Thursday, 25th May

At last, a wargame.

Today I played a somewhat “bath-tubbed” version of Mons Graupius, based on the scenario in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy issue 124. The setting is a mixed Roman force attacking uphill against Caledonian warriors.

I used my own rules, based on an earlier set that I wrote for 2mm actions in 1701 with elements shamelessly nicked from the likes of Bob Corderey and Mark Backhouse.

Each turn has a variable number of phases determined by the draw of playing cards. For example, turn 1 had only 1 phase of 3 activations by the Romans. The Auxiliary cohorts were sent forward as an advance guard.

End of Turn 1.

The Caledonians replied by sending forward their chariots, supported by missile troops and a single warband. In the first couple of engagements one chariot unit was eliminated and the Roman cavalry sent reeling in disorder.

In turn 3 the Romans committed their regular legions to hold the centre of the line. The Caledonian line was broken and scattered clashes continued as the Romans tried to re-establish their line.

Turn 4 was very long, consisting of the maximum 12 phases, during which the Caledonians were broken and forced to quit the field. The Romans did not pursue.

I enjoyed the solo battle and will return to this era for more games. Meanwhile, on to the late nineteenth century.

The same old problem

At the beginning of this year I decided that I would take my wargaming inspiration from magazine articles, specifically those in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy and Military History Matters.

Surely, I thought, with a shed full of half-painted stuff and a loft full of toys I can manage to get a game from the articles and my existing playthings?

Not so. I have managed a couple of battles, notably using Commands and Colors to fight some of Alexander’s great battles. I have never been a great fan of “Ancient” wargames, but I found this fun, after making my own playing tokens and slightly adapting the core rules. I was unwilling to buy more expansion sets, as I previously have for Napoleonic and Second World War editions, so I scoured the internet for other people’s ideas on period-specific rule options.

Back to the present. The latest issue of WSS starts with the battle of Mons Graupius. I have the “Strength and Honour” rules that the article was written for, but have never used them. You can buy the downloaded “Top down” unit tokens from Too Fat Lardies. I did so.

But I am restricted in my gaming space. Normally I have to restrict myself to a 4ft x 3ft table. Reducing the size of the printed game units did not work satisfactorily, so I – guess what? – bought some models

I discounted the 2mm figures from Irregular Miniatures because I did not feel that the deeper block units and massed warband could be well represented. They are excellent for the 18th and early 19th centuries, but I felt not what I wanted here.

I have played with 3mm figures in other periods and found the Oddzial Osmy range to be well detailed, so I ordered some. I also found in the shed a Roman Legion and Celtic Warband from Magister Militum’s own range awaiting painting.

On social media I read of people using POSCA acrylic fine point pens for painting 2mm armies, so I thought it worth a try. I bought pens from Amazon and found they work well.With my eyesight and unsteady hand, they are easier than paintbrushes. The ranges I recommend are POSCA and GGBOOM, and for larger areas the Windsor & Newton promarker range of alcohol based pens.

Thus, for the last few weeks I have been painting 3mm figures and NOT getting on with the game. My early results are shown below. the problem is that, although painting figures en masse, they are still moulded as discernible individuals. Not what was intended.

Having been drawn to the period I decided to continue with these models, but for the battle in hand to revert to 2mm models. Antonine Miniatures (from Warbases) make a range intended for the full size Strength and Honour units on a 1:1 figure scale, but on investigation I felt I could use them on smaller bases on a smaller board. They arrived yesterday and I was surprised to find they were cast metal. I had the impression they were 3d printed.

On first examination I believe they do not have the detail of Irregular Miniatures 2mm models but the massed formation impression is better for the task in hand. They will be quicker to paint than the 3mm units.

And so, to get the battle underway, 3mm goes onto the back burner while I have a go at 2mm blocks.

3mm Roman Legion
3mm Auxiliaries, work in progress
3mm chariots, work in progress. Buildings from Perry Miniatures Travel Battle.

In an effort

Thursday 18th May


Tristan the horse decided he wanted a “duvet day”. He did not want to get up, despite encouragement.

He changed his mind when he saw the preparations to move him to a paddock of fresh long grass.

So where did he head for grazing? To the bare pathway through to the next paddock!

Returning home, the front of the house is beginning to look brighter.

While I was washing up I realised that the utensil I was holding has been in service for nearly fifty years. This set was given to us by my aunt for my first wedding in 1973 and is still going strong.

My mind started wandering back to that day. Fortunately I have some photographs because when I was in rehab. my first wife sent me a load of pictures from happier days.

