Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sealed Knot article from Mayfair 1970

I found an interesting article on the Sealed Knot from the October 1970 issue of Mayfair magazine. I have put it up on my Matchlock to Doglock blog

It does have a couple of slightly underdressed ladies in it, for those who live in puritan societies or who shouldn't be looking at the internet while at work!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ten years of Legatus' Wargames Armies!

My newly painted Macedonian Generals featured in my first anniversary post in 2007

Much to my amazement, this blog is ten years old today.  It wasn't my first blog, that was my neglected Spartans one.  I enjoyed painting Spartans but I could never face painting Persians.  I actually have 23 wargames blogs and most I don't update very often but I do like to keep, on the whole, my different interests separate.  The blog looks rather different from its original incarnation, not least because I have had to gradually increase the font size as my eyesight has deteriorated!  The original intention of my Spartan and Byzantine blogs (both of which predate this one) was to help me organise my thoughts as regards building armies (which failed on both counts).  It never occurred to me that anyone would actually read anything I wrote!

I set this one up when I bought some Perry French and was starting to think seriously about Napoleonics (again); something I now really have given up on (I hope).  Since then the blog has had 642 posts (so more than one post a week, on average), 480,000 page views and, amazingly, more than 3000 comments.  Just in the last few days I reached 200 followers (followers are not something I actively seek, which is why I don't link to posts on The Miniatures Page) which does, to a certain extent, make me think a bit more about what I am going to post.  I get about 8,000 views per month (which is about the same as what one of my other incarnation's blogs gets in a day) but I'm not chasing numbers either.  Frankly, I am amazed that anyone reads my ramblings at all!

Working out why some posts are more popular is hard to fathom.  Looking at my twenty most popular posts there seems little pattern to it:

1 Something for the weekend by Angus McBride September 2012 - 6961 views

Less to puzzle on here, as I featured some slightly racy pictures by the famous military artist, which he did for Mayfair magazine in 1975 (before he started working for Osprey).

2. My first figure of 2014 and glug!  January 2014 - 5092 views

Irene Adler by Westwind

I cannot understand why a post featuring an Empire of the Dead figure, floods at my parents in law's house and expensive bathroom fittings should have attracted more than 5,000 views but it has.  Maybe it was the picture of Rachel Riley in a short skirt or Russian web crawler bots or, indeed, Russian millionaires looking for expensive loos.

3 Cyclops! February 2012 - 5636 views.

A proper painting piece this, on my Reaper cyclops.  No women in this one at all!  The Harryhausen effect?

5 Playing favourites - my 300th post January 2012 - 4432 views

Talking about what I like and don't like as regards wargaming.  One of a meme going around at the time.

6 Games Workshop Hobbit figures - they cost what? November 2012 - 3679 views

Written in Dubai, while trying not to be distracted by my friend B, but genuinely staggered by Games Worskshop's pricing policy for these.  Pretty much stopped me buying all the LotR figures released, which I had done up until then.

7 Circles and Space - my 500th post June 2014 - 3498 views

A really rambling effort this. on the nature of the universe and metal washers but boosted, perhaps, by fans of James Burke.

8 On the workbench  June 2010 - 3306 views

Sienna Guillory in another inauthentic Bronze Age costume

No idea why this one scores so highly as  its mostly about Trojans but does feature some pictures of actresses in it.

9 Tales of two tragic ships October 2009 - 2992 views

 Not about wargaming but an unusual excursion into things naval (I hate naval wargaming for some reason - I really ought to love it given my interest in ships) based on a trip to the US where I discovered some relics of the USS Maine and the USS Arizona.

10 Wars of the Roses May 2009 - 2849 views

Some reenactment pictures and thoughts about my army for the period.  The first proper wargames post on the list.

11 Games Workshop rebranding and Perry news October 2014 - 2586 views

My daughter spots the new Warhammer brand in Games Workshop Edinburgh and bravely investigates.

12 English Civil War game using 1644 rules February 2008 2488 views

A bit about an ECW wargame.

