Saturday, 31 July 2021

Why has nobody told me about this place?

We came home on Saturday morning after 9 nights away. 2 at my sister's on the Somerset-Dorset border and 7 on the coast east of Bournemouth. Last year we'd had a few days based in central Bournemouth (London on Sea - and not the good bits) and cycled up to Mudeford Spit by Hengistbury head). But we didn't go up on the head itself. 

On late Friday afternoon the Margravina and I went for a stroll eastwards along the prom, and kept going, beyond where the prom ended. We'd originally intended to turn back at the end of the prom but decided on the spur to keep going. Initially it looked like it would rain, but we were in. 'what the heck mood'. And as ever with spontaneous walks, it turned into a belter. Here are some snaps taken along the way.

The weather had been overcast most of the week but visibility was the best on Friday. Looking west towards the Isle of Purbeck and Durlston Head (far left). Ironically I'd just read the Last Kingdom in which the Danish fleet was wrecked off the aforementioned headland.

Looking easst heading down the cliff at Southbourne

Looking east. Isle of Wight in the background. The Needles are the tiny 'bumps' to the right of the white cliff.

Looking across to Christchurch

Hengistbury Head

Just about visible, due south of Bournemouth, a 4-master

This had me fooled until I got close up. It's a 2 metre tall model of the  rock strata. Sadly there's no sign explaining what all the layers are.

Walking up the path to the top of the head.

Looking back west across the bay

Near the top of the head, looking east. The water in the middle ground is Christchurch Harbour, a tidal estuary with a very narrow mouth to the left of the sand spit (Mudeford Spit).

View towards Christchurch. Christchurch is at the meeting point of two rivers, the Avon and the Stour, both of which flow into the tidal harbour. Both rivers have multiple namesakes in the UK. Avon apparently derives from the Brythonic word for 'river' or 'water' (cognate with modern Welsh 'Afon') so River Avon is a Geographical Tautology.

View down to Mudeford Spit. Those structures are wooden beach huts (about 2m by 3m).

Quarry Pond. As its name suggests. Looks tempting.

Last year we discovered that one of these beach huts sold for £360,000.  Hold that thought for a minute. Many have electricity (a close up shows solar panels) but none have running water, and sleeping over night is forbidden although many have mezzanine floors so I'm sure it happens.

Another view towards Christchurch. I have no idea wha the hill is on the right. it looks like a site for a hill fort.

Looking back up Quarry Pond

Down the ridge to Christchurch Harbour.

Looks calm but we tried kayaking on this a couple of days before (to be fair in windier weather) and it was flipping hard work.

The rampart and ditch were clearly large, even after 2500 years. The wooden beam is  about 2 metres high.

Suffice to say, we were gobsmacked. Every direction that we looked was pleasing to say the least. And so close to London. I think we'll be going back.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Battle of Winceby talk tonight

My good pal Lincolnshire Tom just sent me the link to a talk on the Battle if Winceby this evening at 19:30 BST. I’ve signed up.

Post Script.

I logged onto the Winceby talk earlier this evening and found it very informative. The speaker, Dr Jon Fitzgibbons of the University of Lincoln. was clear, and spoke slowly - very useful if you were taking notes. He opened with the statement that Oliver Cromwell died of his wounds on 11 October 1643. Pause. In fact what Dr Fitzgibbons was referring to was a letter from Sir William Widdrington, the Royalist governor of Lincoln, to the Earl of Newcastle, giving an account of the battle wherein Widdrington reported that Colonel Cromwell had been killed. Indeed Cromwell’s horse was shot from under him and despite getting up, the future Lord Protector was seen to be knocked down by (some believe) by Sir Ingram Hopton. This set up a counter-factual question….which was left hanging.

Dr Fitzgibbons set the battle in the strategic context (Lincolnshire being a border ‘no man’s land’ between the Parliamentarian Eastern Association and Northern Royalists; the siege of Hull, the various sieges of Lincoln, Gainsborough and Newark). He also mentioned this was the first battlefield collaboration between Cromwell and Sir Thomas Fairfax, a significant and successful partnership.