I heard today that a young friend is aiming to be part of the British Horseball team at the international championship in Italy. The team members are self=funded for themselves and their horses. I am happy to contribute to his success.

Tuesday 16th May

Contentious argument

One of the first things I heard on the BBC this morning was a reference to the anniversary of “the infamous dam buster raid”.

I thought the BBC was supposed to be impartial in its news reporting, so I object to the word “infamous”, which means “well known to be bad or evil”.

My feelings about recent stories relating to Russia’s perceived plan to destroy dams in Ukraine have led me to reconsider the rights and wrongs of Operation Chastise with the following conclusion. The aim of the raid was to strike at German industry, both its power source and water needs, as well as to disrupt water transport. Compared with the concurrent carpet bombing of cities I believe it to have been a better method. It was certainly not evil in intent or operation.

Another, more uplifting quote heard on the BBC this morning was: “The mind is like a parachute – it only works when it is open.” I want to remember that one.

It’s a beautiful sunny day and the horses are exchanging their raincoats for fly sheets and masks., along with fly-repellent ointment in sensitive areas.

I had a full eye test today and, as expected, my prescription has changed considerably since the last operation to reduce swelling of the left eyeball. New spectacles have set me back over £500. The new frames are so light I can imagine myself searching for my specs while they are on my nose.

A programme on TV about the untold Falklands War reminded me of an acquaintance in the Special Boat Service, Royal Marines, who was suddenly sent to Gibraltar to set up extra communications links with the South Atlantic one month before the surprise attack by the Argentinians. It is clear now that both side’s governments needed a war to distract their people from domestic problems.

I drove to Guildford for a meeting this evening. Traffic was so bad in the town that most of the extra 30 minutes driving time I had allowed was used up. I found a nearby car park and rushed to the hall. It was my first time in the area. Later, leaving the hall from the opposite end I could not find the car park. A local helpfully sent me in the wrong direction. Eventually I found the hall again and followed the one-way road system until I came upon the car park. Ah well, an unexpected extra 25 minutes walking exercise.

Monday 15th May

I was struck by the beauty of this tree at the stables.

On closer inspection it is two trees, which the close-up shows.

My tree identifier book has hidden itself, so I must hunt the internet for more information.

After mowing my back lawn again on a shorter cut and viewing my garden I remembered a cartoon from a “Punch” magazine from about 1912. A vicar is talking to an old fellow working in his front garden.

Vicar: “Isn’t it wonderful what man can achieve with the aid of the Almighty?”

Gardener: “Aye Vicar, but ye should ‘ave seed it when the Almighty ‘ad it to ‘isself.”

On the indoor front I have been working on 3mm (1:600 scale) Roman auxilia and command groups. I painted these with fine tipped acrylic paint pens.

Auxilia (click to enlarge)
Command (click to enlarge)

Sunday 14th May

A productive day.

Chrissy’s birthday and my son’s wedding anniversary. As I discovered it’s also an old friend and colleague’s birthday and the wedding anniversary of another couple who I have not seen for several years.

The local woods are looking lush and verdant.

It was a bright sunny day, perfect for a day out, but we could not think of anywhere special to go. As usual the day started at the stables, after which we went to the garden centre for necessities. Chrissy has a rat problem at the stables and I needed some canes for plant supports.

The place was packed. As we joined the queue at the checkouts I asked a young man with a loaded trolley if he was part of the queue. “I think so – I hope so”, he replied as his wife appeared with arms full of goods.

I managed to fight the mower through the thick growth of the back lawn, then ordered a more substantial mower for the future. Chrissy received a call from the local agricultural contractor asking if he could spray the winter paddocks against ragwort, so back to the stables to move the horses out of his way.

I decided to strip the ivy from the fence behind the border where I am planning to grow vegetables. This was difficult but ultimately satisfying. Then I transplanted my runner bean plants and set up the first willow stakes for their support.


Chrissy got back quite late from the stables, so we simply celebrated her birthday with a very nice Peking takeaway meal.

Wednesday 10th May

Toing and froing

Starting today at the stable yard, the drinking water tubs in the paddocks needed to be filled. The water bag In the wheelbarrow was over-full and weighed a ton. Therefore the barrow sank into the quagmire at the paddock entrance and needed a lot of effort to move.

Returning home I did some work on my 3mm 1st Century troops and accessories. I based the Celtic chariots, which are now ready for a final touch-up. I also based and touched up the villa and farmstead, sourced from Perry Miniatures Travel Battle accessories.

