Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Northumbria, Alnwick Castle.

Alnwick Castle, the second largest inhabited castle in England, has been the home of the Percys, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland since 1309.The earliest mention of Alnwick Castle in the history books appears soon after 1096 when Yves de Vescy became baron of Alnwick and erected the earliest parts of the Castle.The Castle was first restored, primarily as a fortress, by the 1st Lord Percy of Alnwick in the early 1300's and portions of this restoration remain today, including the Abbot's Tower, the Middle Gateway and the Constable's Tower. During the late 17th century the Castle fell into decay until Elizabeth Seymour and her husband Hugh Smithson, later to become the first Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, took up the challenge and turned it into a family residence of "gothic" style with the help of architects such as Robert Adam and the landscape designer, Capability Brown.
Algernon, Fourth Duke later replaced the 18th century "gothick", employing the architect Anthony Salvin. Since then modern comforts have been added, and Alnwick Castle was one of the first homes in the North East to have electricity. Run by a recently restored hydro electric system installed in 1889, there was enough power produced to run 100 electric lamps.
So says the linked advert, and here's some pictures..
The Castle itself is nicely complete.

Inside, there is a museum to the local Yeomanry.. now here's an interesting artillery piece I thought.. any idea what it would be called? Sadly there wasn't an explanation of it, but it looks pretty good.

A fine collection of Peeler work tools..

A cuirass, clearly not quite bullet proof, I think this was from the ECW period.

Another artillery piece, not sure how long this frame would last if it were actually fired though. Looks remarkably like the English Heritage Keyring gun though.
The local Yoemanry uniform, remarkably like the 95th Rifles really. The mounted uniform was similar.
A couple of general shots. This castle was used in the Harry Potter films, I think for the broomstick flying scene.

A good display of various cannonry, you wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of this one.
Also on site was a really good Regt museum, unfortunately no photos, but well worth a look.
And a rather impressive statue of one of the Percy's from way back. All in all, it's an impressive place and well worth a visit.
A friend of mine recommended that whilst in Alnwick, I should visit a little second hand bookshop called Barter Books. I duly did so.... it's absolutely the dogs parts. 350,000 books, in a railway station building, buffet, parking, pleasant's a day out on it's own. I managed to restrain myself to spending only £60, and that was an effort. They are on the Internet too, well worth a visit.
Time for a General Witter, I recently received some multi-part plastic Zombies from 'Wargames Factory', a nice set, which I am part way through gluing together. I have also glued my fingers, which was fairly painful, and not recommended at all. Beware the cheap and runny Superglue type tubes. From 'Gripping Beast', some packs of Chaps on the Hunt and civilians, and from North Star Miniatures some packs of Peelers. When put together, these will make up a 'Zombies in the Countryside' game, which should be a bit different, and good fun to play.
Blogging has been particularly good recently, with some interesting and quality posts to read on the linked Blogs and Sites. I'd like to welcome some new 'Followers', being Conrad Hawkwood who runs the Ne Plus Ultra Site, El Grego who amongst others does an interesting Mini Ships Blog, Axebreaker of the Bunker Hill Blog, and Dan who has the Gunners Wargaming Blog. All interesting stuff, and it all makes for a pleasant stress free wargaming read.
I took my eldest to the Forces Career office in Hull yesterday, and remembered The Model Shop, opposite the railway station. Not having been there for years, we had a look in. Just for a look, there was nothing I needed. I came out with two bags of GaugeMaster Noch trees, £36 for 50 trees, bargain I thought, and a box each of the Airfix Robin Hood set and Sheriff of Nottingham set...well, I saw them and regressed straight back to my childhood when I last had them. So there's another game to get painted up, based and played at. Right after the Zombies are finished....

