A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Something for the Weekend - The Battle of Not-Quite-Uclés, 13 Jan 1809 - set-up

On Saturday I have guest generals coming to play at Chateau Foy, so this is a special occasion, especially after the recent panic involving the cancellation of the Siege of Newcastle.

Work on the set-up is proceeding...
Our scenario for the day will be something rather similar to the Battle of Uclés - not too similar, naturally. A Spanish army under Mariscal de Campo Venegas, comprising 23 battalions, 5 regiments of light cavalry and two foot batteries will defend the formidable ridge which the town and monastery of Uclés bisect; the opposition is a French force commanded by Marshal Victor, who will have available 21 battalions, 5 regiments of dragoons and 1 of chasseurs à cheval, 2 foot batteries and one horse battery. I shall use the largest of my available table configurations - any larger and we need to find a bigger venue.

The Spanish Army is assembling on the Plastic Canteen Trays of Mars, as you see...

...while, in the interests of security, the French are marshalling in another room,
on the official ironing board (has it been pressed into service?) - formidable, n'est-ce pas?

I expect we shall have rather a lot of fun, but if anyone out there fancies a bet on the result, I would suggest a sporting 10 pence on a resounding French win. Some of the French are to arrive a little late, subject to the whim of the dice, as a consequence of (allegedly) taking the wrong road, but I fear this will not affect the result.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

1809 Spaniards - Beremundo

The loneliness of command - under revised house rules, brigade commanders still don't get an ADC
Another senior officer for the Spaniards. This chap is a spare from a stock of Spanish cavalry I've had for a little over two years, waiting patiently in the paint queue. These are some of the figures I commissioned from Hagen - they paint up all right, I think?

This is Colonel Beremundo Ramirez de Arellano of the line cavalry unit Reina, who had the (brief) pleasure of commanding the brigade of cavalry at Uclés (13th Jan 1809).

Since he is a colonel, much of the prep work consisted of carefully filing off his epaulettes - hands are still sore this morning!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

1809 Spaniards - More Leaders, and a Possible Outbreak of Creeping Elegance

You know you get a sort of half idea, and you quite like it, and before you know what's happened you find you can't get it out of your head, and you have a new project starting up...?

For example - years ago, I once found that I had acquired a couple of mounted infantry colonels from somewhere, so the next couple of French battalions I painted up had a mounted figure in the command, just to try it, and I liked that a lot. It looked just like the pictures in the old Charles Grant book - splendid. It was really just to use up the spare figures, but I knew almost straight away that eventually I would end up rebasing all my Napoleonic armies and adding mounted colonels throughout. It took ages, but I got there in the end, and now I never think twice about it - it's a house standard.

This time it's generals. I have my generals based individually, except for army commanders, who are on a rather larger stand, and have an ADC attached. I have a growing box of attractive staff-type castings waiting to be painted - generals and aides and adjutants and all that - the availability of new figures from Art Miniaturen and elsewhere makes this hard to resist. I like painting generals and ADCs - small jobs, lots of fiddly bits - ideal for short paint sessions, and I am looking at painting up a special new staff group for Marshal Suchet, and I have some more Spanish generals on the bottletops at this very moment, and - O Lord - I've just seen the latest post from History in 1/72. I think I would like to have a little collection of celebrities and other oddballs to grace a suitable occasion. I already have a Spanish division commander who is based with an ADC, which is non-standard but looks pretty good (not least because Goya did the painting...). As of this morning, I am beginning to sense that a new house standard is sliding in from left field. I think I'd really like to move to brigadiers based on their own (as at present), division commanders with a single ADC, and army commanders or other special bods based with 2 supporting staff. Brigadiers will be on the standard 30mm x 45mm bases, division doubles will be on 50 x 50, and I need a new size for the triples - maybe my ECW 60 x 60s would do for that.

Three new Spanish generals - two brigadiers (one in his regimentals) and a
division commander (with the gold lace) - in fact they look a bit shiny - better get
the next coat of varnish matted down a bit.
So - anyway - it looks like a period of progressive rebasing and sorting out (and painting) is coming, to get my staff to the new standard. It doesn't have to happen all at once, of course, but I have some very nice unpainted ADCs just looking for a gig somewhere, and I have some of Jorg Schmaeling's latest Art Miniaturen French generals and aides, itching away in the French Command box. Yes - it feels like a good idea, and it's not too disruptive in the short term. Rebasing generals is a doddle, really. If I order in a supply of pre-cut MDF 50 x 50s from Uncle Tony Barr at ERM then that will get me started.

