Friday 30 December 2022

Reflections on my hobby year

Well, I hope everyone had a peaceful Christmas and the festivities were festooned with hobby-related gifts and some time to maybe even get a game in or pick up a paintbrush, or even just to read hobby 'stuff' with a glass of something appropriate whilst sitting in your favourite armchair.

It's at this time of year that I reflect on the year gone by and the lessons drawn whilst gazing into the distance and formulating a plan for what's next in hobby terms.

At the start of this year I stated that the 1704 Wars of Vaubarian Succession would be my point of focus for 2022.

I had hoped, perhaps ambitiously (and what's life without ambition?), that I might "finish" the project. Well, I am glad to say that I didn't! Glad, because it has been a labour of love and continues to be. I'm pleased with my progress and output for the year; there are still a couple more cavalry regiments to do, and that I have also expanded the project beyond the initial boundaries by adding more to the Pils Holstein contingent, and creating more vignettes.

The resulting game at Partizan was very pleasing, personally, and that has to be the highlight of the year.

In terms of painting output, as I said I am pleased with the year. In addition to the WVS project, I have allowed myself to go "off piste" and done some other things which may feature in my plans for 2023... we'll see.

Other highlights have been the games I have played, both with the fledgling Old Berks group (thanks John, Andy, and Steve) and the games and meet ups with John Boadle & Garry Broom chez John.

Correspondence with friends old and new has been, and always will be, a major factor in the hobby. It has been particularly important to rekindle some old lapsed friendships this year too. For that, I am eternally grateful.

I notice that this is my 29th post this year, and that coincidentally I posted the same number of times in 2021 aswell. I am in awe of those who post on their blogs more often, some several times per week. Thank you for continuing the entertainment and inspiration in equal measure. I plead forgiveness that I do not post more often.

And so, it just remains for me to thank you, dear reader(s), for your engagement with the blog this past 12 months, and your comments.

Wishing you a happy end to the year and a prosperous 2023.

Monday 19 December 2022

Let the festivities begin...

19th December is always the date that marks the start of the Christmas period for me as it is etched on my mind as the return date from the 6-month tour to The South Atlantic in my RN days aboard HMS Amazon (a Type 21 Frigate).

Our arrival back at Devonport, Plymouth in 1985 was truly memorable - the sense of relief that we could now relax and enjoy the festivities, freed of our duties. Although it was post-conflict, there were still some "interesting" moments during the deployment; a couple of Action Stations, and a challenging time as the Islands' defences and infrastructure were being newly established. It was also a worrying time for families back home as the precarious diplomatic situation meant everyone was in no doubt what might happen.

In those days, crowds still lined the jetties to welcome returning ships back, although it was mainly family and close friends. I'll never forget the proud look on my dad's face as he spotted me on the bridge wing as we came alongside, and along with hundreds of others, raised his hands and applauded the whole ship's company.

Here is a gratuitous pic of San Carlos Water in The Falklands, taken from the foc'sle (the pointy bit at the front of the ship) with a Sea King hovering in the distance. One of my best photos of the tour...

It feels like a lifetime ago. In many ways it was. 

Back in the now, it simply remains for me to wish all readers and visitors to my little corner of the virtual world a very Merry Christmas. I hope there are plenty of hobby-related toys under the tree for you this year.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the coming year.


Friday 9 December 2022

Something fresh

A few years back, I painted several units from the North Star 1672 range. They subsequently ended up back in Nick of North Star's hands when I abandoned the project. But I've always loved the figures.

So, recently, I fancied doing a few again.

Here is French Regiment Auvergne:

I decided to reduce the 'uniformity' a little by doing some different shades of main coat colour, and also to vary the breeches a little, and some of the hats too.

I'm quite pleased with the result.

Not sure where this is leading, but I have enjoyed painting them.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Update - Dark Ages, Lakes, Podcasts, and other shenanigans

Thanks to all who have been commenting of late. Much appreciated.

Thought it about time to do an update on the various activities of November.

Last weekend, we had a gathering of The Old Berks here in Berkswell (John Kersey, Steve Gill, Andy Moran, and myself). 

We began with the usual refreshments and a show n tell session. Included in this were some elephants Andy has been painting for his Classical Indian WAB army, amongst other things.

For the main part of the day, JK had arranged a fabulous little mini-campaign, using 500-point armies from the WAB Shieldwall supplement. 

Pictures courtesy of JK

The Old Berks - l to r: yours truly, Andy, Steve, John. Photo by Lisa.

