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Sunday, 6 May 2018

Middle East Buildings

Recently I posted a photo of a ruin I had bought on EBay.

It is listed in the Magister Militum catalogue as an Indian/Arabic Partly Ruined Wall. I have finished painting it - it now looks like this

I have tried to give it a little grandeur with the painted arches and pillars and a more sandy colour for the brick infilled arches. All then finished with a few coats of Citadel Agrax wash.

Onto the next building, another EBay purchase, a house with a courtyard.

This promises to be interesting. It is a little too pristine for my tastes so I will do a little work on the outside then try to make the courtyard more domestic.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Blossom tree

I am not a gardener, I don't see the appeal of flower growing or grass cutting, I just don't get it, B is the house gardener. Occasionally I help out when height or a bit of muscle is required. Last summer was one such occasion.

In the back garden there is a blossom tree. For the last two springs it has been very subdued, not much blossom at all. It was almost submerged by next-door's laurel trees. So last summer we decided to spend a few hours cutting back the laurels where they were over the fence and over our garden. Then, two months ago our neighbour hired tree surgeons to reduce the height of the laurels. This spring has seen a very different tree.

I have to confess to feeling very pleased that our joint gardening effort has encouraged this lovely blossom. This triumph has enthused me to sort out the fence with my other neighbour, that fence being covered with ivy. The last photo also includes our pheasant cock who has returned to us for another spring, this time with a coterie of two hens. We also have a pair of bullfinches, one of the loveliest looking birds of these islands.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Town Walls

It has been quiet since my last post, no travelling, no films and no walking, but things are looking up as the weather improves.

Not having anything special to write about, I thought I would photograph my efforts with the Middle East town walls. These pieces are Warbases flat pack laser-cut MDF. I bought two more packs at Vapnartak in February and I have enjoyed painting them.

Exterior walls

The guards are Dixon Miniatures Arnauts

Town side

Seeing these photos, I think I need to do a little more work on the gates as they are not fitting very well after painting.

I bought this little building on EBay. It looks 15mm size but I like it. I have also bought a larger piece on EBay

This is listed in the Magister Militum catalogue as an Indian/Arabic Partly Ruined Wall. I am pondering what colour scheme to use so I am open to ideas.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Talk on Fort Eben Emael

Yesterday I gave a talk at the Military History Group of York U3A, entitles "Hitler's Opening Gambit : The Fall of Fort Eben Emael, 10th May 1940". The talk was received extremely well and I was very pleased with the reception.

I put this idea forward to the Group organiser as I have been to the fort on two visits and I thought it would be a good, complete event to talk about. I have spent many weeks on this talk, first on reading, then on finding photos, then on writing and on practise.

I started the background reading with Alistair Horne's book "To Lose a Battle, France 1940", the first 280 pages cover the interwar period and up to 11th May. then onto Kaufmann & Jurga's "Fortress Europe" which has a chapter on Belgium. Then onto more subject specific books.


The three books above were from my bookshelves, but that is not enough research so I bought two more.

(The photograph of the three paratroopers and the glider must be one of the most used photos of WW2)

From there, I outlined the talk, found suitable photos from own visits and from Google Images. Searching for pictures always takes a long time due to a lack of discipline, Google Images always throws up a lot of very interesting but unrelated images that have to be explored. Then, sit down with the outline and images and Powerpoint and try to cut it down from six hours of  material to just ninety minutes; and then practise. This talk I got bang-on ninety minutes.

So now that is finished and that is enough WW2 for a while. This is my next book, back to the Mediterranean in the 16th century.

The next scheduled talk is in May when I travel to Pocklington in the Yorkshire Wolds, to give my already written talk on the Battle of Verdun. B says she has not heard one of my talks so she is coming as well - make a day out of it.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

"Land of Mine"

A war film of a different kind. I am writing to recommend this Danish film.

World War II. During the Occupation, the Wehrmacht laid around 1.2 million landmines along the beaches of the West coast of Denmark. At the end of the war, thousands of German POWs were forced to dig them up (you laid them, you find them) despite this being outlawed under the Geneva Convention. The film follows a group of German teenage conscripts, boys really, being forced into the work by the Danish authorities and supervised by a Paratrooper sergeant.

For me, even after 24 hours I find myself conflicted by the ethics of the action, is this justice or is it vengeance?

Saturday, 3 February 2018

"Darkest Hour"

Yesterday afternoon - I went to the cinema on my own; B did not wish to see this film.

This is very much an actors' film. Gary Oldman's role as Churchill and Kristen Scott Thomas' as his wife Clemmy, both are amazing and outstanding performances and their scenes together are intimate and moving. There is great support work from Ronald Pichup (Chamberlain), Stephen Dillane (Halifax), Ben Mendelsohn (Bertie/King George VI) and Lily James (Elizabeth Langley, Churchill's personal assistant) make this film a wonderful ensemble piece.

This is a good film - not great - but good. The location work and the mise en scene are very good but the story, the plot, these are fine but jarring; the idea that Churchill used the London Underground as a way of getting close to the populace, to judge the popular mood, no, that does not fly for me.

Monday, 15 January 2018

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri"

Yesterday, after a fine Italian lunch, we had our first cinema outing of 2018, to see "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri". We have been waiting for this film, we were not disappointed, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Great writing, very funny but also sad. Frances McDurmand puts in a wonderful performance, slow, low-key, just magic.