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


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Hooptedoodle #168 - Donkey Award - World of Bins

Whatever the question was, this new chart is almost certainly the
answer - I promise to post a photo of our proud new row of bins
when the grey one arrives; we may cut down a few trees to make room
We live in a house built on a farm in a very rural area. In our kitchen there are three waste receptacles - to conform with the local council regulations. We have a plastic tub into which goes all recyclable waste paper, another to take recyclable plastic, metal and glass, and a bog-standard (large) flip-top bin to take everything else. That is the indoor bit of this industry; outside we have corresponding wheelie-type bins - a green bin for general waste, one with a red top for the plastics etc, and one with a blue top for the paper. Existing regime is that the green one is emptied every Thursday, and the other two are emptied (by a different truck) every second Thursday (I hope you're taking notes here).

A new development is that we have now been supplied with another bin (a brown one) to take all garden waste - prunings, dead leaves, grass cuttings and similar. The brown bin collections will start in April, we were told, so - as you can imagine - we have been waiting in a state of some excitement to see how this will work.

Well, it gets more complicated. It seems we will also be supplied with yet another bin (a grey one) which is for food waste, which will henceforth be banned from the green bin. This is a serious business, too - I expect to see officials with armbands checking the contents of our bins for compliance - they may even be required to taste the food waste, just to be sure. I hope so.

Since it would be unreasonable to expect householders to wander down the garden to the new grey bin every time they have a used tea-bag, we will also be supplied with a matching indoor (grey) food waste container so we don't run any risk of contaminating the household rubbish. We are lucky to have a decent-sized kitchen and a large garden, to house all this splendour, and our domestic arrangements allow us a bit of time to devote to the complexities of the new arrangements. For new arrangements is what we shall have. Our local authority - whom I have avoided naming, not that it matters - have decided that our bin collections will now all be fortnightly, and staggered in such a way that there is no easy way to remember what the blazes we are supposed to be leaving out in any particular week. Like me, you may have doubts about the overall improvement in our quality of life, despite the hefty municipal investment in PVC and our proud new row of bins.

At the top of this post is the new master schedule, which we shall have to keep in a prominent place, since I do not fancy our chances of ever memorizing it. Our lives will be pretty much driven by our waste management activities in future, which is probably how it should be. I shall say nothing at all about the double-whammy of ratepayers being saddled with both extra cost and extra hassle; my lips are sealed on the subject of just how much benefit to the environment and the state of the planet is likely - I need more information on the carbon footprint of the manufacture of plastic dustbins; it would be overly carping to observe here that as far as I can see the stuff that goes to the local landfill site still looks pretty much as it did some years ago, so I shall swerve that one as well.

I'm sure that armies of jobsworths all over the UK are already running such regimes - it is simply that we have joined this enlightened group rather late in the day. I'm also sure that someone will be delighted to tell me that it is all the fault of the Eurocrats in Brussels. If so, I have a message for you...

Bollocks.



Sunday, 22 March 2015

Spanish Grenadiers - Who's for the Chop?

This is a plea for suggestions.

Not granaderos like this...

...but like this
I've been putting this off for a while. My boxes of 1809 Spaniards contain plentiful figures for 4 battalions of grenadiers - mostly nice Falcata chaps. I'm nervous about the painting of all the embroidered bags on the hats, but they should be spectacular when done, since your typical battalion would be the converged grenadiers of the regiments in a brigade, so mixed facings and even assorted uniforms are the order of the day. Splendid.

Fly in the ointment is that two of these planned grenadier battalions are actually to be grenadiers not of the Line but of Provinciales, and - as I now know - they wore a rather simpler form of headgear - smaller and without the fancy flamme. As far as I know, there is no suitable figure on the market. Hmmm.

Conversion time. The command figures aren't a problem - officers can wear bicorns or even the full grenadier busby (for flash), drummers similarly. For the actual granaderos I think that fitting the ubiquitous NapoleoN Miniatures Spanish line fusiliers with new heads should be a straightforward job - my immediate challenge is, which heads to use?

You ever see a hat like the one in the lower picture?