I was expecting a call about the Jeep at around 10:00. After two reminders I received a call at 2:30. I collected it at around 5:00 and found a new problem created by the service engineers. I need to return it tomorrow afternoon…

This evening I went to Basingstoke for an AA meeting to keep company with my friend from Primrose Lodge.

Tuesday 9th May

A day of disappointments

Today was wet with heavy thunderstorms and downpours, which ruled out any activity in the garden. Sparky has been hiding in the bathroom for much of the day.

I took the Jeep for service and they have found a problem which has delayed the collection for at least one more day.

I spent some time painting and preparing my 3mm slingers and archers. I am disappointed with the casting quality of these Oddzial Osmy models. The skirmishers must be snipped from their strips and individually based, but it’s hard to work out which way they are facing.

This is so different from the quality I have found in their other ranges.

Colonial (from
WW1 Germans)
Eighteenth Century
Second World War

So I have ordered some of Magister Militum’s own sculpts of slingers and archers, with which I hope to have more success.

But the good news is that my roses are blooming. Not staying near the trellis, but looking good nonetheless.

Monday 8th May

A historical walk

Today we took a trip out to a place we have long planned to visit properly: the Weald & Downland Living Museum. We have visited the site for country shows and Chrissy has seen parts of it before, of which more anon, but we have never seen all of it. it is set in beautiful Sussex countryside.

Most people will know of this place as the location for TV’s “Repair Shop”, but that area was out of bounds. I grabbed a quick photograph of the “No Photogrphy” sign.

The museum consists of over fifty rescued and relocated buildings over a forty acre site, with about a two mile meandering walk between them, keeping each historical period separate. most of the buildings are furnished with appropriate original or reproduction artefacts.

The earliest is an Anglo-Saxon hall, the interior of which looks and smells as if the occupants have just moved out.

In fact, maybe they have, judging from the anachronism behind the door…

Before reaching the earliest building the woodland path

takes you to the newest building, specially constructed as an education and working area for the site.

Interior of the Gridshell building

From the Anglo-Saxon we passed through a traditional working woodland area to the Mediaeval.

The crane can be worked by two people. The traction engine appears to be there simply for blokes to tinker with.

In the mediaeval area are an early hall, with a form of loft for sleeping and then to a later building with brick chimneys and a central hearth as we know it. The latter house has upstairs bedrooms.

Early Mediaeval hall
Mediaeval house

Moving on we came to a Tudor farm with several barns and other outbuildings.

Tudor Farmhouse
Tudor interior. 1
Tudor interior. 2

In the barns are many preserved agricultural tools from many periods.

“Now what does this one do?”

Also around the site are such things as preserved well equipment, like these two.

A treadmill
Horse or donkey-driven

A collection of more modern preserved buildings are gathered together almost as a hamlet.

Several of the houses of all periods have appropriate gardens.

And a collection of older buildings clustered together. Unfortunately one is being worked on.

This group holds a personal memory for Chrissy. in 2003 it was used to represent Blindheim in this documentary

Chrissy and some other members of Lord Orkney’s Regiment (reenact ours) were filmed fighting in and around the buildings. I had just had a hip replaced and missed the fun, but oddly received more money for hiring out my Corporal’s suit than I would have for wearing it!

Other buildings grouped together are a working water mill, forge and bakery. The mill and bakery were in operation on Monday.

There is also a toll house with an amazingly complex list of tariffs.

All in all we had a pleasant and informative day out and came home exhausted.

Sunday 7th May

Uncompleted plans

My intention was to be active in the garden today, specifically hedge-trimming. However the hedges were too wet in the morning so I caught up on my pile of ironing instead.

The sun came out in the afternoon, but Chrissy needed a new ragwort fork so we spent a couple of hours touring the agricultural and equestrian suppliers in the area searching for said item. Needless to say, something else “needed” was bought in every shop en route.

Returning home we had a cup of tea while watching an interesting TV programme about the tailoring of all the armed forces’ ceremonial uniforms, including the new CR III cypher. So interesting that we both fell asleep!

Our kitchen electricity circuit cut out again. I have traced the fault to the activation of the timer device for the boiler. For the time being it is permanently switched on. Two electricians have failed to find a fault.

Then to the stable yard to feed and rug up the three horses before a little weeding in the garden and then dinner. Later I met up on line with my fellow alcoholics from the rehab. centre.

But I never got round to trimming the hedges.