13 Warlord Games plastic Romans April 2008 - 2328 views

One of my regular rants about incompatible 28mm figures.

14 James May's Toy Fair November 2009 -1996 views

My son and I chat to James May.

15 The Battle of Bunker Hill June 2012 1995 views

Some historic sites on a visit to Boston.

16 Something for the weekend December 2008 2378 views

The discovery of a seventies article about wargaming in Penthouse magazine, of all places.  Alright, this one does have pictures of girls in it.

17 Ruled out November 2005 - 1955 views

My musings, following the loss of my metal ruler, on how things end up in alternative universes.

18 Artizan cowgirl Eliza Stone December 2007 1797 views

I paint Artizan's not Sharon Stone figure and spend far too much time researching it, considering I don't play wild west games at all.

19 Repainting, plastics, Sibelius and the Thirty Years War  January 2011 1755 views

To repaint or not and my ongoing but unrequited interest in the Thirty Years War.

20 Armémuseum and Historiska Museet, Stockholm September 2007 - 1544 views

I go to Stockholm to talk about infrastructure, misbehave with a Swedish friend and find a lovely model Viking village.

Interestingly, I have had more page views from the US than the UK with Russia, Germany, France, Canada, Spain, Australia, Ukraine and Italy rounding out the top ten.  The Russian and Ukrainian ones must be the bots!  Actually, the Ukraine is the only one of those countries I haven't been to.

Of course, what really comes to mind when I think about all these blog posts is how many figures I could have painted in the time I have devoted to typing rubbish!  The fact is that I feel like painting less and less and can only do so when the Old Bat isn't about as she will then find me a tedious job to do, just to spoil my fun.

I'd like to thank all the people who read and comment on my posts and all the useful hints and tips people have offered me as a result.  It was through this blog that I linked up with Eric the Shed which has transformed me from a figure painter into a (sort of) proper wargamer over the last couple of years. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Days of King Monmouth by Ralph Mitchard

Not long ago Ralph Mitchard (of the Wars of Louis Quatorze blog) asked me if he could use a couple of photographs I took at a reenactment day at Loseley Park a few years ago.  They were for the second edition of his booklet, The Days of King Monmouth.  Now, as I have mentioned before, I have always had an interest in this battle as I used to regularly drive past the site of Sedgemoor on my way to visit my lovely redheaded girlfriend, J,  in Somerset.  Added to that, it is the battle featured at the beginning of Rafael Sabatin's Captain Blood, my favourite pirate novel.

Some of my photos!

Anyway, he kindly sent me a copy of the finished booklet (A4 48 pages) which arrived today and, needless to say, it has got me thinking about buying some figures for a skirmish.  I know a bit about the main battle but will read the rest of the booklet which describes some other actions.  You can buy it here and it is thoroughly recommended.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Back from Salute 2016

So, off to Salute again today but I have to say my heart wasn't really in it this year.  I wan't feeling at all well and this, I suspect, was largely down to the five vaccinations I had to have this week: including the rather nasty yellow fever one.  I was due to fly to Nigerian next Wednesday but, thanks to the usual top flight Nigerian levels of organisation, this has had to be postponed. I can't say I am disappointed as the flights they had booked overflew Nigeria by six hours, went all the way down to Johannesburg and then back to Calabar, resulting in a 24 hour flight plan. Hopefully, with more notice I will be able to fly a more direct route.

So it was a somewhat jaded Legatus who arrived at ExCel at about 10.45 this morning.  It really isn't worth turning up for doors open and I walked straight in with no queuing, although the Warlords people seemed to be having trouble with their bar scanner things. Technology, eh?  I really like architectural models and hadn't noticed this one of ExCel before but it gives an idea of the size of the place - 100 acres!  It did seem particularly crowded this year inside the show, although the DLR and the building itself were much less so, as the London Marathon Registration is next week, this year.

