Monday, 5 June 2023

Impromptu river walk

Late to rise this morning, I surprised the Margravina with the offer of a walk. I know what you’re thinking. ‘He knows how to please a lady’. You’ve either got it or haven’t. 🤭We haven’t had each other’s company on a perambulation for a while as she visited her mother country recently.

We parked in our usual spot near Richmond Park and this time decided to head down the hill walking towards Robin Hood Gate to take advantage of the shade cast by the trees. At the gate we followed the Beverley Brook stream, subject of a previous river walk with Lincolnshire Tom, and a previous blog post. This time the M and I had no clear plan or aim, and walked along the river bank towards Roehampton Gate, stopping off at the ‘Cyclists Cafe’ for a coffee. 

Batteries recharged, I suggested we take a little walk outside the park for a change, taking the path of the Beverley Brook Walk, again with no clear plan or intentions. But the magic of the stream took over and we determined to follow the route to the Thames, walk along the Thames path to Putney Bridge and then catch the bus back to the car. Here’s a few snaps taken en route. A lovely walk.

Map of the last stages of the walk.

View downstream from Priests Bridge (near top of map). I’ve no idea why there’s a stream diverting water off the main channel taking water underneath the building on the left (a pub). Nothing is shown on maps of where this goes.

From the confluence of the Beverley and the Thames looking across to the new riverside stand at Fulham FC’s stadium. The building just out over the river. Last time I walked there it was still under construction.

Old Father Thames keeps rolling along, down to the mighty sea. 

Follow-up activity.

Here’s a video of a chap called John Rogers doing the same walk, but from further up the Beverley. I find John’s videos engaging and informative. Mostly they’re around London, including some other river walks, but he also has some videos of walks from further afield.

New reading material

It’s been a long time since my last post. No gaming or painting activity recently, though I am joining a remote game hosted by the ever calm and collected Jonathan Freitag of the Palouse Wargaming Journal blog. This will be a multiplayer ACW game in which I’ll be ‘leading’ the US army. The selection method was the old trick whereby the Sarge calls for volunteers to take one step forward, and the whole squad, except the sap, takes one step back.

Wargaming reading has been limited to blogs. Recently I started Katja Hoyer’s history of the DDR, Beyond the Wall, but that got interrupted and I haven’t got back to it. Then last week I joined one of Helion’s virtual book launches and was inspired to place an order. Before I did d i checked Paul Meekins’ site and found the book discounted, plus four others that I’ve been thinking about. See below.

The Pattern was the subject of the book launch, and These Distinguished Corps of one I attended a couple of years ago. Between Scylla and Charybdis Part II is necessary if I am to do a Saxon AWS army (I have Part I). The last two are ‘needed’ as background reading for the British and French AWS/SYW armies I built up last year.

The service from Meekins was excellent I have to say and the order arrived promptly and cheaply. The books were well packed, each covered in cellophane, inside a cardboard pack, then wrapped in bubble wrap and finally in a cardboard box. Possibly a little too well wrapped. Here’s one happy customer. And all at a sizeable discount off the cover price.

I haven’t had a chance to read any of them yet, due to a quick overnight trip to the South West, taking Offspring #4 to a university open day. There’ll be several more trips like this over the coming weeks and months, as Offspring #3 is also at the same stage (being #3 by mere minutes) So more Saturdays lost to gaming. Today was out for other reasons. Of that, possibly more anon.

Monday, 8 May 2023

Walks around London: Passport not required

In March I showed some photos from a lunchtime walk from work in the Chelsea area. Last week I took another walk, this time in Pimlico. There was less to see of obvious historical merit, but plenty to make me stop and look and snap away.

Pimlico is an area close to central London, south and just upstream of Westminster. Famously it was the setting for the Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico - both a period peace of a lost age of London and England, and a civic instruction manual. Historical a mixed area socially, and much more working class in my lifetime. Very gentrified now. Much of the area seemed quiet and free of traffic. Rather strange being so close to the centre. It must make it very livable.

I started at the northern end of Chelsea Bridge and walked downstream along Grosvenor Road (middle, bottom section of the above map).

First stop just past the bridge was at these sidings south of Victoria Station.