All suggestions for a suitable donor - any period, any nation - will be most welcome. I can, of course get busy grinding down all sorts of things, but the less grinding the better (to quote Descartes), and the more easily it can be repeated (as he may also have said). I've looked at various possibilities, including British Crimean guardsmen - I'd greatly prefer a metal head, and I'd prefer a full head rather than a hat graft.

Oh yes - the figures are 20mm (or 1/72). Any ideas?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

New Napoleonic Spanish Cavalry - Size Comparison

At the request of Mr L Gunner, here's a quick comparison. My new Foy Figures men are made to 1/72, so are a tad larger than Hinton Hunt (which are not). As enthusiasts for plastic will testify, "1/72" is not an exact global standard either, but these fellows will all serve happily alongside each other in my army, so as far as I'm concerned they are near-enough compatible.

L to R: NapoleoN, Foy/Hagen, Hinton Hunt x 2, Falcata x 2

Hinton Hunt horses a bit shorter in the wheelbase, but that's normal

Links to the Hagen shop are in the previous post.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Spanish Cavalry 1806-09 - figures now available


I now have samples from my first figure commission - and I'm very pleased with them. These are available from Foy Figures at Hagen - the initial sets are properly illustrated there - we have a set of 3 mounted troopers and one of 3 command figures (officer, standard and trumpeter), and each of these sets is available with a choice of walking or trotting horses. Lovely sculpts from Massimo.

I have done no cleaning up on this chap - this is the officer, just to give an idea. All the horses are made so that reins may be added with wire (if you wish), and the troopers have separate muskets, which have to be glued in place. The figures may be painted as dragoons (yellow uniforms) or line cavalry (dark blue), and I believe they fill a conspicuous gap in the available 20mm (or 1/72) metal ranges for Napoleonic Spanish collectors.

I hope you like them as much as I do!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Hooptedoodle #167 - More Buses for the Non-Collection

The original scope for this ad hoc collection was that they had to be real buses, with some relevance to my childhood years on Merseyside. In the wider interests of personal nostalgia, the range has increased a little, I guess, but I am still fighting off any suspicion that I may have become a bus enthusiast.

Here are three more - two which arrived this morning and one which I received a while ago, but never got around to photographing.

Another Crosville, this one a little later than the previous photos, but still 1960s -
Route H16, Elizabeth Rd, Huyton to Liverpool Pier Head. This picture is
dedicated to the bold Mr Front, whose dad used to drive Crosvilles out of their
West Kirby depot.

Eastern Scottish service bus from Edinburgh to my present home village, 1970s
period. Route 124 survives to this day, but the buses, of course, don't look like proper
buses. In those days, on the rare occasions I journeyed to North Berwick I'd have
used the train.

This is a real nostalgia feast for me. Edinburgh Corporation service 16, Oxgangs
to Silverknowes; for many years, I travelled to work on this route every day
- South Morningside School to St Andrew Square. I remember that at one time
I read the whole of Loraine Petre's book about the 1813 campaign on my bus
journeys. Tricky unfolding the maps on the bus, I recall.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Hooptedoodle #166 - More Garden Birds

Tough guy - the robin will take seeds from the ground, but prefers his food to wriggle a bit
The gantry that holds up our bird feeders surprised us by collapsing in the gales the other night. When the investigation team moved in, we found very quickly that the structure is brilliantly designed so that the tubular steel fills up with rainwater and rusts through quicker than you would believe. All structural engineers working on the design of bridges or large buildings, please take note.

The replacement stand is expected in a day or so - of rather better quality (or at least we hope so - certainly it is more expensive). In the meantime our feathered pals in the garden are coping well enough. Here's a couple of photos taken by Mme la Contesse this morning - everybody looking bright and chirpy, in readiness for Spring (which does not start on 1st March here in South-East Scotland, whatever they may tell you).

Handsome cock Chaffinch, with his Spring plumage starting to show on his head

Coal Tit - we can't tell the males and females apart, but presumably the Coal Tits can

Friday, 6 March 2015

Max Foy's Mad March Mug-a-rama - results...