Monday, 21 September 2009

GdB Game, Medina De Rio Seco, 14th July 1808, at the Newcastle Show

As said, we put on a GdB game at the Border Reiver Show, the battle of Medina De Rio Seco, 14th July 1808, and here's the write up and pictures.
The opposing forces were as follows..Spanish-18 Btns (one Line & the rest Militia), 2 Regts Cavalry (Militia Light), and 2 Batteries (both Line). To reflect poor C&C, the CinC was poor, the infantry were split into just two Brigades both with poor GdB's, and the Cavalry had a poor GdB too. Fairly Poor then.
For the French, 12 Btns, a mixture of line, veteran and elite, in four Brigades with additional skirmishers, 4 Regts of light veteran cavalry in two Brigades and 3 Batteries, attached to infantry Brigades. All Generals were average.
The game objectives were simple enough, the French to take the Valdecuevas Plateau and the town of Medina De Rio Seco, and the Spanish to stop them.
We used some new TSS boards and hills, TimeCast buildings, S&A roads and trees, and around 2,800 Old Glory 10mm figures.
Here's the initial set up, French to the Left, Spanish to the right. The French deployed two Brigades to assault the plateau, and two to force the town, with cavalry in the centre. The Spanish deployed one Brigade well back on the plateau, and one Brigade in front of the town, again with cavalry in the centre.

The town itself, TimeCast models, really rather neat I think, with the Spanish forming line in front of it.

The Plateau, with the Spanish deployed in depth.
The French kicked off, with a general advance and sent the Cavalry forward to take care of their Spanish adversaries. The French Horse expected an easy victory over the poorly mounted, outnumbered and outclassed Spanish horse.
Spanish started to tremble on the plateau, which nicely explains this slightly blurred picture.
The French Brigade on the Right went onto Engage orders, hoping to weaken the Spanish with Artillery and Skirmish fire prior to the main assault.
In the Centre, both French Cavalry Brigades went for the outnumbered Spanish, who had difficulties getting an Order change from Hold to Assault. A worrying time for them really.
But when the order finally got through, in went the Dragoons, forcing the French Chasseurs into a retreat. Viva La Spania!! Sadly it didn't last, and two moves later the Chasseurs recovered and trounced them.

The French fronted and flanked the other Spanish Regt, causing severe casualties and Routing it off the table. Viva La France!

French Skirmishers take on a Spanish Battery,

..whilst others advance ahead of the columns to weaken the line.

On the plateau, the French met only weak resistance, and at one point caused a Brigade morale failure on the Spanish, forcing them to retire. The Spanish General on the hill suddenly felt a bit in the open.

In front of the town of Medina, the French cavalry forced the Spanish into square, making them easy targets for Artillery and Columns, though one Spanish militia Btn did falter a Lancer charge with well aimed musketry. Feeling that they had done their bit for the day, the militia then promptly legged it into the nearest taverna to celebrate.

And were quickly followed by the rest of that Brigade.

And on the plateau the French closed with the remaining Spanish forces, who did pretty well all things considered, but still suffered yet another Rout.

By this time, the Order of the day for Espania was as shown here..Having lost the Cavalry and with both Infantry Brigades routing, all they could do was to run away to fight another day.

French casualties were fairly light, although the Spanish artillery did perform rather well with canister blasts at short range. Spanish casualties weren't too bad really, until you added all the routed units, and then the list was extensive. I think only five or six Btns made it off the table in reasonable order.
It was an interesting enough game, with a larger but poorly led and trained Spanish army defending against a smaller but better led and trained French one. Shows what you can do with a bit of quality (and lucky dice too, to be fair). Not being one of our biggest games, the setting up was fairly quick, and using TSS boards made it easy enough. Those new boards by the way, are flocked in the new 'Biblical' style, a nice subtle mix of greens and browns, which I think transforms them from the original pure green ones. However, it is so subtle that you could easily use both together, as we did on the plateau, and it fits in fine. These particular boards are 20mm thick, to make for easier storage and transportation. We were set up within an hour (including chomping bacon rolls), and played the game to a conclusion just before packing up time, even with a good look round the show and a fair bit of pleasant yabbering to various gamers, which just makes the day really. Packing up was even quicker, and after a brief lemonade for medicinal reasons we set off for home.
Having enough gamers there to put on a game and see the rest of the show makes a real difference, and my thanks to Doug, Richie, Ben and Norman for an enjoyable game and a good day out.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Border Reiver Show, Newcastle, 5th Sep 09.

