Monday, August 18, 2008

Back from holidays...

In case your wondering where I am, I can report that I've now returned, and just for once it is too far worse weather than what I just left behind - usually it's the other way round when I go on holiday!

We were based just inland from the coast west of La Roche Sur Yonnem (the A flag marks the spot - you can click on the map, or any of the other pictures, for a bigger view), near a little village called St Julien des Landes. I think the weather men have said it's going to be the wettest August for some considerable number of years here in the UK, but it definitely wasn't in France - with the exception of a couple of days rain, and some cold nights which I didn't mind (very clear skies - the temperature just plummeted when the sun went down) we had the best weather for a French holiday that I can remember us having in any number of years...

Lots of time on the beach, by far the best of which was this one, which is called Normandeliere - our favourite time here was early in the morning; get up, into the car, stop off at the boulangerie for quite astonishingly high carbohydrate breakfast treats, and then sit on the beach and eat them while cracking open the flask of tea (shades of my grandma - yikes, I'm getting old!) while the spuds went to investigate the rock pools.. smashing - best way to start the day!

More posts on other activities as I get the jobs done that build up following any trip, but I can advise that Steve-the Wargamers travelling wargame kit did get an airing (battle report to come), and I also did manage to make it to St. Nazaire to visit the site of WW2 Operation Chariot, and the U-Boat pens - bit of a long term wish that one, well worth the journey... and the weather was good.... (also I know you won't believe it John, but the family actually found it quite interesting!) - a more detailed report later..

Not so good for the beer this time - the local brewery is the Brasserie Mélusine (click here) from which I tried a few beers - by far the best, though, was the self named beer pictured left... a hazy beer, described on their web page as a lager but that may just be bad translation as I didn't think so. Basically, a good, meaty (ie. in terms of body), wheat beer, but a slightly disappointing lack of flavour for the alcohol rate... think I'd give it a good 6 out of 10... my favourite biere de garde remains the Goudale (click here) though - 6 bottles managed to find their way into the boot on the way home!

I also made some decent inroads into my reading pile and can report that the latest Alan Mallinson book "Warrior" is an absolute cracker - he's been described as being like the army/cavalry version of Patrick O'Brian, and this book bears out the analogy completely. I like O'Brian's style, so the Hervey series have been an absolute delight, and this one is no exception.. the book is set mostly in South Africa, and around the rise of Shaka's empire, and his assassination. At the end of the book there's a tantalising hint that Hervey may next be heading to Russia, he also gets some excellent news which I won't spoil by repeating here! Excellent.. 9/10.

I also managed to finish off a couple of Osprey Campaigns - "El Alamein 1942" was a good read, and if I'd been at home would have had me hot footing it to the loft to get the WW2 figures out! Monty was undoubtedly the right man at the right time, but whenever I read the history of the time I always find myself feeling sorry for the previous incumbents of the job - the odds they faced were huge, Churchill breathing down their necks all the time, and it's also true that Monty did benefit from the hard work that Auchinleck had initiated, and without taking away from the hard fighting the army did had a quite astonishing superiority in numbers. Give this one an 8 out of 10.

I also enjoyed the "New York 1776" book which covers off the first battles fought by the Continentals in the American Revolution - the author has a gift of showing the people behind the titles and I particularly like his analysis of (both) Howe's tactics in light of their admiration for and liking of the American colonists - a man faced by conflicting aims.. looking forward to reading Philadelphia 1777 now... 9 out of 10 for New York.

...and that should be enough for now - can't bore you rigid this soon after returning!


  1. That certainly is an achievement going to France and having better weather than in blighty. The breakfast sounds great too!

    Thanks for the review of the Ospreys - I was sheltering from a force 10 gale a few days ago by ducking into Plymouth Waterstones and nearly took advantage of the 3 for 2 offer but couldn't make up my mind on those AWI titles...


  2. Steve,

    Welcome back. I have checked your blog every day while you were on Holiday (hoping you'd get to post from an internet cafe or some such).

    I look forward to more of your normal posts now that you are back.

    -- Jeff

  3. Glad to hear you enjoyed your holiday Steve & welcome back.

    I'm waiting for "Warrior" to come out in paperback & like you enjoy his series tremendously. right now "Centurion" the latest from Simon Scarrow is half finished but I'm not finding it as gripping as previous books from him. Something that's never been a problem with Mallinson.

  4. I'll definately second your assessment of 'Warrior'. The sprogs gave it to me for fathers day after a heavy hint. Mallinson is definately in a different league from many of the writers of military historical fiction who seem to have jumped on the band wagon in recent years. I'm a great fan of O'Brian.

    Just read Iain Gales 'Tides of War' which is the second in his Malborough series and it is worth a read. Also just starting the Scarrow Roman series after a recommendation by a client. We'll see.


  5. Welcome back, Steve. I love Mallinson - top marks all round form me. My only gripe with the Osprey New York book is that the author doesn't provide any units strengths in the orbats - the information is out there, so to omit it is a shame.


  6. Welcome home Steve


    How much of the U boat pens still remains? I wouldn't mind visiting those.

  7. Thanks all!

    Jeff - much as I like computers, my job is to do with them so when I go on holiday I tend to sever all links! :o))

    Grimsby - I agree with you - I read Centurion and was a little deflated once I'd finished it.. a little formulaic. Warrior however is a cracking read...

    Moif - "lots"! I'll make it the subject of the next post, or maybe the one after...