No rush. Looking forward to it. Creeping Elegance - you know it makes sense.

***** Late Edit *****

Now have the chaps based up, and have added a converted Hinton Hunt ADC to the division commander. ADC is in non-regulation uniform, you're right. Some quick pics in the garden...

This brigadier is dressed as colonel of the Regto de Africa (Antonio Senra)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Serial Turncoat

Always striving to get ahead...

This chap has been featured on this blog before. I bought him, a good while ago, as part of a job lot on eBay - he was sold as a mounted British infantry officer - apparently an old Hinton Hunt OPC, and I put him away in the spares box for a future refurb.

British officer - as purchased

When I had time, I had a good look at him, decided it would be best to strip and start again, and consigned him to the Nitromors (hand-remover). It shifted the paint, but also shifted his head...

Carrying on heedless
...and it became obvious that in a previous tour of duty he had started life as a Hinton Hunt Austrian general - AN 102 - like this one:

Origins - photo borrowed from The Hinton Hunter 
It seems a pity to waste a useful figure, and his Austrian origins, and consequent lack of epaulettes, suggested a possible conversion to a Spanish general officer. As is the way of these things, the headless horseman has been kicking around my painting desk for three years now, but I am trying to move my Spanish army towards some kind of complete state, and I am always short of generals and staff officers - in particular, I need brigadiers - quite a few of them - and since there are precious few suitable castings around it becomes a very attractive idea to produce some conversions. Not many things look as limp as a complete set of identical officers - a matching battalion is OK - I have plenty of those - but matching officers are not so cool.

Righto then - there was a pequeño uniform for Spanish generals - single breasted, like a French surtout, and I gave my adventurer a head from a miscast Spanish fusilero from my NapoleoN spares, who had a missing foot. Better and better - nothing goes to waste here, if I can avoid it. As always, he will win no prizes for beauty, but he is a unique figure, and I need all the characters I can get for my Spanish army.

Hola! (I think a brigadier would probably say "Hola!" in a suitably deep voice.)

By the way, you will observe that the base of the original figure has been built up with lead sheet, which is a bit serious for my collection - if anyone recognises this fellow - in any of his past personae, please do get in touch!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Update to Peter Brekelmans' C&C-based TYW Rules - Ver 2.2

Peter Brekelmans has modified his TYW Variant rules based on Commands & Colors. The link in the top right hand corner of this screen will now get you to the same place-marker post of mine as it used to, but the links have been updated to the latest versions of the documentation, and the presentation of the downloads has been greatly simplified.

Since I am notorious as a man who cannot update hyperlink addresses and chew gum at the same time, I'd be very grateful if you let me know of any sharing problems - I think I set everything correctly, but you know how it is.

As previously, I must emphasise that these are not my rules - I was privileged to be involved in the discussion of them last year, and they share some features with my own ECW rules (which are still being maintained, and are also accessed from the links on the right hand side), but they are Peter's own work, and stand on their own.

Some explanations, based on Peter's notes on the changes:

All in all, the changes to the Chaunce Deck include -

1 - the re-introduction of the FRIENDLY FIRE card (with a modification to restrict it to firing only on friendly units that are within 3 hexes of an enemy)
2 - the deletion of the PAYLE card - redundant 
3 - a change to the MAPPE card
4 - a few minor changes to the text of titles and descriptions (to make them better suited for use with NANDeck card-printing software)

The rule revisions largely concern terrain, and are as follows - 

1 - a new 'higher slope' classification to differentiate between multiple levels of gently sloped hill plateaus and hill tops
2 - tightened up the wording re the effects of buildings, villages, towns and fortified areas
3 - added a priority provision to allow for multiple terrain types in a single hex

As well, there is a change to tighten up the rule for coming out of a 'set pike' formation.

Friday, 7 April 2017

1809 Spaniards - Better, but Still Digging Furiously

The carpet remains a job in hand, so today's first mission is to clear the decks a bit to get that sorted out.