A lot of attention was given to the possible location (noting the uncertainty) and discrepancies over the numbers engaged and the casualties reported by different elements of both sides. Dr Fitzgibbons did note that, to his knowledge, there has been no archaeological digs on the favoured site to discover whether there was physical evidence.

Overall very worth listening to (during the first half I was driving). There some clear maps showing context, pre-battle operations and possible tactical moves during the battle. I didn’t stick around for any Q&A as I had a pre-booked swimming session with a limited time. All good stuff.

Next up in these Society for Lincolnshire History  and Archaeology talks is one on the folklore around harvests. That’s very tempting for me. I suppose these webinars are one of the side benefits of lockdown. It means Yellowbellies in far flung places can get to hear these things.

Monday, 19 July 2021

Sapping weather

I’ve had three days in the garden being a sapper, or more accurately a demolition engineer. The future command post should be arriving in the second half of August, and we have a lot of rearranging to do in the garden first. As the other half was working at the weekend I decided to tackle the old wooden fence at the back of the garden which was held in place by spare timbers propping it up from one side, and the grip of creeping plants on the other. Of course I’d chosen the hottest weekend so far to do it. And I’m not used to honest graft being a desk wallah. Evening swims have been a way to loosen up rather than exercise.

The tool cabinet and various other bits had to be relocated. Other things had to be moved to make space for the cabinet. One thing leads to another. I can’t believe how many empty plant pots there were dotted around the place.

Much hacking of undergrowth (or overgrowth to be correct) was necessary before the fence could be pulled down. The wood was sorted for disposal and the growing stuff cut and piled ready for the green waste wheelie bin. When it’s current load has been emptied. Visits have been booked for Tuesday and Wednesday to the local dump or “Recycling Centre” as the council calls it.

Today the shed came down, and the work of dismantling the pieces for disposal commenced. Naturally only half the screws heads were in a condition to be unscrewed, so there was more brute strength needed than theoretically necessary. There was a lot of stuff to be sorted and assessed for disposal or retention. If you’re passing, help yourself to the bits and pieces in the front yard.

Bamboo on the right to be thinned out and relocated to the rear and middle left.

Is it a collapsed shed or an art installation?

Later we’ve got to dig a trench (beware of enfilading fire from the defenders) for the bamboo which will be dug up and placed we’re the fence was. The trench needs to be lined to stop the bamboo spreading laterally. The soil can be used to help level off the ground a bit. Then more bamboo will be moved to screen the new location for the composters. More sapping.

It’s going to be a busy week. No wargaming, but it’s going to help me game more freely in the future.

Late edit: up and out early this morning delivering stuff to the dump and then back preparing the lines in the baking sun for the new HQ. The officer has gone off with the transport to get some heavy equipment from stores and I found I’d been locked me out of the NAAFI when I went for a break. So stuck with nothing to do I did what any Tommy worth his salt, parched and without access to tea would do, I sat down in the shade and switched on the wireless. I listened to the second half of We Have Ways of Making You Talk, episode 316. As if I wasn’t already in the mood the programme finished with Lale Andersen singing Lili Marlene. Ausgezeichnet!

Thursday, 1 July 2021

More castle pieces

When I’d finished preparing the Jenga-block walls and painted the original Leven castle pieces I realised I was a bit short of what I was planning on. So I whizzed off an order to Mr Leven for some more, including a few bits I thought might work for a ‘Vauban fortress’. Sadly the latter didn’t entirely work out but the pieces are still useful for their original design purpose.

Here are the bits and bobs, together with the previous walls. Hopefully I’ll get to paint them at the weekend.

A couple of railway tunnel entrances will be handy for  a fortress gateway.

Some very fine harbour walls, in the role they were built for. 

Castle keep, some curved walls, a couple more towers, and a nee gatehouse

Another view of the same with the harbour walls in the guise of a Demi-lune. I was hoping these would be useful for making a bastion, but the footprint (about 70mm) is too big for my 6mm ground scale but OK for the 10mils.

The quality of the Leven pieces is rather good, and they came very well protected. Just a bit of filing of edges required to get some of them to fit smoothly together.

One final phase of the castle will be to make some round towers for the outer wall. Just waiting for the kitchen foil to be used up.