Looking back south at Battersea Power Station

Flats on Lupus Street, where I turned away from the river. Mid-20th century social housing?

Still on Lupus St was this wedge shaped residential block. Early Victorian/Regency?

A quick glance up Turpentine Lane shows a side view of what I think might be one of the Peabody Trust blocks (left). I say this because further to the left (i.e. rear of this) is Peabody Avenue.

St Gabriel's Church, viewed from Sussex St(?)

I forgot to note the road here, possibly off Belgrave Road. I was struck by the contrasting styles in these residential blocks.

At the appropriately named St George's Square, the Embassy of Georgia.

Also on St. George's Square, the inappropriately named St Saviour's Church. Actually the 'square' itself is a formed by a long rectangle with a triangular shape at one end.

Lithuanian embassy. Wonder if other former Soviet Republics' embassies are around her.

MI6 building viewed from across Vauxhall Bridge

I used to like passing this development on my journeys to Waterloo station on the railway (the other side of the buildings) because I thought the roof shapes looked like early monoplanes. This was the first of the big builds in this part of London (10-15 years ago?) but now there are many more high rise buildings in the area with more under construction. Buildings that looked they had views when first constructed a few years ago, are now in the shadows of neighbouring blocks. The new US Embassy is in this part of town - quite a departure from the traditional area - but not that far. Quite close to MI6!

And yet more development right by Vauxhall Bridge. Land reclamation?

I'll leave the walk there as I jumped on a bus back to the office from Vauxhall Bus Station.

Walks around London: Morden Hall Park

Here's another episode in my series of infrequent walks around the metropolis. Last Sunday (30th April) the Margravina and I decided to mix it up for a change and take our Sunday constitutional away from the usual haunt. We opted for Morden Hall Park, a few miles from us in SW London. I'd been there, briefly, one time before in the epic adventure up the Wandle River undertaken by Lincolnshire Tom and I a few years ago. I seem to have lost that post (if I ever wrote it up). The Wandle, a Thames tributary, skirts Morden Hall Park on its journey from Croydon to the Thames at Wandsworth, via Wimbledon.

South London - MH Park is in the area circled in the bottom left

By the standards of Richmond, this is quite a small park. Nevertheless it has a number of distinct areas, and would repay repeated visits before you got bored of it. As our first proper visit, our walk was fairly unstructured. Captions below the following pictures explain things as far as I can.

This looks like it could be the home of Colonel Sydenham Hill, Parliamentarian hero of the battles of Clee Fields and Grimsby, 1643,

Aha! The true purpose of the building above. A mill, but for what?

I was taken with this arrangement. The Margravina did explain what it was, but the cares of state have washed it from my mind.

Close up

And even closer.

Blossom everywhere

Now this appears to be some device for controlling the flow of the water. Some type of gate at the bottom.

I liked the symmetry of this, err tree.

Local birdlife enjoying the day.

I found this parish boundary marker. There appeared to be some writing on the reverse but I couldn't clean off all the mud on it.

So this place produced snuff until the early 19th century. Tonnes of it!

Who doesn't love a tulip?

Evasive little fellows, or were they just Coy?

A side branch of the Wandle?

The above, but zoomed in. Very picturesque.

Not covered in the above photos is an area of wetland. This takes up quite a big portion of the northern part of the park. You hear more and more of these wetland areas nowadays, where nature is given a helping hand, in often urban or suburban areas. Seems like a very good idea. There also seems to be quite a few of these river trails around London. Most of them are arterial to the Thames (if that's the right word) and provide handy corridors for wildlife. Eels have been spotted in the Wandle for example. Excellent! An idea occurred to me whilst walking and talking on this particular walk. To what extent would it be possible to link these various Thames tributaries with green corridors?

Anyway, it was a pleasant change from our usual walks.

Monday, 1 May 2023

May Day Greetings!

The joy of May Day to you!

Actually, this was prompted by Tradgardmastare's post earlier today. It seems rare that May 1st falls on a Monday, so the actual traditional holiday falls on the official holiday here in the UK for once. Other countries in Europe seem to celebrate it whichever day of the week it falls on.