In the meantime I shifted my painting/carpet-soiling operations into the dining room, and now have the first battalion of Granaderos Provinciales - complete apart from the flag, which should follow in a day or so. The flag, since I mentioned it, is going to be a bit of a flight of fancy - units of granaderos of the line were normally assembled on campaign from the grenadier companies in a division, which means that, as provisional entities, they did not have flags unless someone lent them one. Not so for the Provinciales - the grenadier companies were supplied by the Provincial Militia units of a particular - erm, province, I guess - but they were then given a permanent identity and treated as a distinct regiment. Thus they had a flag, I understand.

These chaps, then, are the 3rd "Division" of Provincial Grenadiers - namely those of Andalucia (other "divisions" were for Galicia, and New and Old Castille). As grenadiers they manage to avoid categorisation as militia in my rules (with all the potentially disastrous implications that would bring), and count as bog-standard line infantry. They are not without a certain prestige, in fact the colonel at the Battle of Ucles would be Pedro Giron, who later was C-in-C of one of the main Spanish field armies. They will form part of the Reserve division of the Army of La Mancha - in company with various guard battalions and the very attractive Irlanda.

Granaderos Provinciales de Andalucia - short of a flag

...and, of course, they have to look good when retreating - note minimalist flammes

Their flag will be some fairly generic coronela - if anyone knows better, please feel free to shout. I'll provide a more official picture when the flag is issued and the chaps are ready for action.

The other such battalion is partly complete - thus far they have their command finished, and the rest of the chaps are undercoated and have had the white paint done (lots of white paint) - they can go back in the Really Useful Box for a respite period, while we sort out the domestic collateral damage.

Oh yes - figures are Falcata castings - the rank and file laboriously (and grumpily) fettled and cleaned up prior to painting - they came out OK, I think - the mounted officer is a conversion involving a Kennington Frenchman and other bits, and the standard bearer is by NapoleoN.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Paint Accident - a small vote of thanks to Citadel


One of my battalions of Spanish grenadiers has reached the stage of painting muskets. Since my brand new pot of Foundry Musket Stock Brown is thin and horrid (is it just me?), no matter what kind of stirring procedures I use, I resorted to an old pot of Citadel Scorched Brown. This is one of the Citadel pots from what I call their "in-between" period - i.e. after the old hexagonal pots which I used to like very much, and before the current pots, which have a captive plastic cap which will lock into an open position. The In-Betweens had a captive round cap, but it had no locking mechanism, and they absolutely refuse to stay open in a position that you can use for (let us say, for example) painting.

For in-betweens on which I have relied in the past, I have tended to cut the lid free, so that it may be removed, complete with paint sample, and used as a little palette. Thus what happened today is all my own fault.

I can claim nothing, really, beyond my own ineptitude, but there are certain, ergonomically unhelpful devices which can encourage my ineptitude to blossom, and - you guessed it - my wrestling with one of these stupid cut caps resulted in its popping off at some speed, and applying a spot of Scorched Brown to the living room carpet, just in front of my painting bureau. To my recollection, this is the first such paint accident I have had in many decades of model painting - and we are talking here of periods which included frequent removal of Humbrol enamel tinlet-lids with a screwdriver. I guess I should be grateful that my luck held for so long.

Having exhausted my supply of more easily-remembered terms of appropriate profanity, I have now committed all sorts of effort and cleaning materials to the scene of the accident. It is water-based paint, there was very little spilled, and the carpet is a light brown/beige colour anyway, so I am confident that it should come up pretty well - if necessary, I am sure that the Contesse's trusty steam cleaner, or even a little professional help, will get things back to normal. Thus I am currently in a period of cooling-down, while the rescue scene dries out a little, ready for the next phase. This has not helped painting progress at all, of course.

Normally, you will realise, I bear no malice to anyone - well, maybe there are a very few exceptions, come to think of it, but generally life is too short to bear grudges. Today, though, I should like to single out Citadel paints for special mention. I sincerely wish that the hero who designed the pre-locking, in-between period cap for their paint pots might have one of his splendid caps inserted, rectally - ideally, to a position just below his tonsils.