It really did make it tricky to get to many of the trade stands and as I am too old and grumpy to queue I didn't bother with the likes of Hasslefree, Crooked Dice, Perry Miniatures or Empress, all of which were heaving.  There did seem to be a lot more stands featuring fantasy and SF games this year, many of which I had never heard of.  There were two free plastic figures for a SF game called Maelsteom's Edge in the goody bag.  This is a sort of sub 40K skirmish game and, worryingly, I have already been looking at their website as I fancy some desert planet scenarios.  I was very impressed with the Sarissa Precision SF buildings I saw at the show today which would work well with this.

The other free figure was the normal Warlords giveaway and this time it is one I will actually paint, as the steampunk girl will fit into my IHMN ladies of the night company.  I may even start on her tomorrow as I have a paint scheme in mind.  For a Steampunk themed event I saw very few steampunk events.however.  I had a very small shopping list this year as I really do need to get rid of hundreds, if not thousands of figures which I am never going to paint.  My main acquisition was a number of packs of Lucid Eye Savage Core figures as my Neanderthals are nearly done.  I also picked up an odd set from Foundry which I hadn't even seen before, loosely based on the fighting scene featuring Rachel Weisz and Patricia Velásquez from The Mummy Returns.  I just couldn't resist that but it was my only impulse buy.  They will fit in well with my Dark Fable Egyptian Harem Miniatures.  I also picked up the Black Scorpion Salute special lady, but that was it!

Mr Cartmell (centre) supervises

One thing I did really want to get was the new Blood Eagle rules and it was very nice to make the acquaintance in person of Craig Cartmell, who was overseeing a game with the rules.  I really liked the small scale of the board and I have always wanted to build a small Viking village, following an exhibition I went to in a Museum in Oslo once,  This all looks very achievable, scenics wise!

Actually finding a copy of the rules was not so easy, as they were selling rapidly.  By the time I got to Wargames Emporium's stand (Ainsty Castings had already sold out) there were only about five copies left.  Still, they look a lot easier to understand than Saga.  Looking at the huge Gripping Beast stand I wonder whether they might as well just rename the company Saga, as that was really all that was apparent.

One of the things I like to use Salute for is to look at things I am interested in to see them in real life.  I had not been very impressed with 4Ground's Arab houses in the pictures I had seen of them so far but actually they are very nice indeed and would certainly work for the Sudan, nineteen twenties Egypt and maybe even Afghanistan.

This was also the first time I had seen their La Haye Sainte model, which is huge.  I still cannot quite get rid of the idea of some Napoleonic skirmishing out of my head and the fight around this, given my old Airfix Waterloo farmhouse, may well be the way to deal with my Waterloo itch.  Should be on a hill, though!  In fact laser cut wood buildings, of which there seem to be an increasing number of manufacturers, are all much more properly in scale which means many of these buildings are very big compared with what we saw on tables a few years ago.

The new Congo rules were being played on a very nice Africa board and these I will certainly pick up when they come out as I have quite a lot of painted figures.  I even have a paddle boat!  I didn't get too close to the game though as it seemed to be infested with Frenchmen.

I thought that this year there were a lot more games being played on small boards and not so many showstopping giant ones.   This was my favourite, although I can't remember what it was called but I just loved the proper town at one end of the board.

I'm second from left.  I need a haircut! From Big Lee's blog.

Fourth from left in this one

I did go to the bloggers meet up and hopefully we will see some photographs of that appearing soon.  There did appear to be a lot of us this year!  It was nice to meet George Anderson of the Musings on Wargaming and Life blog for the first time and catch up with Alastair who, like me, seems to be struggling with wargaming on a Monday night.  I also ran into Eric the Shed who was busily photographing every game for his blog.  His pictures are here.

Resistance is futile

So, all in all I was there for less than three hours this year but I got all the things I wanted and avoided being seduced by things I didn't (little metal Rachel Weisz excepted).  All in all, I added very little to the lead pile which is a very good thing!  

