A day of many parts

Today, despite being well into the second half of July, is dull and drizzly, following spectacular thunderstorms last night.

So I am confined indoors and catching up with several domestic and wargaming tasks.

I was inspired after listening to the latest Meeples and Miniatures podcast and after our recent fire to start documenting my wargame collection for insurance purposes.  It will be a long task.  It took me a week to collate from memory and photographs what we lost when the two sheds burned down.

Then I found a compiled list of unit values for Panzer Leader 1940 at www.imaginative-strategist.layfigures.com for use in my Operation Sealion games, which I began to incorporate into my game records.

Next task was the pile of ironing, helped along by watching a couple of episodes of “By The Sword Divided”.


This is a BBC drama series screened between 1983 and 1985, like a sort of 1640s “Downton Abbey” which coincided with my early years of  English Civil War reenactment, and later episodes included some of my oldest – and in some cases sadly departed – friends as “supporting talent”.  The DVD series was released by the BBC in 2004.

Then I turned to some figure painting, namely the 1790s 6mm MDF soldiers from Commission Figurines.  These little “toy soldier” style figures are a little fragile, and because I expect them to be handled by small people I glue them in ranks of 3 to form blocks.


During the course of this I managed to drop a paint pot lid onto the beige carpet.  I hope that after some immediate panic action and a steam cleaner I have (almost) got away with it.  Time for a second application of carpet cleaner now before the Memsahib sees it.DSCN0707

And it’s still only 1:30pm!  Plenty of time for more catastrophes before bedtime.

A poor documentary

If anyone wants to watch a highly oversimplified Germano-centric and, from my other reading, somewhat inaccurate documentary of the first part of the Second World War, I can grudgingly recommend the Lamancha Productions “Visions of War” series, Galaxy Film 1983 presentation of “Blitzkrieg” by Karl Ullman, directed by Wolfgang Richter.

On the other hand if you want to view some excellent archive footage of the same period I can heartily recommend the same film without the soundtrack.

In its defence I would say that it is good to see anything from the other side of the hill.


Three days after

So, here we are, three days after the fire that destroyed our new caravan, two sheds, one bike store and part of our house.

We are waiting for some chaps to clean up and remove the debris.  Just as well as I now own neither broom nor shovel for this task.

Meanwhile I am going through the database that I have created of what I remember being in the sheds and photographing everything recognisable for the insurance claim.  This is inevitably adding items that I did not remember to the database.

The loss adjusters will be here next Friday and I am sure they will not believe how much we claim to have owned and stored, which is why this photographic evidence is so necessary.

Several people, including my mother who lives 100 miles away, have seen the story on the TV, but we have failed to spot it, or find it on “catch-up” services.  Why are we denied this when everyone else can watch our misfortune.?  But I did find the local newspaper, who took the trouble to send a reporter to get some (but by no means all) of the facts correct.

Basingstoke Gazette website 1

Basingstoke Gazette website 2

Basingstoke Gazette newspaper article



Normal service will be resumed…

Everything has come to a grinding halt here since Tuesday afternoon.  Around 3:20 in the afternoon I was putting the finishing touches to some Morris 15cwt trucks for our next wargame when the doorbell rang.

It was Dave, our neighbour.  He said: “Your shed’s on fire. I’ve called the fire brigade.”

I rushed out of the back door and to the summer house where I keep a large fire extinguisher.  By the time I got back it was clear that would not be enough.  I began to unreel the garden hose, but another neighbour appeared and dragged me away.  As we left the garden I saw that the garden fence was alight and the back end of our caravan had begun to melt, as had the guttering on the flat-roofed extension to the house.

My rescuer asked what was in the shed.  Apart from the usual collection of old paint tins there were 3 large gas bottles, propane and butane.  I and everyone else were forcibly retired to the other end of the street.

By the time we could hear the fire engines trying to battle with the traffic – at this time of day our area is crowded with “Chelsea Tractors” each with a doting parent and a brat who would benefit from walking home from school occasionally – the scene looked like this:  https://www.facebook.com/peter.tolson/videos/10155431633238149/

I will try to get a copy of the video posted directly here to avoid the Facebook log-on. Meanwhile here is a taster:

This is the scene my wife arrived to see. She was releived that the house was not gutted as she had seen the smoke on her dash home.

We had four fire engines, numerous police cars and two paramedic cars.  I was taken to hospital to have my burned face dressed.

When I returned from hospital, everything had died down and everyone had left we faced this sight:

What I came home to. This used to be a bike store, a garden tool shed, a larger shed/workshop and a caravan.
The house and garden. In fact there is little structural damage to the house, but the builders will need to be called in.

So, two days later, we are still waiting for the insurance assessor to call, and everything remains untouched.  We have come down from the adrenalin rush and the initial shock to a state of mild depression.

But it could have been much worse.  We have only lost stuff.  The caravan was fully insured for market value and there would have been littla depreciation since we bought it just three weeks ago.  I doubt if the home contents insurance amount will cover all the lost items, but many were d-i-y tools bought for a specific job in the past and stored in the big shed.

A massive thank you to the fire crews who saved the house and were so considerate – they even went into the our bedroom, under the part that was burning, chucked all the teddy bears from the shelves onto the bed, and covered bed and wardrobe with plastic sheeting to minimise water damage.

All the teddies are safe from drowning!

And where would we be without all our neighbours, who alerted me, called the fire brigade, saved me from severe injury, found our dog two streets away and gave physical and moral support, and have offered to help clean up the mess?

When this is all over we intend to hold a “thank you” party for them all – but probably not a barbecue!

And the cause of the fire is not yet known.