Monday, 27 March 2017

1809 Spaniards - First Batch of Granaderos Provinciales - Command

I've split my batch of 46 figures, for two battalions of Granaderos Provinciales, into three sub-batches. First lot (completed this afternoon) comprises the command for the two battalions - 10 figures in all - they will not win any beauty contests, but they will do the job. Mostly Falcata castings - the ensigns are NapoleoN, and the colonels are assembled from bits of this, bits of that. Once again I am faintly bemused that Falcata always gave officers two epaulettes - I suspect they did not understand the rank distinctions. No matter. Everyone is at least a major - the Spanish army was clearly a big deal. Especially my Spanish army.

That's the fiddly bit done - next I have to divide the rank and file into two separate "factory" batches - very few colours required - I reckon (after the undercoat) I'll need white, red, flesh, black, musket brown, linen slings, gunmetal, brass, silver, green for bases. The end. Oh yes - plus a bit of yellow for touching in the flammes on one battalion.

Going OK. I'll keep working away at them - short sessions. Plenty of music - today was Compay Segundo (he of Buena Vista Social Club fame) and Saint-Saens' violin concertos, plus some vintage Chet Atkins.

Eclectic to a fault, moi.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Update to my C&C-based ECW Rules - Ver 2.67

Following extensive discussions about 30YW rules last year with Peter Brekelmans, and some very useful recent exchanges with The Jolly Broom Man, I've produced another update to the rules booklet for my CC_ECW game, which is now up to Version 2.67 and may be accessed/downloaded via the link on the right hand side of this screen.

The main change is a more comprehensive treatment of "Volatile" and "Rash" Galloper cavalry - which includes the possibility of their leaving the table out of control if they get overexcited - and some tidying up of the rule whereby units being attacked in melee by more than one opponent simultaneously will suffer a deduction from the number of Combat Dice to allow for distraction and diversion of effort.

I've also removed Firelocks as a distinct troop class, since there wasn't really any need. Oh - and units Battling Back in melee now get a minimum of 1 die to do it with!

I had considered making the Volatile/Rash Horse thing an optional rule, but I don't care for optional rules - it is in any case possible to declare that a particular scenario does not involve any such units of horse, and you have exercised just such an option. After much pondering, and after watching my Pegasus DVD of Edgehill for the umpteenth time, I am pretty much convinced that lack of control of Royalist cavalry in the First Civil War was a regular contributor to the day's outcome!

The downloadable QRS sheet is now in need of an update to bring everything back into line - I'll get to it. If you have problems accessing the revised rules booklet (because I have set sharing rights incorrectly, which is my usual Google Docs cock-up when I update these rules), or if I have made some horrible error, please let me know, so I can fix things.

****** Late Edit ******

...and ...and ...light guns now exist only as an attachment to a unit of foot, and medium and heavy guns can move only until they fire or are attacked - in either case the draught crews will leave them to get on with it at that point.

****** Late Late Edit ******

...and ...QRS now updated to match Ver 2.67 - as at 29th March.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Hooptedoodle #256 - Demography at the Kitchen Window

Yet another Hooptedoodle post is a sure sign that not much is happening here on the hobby front - I am quietly doing some lightweight sessions of painting of Spanish grenadiers, but there won't be much to see of them for a little while.

As anyone who has read this blog before will realise, we are very enthusiastic about the garden birds here at Chateau Foy - since we live on the edge of a decent-sized wood, our bird feeders are very popular at this time of year - especially the sunflower hearts - they are definitely on trend - and there is always something to look at.

Among so many visitors, we are bound to get some oddities, and over the 17 years or so we've lived here we have, I think, seen three examples of albinism. There was once a completely white sparrow, and then there was a male chaffinch with a large white patch on his upper body - they both seemed quite healthy, and were around for a complete season without seeming to get picked on by the other birds.

Now we have this fellow - never seen one like this before. This, clearly, is a common-all-garden European Jackdaw, corvus monedula to our Roman chums, but he is supposed to be all black - his plumage is definitely non-regulation. Rather distinguished looking, maybe?

I am interested that we have seen so few albino specimens - I have no idea how many birds we see in a season - there are many millions of visits over the years, but many of these will be regular returners - at any moment on a sunny day we can see maybe 30 or 40 bluetits, maybe slightly fewer goldfinches, maybe the same again of chaffinches, and so on and so on, all in the garden at the same time, which is the sort of guide to numbers that the RSPB are interested in. How many of these were here this morning, yesterday, last year is unknown, though interesting. An albino is recognisable - you know there's only one of him - so it is hard to get a true impression. Whatever the lack of precision, albinos are obviously rare.