Friday, April 08, 2016

Fray Bentos: pies, Oxo, corned beef and tanks

The Legatus' mother was not what you might call a great cook.  In fact, you wouldn't call her a cook at all.  One of the abiding aural memories of my childhood was the sound of my mother scraping the burnt bits off the toast every morning. Unlike today, when busy mothers (and we have a great deal of sympathy for women who have to provide multiple meals every day for their families - it's not surprising many don't enjoy cooking) can resort to microwave meals, back in the sixties the choice of convenience food was much less.  I remember having quite a lot of Fray Bentos tinned pies when I was small and, indeed, a lot of their corned beef too.

This is tinned corned beef, of course, (called bully beef by Triple P's father and everyone else who ate it in the British Army) not the sort of meat you get in a Reuben sandwich in North America, which is called salt beef in Britain.  The British version is canned, minced beef brisket with gelatin added.  There is no corn in it, of course; the word referring to the corns of salt used to cure it.  My early exposure to the words "corned beef" might have something to do with the fact that I invariably mistakenly call a pork pie a "porked" pie, as that was another sixties and seventies staple at the Legatus' house.  What would "porked" pie even mean?  Do you take a normal pie and "pork" it?  This all then then has connotations relating to delicious puddings which we won't go into. Word association being a funny thing, as to me the word "death" conjures up a visual image of corned beef being carved.  Just as the word "heath" also brings to mind the flaky shreds of corned beef you get if your knife is too blunt. I can't rid myself of these images, however hard I try.  So "politics" to me conjures up an image of small boiled potatoes in mayonnaise. This is probably why I can't take the subject or its practitioners seriously.  You look like a nineteen fifties salad (except you would probably be in salad cream not mayonnaise).

When my mother did get a bit more experimental with her cooking, in the early eighties, she would produce her notorious corned beef curry.  This was made by frying up the corned beef, chopped into small cubes, with onion, diced apple, sultanas, tinned tomatoes and curry powder.  You couldn't buy poncey miniature palettes of Indian spices to mix yourself in those days.  You couldn't even buy different sorts of curry powder.  Actually, I used to really enjoy this rather unprepossessing sounding dish and latterly I have revived it at home (although no one else will eat it in my house!) and you can find the recipe here.

World War 1 period corned beef

I only learned about the history of corned beef when speaking to one of my Foreign and Commonwealth Office contacts who told me that Fray Bentos was not just a  company name, as I had imagined, but the firm was named after a town in Uruguay.  I had no idea, but it was the meat packing centre of South America and made a huge contribution to keeping British soldiers fed for a hundred years. The most famous story relating to Fray Bentos is about an eponymous tank in World War 1.

On August 21st 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele, the Mark IV tank F41, accompanied by seven others, clanked and rumbled towards their objective, some farm ruins which had been fortified by the Germans,  At this time the new tanks carried unofficial names, as did certain artillery pieces and aircraft, given them by their crews.  Tanks were organised by company: A, B, C, D and so on and the practice began of naming the tanks (only the number was official).  Perhaps the crews thought that having names reflected their status as His Majesty's Land Ships but many were rather more informal than the official names used by the Royal Navy. You couldn't see the senior service allowing  a name like Crème de Menthe for example (however much they might have wanted it).  In fact, C company also had tanks called, Cognac, Chablis, Champagne and Cordon Rouge.  It was up to the tank commander to choose the name of his tank and as long as they began with the first letter of the company name and weren't vulgar this was allowed (later in the war this practice was stopped by the humourless top brass).  The commander of F 41 was Captain Donald Richardson who had been a wholesale grocer in Nottingham before the war and had held the licence to distribute Fray Bentos products, Obviously seeing the irony of meat in a can, that was what he christened F 41.

