Friday, August 07, 2009

"We prefer the plague to the Austrians.."

Yee goods where has the time gone - many, many, apologies for the lack of posts recently, I can only put it down to sheer weight of work, visits by family, and other time wasting activities..! Anywhooo... hold on to your seats, this will be a bumpy one as I have a fair amount to pass on...

First off - while the Battle of Camsix carries on (DG and I are most of the way through move 14, and my apologies for not bringing that up to date) news has reached Steve-the-Wargamer that that inestimable fellow DG is within striking distance of the (the slightly hot and stuffy) loft, and will in fact be visiting this evening! I have every expectation therefore that the Battle of Camsix will now be fought to a conclusion on the physical tabletop - always a preference to a virtual one...

I'll be the first to admit that a virtual game (and Battle Chronicler has turned out to be very good for this) is better than no game - but an amiable chat across the table top accompanied by banter, fine biscuits and warm tea is much preferred - I'm looking forward to it, and if all ends as quickly as I think I'm hoping for a quick foray into the deserts of Egypt for either a Sudan or WWII game afterwards...

Next up have just finished this - a fictional depiction of the life of Robin Hood. It's set in the early middle ages (I'm no medievalist so think start of Richard I a.k.a the Lion-heart's, reign) which is the usual setting for stories about Robin Hood, but has a far more gritty, historical basis than most of the Robin Hood stories/dramatisations... and yes, I'm thinking of the recent BBC effort in this regard....!

There's a big sticker on the front of it (you can see it in the picture) that says that if you don't think it's as good as Bernard Cornwell you can have your money back - welllll... I know that imitation is supposed to be the most sincerest form of flattery, but this was like reading a very very good TV impressionist writing Cornwell - he even has those little prose habits that Cornwell has off to a tee. For example, Cornwell has this habit of describing something very peaceful, idyllic, happy or rural, and then in one sentence at the end of the passage he'll write something like "and then so and so turned up with his army, the sky turned black with the carrion crows, and so we went to war" etcetcetc Well this guy does it too!! All in all I found it a little disturbing - it brought to mind that section in "1984" when Orwell describes the computers writing books for the proles to keep them happy; simple, repeatable, mechanical, plots....... historical & black powder Mills and Boon for the masses.... yikes...

Did I enjoy it?? Hell yes... A brilliant read and I raced through it.. the depiction of Robin is good, plenty of depth to the character, the baddies are genuinely not nice people, we have crossbows, Flemish mercenaries, bows, swords, a bit of love interest, good plot, and a mystery to boot... what's not to like. The thing I also liked about it is that the plot goes away from the legend for the next book - not going to spoil the ending but I'd never heard any stories that had Robin Hood doing what he's going to do in the next book...

Steve the wargamer gives this a seven out of ten - I deducted a point because of the rampant "style plagiarism"! Mr Donald is a very good writer (I think he was/is a journalist on the Times), but he needs to develop his own style a little more.... and yes, I know I have no skills in that area at all so have no real right to cast judgement!

Next up - Steve the Wargamer takes his road train out on holiday fairly soon, and as part of the fun and enjoyment of these trips is the places I get to see, I will merely give you a 'heads up' to look out for some posts over the next week or so, on the battlefield that is on the doorstep of where we're staying this year - the following is a little clue..

Next - and last - some sailing... the UK has had some of the most rubbish weather known to man over the last few months, when it hasn't been raining with no wind, it's been glorious sunshine with too much wind (yes this is possible when your boat is only as big as mine!) so you can imagine that I've been fairly champing at the bit to get out again following those first tentative adventures...

Since the last time I wrote we've ventured out a couple of times - one considerably more successful than the other, but hey, we're still afloat and no-one has been damaged yet!

First trip was on the weekend of the 25th and 26th, just me and the smallest person but it was *way* too windy even with all the reefs I put in - we had a quick run to the end of the creek, turned round and came right back - little'un said to me half way down "Daddy, is the bar still open??" - she had the right idea, and that was where we ended up!

Distance: 3 miles (63 miles year to date)
Wind: Heavy (Force 5 gusting 6)

The next trip was much better though - quite possibly the best sail of the year so far, when little'un and I (she's turning into quite the 'foredeck gorilla' she has a knack with the roller furling on the foresail, and steers a good course if I need to do something!) went on a marathon sail all the way from our mooring, up to Emsworth to wave at family members out for a walk, and then all the way down to the bottom of the harbour, and for the first time *out to sea*! Not far I'll admit, as I needed to get back in time for the tide on the mooring... but we rounded the Eastoke mark coming back - bit of a milestone all round and much chuffed....

Distance: 15 miles (78 miles year to date)
Wind: Medium (Force 3 gusting 4)


  1. Welcome back, Steve. Yes, I know that you've not been gone long, but I've still missed reading your posts.

    -- Jeff

  2. Tell me about the wind! Got a race in Cowes Week only for it to be abondoned due to lack of wind! Grr!

    Have a great holiday. I'm just back from mine and already getting stressed by what's on the workbench!

  3. Vive l'Empereur!

    ¡Bienvenido/a lector/a! Esta aventura por recorrer el Mundo de la mano del Emperador Napoleón Bonaparte (1769-1821) nació el 30 de Abril 2009, día en el que además, Napoleón vendió Luisiana a los Estados Unidos por 80 millones de francos.

  4. Hi Steve, thanks for the heads up on the Robin Hood book. I know exactly what you mean about Cornwell's stylistic ticks, and it's a pity that someone has decided to copy them without forming an individual voice. Sounds like the book's worth a look, though.


  5. "simple, repeatable, mechanical, plots....... historical & black powder Mills and Boon for the masses.... "

    This is why I personally prefer books written before 1979