Which begs the further question - are they rare because there are very few hatched, or because they may be weak individuals who do not survive for long? No idea, obviously. The examples we have seen on our feeders seem vigorous enough, but then they would, wouldn't they?

Anyway - this is our current albino jackdaw - say hello. Seems a nice enough chap. It is tempting to give him a nickname of some sort, but it occurs to me that if this nickname made any reference to the colour of his plumage I might be in trouble.

So I shall call him Herbert. Make something of that, if you will.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Hooptedoodle #255 - Goodbye, Johnny B Goode

I would be embarrassed to be seen to offer up another me-too tribute - it's an activity I disapprove of. Private feelings are nicer and somehow more sincere when they remain private.

I am reminded by yesterday's news of the passing of Chuck Berry that - rather to my surprise, in the long run - he was a sort of hero of mine. Someone who made my life a little richer, in the influence he wielded as much as by his own work.

Already the media are wheeling out all sorts of has-beens from show business to make over-inflated utterances about pop music as Great Art, and all that. I really wouldn't know, and would hesitate to attempt an academic assessment.

Berry is especially significant for what he represents. A black man from St Louis, he began recording for Chess Records in the mid 1950s. Chess, bear in mind, were a specialist blues label who published artists like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Bo Diddley - primarily for black audiences - and a worse fit than Berry with the accepted marketed image of the popular music world of the day is hard to imagine. The spending power of the record-buying teenager was a new phenomenon, and major record labels in the US were struggling to push coiffed, sterilised, parent-approved products such as Johnny Tillotson, Fabian and similar - white, acceptable to the church, not overtly masculine. He was surprisingly old, too - if I recall correctly, his first commercial success, Maybelline, was released in 1955, when he was 29. That is positively ancient.

He was not an admirable character, in many ways. He had spells in prison - notably for tax evasion and (once) for statutory rape (a charge which looks a bit like police entrapment, all these years later). He is famous for being difficult to deal with, complicated, devious. I read his autobiography some years ago and was disappointed - it wasn't a great read, overall, and he came across as an unusually self-obsessed character. I suspect that I wouldn't have warmed to the great man's company. I saw him once, live - he was excellent, a consummate showman, but he was accompanied by a disappointing English tour-band which did nothing for him at all.

There is a definite thread of racism through many of the bad breaks which he suffered - especially in the early years, though his combative personality cannot have helped. He came through a hard school. I read that in the dance-halls and the provincial theatres he got into the habit of threading his guitar lead through the handle of his guitar case before plugging into his amplifier - thus making it impossible for anyone to steal the case without the matter coming to his attention. He also would not play until someone put actual cash into his hand. Incongruously, he still insisted on these technical safeguards when he was appearing at the Paris Olympia - a quirk which is not without a certain rough charm.

It would be wrong to claim that his records were history-changers in their own right - famously, he was very fortunate in that his music impressed the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and the (white) rock bands that swept to power in the 1960s. Without that connection, Berry and a lot of his contemporaries would probably have disappeared without trace decades ago. This has all been much-discussed in the past - however it worked, it worked. I love him because of the unpretentious nature of the music (though he did tend to release thinly-disguised rehashes of his earlier successes), and his cute, street-poet lyrics, which offer an interesting social history of American youth.

This is getting close to a tribute, and I wouldn't want that.

Thanks, Chuck. That's really all I wanted to say.

Friday, 17 March 2017


[A tale of success - albeit slow and not very spectacular, but we have to embrace these things when they come along.]

In among the boxes of unpainted figures, there are always a few that I worry about. In my 1809 Spanish army project there are a couple of boxes containing the figures for two battalions of grenadiers, and they have bugged me for a while now. I am going to need these figures - I have nothing else to fall back on unless I move to plastics - but I bought them as part of a big job lot, a while ago, and the previous owner unloaded them cheaply because he just gave up on the poor-quality castings. I knew this when I bought them, but when I saw them I was disappointed by just how bad they were.

