Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Notes from my travels: Boréale Rousse

The choice for beer in Montreal is always between la blonde and la rousse. Personally, I have always enjoyed the Canadian Red beers: Rickards being a favourite. The Inter-Continental in Montreal stocked Boréale Rousse.

Boréale Rousse is one of six beers produced by a Quebec company, Les Brasseurs du Nord, which was set up in 1987 by three students who paid their way through university by selling beer. The company has expended hugely since then and now employs over 100 people; to the extent that you can’t really consider them a micro-brewery any more. They only sell their beer in the Province of Quebec.

Boréale Rousse is a coppery looking beer with a medium head. It tastes of caramel, nuts and malt but doesn’t really have a strong flavour of hops. It’s quite light for a Canadian red beer. Some people have commented that the more they sell the less distinctive it has become. Nevertheless we enjoyed a good few glasses before moving on to Absinthe!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On the road again..

Danger! Danger!

Having got back from Warsaw on Thursday I set off for Montreal on Friday. This is the start of an eight city North American tour. This has really put paid to my painting, which is a shame as I was just getting back into it after a few fallow weeks. Don't think there is much to see on the military front for the first week as I will be too busy, but you never know what will turn up.

One good thing; the hotel I am staying with has an Absinthe bar and I have just met up with an old girlfriend...and everyone knows that Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Indian Mutiny

Oh no! More Highlanders!

I was intrigued by the annoncement of the new firm Mutineer Miniatures on TMP the other day. http://www.mutineerminiatures.com/ The good (or bad) news is that they intend to launch a lot of packs (they now have 30 listed on their site) at once. Of course, the last thing I need is yet another army to start but I have been interested in wargames set in India for some time, partly as I usually travel to India once a year on business and the relics of the Raj are still much in evidence in Indian cities. The Indian Mutiny was, in reality, a particularly nasty conflict involving atrocities on both sides but the uniforms, of course, were gorgeous.

My knowledge of the period is almost entirely based on reading George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman and the Great Game so today I picked up The Indian Mutiny by Saul David on the basis that I enjoyed his book about the Zulu War (even if Ian Knight didn't!).

So I intend to start reading it when Mike Owen's figures make an appearance! Can't wait!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back from Colours...

Guy enjoys playing with the re-enactors' medieval swords but the really cute medieval baby is less impressed..

I'm typing this in between desperately trying to finish six Beja for my Sudan game tomorrow. It's going to be touch and go but as each bit dries I can write a paragraph or two...

The Warlords Zulu game. One day...

I'm just back from Colours where I seen to have spent quite a lot on not much really. I didn't really get into it this year. My little boy, Guy, thought it wasn't brilliant this year either and he especially felt that the demonstration games were a bit dull. That said he liked the 1/35 WW2 Game and I liked the Warlords Zulu game but I thought the standard of painting and scenery in games this year wasn't so good. The show seemed quieter too, given that we always go on the Sunday, and I didn't think the car park was so full. When I was there I was the only person at Dave Thomas' stall (he was there!) and usually you have to fight to get in there.

So what did I pick up and how much of it did I intend to buy?
On the list

Another pack of Wargames Factory plastic Zulus. WF picked up my review on my Zulu blog and put it in as a news item on their website! Built a few this evening whilst watching the dinner.

Some of Musketeer Miniatures new Goths. These will mean that I have to start a Late Roman Army, however! Bill promises Russian command by Warfare in November and possibly even some Swedish cavalry. Right.

Fantastic interior detail from Grand Manner

A couple of summers ago I ran into Grand Manner's Dave Bodley at Butser Ancient Farm. I said to him then that when he produced a model of a Celtic roundhouse like those at the farm I would buy one. So I was very glad to have the opportunity today! The first of quite a few of his new Celtic range, I suspect. It's so lovely that I may fast track this.

I bought six packs of Perry Miniatures Sudan figures. This time, mainly, the new Indian army figures. Not right for my El Teb and Tamai armies but too nice to resist.

North Star spears. Not on the list per se but I always buy a few.
Finally, four packs of Empress Miniatures Zulu War British and the new Zulus with rifles. Irregular horse are next it seems.

