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

Saturday, 3 March 2018

First Round to the Beast

I used to have a boss whose catch phrase was "Don't spend much time telling me what you're hoping to do - tell me when you've done it". I'm sure this is identifiable as some labelled style of defective management (like the once-celebrated Mushroom Management, Fox-in-the-Henhouse Management and a host of other Nineties jokes which I'm sure no-one remembers now), but his approach did have some advantages. If I applied this principle to myself now, and I'm sure a lot of fellow wargamers are in the same situation, I'd often have very little to talk about.

The so-called "Beast from the East" [Donkey Award nominee] storm in the UK did eventually cause a postponement of our Marston Moor game - it was probably always a safe bet, but the hoped-for easing of the weather conditions on Thursday and Friday didn't happen, and this morning (Saturday, the official day for the event) the travel situation is still pretty awful - no trains, for one thing, and the country roads are not safe at all. Thus the logistics have killed us.

No problem - I've photographed the tabletop set-up in detail, I've put the (ready-labelled) armies in their box-files in exactly the same order they'll go back on the table, and I've put all the scenery elements in a box of their own, all ready to go; we can re-arrange the game later in the month. In the meantime, the Dining Room can be used for dining, as specified. I'd best make sure I've typed up all the scenario rules and features - you know - in case I forget...

Obviously I am a bit disappointed, but when Nature decides to take a poke at you she doesn't mess about, so let's get on with it. If I have to put my battle away in its boxes, then it's a good idea to put it away really well. There - that feels better.

I include a couple of photos, if only to demonstrate to Jonathan (who knows his snow) that we did get proper snow in the end. The road along the coast from our farm to the village has been impassable for two days, as has the road past the farm down towards the A1 and places like Dunbar, Haddington, Edinburgh, England - everywhere, really. This means that we, and the village of North Berwick, have been cut off from the Outside World for two days. Problem has been the type of snow, and the high winds. I'm not sure an idiot layman's description of snow is just what you wish to read today, but in our garden we had, at the most, maybe 20cm of very soft, puffy snow - like polystyrene packing beads, about the size of Rice Krispies. Because it was so cold it was very dry, and blew about in the wind.

That's someone digging out the main road from North Berwick to the outside world,
3pm Friday - 48 hours after it was cut off. I know these things are routine in Canada
and Russia, but we are not really used to this.
About a mile away, on what passes for a main road here, the east wind drifted this puffy stuff across what will later be wheat fields and it got trapped between the hedges, on the roadway. This is where the photos were taken - on the A198. I've never seen anything like this around here. The drifts also put the single-track railway to North Berwick under about 3 metres of snow in a cutting near Ferrygate, I'm told. Marston Moor is just one of a great many things which aren't going to happen today!

This is around the same spot, the road past our farm, Thursday morning, looking the
other way. Some people don't believe in the Red Weather Alerts, do they?
Forecast for next week is not brilliant, but seems to be wetter, which might be OK. I'm certainly pretty bored with what we have at the moment.

Must mention a classic manifestation of Sod's Law. Two nights ago a big chunk of the cement seal around the flue-pipe of our wood stove suddenly dropped out. That's never happened before, either. Of course, my stand-by tub of ready-mixed fire cement has set rock-hard, and, though they have shelves of the stuff in the hardware store in the village, we haven't been able to reach the village. Hmmm. Above the howling wind, I am certain I heard faint laughter.

***** Late Digression - PINBAT's revenge *****

Digger or not, the A198 is still not viable today, and it's still snowing. Apparently it is just about possible to get into North Berwick from Edinburgh (the opposite side from us) along the coast road from Longniddry, and so yesterday Tesco managed to get a truck to their supermarket here by coming that way, and driving through the town, since the usual route was blocked by snow. Just in time - supplies are running very low.

Now then, back in 2007, when it first opened, Tesco was the subject of a lot of local hostility here. I don't live next door to the place, so my view may be coloured by this fact, but I regard the presence of Tesco as a huge improvement in our quality of life. Whatever, at the time there was a fearsome militant movement - recruited mostly, it seemed, from the ranks of residents who commuted to Edinburgh everyday and thus spent little time here - named PINBAT (People in North Berwick against Tesco). The opening of the store was eventually secured after negotiations which yielded cash donations to the local community and also - I now learn - an agreement that Tesco's wagons would not drive through the town.