Falcata's white metal 1/72 Spanish grenadiers. Lovely, elegant original sculpts - Tomas Castaños at his best, but the moulds started to deteriorate very quickly and the standard of casting (and sometimes the quality of the metal) often leaves a lot to be desired. So for a while I have had 50-odd marching grenadiers which needed a lot of rescue work - in particular the right lower legs had to be recarved from a very unpromising jagged blob of alloy. It astonishes me that Falcata dared to sell stuff like this - they weren't cheap, either. Maybe their eventual disappearance had something to do with an unprofessional approach?

[I shall certainly find a horse's head in my bed tomorrow.]

Off and on, at odd times over a period of a couple of years, I have worked away at these boys, always with a faint dread that I, too, would eventually just give up on them. The work is fiddly, sore on the fingers, slow and often exasperating, but - you know what? - in some weird way it is quite satisfying. To produce a figure, against the odds, which will probably paint up satisfactorily is a small triumph, given the sloppy original manufacture and my lack of any particular skill in this area. You have to get into the right frame of mind - plenty of coffee (but not too much!), plenty of relaxing music, good lighting, and enough time to get on with the job for a couple of undisturbed hours. Oh - and lining the completed figures up is fine to check progress, but avoid constantly checking and rechecking how many are still to go...

It's actually rather nostalgic. It takes me right back to the early 1970s, grinding away to make something of a newly-arrived parcel of late-period Hinton Hunt castings - I can recall ACW zouaves (advancing), Napoleonic highlanders (advancing) and any amount of Napoleonic Portuguese (also advancing) for which I had to drill away big blocks and shark-fins of spare metal where the moulds had broken.

Last night I completed the prep work for the second battalion, at long last - we are ready for undercoating. The command figures were almost an anticlimax - far too easy - just as in the earlier Hinton Hunt episode, the moulds for the officers and drummers had less wear and the castings were much cleaner. OK - they are now on the official green bottle tops. There is no immediate hurry, given the time it has taken already, but I'm quite looking forward to painting them. Apart from the dreaded embroidered flammes on the hats, this is a simple uniform - these guys will be humble granaderos provinciales, so no fancy piping or anything - these are just white with plain red facings. Thus I propose to set these up as a single batch of 46 figures - no doubt I shall regret this decision at some point, but - once again - the important thing is to get your head right before you start. Plenty of time - plenty of 2-hour shifts. Yes. Sounds good.

I'll worry, just a little, about the flammes...

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hooptedoodle #254 - Accidental Science Project

Today the Contesse visited her elderly mother (la Duchesse Veuve de Culdechat, who has graced these pages before) in a seaside town not too far from here, on the way to Ingerland. Alas, the poor old lady is not keeping very well these days; one result of this is that she has a house in this seaside town which she does not get to visit very often. In consequence, today my dear Contesse had to meet with an engineer, who was to service the heating system, and - as ever on these visits - a few oddities came to light, all connected with the strange, twilit world which surrounds houses which are mostly unoccupied.

[At night, they say, the stones do not sit peacefully with one another; the customary laws of Nature only apply sometimes, and grudgingly...]

For a start, it seems that the telephone at Maison Culdechat had not only disconnected itself, but may even have changed its number without outside encouragement. This may seem odd to the casual outsider, but to those of us who are more familiar with this twilit world it is just another example of the sort of thing for which we have to shrug and suspend judgement.

However, today's pièce de résistance (or "fixed impedance" as Marconi would have termed it - and, yes, that's Marconi Cheese) turned out to be a pork pie which had been in the fridge since some time before Christmas, we think. If you have ever wondered what such a thing might look like, here it is...

The Contesse was understandably aghast. With rubber gloves and anti-bacterial cleaner she removed the offensive object. The next twilit snag, of course, is that the Duchesse's dustbin almost never gets emptied, so the normal arrangements for domestic waste disposal in this case would fail to cope with an item of such toxicity. We shall draw a discreet veil over the actual steps which the Contesse took to get rid of it - let us simply say that we trust that Nature will, in fact, look after her own and reclaim the pie in the traditional way.

As a potentially useful byproduct, we may have unintentionally helped a local problem with excessive numbers of marauding seagulls - some herring gull is going to have a mighty sore gut by tomorrow. Or else he may have become resistant to all known viruses.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Hooptedoodle #253 - One for the Film Buffs

I was looking for old pictures of the area where I live, and - quite by chance - I came across this:

[Good grief, Foy, now what? You cancel the Siege of Newcastle, claim force majeur, and now you're fiddling around with... what, exactly?]

