Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Charles I’s park. And a mini-campaign

Evening walk in Richmond Park clocking up the steps in my Fight the Flab campaign and I came across a display outside Pembroke Lodge* giving the history of the park.

Plan of various schemes to enclose the park for Charles I.

Mid-18th century map

'Sire the locals are revolting.' 'Zat iss Surrey volk for you Pel-ham.'  Scene from a few years before the previous map. The locals didn't take too kindly from being locked out. Eventually the right to roam the park was confirmed.

I think I may have mentioned before that some ideas for a counter-historical mini-campaign for the ECW are swirling around my mind. They include: Kingston with the first bridge crossing of the Thames above the City of London; a large walled enclosure (with plenty of fresh meat in it); the Hogsmill river with its powder mills; a large country house on the River Thames (Ham House); freshwater springs on surrounding hills. Plenty to interest wandering armies of the 17th century.

* the gardens of Pembroke Lodge are beautiful and it is situated on a precipitous hill overlooking the Thames valley. The grounds also contain King Henry's Mound which has one of the protected views over London, and the Ian Dury Bench. On it's own this part of Richmond Park is worth a trip from London.


Saturday, 8 August 2020

Portrait from Life / Lazy Saturday afternoon

I was up and out reasonably early today for a swim. After reading part of the Helion book on Sir William Brereton’s Cheshire army, then a snooze and light lunch I settled down with the telly (curtains drawn and windows closed all day to keep the heat down with temperature outside above 30 again).

This caught my eye on Freeview Channel 8 (London Live in this region):


The IMDB page has it down as ‘Lost Daughter’ (presumably the name used for its US release)


The story concerns the attempt by a British officer in post-War to track down a girl (played by Mai Zetterling*) from a concentration camp. * obviously that’s a spoiler alert that he does find her. The search, whilst accounting for a significant part of the film, is only half of the story. The other half being uncovering the truth of the girl’s life. Portrait from Life (released in 1949) is not a perfect film by any means, and in parts it’s acted in a rather stilted manner for modern tastes. It does however touch on many themes, historical and psychological, connected with the plight of millions of Europeans caught up in one of the biggest migrations in modern history. Herbert Lom’s performance (an exception to the comment about acting style) pays watching too.

Following that was a short ‘community’ programme about districts of London. This one focusing on Woolwich (which somehow managed to say that Arsenal FC started as Woolwich Arsenal without explaining why ‘Arsenal’), Deptford and Lewisham. It had some interesting historical snippets.

Then followed Walks Around Britain, which concentrated on short walks of 2-8 miles. Most of the episodes I’ve seen have been fairly gentle. If you’ve not seen it, it has a rather gentle, old school feel (in my case this means echoes of school days in the 1970s). More places for me to take my wife, herself a keen outdoor person, in the UK. She enjoys the varied scenery, flora and fauna (especially the flora) not being from these parts. The producers of Walks Around Britain have a website which I haven’t explored yet. Maybe there are some walks near you.


An afternoon well spent.

Oh I almost forgot. Following the usual Wiki route I ended up here (I had no idea Zetterling was also a director). Looks worth finding.


Post script: not an entirely lazy evening. A walk round the Thames to Hampton Court and back through Bushy Park with friends. About 10km including the walk back home from Kingston town centre. Nothing new to report. It was still very warm and quite humid - I quite envied the chap swimming in the river. Must give it a go. It’s been nearly 8 years since I did it.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Signs of age

There are many indications of someone or something being old. Greying hair, memory loss, aching joints. They’re all familiar to many of us wargamers. For old toy military vehicles there are things like chipped paint, missing tyres, dents etc. One of my 14 year olds found a new sign of age this evening. She dug this out of a cupboard and said this must be years old.......

It’s a Dinky Toys (i.e. Meccano Ltd) Armoured Command Vehicle, code 677. It was previously my brother’s and before that I think it might have belonged to my uncle (only about a dozen years older than me so it might date back to c1960, but I could be wrong).

The sign that convinced my daughter it was old? Underneath it was embossed with ‘Made in England’.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Recent book haul

Evidence that I am still into wargaming (or at least military history) has been piling up. The wargaming side of life has been very quiet lately. It only struck me in the last couple of days that my evenings and large parts of weekends have been taken up with a walking, witness the number of posts on the matter.

This really started with lockdown, when it became more pleasant to walk with less traffic then became more of a habit.  A dodgy knee a couple of months back meant that running was out. And then around late June the missus and I decided that we both needed to lose a few kilos so the walking stepped up a pace so to speak. As well as obsessional attention to the calorie counting app. And walking takes up a lot of time as a means of expenditures by energy.

Added to that the pool I like to use reopened, and then a couple of short trips away (with more walking, swimming off Lincs and Dorset beaches and a bit of cycling*).  Wargames-related time took a bit of a knock, though I did get through the two booklets below whilst in the second trip.

* nothing to match Mr Freitag’s efforts of course. I haven’t got my bike legs yet.

The booklets from Caliver are old school printed and photocopied sheets stapled together. But what they lack in presentation they more than make up for in quality of material. Excellent stuff and I’ve still got Barratt’s booklet on Langport to come.

The Abram book on Brereton’s Cheshire Army has all the makings of being a cracker. Much like the Helion companion book on Essex’s Army. I’ve only just started reading it (time limited by on-going exercise regime and a return to work) but I know I’m going to enjoy it. And learn a lot.

The Barratt book on Newbury only arrived today but also looks a good’un. Question is what do I read first, that or the Brereton book?

Also on order is Barratt’s book on the Royalist army, Cavaliers which I think I may have had from the library before. If so, it’s another excellent book. One which got me determined to ‘do’ the ECW.

Right I must get on. I’ve got some reading to do.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

No comment


Old Fritz book giveaway

The results from the jury are in. And the name in the gold envelope is............[unnecessarily long shot of expectant faces].....Jonathan Freitag of Palouse Wargames Journal. Well done Jon.

The winning entry went You rascal, you can live forever!”

Special mention for David in Suffolk’s oblique approach, and Tony S’ dialogue:
Me “where are you going?” 
Fritz ‘Can you keep a secret?’
Me “Yes” 
Fritz ‘Well so can I.’ 

Good Fritzian knowledge gents. And thanks to others for their entries/non-entries.

Jon can you get in touch with your address via comment that I won’t publish, I’ll get down to the post office on Monday.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Tudor engineering - Coombe Conduit

Bob Courdery’s travails with mains water outages reminded me of a remarkable site I once went too and have passed a few times recently.

Coombe Conduit on Coombe Hill, Kingston-upon-Thames is part of a fresh water supply system built for Hampton Court Palace nearly 500 years ago. There are several springs on Coombe Hill (east of Kingston town centre, and about 3km from the Thames). C1540 the two brick buildings in the picture below were constructed, I think as cisterns for the spring water to regulate flow. They were connected below ground by lead pipe, which is just about visible if you look down into in the building, to Hampton Court Palace c. 5 km away. Not only does the pipe work cover a significant distance but it also crossed the Thames. 

I was amazed when I first heard about this. I’d seen these old brick buildings when I used to beetle up to my older kids’ primary school across the road. Eventually I got around to having a look inside. I never knew that the Tudors had done anything of the sort, and my ignorant assumption was that there was a big gap in the history of water hygiene between the Romans and Victorians. Of course unlike the works of those two,  Coombe Conduit was just for the benefit of the ‘quality’. 

North is to the right in this picture