Not on the list

Firstly, I bought a nice Moria-type Dwarf statue from a new firm to me, Dreamholme Scenics. I was really, really tempted by their Dark Age great hall at £160. One day...

Some Artizan WW2 Eighth Army. Guy and I have been talking about this for some time. Just one pack to see how I get on. They look nice, though.

Not on my list from Grand Manner was a very nice gabion gun emplacement. Just perfect for my Bicorne ECW cannon I picked up a month or so ago.

They weren't on my list but I have bought some before so I picked up another four Miniature Wargames cds which should relieve some pressure on my shelves as the hard copies go into the loft.
From Dave Thomas I got two packs of the Artizan Spartans as now they are being produced by Gorgon in the US they are not easy (or cheap) to get hold off.

Also at Dave Thomas I picked up a pack of DeeZee crocodiles. Useful for Darkest Africa and Lost Worlds.
So that was it. Several hundred pounds but nothing really exciting, apart from the roundhouse. Starting this may be much easier now that I am spray undercoating. Unfortunately next week I have to go abroad for three and a half weeks on another grand tour so there won't be much painting done. I may do a some bits this week, probably Zulus...


So I'm off to Colours today, which is one of my favourite shows, so let's compare our intended shopping list with what we actually come back with!
I'm looking to get some of the new Perry Sudan figures if they have them; particularly the Indian troops. I'd like to go to the Empress stand and get some more Zulu War stuff as I will be concentrating on that next. Muskeeter Miniatures will be there so lets see if Bill has any news on the new Great Northern War stuff. I'd like some more Russians too. I always visit Grand Manner and want to see if Dave has his new Celtic roundhouses there. I'm also on the look-out for any WW1 stuff. It doesn't look like Dave Andrews is there so Artizan and Crusader may not be available.
One thing I do is save £2 coins to spend at shows and this time I have £136 worth. Somehow I don't think I will spend that much...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Merlin Engine

Here is my father in law (left) demonstrating the Merlin Engine to Prince Michael of Kent!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Wings and Wheels

P51 Mustang and Spitfire. Nice sound!

Not much to report on the painting front as I spent a few days in Cowes watching the powerboats and yesterday went along to Dunsfold Park aerodrome (better known as the home of Top Gear) for a car/air show yesterday called Wings and Wheels. It was blooming freezing but I had to stay until the bitter end as my daughter, Charlotte, is joining the school (or, rather, my old school) CCF this term in the RAF section. She now is very keen on learning to fly and maybe even joining the RAF, especially after she met the Red Arrows over lunch at the Royal Yacht Squadron last month. Given that her best subjects are Maths, Physics and Geography that all looks worryingly attainable. Actually, her best subject is German but hopefully she won't be joining the Luftwaffe. In her first year she gets at least one flying lesson and later in the school she does a parachute jump. I can't say I am very happy about this!

I have always had jobs that mean a lot of international flying. I would guess that I do around 40-50 flights a year. And I hate every one of them! I really, really hate flying. In fact, it terrifies me. Only the consumption of huge amounts of Champagne enable me to fly at all and as soon as the plane starts juddering around I become immediately sober and grab hold of the seat in front in terror. One day I will get to an airport departure gate and find that I am unable to get onto the plane. It will then be a very long boat trip home. I have a lot of travel coming up this month (not very good on the painting front). I'm off to Poland in a couple of weeks followed by one of my grand tours of North America. Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Toronto, again and then Philadelphia. Far, far too many flights. I have worked out today, however, that I can get from Montreal to Ottawa to Toronto by train which is much better than the coffin-like Embraer aircraft (do I really want to fly in a plane made in Brazil?) that Air Canada operate on those routes. OK the train rides take four and a half hours each (there is no high speed rail in North America-everything clanks along at twenty miles an hour) but at least I'm not stuffed in a tiny tube (I'm mildly claustrophobic as well!) banging around in turbulence 30,000 feet in the air.

That said, I have always been interested in planes but only from a visual point of view. Much like my interest in cars really. I'm not at all interested in how they work or what engines they've got. I just like them to look nice.

