Three wargames and some real life

Following my recent post “Rethinking my priorities” I have moved the campaign on.
The battle for the Arnhem railway bridge has been fought and the allies now hold this crossing over the Rhine.
I have another game currently in play for this campaign using Memoir ’44 board and rules, but instead of their models I use my own gaming tokens based on German tactical map signs (see photo’ below).
Each token represents one platoon or equivalent.

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In this game a German Panzer regiment and a supporting Panzer Grenadier regiment have encountered two battalions of British infantry. They have been fighting for two game hours so far.

On other gaming fronts I have been preparing the battlefield for the long awaited 4th September 1939 battle in my project to refight the whole of World War Two before I die! The troops have been ready for months.

I have also been gathering the models for the first naval encounter of World War Two, the sinking of three commercial vessels by German submarines on 7th September 1939. Although the attacks did not happen in the same area, my game will involve an escorted convoy against three submarines operating independently. British must cross the table with as many ships as possible surviving. German submarines are vying with each other for the maximum ships sunk.

Annoyingly I have lost the box of unpainted “sinking ship” models  that I printed a couple of months ago.   The only one I can find is the half-painted version (now complete) in the centre of the picture below.

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I know that if I reprint them they will turn up, so meanwhile the printer is in use to produce dummy submerged submarines for the confusion of friend and foe alike.

My idea for submerged submarines is that when a sub dives it is replaced with a number of transparent models according to the roll of one average die. One of these is marked underneath as the real submarine. They each go their separate ways and until they come into action neither side is allowed to look beneath the model.
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I have been struggling with a computer program “Rule the Rail” which is used to design virtual model railway layouts. I found the game in a discount store many years ago and have since upgraded it by downloading extra models and functions provided by other users more clever than me to make it more British and 1950s focussed – my old trainspotting days.

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Last week the program suddenly started refusing to save files, although I have successfully run it on Windows 10 for a year or more. I can only guess that Microsoft have updated something to the detriment of my enjoyment. The developers last tested the system with Windows XP, so any fixes are now handled by the fan-base community. I have asked them for help.

My latest, half finished, project is based on a layout found in “Railway Modeller” of the local station where I used to do my trainspotting as a lad in the late ’50s and early ’60s. The actual model is well researched, but the creator admits that it was pure accident that the school-children on the platform are wearing the correct uniform for my old school (Poole Grammar). I want to finish the project, but if I cannot save any changes I am, as they say, “stuffed”.

Incidentally, the developers recently launched a kickstarter to develop this program for the latest PC, Mac and Android operating systems, but it failed with only half a dozen backers. A shame, since there is clearly a large community of users who could have helped.
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On a personal note, I have recently undergone a “triple A” investigation for possible aneurism, which showed that I have no problems in that department.  Next Thursday I have my PSA blood test to confirm that all is still well after my cancer operation in November 2017.  Isn’t it amazing how concerned the NHS gets about you when you  are over 60, when so many of the issues could have been solved by better advice when you were 20?

Four years in…

Four years ago next Sunday I retired.

I did not realise at the time how “exciting” my life would become, including a whole year having the house repaired after a fire which destroyed our sheds and caravan and at the same time undergoing treatment for cancer.
It is interesting that the National Health Service managed to diagnose, treat, operate and cure my cancer in less time than our insurance company could get the house fixed.

Today by chance I found the list of “thank-you” e-mails that I received on retirement, from my customers, colleagues and friends (mutually inclusive terms) in
Sweden, Netherlands, USA, Germany, Finland, Poland, France, Italy, Ukraine, Turkey, Austria, Russia, Spain, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Norway, Portugal and Slovakia.  I had not previously realised just how much my work as an IT trainer/support resource had been of use to so many others in so many countries.

I had a good career*.  I was lucky.  They say that when you find a job you enjoy, you never work again. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but boy – did I work!  By the time I retired in 2014 I was the world expert in how to get the best use out of an IT system designed for the 1990s that simply refused to die…

My retirement was delayed by seven months while the Company phased out the system, but I heard last month that four years later it is still in use.

*Career: to move in an uncontrolled fashion, usually rapidly downhill.

It’s a small world

Last Friday I visited my sister, who lost her husband on Tuesday 16th October, following an operation for aggressive bladder cancer.

Visiting my sister and going through some personal paperwork it transpired that the surgeon who tried to save her husband was the same man who successfully operated on me almost a year ago.   Clearly I survived my prostate cancer, but sadly Chris was more seriously afflicted and did not.  He was in the High Dependency Unit for some days before finally giving up.

A secondary “small world” connection was discovered   when going through Chris’s address book.  It turns out that an old friend of his in the folk music scene married a chap who was on the same organising committee as I was in a re-enactment society.

We have never been close in a personal sense, but it seems that we were in fact more closely linked than either of us knew.

 

My life. Upate 5th February 2018

What’s been happening since my last post on 24th January?
I have asked three times for the scaffolding around our house to be removed, so far to no effect. Actually it may be a “Good Thing” that it is still there because I discovered that the builders have installed guttering to the side of our flat-roof extension but have forgotten to divert the down-pipe into that guttering.

