Monday, 21 May 2012

The Somme Battlefields

While in Belgium we drove around to some of the sights from the battle of the Somme.  We saw most of the site around Ypres in one day.  Again some places were closed but the ones that were open were not crowded. The area around Ypres was very moving when you look across the landscape and consider the incredible loss of life that occurred here not that long ago.  The main Flanders Field Museum in Ypres was being renovated and the one in Passechendale was surrounded by a cycle cross race so we stuck to the monuments and cemeteries on this excursion.

Menin Gate at Ypres.

Reconstructed Trenches near Ypres.

Langemarck German Cemetery.

Canadian Monument at the Battle of St Julien

Looking down from the monument at Hill 62

Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery.  The largest commonwealth cemetery in the world. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Visit to Waterloo Battlefield

I’m going to try and follow through with my initial intention of documenting the war museums and battlefields I visited on my trip to Europe this winter.  I did record my impressions in a journal but don’t have that with me right now so I will be writing from memory and with the help of the pictures I took.  I’ll try and keep the writing to a minimum and let the pictures speak for themselves.  We flew into Belgium in late January, which meant the weather was cold and lesser sights were often closed although the major attractions which were open had very few people around. 

First up is the Waterloo Battlefield.  I’m not the biggest scholar of Napoleonic history, although I have been trying to expand my knowledge.  Regardless even I was not going to visit Belgium and not visit Waterloo.  The lion mound and associated panorama and wax museum are controlled by a private company but I think I remember the price being reasonable. 
My Brother on the Left, and me on the right, looking at the only but not very detailed map available of the battlefield.

Looking towards the left of the British line, with La Haye Sainte in the right of the picture.  I always thought the British were on a real hill but it is only a very slight rise in the ground.  

The Lion Mound

From the British lines looking towards the French.

Not exactly the high way.

We took are tiny rental car on a tour round the battlefield on some roads it was not built for but managed to escape without any serious damage to the car.  I would have liked to get out and walk around but are time was limited and my knowledge of the battlefield is not detailed enough to appreciate the specific locations that still exist.  We drove by La Haye Sainte, but didn’t get over to Hougoumont.  The large painted canvases panorama was impressive, and the wax museum was interesting enough, telling the story of the battle and showing off the uniforms.  Unfortunately I took some pictures on my brothers camera which I don’t have access to.   
La Haye Sainte.

Museum in Waterloo.

In the actual town of Waterloo we went to another museum housed in the Inn where the British HQ was before the battle.  It focused on the battle more from the British perspective and had some good artifacts and information.  Overall a very enjoyable experience, and being on the actual ground makes you appreciate what the men who were there accomplished.             

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Dark Elf Executioner

My posting has been limited to starting a new job but I have been painting a little bit of my Dark Elves.  After pounding out a Strelkovy and Grenadier army for FoW I need a little break from 15mm.  When the German Heavy weapon kits from PSC are available in Canada I may get back into FoW in order to finish off my two armies.

For now however finishing my Dark Elf army is going to be the focus.  I painted up an Executioner to use as a Dreadlord with a great weapon.  I really love the Executioner models but don't have a place for a regiment in my army so I am going to use the ones I have as characters for now.  I tried to but myself out there with this model a bit more.  I tried to lacquer the armour my painting a mix of wash and turquoise over the metal, and I think it looks not bad.  I also outlined all the edges of the armour in Bronze which I was initially hesitant to do but it actually was not too hard.  While not a stunning paint job it is an improvement for me.  


Some rank and file, need another layer on the bases.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Dangers of Ebay

I have had a mixed experience using ebay to purchase used miniatures.  Some have been sweet deals, others have been models fused together with paint and glue to the point of being unsalvageable, some just never showed up.  Today I had the experience on trying to bid on a  number of items from the same shipper, so with combined shipping there was the incentive to win multiple auctions.  Unfortunately I was at work at the time the auction ended so ended up being narrowly outbid on a number of items I wanted but still winning a couple.  Thus diluting the value of combined shipping, and meaning a got sort of a deal.

 However I'm going to focus on the positive and show off this cool mini I am going to use as a Black Coach for my Vampire Counts.  This is the pic from the GW site, what I got has been converted and painted in Vamp colours.  Didn't know I played Vampire Counts did you? I recently agreed to a deal for a used army with a semi-local gamer so I will now have all four of my favourite Warhammer armies.  I swear no more warhammer after this.


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Book Review: History of the Peloponnesian War

I just this morning finished reading Thucydides “History of the Peloponnesian War” and I have to say I was blown away by how good it was.  I know very little about the Peloponnesian war which probably increased my enjoyment since I didn’t know what was coming next.  All the twists and turns throughout the course of the war made it seem more like a vast paced novel than ancient history.  I did have some knowledge of the general outcome of the war but was fascinated by the many campaigns which occurred thorough out it.  The action at Pylos in particular seems like something Hollywood would make up.  For anyone interested even slightly interested in history it is a book I would highly recommend.
I read a 1954 translation by Rex Warner, who I felt did a good job updated the language used although I felt he sometimes went a little too far using common metaphorical terms that seemed to not fit in with the rest of the writing.  But overall I was impressed and found it very easy to read for something over 2000 years old.  The main complaint modern readers might have is that Thucydides spends a lot of time recording speeches in detail and not a lot of time on the actual battles.  While these often give insight into the feelings of the combatants, just as often they seem to be repetitive speeches about how one side wronged the other and how their soldiers are inferior to ours.  On the other hand important battles are given a short description of the forces involved, the outcome, and a list of casualties.  He is however writing a history of the entire war so I understand why he can’t elaborate on every battle. 
Compared to the other ancient history I have read Cesar’s “Gallic Wars”, I much preferred Thucydides.  I feel the writing in more descriptive and more balanced.  Once again it is a fantastic book which I highly recommend.  Even better History of the Peloponnesian War is available for free on eBook so there is no excuse for not reading it.  My biggest critique is that I wish there had of been more...