Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mystery D Day picture..

So here's an interesting picture....

I don't recognise the machine gun, and are they Free French? Picture was allegedly taken post D Day...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bentley Boys....

I was at the pub yesterday evening and the following three beauties arrived...


They're all Bentley's, but I'm no expert on model - I believe they may be Vanden Plas Tourers..  minimum £200K each I was advised, but the one at the front was the very last one made, so that's probably a very low estimate.... the drivers were saying 3.5 to 4 litre engines and they sounded magnificent..... 

Don't be fooled by the way - in the books this is James Bond's car of choice, the Aston Martin only came about because of the films...

Friday, June 06, 2014

Kindle D Day Anniversary bargains - one day only!!

On this so very important anniversary, Amazon have made available twenty WW2/D-Day themed books they are only available today, so get in there quick chaps... 

This link should work [clicky] otherwise go to Amazon, Kindle books section and lookfor the link to the Daily Deal

Examples as follows - the Ospreys in particular are on my shopping list:




Thursday, June 05, 2014

"Dominion".. a review

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Edmund Burke

I don't normally review every book I read (that's what the little boxes are for on the left ... ) but every now and again you come across one you think is worthy of a little extra mention and this is definitely one of them...

Sansom is probably better known for his Matthew Shardlake series, a a lawyer-detective in the court of Henry VIII (and which I recommend whole heartedly), but he also writes more modern fiction this one, and "Winter in Madrid" (which is set in the Spanish Civil War) ...

Dominion is set in the 1950's, in a Britain that is a satellite of Germany since Britain surrendered at the end of the fall of France in 1940..  Sansom's starting point for his flight of imagination is that instead of Churchill succeeding Chamberlain in May 1940, Lord Halifax [clicky] does.

Halifax was an appeaser, hence the surrender, and so we find ourselves in 1952 in a Britain effectively ruled by the Germans via the British Prime Minister who is now the newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook heading a coalition government that consisted of the pro-Treaty factions of the Conservative Party and Labour Party, as well as the British Union of Fascists, and with Oswald Mosley as home secretary.

Scotland Yard is now a division of the Gestapo, and a new semi-military police force called the Auxiliaries, organised by Moseley and packed with his black shirts dominate the streets.. Churchill has gone underground ahead of being arrested, and leads the Resistance, which has close ties with America (still isolationist), and the French underground.

The story is basically about the search for the secrets to the manufacture of atomic weapons, but the bigger background story is about how Britain could slide into an increasingly Nazi point of view without even knowing it...

The Germans are struggling to develop atomic weapons, but unknown to them the Americans are streets ahead, and one of their scientists visits Britain on the death of his mother (who lives in England) to visit his brother and agree what to do about the will... they have never liked each other, and after a drunken night out the scientist tells his brother secrets of the weapon that would be vital to the Germans research, but the brothers argue and the scientist ends up injured, while his brother (Frank), a mentally fragile Research Fellow at Birmingham University, ends up trashing his flat, raving about the end of the world, and getting arrested, before being then put in a mental hospital...

Either way, both the Germans and the Resistance get a sniff of this and so the mission is launched and each try to get Frank - either to safety in America, or to Germany.

Enter David, a civil servant, who has been working for the Resistance for some time (unknown to his wife) but who shared rooms with Frank when they were at University - in addition to mental fragility, Frank is a chronic loner (a hideously damaged childhood, a Scottish boarding school where he was badly bullied, and a love of Science Fiction and it was all downhill from there!) but formed an unlikely friendship with David, so the choice for the Resistance is obvious. A small team is put together, and they eventually manage to rescue Frank from the mental hospital, and they then go into hiding in a succession of safe houses, with an eventual destination of the south coast, and an escape to America.

Meanwhile the Germans have sent one of their best investigative detectives a Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer, Gunther Hoth; I have to admit feeling a little empathy with Hoth even though he has made his name as being one of their best detectives while discovering Jews in Berlin since the war, and is a committed Nazi... his politics are repugnant but his life has been sad. The German position is difficult, theoretically Britain is still an independent country (though wholly subservient to Germany), but they don't want anyone to know why they are after Frank as the information could also be valuable to Britain. In league with a British Special Branch Inspector Syme (hideously slimy, a real Uriah Heep) they also set out to find Frank..

There are loads of little snippets that provide background colour - the Russian war has been going on since the 'end' of WWII - 12 years - millions have died; a full length portrait of Hitler hangs in the entrance to the Portrait Gallery, Marie Stopes is pioneering eugenics and sterilisation, the Scottish Nationalists have reverted to a right wing group (based on nationalism alone), Enoch Powell as Secretary of State for India crushing independence, the Isle of Wight is a German garrison, Beaverbrook doing a trade deal with the Germans in return for handing over British Jews to the Germans, and the descent seems so easy (hence the Edmund Burke quote). There's a brilliant description of the great smog of 1952 [clicky] an actual event, there are the initial rumblings of what the Nazi's are about to reap as news is released that Hitler has died (of a heart attack) - the SS and the Army are opposed (Rommel is the German diplomatic representative in London) and a brutal war civil war is imminent...