We trotted up to this show, and needless to say, a really good day was had by all. This show has run for around 15 years I think, and it just gets bigger and better each time that I've been. The venue itself and parking are good, (the Metro Radio Arena),though to be fair the lighting does leave something to be desired in places!
We gathered in the early morning gloom at Peeler Mansions, loaded the car with the gear needed for our Napoleonic 10mm game, and set off, nice and early so as not to have to rush. Realising that we needed to save some space for two TSS boxes from the show, we had to pass on the Naval game, so we'll do that one another time. Soon, the only sound in the car was that of gentle snoring. Using the satnav, it was an easy enough journey, though oddly as we turned off the bridge, it directed us to a dead end under another bridge by the arena, where we joined other gamers engaged in doing u-turns. Still, we got parked soon after, and got unloaded.
As it happened, our game table was betwixt TSS and Caliver-can't complain with that eh! After picking up a pre-order of 2ft square 20mm tiles and hills from TSS, in the new varied grass colours, we set up our game in about a half hour..2ft tiles certainly are easy to use.
There were a lot of quality games on, all of them interesting, here's some pictures of them. Like I say, the lighting wasn't too good in places..
Here's our game..
Durham Wargames Club 1837 Spanish Game..
Tyneside Wargames Club Napoleonic 10mm Game..
Dumfries Wargames Very British Civil War 1938 Game, colourful and imaginative stuff, more pictures and a write up here at GWP..
I didn't get all the club names, but here's a selection of the others, all impressive stuff..

This photo does not do the model justice..

A colourful and varied selection, I'm sure you'll agree. There was a fair amount of goodies for sale, I meant to get some Warlord plastic Zombies, but missed out, so I'll order them soonest (oh no, another period..). Packing up time was around half three, after a good natter with TSS and paying for the new boards. We had considered making a run for it with the boards, but were assured by the TSS crew that we wouldn't get out alive. So we paid up. Better skint then dead I reckon.
All in all, a good day was had, nice to see various chums, Norman, TSS, Andy, and to meet up with some bods from GWP.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Northumbria, Bamburgh Castle

Now I don't want you to think that a Peeler's life is all holidays, but we also had a week in Northumbria this summer, since which I have been back to work, so life's not all fun and holidays! If you haven't been to this north of England county, I strongly suggest you pay a visit, it's a wonderful place. Peaceful, polite, pleasant, the word "nice" does not do it justice really.
The beer's good too, as Norman and I found out on the Saturday night. Me.." What time does the bar shut?"..Barman.."When you want to go home." Can't argue with that, and it would be rude to leave before you really had to. Northumbrian Ale, 80 Shilling, and Coggie Roggie (or similar!), it was all good. We ended up leaving only when we really had to go and have a lie down.
I have to say, Norman cycled there from Newcastle..and back, I won't mention the lycra, as that would just be crass, but I was impressed at his commitment to both excercise and the beer trade, and it was good to see him. Cheers Norman!
As one does when in Northumbria, we visited a fair few castles and historic sites, so I thought I'd post up a few pictures now and again, in between wargames posts.
Bamburgh Castle, home to the Kings of Northumbria, was completely restored in 1900. It has some outstanding collections of china, porcelain, furniture, paintings, arms and armour, and is the home of the Armstrong family. The rocky outcrop has been occupied since the prehistoric period, and the present fortress is the result of restoration and expansion over the centuries, a building of historic and general interest with the public tour passing through the museum room, grand kings hall, cross hall, armoury and the Victorian scullery. So says the linked advert, and it is an outstanding place to see. Sadly, it doesn't allow photography inside. Understandable, I suppose..
It does house some very nice artillery pieces..

Inside the walls, the buildings are impressive, and well kept.

The castle also houses an interesting Armstrong-Vickers museum, with a shedload of aircraft parts and stuff, and this..

..a very nice ships gun..sadly it didn't have a tow point on it.

By night, it was well lit up, and stood out for literally miles.

And this is a kiln, on nearby Beadnell beach. Looks fairly castle like though..

I'll post up pictures of the other castles at intervals, I don't want to overdo it, and become a "Castles & Wittering Site"..though that may not be too bad a thing really.
It's the 3rd September today, and on this day 70 years ago....our thoughts and thanks go to those who served, in whatever role. God Bless them all.
This Saturday, the 5th, is the Newcastle Border Reiver Show, we're putting on a 10mm Naps game and a Naps Naval game too, so if you're there, feel free to say Hello and partake of some gaming, wittering, tea and buns.
Regards, Peeler