind up i'll continue to get my own ideas down on paper. 

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Norfolk Tank Museum

Today I decided I would use my day off for a bit of a road trip to a museum that I have been wanting to visit but hadn't found time to until now. The Norfolk Tank Museum is a little outside the range of a normal family expedition but as I had the day to myself I decided it was worth the 5 hour round trip! This is a fairly small museum but with some big exhibits and very helpful staff and volunteers. They were only too happy to talk about the collection and this is very much a 'hands on' experience. I even got to climb on and sit inside the turret of a Chieftain Mk 2/3 Main Battle Tank (and yes, I did fit through the hatch!). 

The Norfolk Tank Museum

An excellent way to spend my day off!

Centurion Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) Mk 2 

Chieftain Main Battle Tank

Inside the turret of the Chieftain

The Turret is packed full of electronics...and a huge gun  breach of course!

Oustide is an Anderson Shelter

Russian SA-13 Gopher

Russian SA-9 Gaskin (BDRM Amphibious Chassis) 

British FV432 Mk 1

British FV603 Saracen APC

British FV620 Amphibious Truck

A German 15cm schwere Feldhaubitze 18 or sFH 18 Howitzer

British F434 Armoured Recovery Vehicle

American M41 Walker Bulldog Light Tank

British Ferret Armoured Car

British Saladin Armoured Car

British Centurion AVRE

British Sabre CVRT

The museum workshop
There are lots of other smaller exhibits including an impressive small arms collection. The museum also does restorations and there were several vehicles in various stages  of repair to be seen. 

There was also a particular 'top secret' project under a huge tarpaulin. It was obvious from the shape what it was but I won't reveal it here because they were trying to keep it literally and figuratively under wraps until its completion by November this year. Its an exciting project and I can't wait to see how it turns out...but that's my last word on the subject! 

I would heartily recommend this little museum to anyone interested in armour, but particularly post war/cold war era vehicles. They have a Military Vehicle weekend in August where some of their tanks and guest vehicles will running around the display track, so if your in Norfolk on the weekend of 12/13th August get yourself over to see this excellent collection.