This was the crew's first time in action but soon all the other seven tanks were knocked out by artillery leaving Fray Bentos to crawl on alone and leaving its accompanying infantry behind. Unluckily, German machine gun fire entered through the driver's visor, hitting the driver, second in command Lieutenant George Hill, as well as Richardson. Hill fell wounded onto the throttle and the tank lurched into a large shell crater where it got stuck in such a way that it couldn't bring its guns to bear.  A crew member who jumped outside to release the large unditching beam to provide traction for the tank's tracks was killed by German gunfire and both he and the beam fell against the door trapping those inside.   Machine gun and mortar fire rained down on the tank and injuries amongst the crew increased as the temperature inside hit over 30 degrees centigrade..  When night fell, the Germans launched a number of attacks on Fray Bentos, being seen off by a Lewis gun fired from the tank.  One German soldier managed to get the tank door open but was shot by one of the crew.  As the battle was still going on, Richardson wanted to keep fighting from the tank for as long as possible. The crew remained in the tank for three days having to deal with numerous German assaults and attacks with explosives. When the water ran out they had to drink the acrid water from the tank's radiator.  Their food had run out and ammunition for their small arms was running perilously low.  Given the increasing number of wounds to the crew, one of whom had died inside, Richardson felt that they should make a break for it on the third night.  This they did and escaped back to British lines, having been in the tank for 72 hours, carrying their Lewis guns with them, to deny the Germans the weapons. They became the most decorated tank crew of the war, with Captain Richardson and Lieutenant Hill both receiving the Military Cross and the rest of the tank crew being decorated as well.

Fray Bentos II in Berlin

Richardson, after recovering from his wounds, was given command of another Mark IV, also given the number F41, which he christened Fray Bentos II.  This took part in the great tank assault at Cambrai but was also knocked out.  This time Richardson got out more easily and the damage to the tank wasn't too bad, however.  Unlike the original Fray Bentos, which had been completely destroyed in battle, the Germans recovered it, got it running and paraded it in Berlin.  Eventually, they disassembled the tank to see how it worked.

I've always wanted to do some World War 1 gaming but was really focussed on the early war period until I saw this Mark IV tank at Salute (Great War miniatures, I think).  I have actually assembled it and got the base colour down and I really should finish it, although I am not sure what I could use it for - 1920s Pulp, perhaps.  I really need to finish it!

The original canning plant in Fray Bentos, Uruguay

Given this World War 1 story (and the fact that the British would fire tins of corned beef over the German lines, until a crowd of hungry German troops gathered whereupon they would follow up with grenades, rather unsportingly) it is ironic that Fray Bentos corned beef had a German origin. It was an Anglo-German firm, The Liebig Extract of Meat Company, that built the first major factory in the town in 1863.  Cattle were being killed for their skins in the area and the meat was just being wasted.

The Liebig company realised that they could use the surplus meat to produce low-cost meat products. They introduced the Fray Bentos brand in 1881. They began with a meat extract paste and then introduced a cheaper version of the product in 1899 which they called Oxo.  Interestingly, in this Olympic year, Oxo sponsored the 1908 London games, becoming the Olympics' first corporate sponsor.

The firm took off when it started providing tinned corned beef to the British army during the Boer War.  During World War 1 their adverts featuring Oxo as a welcome warming drink on the front were everywhere. The term "bully" beef, used by my father for corned beef comes from the French name for it; bouilli (meaning boiled).  It was only in 2009 that the British army moved away from supplying British soldiers with corned beef in favour of rather less manly pasta bakes.

An appropriately bovine monument at the Liebig factory in Fray Bentos, Uruguay

By the nineteen forties the Fray Bentos factory employed 5,000 people.  It closed in 1979; never really recovering from a batch of infected corned beef that caused a typhoid outbreak in Aberdeen in the early sixties and suffering under EEC rules regarding meat imports, when Britain joined the Common Market.

The old meat packing plant in Fray Bentos today

Eighty percent of corned beef sold in Britain now comes from Brazil. The factory is now a museum but recently a Brazilian firm started producing corned beef in the town again.  Last year UNESCO made the whole of Fray Bentos' industrial area a World Heritage Site (really!), saying that the existence of "the ensemble of cattle pasture and handling facilities, industrial buildings, mechanical facilities, port facilities, residential fabric and green areas linking the river and agricultural areas to the city of Fray Bentos Industrial Landscape stands out as an example of early 20th century industrial development."