This not only makes a disturbing noise when it rains but is not useful for the long-term preservation of the felt roof.


There is no progress yet on re-roofing of the man-cave/workshop. The inside of the roof and joists are developing mildew, so I have installed an oil-filled radiator to help keep the place dry until a proper roof can be fitted.
Over the weekend my wife and I independently came up with the idea that a clear plastic corrugated roof would have drained better and let in more light at the expense of temperature. Ho-hum. Spilt milk, no use crying over.

Some of my MDF war game tokens in use in the shed  have also gone a bit “furry” in the past week, and needed a clean-up.

I have progressed the end stages of the Battle of Brighton by another five minutes (Wow!). The British are extracting their forces while the Germans keep up the pressure. Once the Germans hold Brighton they will have another port (Shoreham) to begin unloading armoured forces. Currently only Rye and Newhaven are available. Brighton is area 38 in the map below.


On other wargaming fronts most of the progress is with evening painting sessions. Due to my recent extreme fatigue from mid-afternoon onwards I have not made much progress, but to keep up the variety I am using one paint-pot at a time for at least four projects. Lately it has been grass-green bases for my 2mm 1700 and 3mm WW2 troops, and for the “Battle Chess” game that I am developing for our young re-enactors.


I have now moved on to “Horse Tone Brown”, which will give me plenty to do.

Health-wise, I continue to improve, apart from the general feeling of lassitude.  I walk the dog twice a day which keeps me active. I try to walk at least 4-5 Km each day.  There are good days and bad days.  I am sure that I will feel more positive WHEN (not IF) I get the “all-clear” from cancer* at the end of the month.

Last Thursday we made a trip to North Somerset (near Minehead) – a 7 hour, 300 mile round-trip, to visit the yard where one of our British Racing Club horses is in training. Festival Dawn (photo) looked to be in good form on the gallops, and we had an interesting tour by the yard manager who showed us all his lists and procedures.

I was impressed by the way that Philip Hobbs runs His training yard, particularly that the employees who look after and ride the horses on a daily basis where possible accompany “their” horse to the races, rather than having  separate travelling staff and yard staff.  A good day out with my wife and dog.

* With the recent news that Prostate Cancer is now killing 7,000 men each year in the UK and has overtaken Breast Cancer in numbers, I am campaigning for the charity Prostate Cancer UK, and for a nationwide screening programme.  I think (and hope) I am one of the lucky escapees.  Please, gentlemen, get yourselves checked and donate if you can.  A heart-felt “Thank You”

Health update – cancer surgery

Today I went for my six-week post-operation review.
One hour later than expected I sat with Mr Matthew Perry at the Royal Surrey Hospital.

They had successfully removed my prostate and surrounding lymph nodes at the end of November.  It appears that the size of the cancer in the prostate was larger than expected from earlier tests and scans, and that it had broken through from the prostate.

There is no evidence that it has spread to surrounding areas but it cannot be ruled out.

After a further four weeks I must have another PSA check.
PSA is a bit like carbon-dating. After the prostate ceases functioning, PSA degrades by 50% every few days and by 10 weeks should be down to 0.1.

If it is any higher or if other tests show a continuing growth we may be looking at radiotherapy.

I have to organise another blood test at my local surgery.
I believe the NHS now have more of my blood than I do.

Test results will be presented to me in about 5 weeks time.  So I have another month of fun and relaxation before I know the best or worst that can happen.  Oh joy!

A bit of catching up

It’s nearly three weeks since the keyhole robotic surgery to remove my cancerous prostate.  I am recovering well, but still have dressings over about half of the seven wounds because they coincide with my trousers waistband and tend to iritate.  I am still mildly incontinent.  I need to wear pads to catch the inadvertant leakages.

On the wargaming front I am managing about 30 minutes per day on the long-running Battle of Brighton 1940 in the shed before the cold drives me back indoors.  Indoors we have painters and decorators all over the house refurbishing after the July fire, and I am confined with the dog to the living room.

So I am spending my time catching up on several long-outstanding wargame campaign projects that have fallen by the wayside.

I have bought and painted five 1902 pre-dreadnoughts for my “Diplomacy Plus” campaign that is currently awaiting a Russo-Turkish naval battle off Sevastopol in September 1902.  The ships are replacement game tokens for “Axis and Allies 1914”.  I also drafted the battle rules, based on “Axis and Allies naval” concepts.  This is the first naval engagement of the campaign.

Strange that in real life the blue on the bases is very similar to the blue of the cloth.  Bases are 40mm x 60mm.

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Today I have been sorting and basing some old 2mm figures for the next battle in my  early 1700 campaign.  France is attacking England in the Palatinate (sounds painful!).  Again, draft rules are prepared and await testing in this battle.  Most of the previous battles have been fought in 6mm.

Eventually I want my 2mm armies to be on a 1:1 figure:man ratio, but for the time being I am using approximately 1:3.  The photo’ shows a 1:1 squadron of heavy cavalry in line, in column and in rout.  All awaiting (re)painting.

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Continue reading A bit of catching up