We drew envelopes for sides and I ended up being Mercians, Steve was Irish, Andy was Scots (Caledonian), and John was the Vikings. In the first round, I faced Andy's Caledonians, and was lucky to inflict a significant victory in which my Mercians sent the Scots packing and also seized the Berkswell Hoard. Meanwhile JK's Norse were fighting Steve's Irish. 

Second round, again went well for me as I managed to get the treasure hoard off the table in the face of a determined onslaught by JK's Vikings, having bounced the attack off my shieldwall. Meanwhile, the Irish and Scots were in an attritional action that saw Steve lose the most casualties but take his objective markers off table. The overall final result of the afternoon was a solid, Saxon-like victory for my brave Mercians. And much mead was drunk (well, not really) and songs of victory could be heard throughout the lands.

Before we got started, to get us in Dark Ages mood, I had given a small tour of the village of Berkswell, focusing on its Saxon heritage. The Church is on a Saxon site, and the well of Bercul is clearly seen today.

Next it was onto our group "AGM" to discuss projects for the coming months and years. Truth be told, we got rather carried away and have now got a fairly full spreadsheet of proposals to narrow down!!

Below: Andy's elephants.

It was a great day's wargaming, chatter, and general hobby malarkey. Thanks to the guys for a wonderful day.

Other news:

I have added more links to the sidebar as I have been spending a bit of hobby time surfing blogs, drawing inspiration, and in particular I have enjoyed some of the podcasts by Yarkshire Gamer. I know I'm late to the party here as he's been doing them for quite some time, but I had a good listen to those involving people in the hobby I know (some more than others), for example Carlo Pagano, Giles Allison, Robbie Roddiss, and Colin Ashton ... all were particularly good interviewees.

It hasn't been all work and hobby this month.
Lisa and I had a relaxing week in a lodge in the Lake District.

Just what the doctor ordered, although it has hit the painting output!

Finally, in this potpourri of an update, it would be remiss not to mention the sad news of Christopher Duffy passing away earlier this month. I met him only once at Culloden battlefield in 2008 where he was giving a talk and we chatted afterwards for an hour about all things 18C. As wargamers, we are indebted to his fine work which has certainly made the hobby richer. RIP Professor Christopher Duffy.

That's all for now.

Hope everyone is enjoying writing Christmas lists full of hobby stuff!

Sunday 13 November 2022

Very Flattered

It's always good to have your hobby efforts appreciated, and I am indebted to those who comment on what I post. Similarly, it's great when people make positive noises about games put on at shows - not that that is what I do it for. It's always good to be acknowledged, however.

And so, I was delighted and highly flattered to see a blog post elsewhere devoted entirely to photos of my recent game at Partizan.

I've never met Tom... but here is the post in question:

Tom's Toy Soldiers (

Here you will find some very good photos of the game. 

Next time you're at a show Tom and I have a game on, please do say 'hi' and introduce yourself. And thank you for your post about the game.

Best regards


Friday 28 October 2022

Boom Boom Boom

... as Baldrick might say.

One of the little features of the recent Partizan game was the inclusion of some mortars.

The Coehorn mortars 

... and a larger emplaced mortar piece:

I enjoyed modelling these. I figured the Coehorn mortars were portable, and merely added a couple of Pils Holstein officer figures to operate them.

The larger piece has been used previously in the mid-18C collection. Using separate crew figures and simply tacking them to the emplacement allows flexibility for it to appear in a number of my Horse and Musket projects.

Post Partizan, I had many reflections on the show and how the day went.

It was great to be back 'on the circuit', the only disadvantage being the lack of time to chat. Specifically, apologies are due to Peter and Kevin of the Iron Brigade who both stopped by for the very briefest of chats and we didn't really get much beyond 'hi'. 

Apart from that downside, putting on games at shows has always been invaluable in creating hobby project waypoints, spurring on the painting of an extra unit, or to finish a terrain item or vignette.

So, I plan to do more... indeed plans are beginning to formulate for the next Partizan in May 2023.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

Partizan Game

What a weekend!

The Partizan show, as always, lived up to expectations.

From what I could see, looking around the hall, there were some terrific games on show. Unfortunately, Steve was unable to join me this weekend, and so I was 'flying solo' and therefore unable to get around the show and see the other tables.

So, without further ado... here are some iphone snaps of my game... The Battle of Brunnenstadt. If you look closely, you'll see a number of vignettes that I have worked on recently but haven't previously shown on the blog - the Grenadier storming parties, the evacuating villagers, the Pils-Holstein coehorn mortars, and many more...