You can't help but think that UNESCO is running out of sites

The Fray Bentos company itself went through a number of owners, The original Anglo-German Liebig firm being bought out by the British Vestey Group in 1924.  In 2011 the brand was acquired by that other canned good giant, Princes, but the Office of Fair Trading wouldn't allow the merger on monopolistic grounds and they had to sell off the Fray Bentos division to Scottish soup supremos Baxters, who have since, horrors, introduced microwaveable foods into the rather traditional Fray Bentos range.

The Legatus likes a corned beef sandwich with tomato, cucumber and piccalilli (an eighteenth century invention: originally Paco-Lilla, or Indian pickle, a British re-imagining of Indian relish).  A former girlfriend of mine, J, now the wife of one of my college friends, makes fabulous piccalilli which sets off corned beef perfectly!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Muskets and Tomahawks at the Shed

My first visit to the Shed this year and a very enjoyable game of Muskets and Tomahawks; a set of rules which, on my second game (I played the first at the Shed about 18 months ago), I have decided I really enjoy.  French and Indian wars. of course.with the Legatus on the British side this time.  Eric had set up one of his splendid boards as a British colonial settlement being attacked by Indians and dastardly French Canadians (and I've known a few of those - although I have known some lovely ones too, I should add, hastily).

I had two units of regulars plus some fairly useless militia and some irregular rangers.  Altogether, we had two units of regulars and four each of militia and rangers plus some officers, who assist on morale and provide useful extra orders. We were up against what looked like hordes of Indians (or First Nations Aboriginals as my Canadian friends would advise me to call them - Canada is the most politically correct nation on earth).

The Indians (sorry FNA) had to burn every house in the village to win and the British had to stop them, despite having around one hundred points less of troops.  We hid most of our units in the cabins and waited for the FNA to attack.

I placed my regulars in and next to the blockhouse, although this was a tactical error as the regulars inside couldn't take advantage of their volley fire capability.  I should have put the rangers in there, instead, with their long range rifles

I did control one unit of rangers and they did well at keeping back several units of attacking FNA and Canadians although eventually, outflanked, they were seen off.  The FNA were doing a good job or burning houses as the militia melted in the face of frenzied tomahawk throwing attacks.

My biggest unit of regulars did sterling service in the centre, holding off multiple attacks although they were attacked from three directions.  Fortunately, in these rules, you can turn 180 degrees to face a new enemy without penalty.

For the last few turns it was a very close thing indeed with the British just edging it by saving just one house.  By this time, my main unit of regulars had lost 7 out of 10 men but they had done their job.   Another very balanced scenario by Eric the Shed giving a close game which went right down to the last turn.  Eric has done an excellent write up of the game here.

Somewhere, I have a bunch of Galloping Major FIW figures under way.  I must dig them out!  I also have a lot of the Conquest Miniatures figures and I even painted one (above) but sadly they are not compatible with the GM ones size wise.  It's still a conflict I want to paint some units for, however.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Reading wargames magazines over lunch

I was updating some software on my computer today and while it chuntered away I actually did half an hour's painting, as the sun was out.  I have thirteen boxes of figures under way which I would like to complete and one of those contains some Steve Saleh Lucid Eye figures.  Recently, I finished four Neanderthals so decided to do a bit more on the three remaining ones.  Although it was bright today I was struggling a bit and have realised that what is best for painting is bright overcast and not actual direct sunlight (which is why all artist's studios face north not south).  This weekend will be another lost cause as it is the parents-in-law's extended diamond wedding anniversary celebrations. I have been married to the Old Bat for 23 years now and that feels like an ancient geological time period (the Silurian period springs to mind but maybe that is because I am hopeful Warlord Games will come out with some classic Jon Pertwee period figures - seventies Dr Who, featuring U.N.I.T., being the only incarnation that would really work as a wargame, I feel) ) so more patience than we have must be called for to be together sixty years.  Anyway, I was struggling to get the paint on properly today and can't work out whether the problem is my deteriorating eyesight, the strong light or a bad paintbrush.  Whatever, it really matters to me.  If I can't paint to a "reasonable wargames standard" any more I might as well give up and collect model railways. 

