Well, the short answer is not very much on the hobby front. I am still largely working seven days a week and what with transporting Guy to various rowing events there really hasn't been any time to paint. I am hoping that this weekend I can have a couple of hours so let's hope the light is good. I want to undercoat the rest of my 1864 Danes, finish a Neanderthal or two and get some base colours down on my Lucid Eye South American Lost World type natives.
Also in the imminent pile are some Lucid Eye Amazons although I had a panic this week when I thought I had lost the Queen's bow and quiver. Eventually I found it tucked under the back of my computer monitor. She is actually nearly finished but I have decided, foolishly, to give her a jaguar hide shield and the thought of attempting this is stressing me out somewhat!
My copy of Frostgrave arrived this week and I have had a brief look at it but am too stupid to understand how rules work just by reading them. I have always shied away from any rules that use magic so this is a big departure for me but I have been encouraged by the fact that Eric the Shed will be building Frostgrave scenery for battles next year. This just leaves me with the comparatively simple task of painting less than ten figures. I don't have any of the official figures yet but have been toying with using some of my Foundry Vikings (especially the girly ones), even though they don't work for the pseudo medieval look of the official line. Giving them some kite shields may do the job, though.
Speaking of Vikings, I really enjoyed The Last Kingdom on TV. Looking at it from a wargamers perspective the battle in last night's episode certainly looked better than the equivalents in Sharpe due to around ten times the number of extras. In fact it looked like a big budget production (unlike Vikings for example) with good looking dark age settlements.
Several things slightly annoyed me. Firstly, the Northumbrian castle looked completely wrong for this period and was, from the look of it, modelled to look like an obviously Hungarian (where most of it was shot) structure used as a location. Far too much stone for the period and the square-capped towers look very Eastern European. Secondly, yet again, filmmakers don't understand the use of spears in Dark Ages warfare with everyone using swords in the (otherwise well realised) shield wall.
I also don't think the Saxon shields, obviously meant to be Saxon versions of Early Imperial Roman shields (if they were supposed to be folk memory versions of Roman shields they would be flat and oval, anyway), had any historical basis but were, no doubt, included in order to differentiate the armies.
The reviews have generally been very good though, so hopefully it will do well in the ratings. One reviewer complained that most of the action took place in the dark and so he couldn't see what was going on. I didn't have any problems watching on a high definition TV but the BBC iPlayer version is very murky indeed. The costumes have, as ever, been a bit over-designed with the usual surfeit of leather but they are better than those in Vikings.
I will be digging out my Vikings, no doubt. I have quite a few painted ones (they have even seen some actual games at Guildford many years ago) but I have a lot more unpainted ones. Mine are a mixture of Foundry, old Gripping Beast (I don't like their gnomish plastics) and Artizan. For this period I need to avoid the helmets with nose guards I think.
I also liked the way they used the word "Viking" in the proper Old Norse meaning of going on a freebooting voyage. Incidentally, when I was at college one of my girlfriends studied History. We had two History professors at Brasenose, known as Dr Death and Dr Gush. Dr Death was a crumbling old relic and Dr Gush was the bouncy, young, now internationally well known, Dr Simon Schama, then in his mid thirties. Dr Death, a medievalist, always pronounced the word "Vickings" with a short 'i', according to my friend. Anyway, I will try and dig out my Cornwell novels from wherever they are.
Our heating packed up last week and we had to have British Gas come in and fix it (just the wireless thermostat receiver in the boiler, thankfully). While doing so my wife insisted that they had a look at the radiator in my study, which hasn't worked for years. Unfortunately, this meant pulling out three filing cabinets covered in stuff, my entire plastics pile (dozens of boxes of figures, some of which I had forgotten about) and loads of box files containing all sorts of stuff (mainly Playboys from the fifties and sixties) Down the back of one of these stacks I found a whole load of wargames rules I had lost, including some I don't remember buying at all. Still no sign of the 7th Voyage ones though. So, until I sort everything out and put it back (or sell it, according to the Old Bat) my room is even more chaotic than ever)
The mess in my room was getting me down so I went around to my friend A's again and had some more Port, which I'm not supposed to. This was my last bottle of Port from the stock I inherited from my Uncle, an Offley Boa Vista 1972, which was still just excellent.
On a less sophisticated note, I am not a big fan of supermarket sandwiches but occasionally, if I am on the go, I need one. Into Boots this week and a new one to me: Chicken, chorizo and smoky beans. It was quite good but it made me nostalgic for my favourite ever shop sandwich, which was also a Boot's one (most of their sandwiches these days are very boring and there are far too many vegetarian ones). Back in the eighties and early nineties they made one called Mexican chicken which had chilli mayonnaise and kidney beans in with lettuce and chilli chicken. It was quite the best shop sandwich I ever had and is much missed. The mayonnaise being far superior to the salsa in today's version. It was not the best sandwich I ever had, that was a prosciutto (thick cut, unusually), mozzarella and pesto ciabatta in the Admiral hotel in Copenhagen.
One thing I didn't like about The Last Kingdom was the wailing music which was rather grating in a sort of Hans Zimmer/Lisa Gerrard/Gladiator way. So for this post it's back to Mario Nascimbene's wonderful soundtrack to The Vikings (1958).