Well, actually, I have to explain that this is a photo of Brigitte Bardot (you probably worked that bit out), but it's taken on the beach behind my house - right here on the farm. This is quite a shock - I've grown used to thinking about General Monck and Robert L Stevenson and a few other notables having been around here, and I can cope with having a previously unknown castle within 600 yards of my house, but I never once thought of Brigitte. Well - not in that context.

It seems that in 1966 she was involved in a film titled A Coeur Joie (released in the US as Two Weeks in September), and this film was shot at a variety of places I know well, including Edinburgh Zoo (apparently), Dirleton and (ta-da!) our own Seacliff Beach, as seen here. These pictures also show her co-star, Laurent Terzieff, and blooming cold they look, September or no.

I was gently intrigued. I had a quick look around for reviews of the film, and to see if it is still available (only, you understand, because I wish to see some shots of our beach...), and found that the film is still available in French, without subtitles. There are some Region 1 editions of the English language version, but clips I've seen on YouTube suggest that the dubbing and reshooting with English dialogue is a thing of major embarrassment. So the French version seems a far better bet. However, reviews I've seen also suggest that this may be among the worst films ever made. Thus I am - how do you say? - put off a bit.

This shot shows, in the background, the end of the path by which we walk to our beach.
I never thought of La Bardot sitting there. The slope and the terrain vary from year to
year, depending how much of the beach is left in place by the Spring tides. Obviously
they had a fair amount of sand in 1966, but sometimes it's quite stony. I have to add that
the Contesse Foy's mother fell rather spectacularly at this very spot some years ago; fortunately
she did not injure herself, but we still treasure the memory...

Given a free choice, I would prefer not to watch Brigitte in an embarrassing movie. Not that I am a fan, of course, but because of my love of the art.

Anyone have any views on this minor classic of French cinema? It really doesn't matter - yesterday I didn't even know that a film goddess had once walked among our sandhills, so I can forget all about it quite easily. But, there again...

Sunday, 5 March 2017

A Pain in the Oxide

This may not be a common problem, but it has been a bit of a nuisance for me, and I may have found an answer.

I use quite a lot of these...

This is a 250ml sample tin of interior housepaint - that's (like) wall paint - from Dulux's excellent colour-mixing service. The hardware shop in our village has the special machine, and sells this stuff - which is a remarkable stroke of luck, as anyone who has seen our village will testify. These sample tins cost just a few quid each, and I use this paint for my (Old School, boring) figure bases and my tabletop and I use lots of shades for scenery and buildings. It's great stuff - cheap enough to slap on or dry-brush, and I've never had problems with it.

Except one - for colours such as the Crested Moss #1 base shade, I use smallish amounts, very frequently - a 250ml can would not look at a complete repaint job for the battleboards, obviously, but it will keep me going for a year-or-more's worth of bases and touch-ups. There is the rub, brothers - the metal lid gradually distorts with repeated opening until it is no longer a good fit, and - worse - the inside of the lid rusts, and flakes of rust contaminate the paint. You can't lift off or just stir in the rust flakes and ignore them - if any rust finishes up near the finished surface you will get a brown stain - don't you worry about that.

Typically, for my most frequently-used colours, I throw away about 40% of a tin. Given how cheap the paint is (by Foundry or Vallejo standards) this is not a big problem, but it certainly is a problem at 4pm on a Sunday when you find you are not able to complete the quick basing session you had hoped to squeeze in before dinner. Not so fast, old boy - it's down to the jolly old village hardware store for you tomorrow.

OK - enough griping. I have thought for a while of transferring some of my more frequently-used Dulux "scenery shades" into plastic pots, and have kept an eye open for such a thing. The Contesse spotted these online - a pack of 5 x 250ml clear plastic pots, with watertight, plastic screw-tops (or 10, or 20 - OCD heaven...) will set me back about a pound each, including postage.

One pound is less than the value of the paint I throw away, and then there's the convenience of being able to see the colour, so I can remember what Spring Breeze #3 looks like without putting a daub on the lid. Also, if I take a bit of care keeping the lid clean, I should do away with the poor seal problem. In a spirit of helpful camaraderie I draw these pots to your attention. If you have been using them for years, please just smile patiently and move on.