I was thinking about the visual look of wargames while out and about in London this week.  I started out with a meeting at London Metropolitan University, where I am trying to help them set up an overseas course for foreign students.  Arriving at Aldgate East underground station I emerged facing the north end of Leman Street.  Now, of course, this was the home of 'H' Division of Ripper Street fame and about nine months ago I had a look at the south end of the street which still has recognisable features from Victorian times.  Nothing left today at the northern end, although that is as likely to be down to the Luftwaffe, as three high explosive bombs fell on the north end of Leman Street.

These musings are all apposite because the theme of this year's Salute is steampunk and as I had a couple of hours between meetings I decided to stop off in WH Smiths in Oxford Street and pick up the latest Wargames magazines to read at lunchtime.  I buy all three of the main wargames magazines still but these are now the only magazines I buy today. I stopped buying the likes of Empire and SFX several years ago and have now given up on the now tragically neutered Playboy, despite owning, basically, every copy ever published (apart from a few of the fabulously expensive early fifties ones and I have those digitally).  Also, the shop where I used to buy it, the excellent Cinema Store in St Martin's Lane, closed in January due to a doubling of its rent.

Anyway, having picked up Miniature Wargames, Wargames Illustrated and Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, I set off for my West End office, the National Cafe at the National Gallery.  This is a very nice, light, airy place very popular with ladies of a certain age and German tourists.  There is a cheaper, self service cafe adjoining it but I prefer this waitress service one and I go often enough that they usually get me a table at the edge of the room from which you can watch everyone else.  

What is it that brings the Legatus back here again and again?  Surely it can't just be the willowy Eastern European waitresses?  Actually, despite an off-puttingly fish-heavy menu, the food can be very good indeed. Currently, to accompany the Delacroix exhibition at the gallery, they have a special Delacroix menu: a main course and a glass of wine for £15. 

So I settled down with my confit duck leg and Toulose sausage cassoulet and a glass of Vin de Pays D'Oc (regionally appropriately) to have a look at Miniature Wargames and, in particular, their Salute guide.  I don't always read Neil Shuck's Forward Observer, partly because I am vaguely irritated by Mr Shuck's Meeples and Miniatures podcasts (I don't like the name for a start - there is no logic to my bigotry - perhaps I should vote UKIP like the Old Bat.  Actually, no, there are limits).  Now, I have listened to a number of these and the content can be quite good but I just cannot listen to his voice and when I read his prose I hear his flat, bored-sounding tones as I read.  Nevertheless, his look at Kickstarters in this issue was very good.  Another piece I hardly ever read (well, never) is a column called Send Three and Fourpence.  This is because it is such an opaque title and the first page is always just type that I never bother to look at it.  I have it in my mind that maybe it is a column about postal wargames, something that sounds about as enticing as postal sex.  But then, when The Big Issue first came out I wondered how on earth they managed to bring out a magazine every week whose only subject matter was homelessness.  Anyway, this month Send Three and Fourpence has a North West Frontier scenario so I will have to read it.  I wonder what all the others were about?

Another wargaming bête noire of mine is John Treadaway (despite his heroic efforts on Salute over the years), partly because I got into something of an argument with him over some nasty pro-Nazi re-enactors at Salute some years ago and everything he said in defence was, to use a phrase du jour, mealy-mouthed, patent nonsense (something along the lines of "oh we knew they were controversial and just wanted to test people's reactions to them, ho ho").  He is a man whose every utterance on TMP I tend to disagree with so it gave me great delight for him to get things horribly wrong in a review of Antediluvian Miniatures superb nineteenth century dinosaurs, where he said that the Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs were about the "only bit that survived the great fire that brought down the eponymous structure in the 1930s".  Or in fact, maybe they survived because the dinosaurs weren't put into Crystal Palace Park until after the Crystal Palace itself was moved to Sydenham Hill in 1852 and it was on that site that it burned to the ground in 1936.  My mother remembers seeing the glow in the sky as a child from her bedroom.