Well, the deadline has passed, and I must have sat up until several seconds past midnight sifting through the entries. Thanks very much to everyone who sent one – a number of people said they were going to, but obviously thought better of it, and a surprising number sent a note saying, “I’ll take one, ta…” – obviously these are people who visit the supermarket with a reversible jacket, so they can go round the free samples several times – quite right too.

Since the entire episode was a dreadful conceit and self-promotion of my own I can hardly crib about the limited response. After a short ponder, I decided to award one to Epictetus for his stout effort in Limerick form (it would be graceless to mention that my nom de blog is pronounced Fwa) – this is it, and very good it is:

A philosophical wargaming bloggist
Thought a free mug was not to be missed
So for better or worse
His thoughts turned to verse
In an attempt to make the short list

His input to the hobby was duff
His painting was really poor stuff
He had written no rules
And his blog got no views
There was no way that he’d done enough

He suspected that he’d get no joy
With the arguments he could deploy
Still he gave it a go
Because you just never know
With that estimable chap MS Foy

I also awarded one to the worthy A W Kitchen, for straightforward brass neck, since he reckoned he deserved one of my mugs because he had recently broken the handle off his own. I like his style.

Though he made no formal entry, I also feel I should send one to Polemarch, whose blog got me thinking along these lines.


If you 3 gentlemen would care to send me a comment bearing your postal address (which I will not publish, of course) I shall wrestle with the logistical problem of how to send a fragile item through the Royal Mail, so that you may have the pleasure of my ugly mug watching over your wargames.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

More 1809 Spaniards


I'm very pleased to welcome two new battalions back from being painted. I've based them up, but they are waiting for their flags (as are most of the other 1809 Spanish units) until I can settle down to a bit of mass production - this will require a little peace and quiet, some high-grade printer paper and access to Paintshop Pro on my old Windows computer, but it will be along in the next bucket (as my grandma used to say, though I never understood why).



As ever, Lee has made a lovely job of these. The dark blue fellows are the 1st battalion of the Guardias Walones (Falcata castings), the others are the 1st battalion of Regimiento Irlanda (NapoleoN castings, with a bespoke conversion for the mounted officer). Both of these will line up in Manuel La Pena's Reserve Division - the rest of the army is sorted into boxes, ready for fettling and painting. There's a fair way to go before they are ready to take the field, but I'm very pleased with what's been achieved to date.

Thanks again, Lee!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

ECW Campaign - Dodgy Scripting


My ECW campaign in a mythical part of northern Lancashire has been interrupted a bit by breaks to allow Real Life to carry on, but I have enjoyed it very much. It has now reached an odd situation.

Two hefty defeats for the Royalist side have made it virtually impossible for them to rescue things; basically they have lost, and, as things have worked out, and as the randomly-generated campaign map is set out, the campaign has run out of space – the armies are stuck against the northern edge of the map, with little further scope for manoeuvre.

I have already declared that the two Royalist forces, rather than retreating northwards off the map, will lock themselves into the towns of Lowther and Erneford, and the Parliamentarians will set up formal sieges against these places. This, of course, is still possible, but seems like a lot of effort for not a lot of entertainment. My thinking on this is definitely influenced by the lack of time I have available to concentrate on the campaign at present, but I have now decided I should attempt to end the thing with rather more of a bang.

Technically, the King’s forces have already lost, but the new plan is that a relieving force will advance to their aid from Carlisle, the Royalist forces at the top of my map should fall back on this support, the Parliament army should follow them, and there will be an extra final battle to settle things. Yes – it’s faked, but it seems a more satisfying way to get out of a lame ending.

So – watch this space!

Separate topic – I’ve had a few entries for my little giveaway exercise, but I’ve also had some notes and comments from people who simply asked me to send them one of the MSFoy mugs – that’s not really what I had in mind! I offer my sincere thanks to anyone who expressed interest, but I really do want some kind of formal entry – send me a suitable prize-winning essay on exactly why you deserve one! Midnight at the end of 5th March is the deadline – if I don’t get entries that amuse me then I shall keep the things.

So there.