A really enjoyable game (although I didn't get to play it properly as I prefer to chat to people visiting the table). The working windmill kept turning all day!

Thanks to Richard and Laurence, and all the other helpers and organisers who never cease to ensure the show is a joy to be involved with for those putting on games.

And thanks to the many visitors to the table. I was thrilled with the reaction to the game, and the messages of support made it all worthwhile. Many readers of this blog came up to me and said that following my ramblings had helped them organise their own thinking around wargames projects, and many said it helped keep them in the hobby this past couple of years. I also received some fantastic feedback on Facebook, and via many personal direct messages and emails. Much appreciated.

Thanks are also due to Lisa, the lady in my life, whose first wargame show this was and who stayed to the bitter end to help me pack away the game having originally only been going to "pop in for an hour or so". Thanks to those who came by and chatted to her while I was busy moving troops around on the table. She certainly wasn't bored, although quite what some of you said about me remains a mystery!!

This final picture was taken by David Bickley and copied from his blog (hope you don't mind, David), where he has a full and excellent report on the whole show (see Tales from GHQ link in right sidebar).

Wednesday 28 September 2022

No sleep till Newark!

It's not unusual to find that preparing for a show means painting and basing right up to the last minute, and I know that's a situation with which many readers will be familiar!

This is the latest unit that will be appearing on the table at Partizan ...

The Pils-Holstein Kronprinz Grenadiers.

Their grenadier caps sport the cypher of The Elector, Ferdinand Adolphus ("sweet FA", to his friends), surmounted by a crown.

I've added a couple of "storming party" bases to this unit as they have a very particular mission on the day. 

The show preps haven't stopped there, of course. I'm currently adding more townsfolk (the good citizens of Brunnenstadt), and I imagine I'll be painting right up until car packing commences.

The painting is not the only thing that keeps me awake in the run up to the Newark show. It's the excitement too. 
I've got a fairly extensive purchase list (although much of that is ordered for collection rather than risking losing out on the day). Some items are for a new project too. Shock! horror!! 

How many sleeps till Newark? Probably none!!

Looking forward to seeing friends, old and new, on the day.

Friday 16 September 2022

Partizan Preps

It’s been a while, and I apologise for not posting over the past few weeks.

Some will have noticed from the Partizan website that I am putting a game on at the show on Sunday 9th October so much of my hobby time has been invested in getting ready for that. I’ve got a few vignettes and special stands I have been working on and another unit of Pils-Holstein infantry that are almost complete.

It will be the first time the full Wars of the Vaubarian Succession (WVS, 1704) collection has been seen in public. It’s not a huge collection (amounting only to something like 350 infantry, 80 cavalry, a few guns and mortars and vignettes) but for me the big prize is to be able to see the fruits of my labours laid out on the tabletop ready to do battle.

I am indebted to Steve Gill who has been a ‘sounding board’ throughout the project, offering advice and ideas, and who will be joining me to present the game on the day.

Other than that, this is very much a “One-Man Band” effort and all figures, flags, buildings, and terrain were painted by yours truly.

I hope to show that, beautifully impressive as they are, not all ‘display/demo games’ need to consist of huge museum-quality sculpted terrain boards made by professional modellers adorned by hordes of figures painted by an army of pro-painters!
It just takes a little focus and discipline and you can create a satisfying game by your own hand too.

For those who are coming to the show, please do pop by the table and say hi. For those who can’t make it to the show, I will post a few photos of the game afterwards.

Meanwhile... a few pictures of the collection to whet the appetite.


See you at the show...

Thursday 28 July 2022

Second Brigade

The Astrovian 2nd Bde on the march.

For no other reason than I had them set out on the table and thought they made a good photo...



Friday 22 July 2022

Another battalion

The final Astrovian battalion for my 1704 WVS project.

This is IR6 - Schindler.

Being the final battalion, you might say that they complete the list, but that would be such an awful and contrived pun that it would be wrong to try it.

I quite like the dark grey with yellow cuffs combination, although most of the Astrovian units are in light grey or white. I suppose it's nice to have some variety.

Not sure what I will tackle next... I do have a few things in the pipeline. I rather like switching between mainstream units and then a vignette or two. Having got to 'critical mass' in terms of line troops for now, the vignettes are a luxurious relaxation that I am relishing.

Hope everyone has a good weekend lined up. Hopefully will have another update before not too long.
Best wishes to all...