Since the decline of trade unions in the late 20th century, May Day doesn't seem to be much of a 'thing' here. When my parents were at school (1930s and 40s) there was an attempt to revive old English customs like dancing round the May Pole, but it's rare now.

It's still a pretty big thing over in the Margravina's homeland, where it is a blend of old and 'new' customs. There is the very old pagan Spring festival, the more modern Labour Day aspects and student day celebrations. My first introduction to it was in a pub in Rotherhithe 20 years ago. Six of us (3 Anglo/Kiwi blokes and their Finnish partners) heard about the 'Vappu' (May Day) party in Rotherhithe held by Finnish ex-pats. It all seemed very quiet and dull when we arrived, with us 6 (relatively young) and a few respectable looking family groups. We concluded that we would 'give it one more round of drinks' before heading for the bright lights. Then someone seemed to have lit the blue touch paper. All of a sudden everyone was up and singing along to karaoke amidst lots of raucous laughter. I came back from the loo to see the M. of P....... leaping from table to table grabbing balloons from the ceiling. Her sense of balance, even when in her cups, is something that has always impressed me!

Further Reading and Music:

Here's a pretty good description of Vappu from a Czech perspective.

Finally, here is something appropriate to get your foot tapping or even have you swirling your significant other around the kitchen table. See if you can spot the Letkajenkka.

Friday, 7 April 2023

Long Island or Alas Smith and Jones.

I took part in the latest re-play of the action at Shoemaker Heights, Jonathan Freitag's Long Island based scenario set in 1776.  Jon has an AAR on his blog. Please read that in order to make sense of my ramblings. Here are my perceptions from the point of view of one of the participants on the US side. This is not in any way an attempt to give a balanced report. In his post, Jon shows how American fire caused serious losses to the British early on. The British then recovered to storm the American position, only to be pushed back as the game saw the American position stabilise.

It's funny how perspective changes. Because I was late arriving (sorry to Jon, Steve, David and Mark) I just saw hordes of redcoats heading our way. I missed the opening volleys which held the Brits up. Then when David's charge up the hill seemed to smash a way through the American position, all seemed lost for the Revolution. This was underlined when Steve's Guards poured volleys into the riflemen and brandished their bayonets at the lip of the earthworks ready to skewer the traitorous dogs.

I guess the riflemen were good at ducking, shrugging off three hits in one turn with saving throws. Talk about luck! In my mind, this was the first sign of hope. American resilience! The gun section positioned by Mark on the hill by the road did sterling work on the British left. One of the British brigades on their left never seemed to get moving very far. I couldn't figure out why.

I didn't have the presence of mind to take any screenshots of the action on Jon's table, so here are some  random shots of my Colonial regiments.

In charge of the appropriately late arriving reinforcements, I was faced with the choice of where to send them. Left or right? The right seemed pressing, but I couldn't make up my mind so I hedged my bets and went up the middle onto the heights. This meant I was fortuitously on hand when Pigot's charge seemed to burst open the American position. I later rationalised this as taking advantage of interior lines, but at the time it was just responding to whatever seemed the most pressing threat.

When David sent Jones' brigade out wide to threaten the American left I took a gamble and left the guns to their own devices and sent half of Parson's brigade to shore up the left flank. It certainly helped holding a relatively tight position because to meant Parson's brigade was all still in command radius despite being split into two parts.

Luck was on the side of the rebels and in successive turns, American musketry shredded the brigades of Jones and Pigot, and the gun continued to plunge shot into Smith's brigade. This was much more profitable than my earlier attempts to shoot up the Guards. Those veritable Caesars just seemed to soak up the pressure and carry on calmly. Many a junior officer would be missing from St James', but the Guardsmen just closed ranks and continued pouring volleys into the rebels on the heights.

In the end American firepower, portentously, won the day.

Thursday, 6 April 2023

History for sale

The Grauniad [sic.] has news of the impending auction of an important historical document, a copy of the declaration of Breda, 1660. In the declaration the putative Charles II accepted conditions on his assumption of the crown.

Not as important as the 1688 settlement maybe, but an important step nonetheless. And one that ended two decades of war.

Yours for an estimated price of a 3 bedroom house in an unfashionable London suburb. I hope it ends up somewhere other than a billionaire’s collection.