Anyway, lots of steampunky goodness in this issue and a painting guide to the Salute figure which I will actually enjoy painting.  It was nice to see Big Lee's Miniature Adventures and Ray's Don't Throw a 1 becoming  MW's blogs of the month, too.  Very well deserved!

A telephone call over lunch then informed me that my afternoon meeting had been rescheduled for next week and given I had been working away from 6.00am to prepare for both meetings I reckoned that lunch needed to be extended to enable me to look at the other two wargames magazines and order a carafe of wine.  Next up was Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, which I remember from the times it was an idiosyncratically translated Spanish publication full of "random" quotation marks but is now a very good magazine.  For me the only issue I have with it is that it is bimonthly and I invariably end up buying it twice as I can never remember if I have already bought it or not.  This month's theme is modern warfare and editor Guy Bowers seems mystified why some wargamers (myself included) feel uncomfortable about gaming the period. "Our popular culture of movies, TV and computer games is full of action, adventure and death," he says. "People seem to accept this completely without question..." he continues.  Er, actually, we don't.  I am very uncomfortable with the level of casual violence in (largely) American films, TV and computer games.  I am on slightly dodgy ground here, as I have bought Bowers' Black Ops rules but while I might contemplate some Alias-style spy adventures anything historical and post WW2 is not for me. 

One article in WSS which annoyed me (not hard to do) was a rebuttal (although one that demonstrated a failure of nerve part way through) of a previous piece from the preceding issue suggesting that wargamers need to spend as much time on their scenery as their figures.  This month's article essentially said that it was all about the game and people should not worry if there scenery doesn't match railway layout standards.  Again, this in another case of someone assuming that everyone thinks like them.  I am very interested in the whole visual look of wargames and don't really enjoy playing on green baize cloths with stepped hills.  In fact I hate stepped hills more than anything else on a wargames table. If you want to use stepped hills you might as well use wooden blocks for your armies.  The author of the piece said that the sort of ornate scenic boards you get at shows were often impossible to play on.  Again, a ludicrous generalisation, as you can see from this board we used a few years ago for a Romans vs Britons game at Guildford Wargames Club.  A proper hill here!

The ultimate, looks wonderful but practical, scenery is made of course by Eric the Shed and a game there is always a visual  joy.  I don't care if I win or lose so long as I can move my figures around his amazing boards!

Still, the issue contained a good scenario for a game based on Simon Scarrow's The Eagle's Prey, amongst all the ultra modernism.

Time to pause for some cheese and move on to Wargames Illustrated, which was always my favourite magazine (almost entirely because of the visual impact of the games illustrated inside, compared with the blobby painting of Miniature Wargames). Fortunately, the conscious decoupling from Battlefront Miniatures has removed the dozens of pages of bumper to bumper tank battles from it and it covers a wider scope than it has done.  There was an interesting article on using Lion Rampant for Napoleonic skirmishing (not entirely successfully, I gather) but I still have this vague hankering to do some Peninsula skirmishing at some point in the future and this may be the answer.  This variant does not include artillery but I don't like artillery in games anyway and hate painting guns.

Most interesting for me was a look at the new Congo rules for darkest Africa games.  There is a chance I may have to go to Namibia in the next few months, unless I can get out of it.  I prefer to interact with Africa on the tabletop not deal with African airlines.  The Congo rules appear quite gamey and I got lost reading the description of the rules mechanism (not surprisingly) but at least I won't need to buy any figures (or even paint them) as I have several hundred ready to play,

So, the base colours on the Neanderthals are done now and I have started shading.  Maybe I will even finish them in a couple of weeks!

Next time in my blogs I will be looking at corned beef and, in fact, am just off to cook some!