Well - guess what? Some superannuated survivor from PINBAT yesterday registered an official complaint that Tesco had broken the 2007 agreement by rerouting a supply van to avoid the blocked roads. Accordingly, Tesco sent this morning's wagon by the official route, up the A198, and it got stuck at the village of Whitekirk, as we might have predicted. Thus, people, there is no food in North Berwick today. 

Someone, somewhere, must think they've won a little victory. I sincerely hope the rest of the community don't find out who it was.


  1. Now THAT is a proper dumping of snow!
    With physical contact with the outside world cut, how about a solo game of Marston Moor?

    1. Nah - we'll reconvene the original game soon. Looking forward to it.

      Anyway, I'm sulking.

      Not playing.

    2. Sorry to read of the postponement. I just noticed Jim Duncans blog stating that he has not had snow since 2010, he has plenty now! All clear down here this morning - I'm sure you don't want to hear that - sunshine and blue sky, even ventured out on my dog walk without my hat. Hopefully we can all now get on with Spring :)

  2. Do you have a free day now? An impromptu game featuring a Moscow 1812 scenario might be appropriate..

    1. Years ago, someone gave me a used wargame playsheet (nowadays it would be a playMAT, but in those days it was just a couple of cheap bed-sheets stitched together, with some paint sprayed on) - it had been used for a Beresina Crossing demonstration game at a wargames show, and it was appropriately wintry. I kept the thing for years (well, it was free, wasn't it?), with my original Great Idea of collecting a Napoleonic Russian army to complement it gradually fading into the rather better idea of not bothering, since my wargaming time and enthusiasm were lessening at that time, and 20mm would have been a heart-breaking scale to attempt such a thing in the BE days [before eBay].

      That playsheet had been in a shabby state when I got it, and eventually it fell apart; one day when I was sorting out the cupboards I found the original carrier bag containing it, and checked to see if it would make a decent dustsheet, for interior decorating etc. No. It was in bits - the paint had done something horrible to the cloth.

      That was the last time I ever gave any thought at all to the Russian Campaign.

    2. That was said with some feeling! 1812 does seem all rather grim, I admit, and the Peninsular much less so. Although reading 'Death to the French's recently gave some pause for thought..

    3. No - not at all - if there was any heat in there it was my own astonishment that I had a series of such Great Ideas - at one point around 1973 I was definitely going to start collecting all the armies for the Leipzig campaign. A good friend of mine sat me down and talked me through how badly I was going to fail in this - not to mention how I couldn't have afforded even a part of the project! I was a lot wiser after that! The other week I was watching the Russian army at work in Bondarchuk's fabby War and Peace, and it is a spectacular, inspirational idea.

      I've been accused in the past of swerving the Russians because I am prejudiced that Napoleon lost, and because of the brutal nature of the warfare - that would be a convincing argument, except that the war in Spain was a full-on prototype for Russia, and I've stuck faithfully to that.

      Anyway - I am about to start on a Bavarian army - that's not necessarily 1813, but it's heading towards Central Europe! I've also got some French Old Guard troops, plus some Red Lancers and a battalion of Swiss in my painting queue, and I would be very hard pushed to explain just why...

  3. It's a shame, but safety first....

    You'll be ok, you have a 4x4, they say....
    Oh aye - just gone rear- over vanguard while scraping the ice off the thing, so I'm sulking too. Leave it to Torville and Dean.

    1. A sad story - hope your equipoise and well-being are now fully restored. At long last we actually have a little sunshine here today (7th March) - there are still banks of snow at the sides of the lanes, but otherwise things are back to normal.

  4. Any weather that is worse than normally expected is "bad" or at least "memorable and worth talking about" weather.

    We've been struggling with springlike warm sunshine and naked grass for weeks now. We and the deer are agreed that its not natural but is nice.

    Meanwhile, I've wondering where the usual snow went. Now I know and would like to say: "Thanks!".

    1. Don't mention it, sir - no pleasure at all.

  5. It's nice to know that what with war in Syria and everywhere else, the oceans rising, millions of displaced people all over the shop and the rise of superbugs someone can still find time to whinge that Tescos sent a lorry down the high street. It's the principle of the thing d'ya see? That matters more than your supper or we'll all go to pot.

    1. Yes, it's good that we get our priorities correct. I suspect there may be a new protest group - Town Whingers Against Tesco. I'll look out for their Facebook page.