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

Sunday, 17 July 2016

French Siege Train - Mortar Swap!

There is a law of Nature which I've been affected by on numerous occasions in the past, though I've never fully understood it and I've never seen it written down anywhere. Perhaps it is Foy's missing Fourteenth Law.

It works like this: you wish to (say) replace a tap-washer, so you go to the hardware store and purchase a pack of the things, and you dig out the bag of tools and find that the spanner you need has been misplaced, so you go to the garage to check the bicycle tools, and while you are in there you realise that there is a new wasps' nest under the roof, so you go to find the wasp spray and you spot that a mouse has chewed through a pack of lawn seed, which is likely to attract more of its friends, so you go to find a plastic detergent jar to put the lawn seed in, and so on and so on, and you collect a growing list of upstream tasks which eventually require you to move the house 4 feet to the left before you can do anything at all. As likely as not, the tap will still be dripping tomorrow.

To my surprise, my work on the French siege train suddenly involved some work on the Allied siege train yesterday. I have recently acquired some very nice Hinchliffe 20mm French 10" mortars, and when I assembled one I realised that it looked strangely familiar - in fact my British mortar batteries are already equipped with them. Oops. This, of course, will never do, so I decided that I would sort this out before anything else happened.

Re-equipped RA mortar batteries. Yes, you're right - the gunners are Warrior
figures, over-acting as usual.
As luck would have it, that splendid fellow Old John recently sent me some S-Range Coehorn Mortars, which would be just the thing to re-equip my Royal Artillery boys. I painted up the Coehorns, re-based the crews (taking the opportunity to remove those embarrassingly redundant chaps with ramrods - 3 figures is plenty for a mortar team anyway...) and put the French mortars carefully aside for repainting and reissue in the near future. So here are the British mortar batteries - units 345 and 346 in The Catalogue, with the regulation siege equipment brown bases - ready to go back in the box.

Meanwhile the guns for the French siege train are complete and just about ready for painting, so I hope to make a start on that tonight. If I find my olive green paint has solidified then there will be a short delay while I move the house a few feet to the left.

Separate Topic

Yesterday we visited The Hirsel, near Coldstream, the ancestral seat of the Douglas-Home family, and had a very pleasant walk in the grounds. In the course of our walk, we passed the Cow Arch (pictured), which intrigues me because there was a similar one at the old (ruined) mansion house here at the estate where our farm is. As I understand it, these things were to allow the cows to cross the driveway without spattering it with unmentionables. This was practical, I guess, especially in the days when people wore more ornate finery than we do now, but - strangely - the riding horses and coach horses of the gentry were free to spatter everything in sight with impunity. This was somehow acceptable - in fact it continues to be acceptable to this day, as anyone visiting my house (on a farm with an active riding stables) will testify.

Two generations of the Foy dynasty pose beneath the ancestral Cow Arch of
the Douglas-Homes. Not a cow in sight, by the way.
If you are not familiar with the idea of something being spattered with impunity, it is not especially pleasant, particularly under the wheel-arches of your car on a hot day. Enough - I hope I have not put you off your pain au chocolat this morning.


  1. Nothing wrong with a bit of horse poo on the drive.......I'm lying of course!

    1. It is a fact of life here - fortunately the rain helps keep things clean. Everything has a silver lining if you look hard enough.

      My older sons (now grown up) were all brought up in the city, and son #3, when he was about 4, used to be appalled on our visits to the countryside, particularly by the field hygiene habits of sheep. Couldn't handle it at all.

  2. Didn't Flanders and Swann do a song about this phenomenon? (The snowballing tasks, not the horse poo - that would be awfully bad taste. As, indeed, are pains au chocolat.)

    1. "The Gas Man Came to Call", or similar - yes, indeed. I am a confirmed fan of pains au chocolat, though my collection is smaller than it used to be. Thank you, by the way, for the use of the correct plural form - one rarely sees such quality in blog comments, and I do appreciate it.

      Horse poo songs are pretty rare, I think, but there may be a niche market for them. The riding stable here seems to employ a surprising number of very posh teenage girls who work at the weekend for nothing beyond the joy of shovelling out the sheds and brushing the crud off the horses. Not my idea of fun, but hey.

    2. My daughter used to do that at the local stables, ostensibly in return for a free riding lesson, but she revealed later that she enjoyed caring for the horses far more than riding them. No, I didn't understand it either.

      Bread. Chocolate. The full stops are there for a reason.
      I actually think the P's au C are France's way of getting their own back for our conning them in the 16th Century that you could cook with garlic.

  3. Monday morning. Regret to say that my French artillery paints are not looking clever. I have used Citadel colours for years: black undercoat, then Canachan Green, then dry brush with Camo Green, paint the barrels and pick out the ironwork in black. These Citadel shades are OOP, of course, and my stock of paint is gradually dying of old age. I checked the green jars this morning. Hmmm.

    There will now be a short delay while I order up some new paint. Oh well.