A half-year resolution.

Hello followers,

I am sure that this will come as a surprise, or maybe even an anathema, to my wargaming followers.

However, I wish to make pact with my followers.

In recent months, due to health issues, the variety and length of my dog-walking have been reduced.  My fitness and the dog’s fitness have both been affected.  It has got to the point that Sparky, after five minutes play in the local woods, picks up his ball and heads for home.

And thus, now that I feel able to resume driving safely, and on 1st July, I make my half year resolution.

“I will, each morning, by a random die roll (to keep my wargaming followers happy) select from the local Ordnance Survey map a location.  I will then drive to the nearest identifiable footpath.  From there I will walk the dog for at least 30 minutes before returning to the car.

I will take a photograph at some point on the walk and post it on this blog.”

For your part, if no daily photograph is posted, I wish you to reply either to this post or by e-mail to greywhiskers@icloud.com asking why there is no daily photograph.

I hope that this non-relevant information will not cause you to stop following my blog.  Simply delete the irrelevant incoming mails if they are a problem.  They will be titled “Walks with my dog” and on the blog will be allocated to that category and tag.

Thank you.

General Whiskers.

A really crappy birthday

Well, all in all my 65th birthday was a fairly awful day.

I woke up coughing at 5:00 a.m., about the 4th time during the night.

I walked the dog in the woods, taking advantage of the fresh air, but always reliant on my walking stick in case of dizzy spells.

I then spent most of the day doing sedentary jobs, interspersed with fits of coughing.

Late afternoon Chrissy took me shopping for a better chair as a birthday gift.  My current armchair is not comfortable either in upright or recline mode, and needs a sever kicking to “unrecline”.

We then went to the stables, where I spent an hour sitting on a bench launching a ball for Sparky until he was exhausted.

I took to my bed at around 8:00 pm, but at about 9:30 woke up with such a cough that I ended up vomiting out of the bedroom window!

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Today has been much better.

Although I did not feel up to taking Sparky for a walk this morning, due to dizzy spells, we did play “kick ball – fetch ball” in the garden for a long time.

I then spent a couple of hours in the sunshine painting bases for and touching up my 1/1800 warships ready for the start of the forthcoming Cape Matapan game.

The fresh air seems to do me good.

I had to intersperse the painting with accommodating a persistent dog with a ball.  I think that helps my health issues too.

I also spent a short time indoors working on the administration of my PBEM Market Garden campaign.

We actually got around to starting the cake bought for yesterday that was abandoned due to health issues and my lack of general interest in actually having a birthday!

Late afternoon I had a relapse, and awoke in the armchair to find that Chrissy had almost finished building the new chair that was delivered this morning.  I have to say that this chair and footstool combo is far more comfortable than the old reclining armchair.

And so to bed at 10:00 pm.  This is about the latest bedtime for several weeks!  And I am feeling up to writing something for the blog.

Not how I expected to spend Easter

Recently I have been concerned about my health. Over the last couple of months I have been frequently short of breath and “wheezy”. In addition I have a chesty cough that will not go away. I went to my GP who scheduled several tests for me.

Blood test, chest x-ray, spirometry all came back “normal”.
I was given a nebuliser to try, but it appeared to make the cough worse.
In the last few days, a couple of times I have coughed so much that I actually blacked out for a few seconds. I checked out the NHS “111” service and the recommendation, as usual, was “Get to A&E a.s.a.p.”

Easter Sunday. Not the best day to choose, but off we went.
Two hours later, having been tested twice for blood pressure and oxygen levels I was put onto additional oxygen and then almost immediately examined.
My blood pressure was in the “normal” range, which was odd because it has been worryingly high for years. Oxygen intake was flashing “low” (below 90 whatevers that they measure).

Another blood test, another chest x-ray. Both showed nothing abnormal.

In the end I was diagnosed with underlying asthma with gastro-respiratory complications.
I was advised to use the nebuliser more frequently and with a heavier dosage, and prescribed some gastric inhibitor pills on a trial basis. Oddly the accompanying label says I should discontinue them if I feel sudden wheezy-ness, which is what triggered the whole investigation in the first place!

Last night I found that when I was lying flat (back or side) I was unable to take a deep breath, and spent half the night coughing pointlessly and getting out of bed to breathe properly. Sleeping in a sitting position triggered the cough, lying down made me puff and pant.

Back to the doctor tomorrow.

Meanwhile we have a couple of air purifiers arriving today. Since 26 years of secondary smoking and the occasional bowl of pipeweed have apparently left no effect on my lungs I wonder if I have developed an allergy to the dog!

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.

Oploo 4

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?

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