Saturday, December 27, 2014

Portsmouth Christmas Beer Festival 2014

Hoping this event will be come a regular fixture on the social calendar as it was an enormous amount of good fun, and a very welcome "time out" from the utter mayhem and frenetic-ism that is the modern day run up to Christmas!

So it was that on Saturday lunchtime the current Mrs Steve-the-Wargamer, his sister and brother in law found themselves in line waiting to enter the Guildhall in Portsmouth...  by serendipitous means, my sis had bought the tickets, and I was buying the beer tokens..  perfect!

Brewery (clickable) Beer (click for more info) ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
Dark Star APA 4.7% "The yeast strain used for the brewing of this American style pale ale is specially imported from the USA, along with Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops. The low colour Maris Otter malt provides a perfect light colour and dryness to complement the crisp taste and full aroma of the hops. SERIOUSLY FULL OF HOPS" 
A little stronger than my usual starting beers, but I live this stuff, and it was a handy tipple to enjoy while I perused the beer list..

Oh, and the beer description from the brewer sums up the beer to a tee..  delicious..
Ilkley Mary Jane 3.5%
"Multi-award-winning pale ale packed with American hops. Intensely refreshing and satisfying, with surprising balance and body for such a low abv. Mary Jane was named from the character in the Yorkshire folk song On Ilkla Moor Baht'at and is our best-selling beer by a country mile. Hast tha’ been a’cooartin Mary Jane?"
A step down in strength, and unfortunately also flavour..  there were definite possibilities, but it all tasted a little watery - maybe the APA as a starter wasn't such a good idea..
Castle Rock Snowhite 4.2% "Castle Rock’s “ice maiden”! Snowhite is a very pale and very refreshing ale with a delicate and distinctive hop character." Up the strength list for the next one - chosen partly because it is brewed in Nottingham, which is where my grandparents lived.. the castle rock in question is the one Nottingham Castle is built on..   As for the beer, not bad at all and a definite step up in taste..  nice...
360 Degrees West Coast Pale Ale #50 5% "Using solely American hops, a contemporary Pale Ale, heavily hopped to produce intense tropical fruit flavours and a long bitter finish." Regular readers of my beer ramblings will know that I like the new style ales brewed with the more powerful American hops, so you can see why I was drawn to this ..  very nice, super dry mouth finish..
Tiny Rebel The Full Nelson 4.8% "Our ‘Maori Pale Ale’ came together after months of experimentation with a very unique hop – Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand. Strong grape flavours are complemented by the sweet Munich malt, making this beer crisp and refreshing."
An interesting beer description always gets my attention - and New Zealand hops sounded exactly that despite the fact the brewery is actually in Wales... bit sweet for me, but I still finished it!
Dark Star Revelation 5.7% "A blend of Warrior, Cascade, Columbus, Crystal and Chinook by the sack full – then dry hopped during conditioning using our ‘Hoptimizer’ (Industrial sized hookah)." Oh man, this is grown up beer, and another from one of my favourite breweries of all time...  seriously heavy, hoppy, fruity flavours and a massive hit of dryness in the after taste..  a sipping beer for sure...
Hopback Winter Lightning 5% "Brewed with Fuggles and East Kent Golding hops, very lightly-spiced, this chestnut ale is deceptively drinkable!" Hopback are another of my top 5 brewers, and this is the winter version of their awesome "Summer Lightning"..  much darker, maltier, and a subtle hint of cinnamon..  you couldn't drink pints of it, but it is exceptional...
Roosters Old Faithful 4.3% "A blend of three hops from three different countries, Tenderfoot is a premium-strength pale ale that highlights the berry-fruit qualities that each of the hops (Bramling Cross, Pacific Gem & Cluster) bring to the party. Aromas of blackcurrant and blackberry are followed up by a refreshing level of bitterness." Last one of the session, and a nice beer to end on - fairly delicate, but flavoursome...

An excellent venue, and a good lunchtime session - four bands (three of which were OK'ish to awful, but one of whom was good fun), and a delightful selection of ales...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Seasons Greetings!

Seasons Greetings to all the poor deluded fools still hoping for some decent content, of passing interest, on this blog!

Slightly more seriously - I wish the very best of Christmas's to you and yours, may the time be restful and enjoyable, may the cheese be tangy, the beer hoppy, and the port surpassing sweet - and may the crackers be crispy..  and let's hope for some Dad's Army on the television...

Here's to seeing you the other side..

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bit of a bargain...

I can't remember where I first saw these but one of my fellow bloggeratti highlighted what a bargain these were, so I decided to follow suit and splash the cash ...

Yes... they really are £3.37, for 20 trees, and post free from China! I have no idea how they do it..!

A mere week and a bit later - a padded envelope arrived with the following in it..

Which when unpacked, translated to the following..

Bit rough and ready, but when I think back to the monstrosities we used when I first started gaming back in the early 70's* absolutely excellent

 *at one point it was considered optimal to use pine cones covered in flock as pine/fir trees!

This time with a 25mm figure for scale..

So having cleaned up the bottom of the base (chopped it off with a sharp blade), I raided the mites piggy banks for a fist full of 2p's and set to work with a hot glue gun# and ended up with the following...

# what an amazing piece of kit - first time I'd used one, and purpose made for the job.. just lay the bottom of the tree on it's side in the middle of the 2p, big blob of hot glue on the bottom of the tree, and stand the tree up for the glue to cool..  you end up with the tree anchored in a lump of glue that later paints up nicely as the root base..  all I need to do is figure out how to stop the glue stringing!