Recently I ready Harry Pearson's entertaining book Achtung Schweinehund!, which really should be required reading for any wargamer my age. A lot of it mirrored my own experience but then a lot of it didn't. I did have a resonably large selection of toy guns and I was particularly fond of my cap gun Luger. My favourite was a Gatling gun into which you dropped those teeth-cracking silver balls which we used to put onto trifles. You cranked the handle and they shot out wreaking havoc amongst my Britains Red Indians. Initially all my toy soldiers were 54mm plastics. I had cowboys and indians. Some American Civil War and some rather strange WW2 Germans in soft hats who looked like the Nazis in the Sound of Music or at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was aware of the HO/OO Airfix figures and my friend David Marsden had a lot of them but my Airfix fix was always aircraft. I din't get into the figures until I was about eleven.

A Fairey weird choice

My father had sat me down when I was quite young, eight or nine I guess, and I sat with him whilst he made an Airfix Stuka. I was amazed by the process that turned this bag of plastic bits into a fully formed and (beautifully) painted model. Of course my first attempts were dire and I always built them first and then painted them (leaving painted planes but ghostly grey crewmen inside the canopies-which I could never paint the lines on anyway). The first model I remember making was the Sikorsky helicopter as it was the one used to recover astronauts from the Apollo capsules and I was very interested in space and rockets. Oddly, I didn't follow the normal Spitfire/Hurricane route. My choices were based on interesting shapes and availability in Johnson & Clark department store in Staines. I remember early kits I built were a Trident, the Lunar Module, some WW1 dog fight doubles, the Starfighter (which I painted copper and blue gloss) and the really weird Fairey Rotodyne. I then did build some WW2 planes but they were an odd mixture: Me 110, Vought Kingfisher, Me 262 and my favourite, and the first one I finished which came out looking OK, the B25 Mitchell

Buy me ! Buy me!

So I was delighted to see a B25 flying yesterday at Wings and Wheels albeit missing the top gun turret and in Dutch colours and not the magnificent silver colour I painted mine based on the wonderful Airfix box art by Roy Cross. If ever a painting shifted kits then that painting was it!

It's always good to see a Hurricane and a Spitfire fly but the Battle of Britain memorial flight (the best bit of which is the Lancaster, of course) had to cancel due to the bad weather. Fortunately I had seen them last summer when my father in law arranged a Dunkirk Little Ships and Rolls Royce event at Eton last year. He arranged for the Lancaster and Spitfire to do a fly past which involved closing down Heathrow Airport for 75 seconds! In fact it was because of him that we attended Wings and Wheels as one of his friends invited him to join the Rolls Royce display (he is a member of the Bentley Drivers Club but for some reason thinks that the Surrey Bentley Drivers Club branch are a complete shower-far too many members driving modern Continentals for his liking!).

Charlotte looks forward to the aerobatics whilst Grandma retires out of the cold. Grandpa's car is a 1961 Bentley Continental S2 Flying Spur.

I wasn't very interested in the cars (although someone had a Singer Gazelle like the one we had when I was little) but the planes were good. I hadn't seen a P51 in flight before and the Eurofighter was certainly noisy but the real reason I went was the AVRO Vulcan.

It's big. Really big!

My grandfather, who was in the RFC in WW1 (flying SE5As), went on to work for AVRO after the war. There was some concern that they would have to cancel but they did make it through in the end, thank goodness. My daughter, however, was most excited by the aerobatics display by the Grob Tutor: "the very plane I'm going to fly!" Oh dear!

Don't even think about it, Charlotte!

Finally, we had a rather restricted show by the Red Arrows (low cloud and worrying proximity to Gatwick) but Charlotte insisted on staying to the bitter end. She was excited because the Red Arrows flew in from Poland so they had all 11 planes with them rather than the usual display 9.

All the Red Arrows!

From my point of view the really worrying thing was how many of the aerobatics pilots were British Airways 747 pilots! One thing the whole event has got me thinking about is making another plane kit (of which I have a fair few in the loft). Of course the one to wait for is the imminent Airfix 1/24 de Havilland Mosquito. But how on earth will I find the time to build a 617 part kit and, above all where am I going to put something with a 27 inch wingspan?