The story reaches it climax on a beach at Rottingdean, as the resistance fugitives try to escape a Hoth lead ambush, and meet with an American submarine...

It's a big old book - 500 pages - but I have to say I enjoyed it enormously. It is not a rip roaring page turner, what you get is a lot of description, and multiple threads of stories.... It was one of those books where you feel a little disappointed when you've finished. Steve the Wargamer rates this one 9/10 - and if you are of that bent, there are some cracking Very British Civil war scenario's to be had....

Based on this I immediately launched into Len Deighton's SS:GB, and have it in mind to get hold of a copy of "Winter in Madrid" soonest...

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Southampton Beer Festival 2014

Southampton beer festival last weekend accompanied by the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer and my sister... superb session - lots of rubbish chatted, good beers, dry roasted peanuts and Melton Mowbray pork pies - does it get any better....

Brewery (clickable) Beer (click for more info) ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
Hopback Citra 4%
"Brewed with English Pioneer and American Citra hops, this golden thirst-quenching ale has a lemony, grape-fruity aftertaste with a crisp dry bitterness, making your taste buds yearn for more".
It was a warm day and I spotted this out of the corner of my eye as I came into the hall - an old favourite from a top 5 brewer - easy first decision as it wasn't rocket fuel and I was looking for something light - lovely pint, but not particularly lively on this occasion...
Flowerpots Hopton Pale 4.3% "A modern style light IPA, with a real mouthful of fruity North American hops, a lingering bitter finish, and a superb gold/amber colour." Quite nice - and another favourite brewer (this brewery is in the village of Cheriton - perhaps my favourite English Civil War battlefield) but on this occasion I felt the finish was a little thin...
Orkney Red MacGregor 4% "On the nose, this ruby-red beer is delicate, floral and fruity, with notes of violets, cherries, toffee and caramel.

On the palate, the fruits combine with a juicy malt character and hints of toasted malt, with a biscuit malt and spicy hop finish."
Anyone who chooses to send a beer this far deserves to have a taste! I had an idea I'd know what this would be like and I wasn't surprised...  Scottish beers have a unique flavour (which funnily enough I think French real ales share), slightly peaty, always dark/fruity...  very nice...
Andwell King John 4.2% "Rich amber beer with a fruity hoppyness” One of the things I like about Southampton is their focus on local brewers - they always manage to come up with someone I haven't heard of before and this is one of them...  "Fruity" I wrote...  must have been good!
Irving Iron Duke 5.3% "Iron Duke is a luscious golden modern style IPA. The nose is dominated by the aromas of sherbet and lemon from the Liberty and Columbus hops added late in the hopback. The palate is soft fruits and pineapple balanced with a subtle toffee sweetness, finishing with a pleasant citrus bitterness". Another local brewer, but a beer from them I hadn't tried before, and very pleased I did.. an absolute cracker, and my stand out vote for one of the two best beers of the festival...  lively, good condition, zesty..  slurp'worthy...!
Red Shoot Muddy Boot 4.2% "A rich dark beer with a fine balance of traditional Golding hops. The Red Shoot toffee notes are enhanced by muscavado sugar to give it a full flavour with added notes of chocolate." The current Mrs Steve the Wargamer bought me this one as she liked the name - what can I say...  best forgotten!
Alfred's Winchester Pale Ale 4.5%
So good I had two of these - a slightly detuned version of the Iron Duke and recent winner at the Winchester Beer Festival..lovely, and my other candidate for beer of the festival - golden, bitter with zingy lemony floral flavours.....
Flowerpots Goodens Gold 4.8% "A classic beer in the modern 'Golden Ale' style, with a superb gold colour and fullness in the mouth, which come from a subtle mixture of lightly caramelised malts.  Packed full of powerful but fruity North American hops giving a good level of bitterness to perfectly balance the gravity". One of the first of the classic golden IPA's that were launched when Summer Lightning first took the beer drinking work by storm... a fine ale to finish the festival on! Lovely bittery, sweet and sour flavour...

Monday, June 02, 2014

Miniature Wargames subscription renewed...

Thought it worth mentioning due to the quite extraordinary bargain it represents...


Trusty opponent DG contacted me the other day to say that he had decided to renew his subscription to Miniature Wargames, but this time was going electronic...


He advised...

"I've just received my Battlegames "2 issues left" reminder ... so I decided to stop the paper versions after #376 and switch to online digital versions

Will save at least one bookshelf!

1 year subscription via www.exacteditions.com/miniaturewargames for £29.50

Included are all issues of Battlegames from Jan/Feb 2010 #21 to current, plus
all issues of Miniature Wargames from June 2010 #326 to current

Impressed :o)"

I immediately hot footed it to the site and can confirm the same - for the  princely sum of just shy of 30 squids (other currency denominations are available) you not only get the next 12 issues, but you also get that huge backlog of other issues....

In my view that constitutes a bargain - recommended....