Base coated with a cheap craft acrylic mud brown, heavy dry brush with Dark Angels green (that dates me), PVA glue and flock with a few bushes and bits of grit to add verisimilitude..  done!

So what do I think of them??  For the money, quite astounding value...   I've put the smallest ones to one side - I'll use them on terrain pieces, or the like, in the future... being soft plastic, and having been crammed in a plastic bag they come out a bit bent, and being that same soft plastic they are resistant to being unbent (they eventually go back to that shape after being straightened!); I suspect heat would be required to straighten them permanently, but to be honest I'm not bothered, I quite like them that way... Steve the Wargamer rates these 8 out of 10..  for the price, astonishing...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Queen's Rangers

Finally hit the painting table - first unit this year! "At bleeding last!", I hear you say.... 

So to ease me back in, and cause less stress on the under-used paint brushes (I wonder the bristles haven't just dried out and snapped) I started off on what was always going to be a 'paint conversion' of a unit gifted to me all those years ago by Lofty C [clicky] and which had already been painted...

I think these were listed in the Miniature Figurines catalogue as Hungarians (Line Fusilier Advancing I think - product code ASW7 [clicky]) but from my perspective the most important thing was they were already painted largely hunting green and grey, and just needed a few modifications...  so , I added knee length black gaiters (which I thought would be likely on campaign), and applied some paint to the trousers of about three quarters of them to give some variation (again I thought this might be likely for a unit on campaign) - I think that typically the regiment would have worn white trousers... touched up the helmets, added the silver crescent, and the flag started off as the one from Warflag but I modified the central shield and wreath with a better one I found elsewhere on the web...  a coat of varnish and a quick wipe over with Dullcote, based, and the jobs a good'un - not as nice as Giles's [clicky] but they'll do!

So what of the history for this unit? Well there were a fair few Loyalist regiments raised in support of the British crown during the war of American Independence, and these were one of the better known ones...

They were originally raised by Robert Rogers (he of "Rogers Rangers" fame in the French and Indian War) in 1775/1776 at the start of the war, and were named after Queen Charlotte the wife of George III. In August 1776 at their first muster they numbered just over 900 men, organised in 11 companies of infantry, and five troops of cavalry (like Lausanne's Legion they were an all arms unit and eventually had their own artillery as well)

Rogers left the command in January 1777, following a surprise attack on the unit the previous October where they had taken serious casualties (other references refer to both his "poor health", his "alcoholism" and his poor choice of character in the officers he selected to lead the regiment as being behind the removal of command).

Despite this the regiment went on to distinguished itself at Brandywine [clicky] in September, under the new command of Major James Wemyss [clicky here for a good biography]; Howe personally thanked the regiment for "their distinguished gallantry, and good conduct."

In the October John Graves Simcoe [clicky] was given command (Wemyss - a British regular - was apparently dissatisfied at the lack of promotion and recognition and had resigned).

You pays your money and takes your choices, but Simcoe either turned them into one of the most successful British regiments in the war, or they already were that good as a result of Wemyss's previous work and Simcoe just benefited, but either way the regiment were present in a significant number of campaigns, battles and skirmishes. From Wikipedia....
  • They provided escort and patrol duty around Philadelphia (1777–8); 
  • fought in the Pennsylvania campaign; 
  • served as rearguard during the British retreat to New York (1778); 
  • fought the Stockbridge Militia in The Bronx (1778); known as the Battle of Kingsbridge there's a fairly interesting account here [clicky]
  • fought at Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where Simcoe was captured but freed in a prisoner exchange three months later (1779–80); this is well worth a read for the story of this raid [clicky]
  • at Charlestown, South Carolina (1780); 
  • in the raid on Richmond, Virginia with Benedict Arnold and in other raids in Virginia (1780–1). 
The unit surrendered at Yorktown and its rank and file were imprisoned at Winchester, Virginia.

In 1783, when the war was ended by the Treaty of Paris, the Queen's Rangers left New York for Nova Scotia, where the regiment was disbanded.

Figures are  25mm Miniature Figurines

Thursday, December 11, 2014

R and R #2..

Gone but not forgotten...

...and a little bit of Heaven on Earth..

Monday, December 08, 2014

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

John Symon Asher "Jack" Bruce (14 May 1943 – 25 October 2014)

I'm a little bit late, but better late than never....

Readers of the blog will know that music has always played a fairly large part of Steve the Wargamers life (along with beer, books, military history, sailing, and the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer - not necessarily in that order..) and some of the earliest music that hit my radar and stuck was that of Jimi Hendrix and Cream - not at the time they were current, I hasten to add, I'd have been about 10 at the time of the following and I doubt very much I'd have been allowed out that late on a school night... of the two I much preferred Hendrix (and still do - he will feature later in this occasional series) because Cream (ok, Clapton!) always struck me as being a little too "restrained", but in my Top 20, this one definitely features, and this clip is breathtaking - far better than the album version... and I think that is the key to why the muso's of the time rated Cream as highly as they did - they were absolutely blistering live, but a little over produced on album.....

By the by - if ever evidence was needed that old rockers shouldn't come out of retirement, compare this to the coverage of the same track at their 2005 reunion shows - don't get me wrong I'd have been there like a shot if I could have got a ticket or afforded one - but there is simply no comparison..... 

RIP Jack....