Tuesday, 6 October 2009
Absent on the blogging front as I got a 4 day 'pass' from life in Kent & had an aviation filled trip to see my friends in Suffolk/Norfolk. This included flying in a DH Chipmunck, 2 Aviation Museums and a trip to a certain modest model retailer called Hannants!! More on this in a future update.
Where Chris & Nessie live is Thetford Forest with a rather fine 'gate guardian' in front of their house!! a Cromwell tank!! This commemorates the 7th Armoured Division the 'Desert Rats from El Alamain to Berlin'
The Division was stationed in Thetford Forest between January & May 1944 while they prepared for the D Day invasion of Normandy. This was the only time in it's entire existence that it was in the UK! They sailed from Felixstowe on the 5th June 1944 with the first tanks landing on Gold Beach on the evening of 6th June 1944.
A self guided trails takes you around where the camp site was
Nothing exists now apart from a few foundation of the nissen huts which would have looked like as below
The notice board at the car park is quite informative with copies of documents relating to the Divisons stay and commemorations since
The information boards are very informative and well done & bring the history to life in context to the landscape. It's an enjoyable walk good for bird spotting Siskins & Goldcrests in evidence when I was there.
More info at the Forestry Commission web site which also updates you on what countryside events are going on in the area.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Just a short post relating to the Medway Model Show where I met for the first time 'Mr Airfix' Trevor Snowden. He looks a bit fed up in the above picture (how many times has he had to pose with the new 1/24 Mossie!)but he was an absolute gentleman, willing to spend loads of time answering 'kit bashers' questions. He's definitly enjoyed the move to Hornby which has not only saved this famous name but invested significantly in its future....and there is a lot of exciting stuff to come next year!!
The Mossie looked fantastic, not sure if I can afford one when released next year but the detail was impressive, engineand gun bays packed with detail and a fully fitted out cockpit. 1/24th is a great scale for aging eyes...not sure where one could be displayed afterwards tho!
Releases of old favourites and new toolings are gradually coming out, recently the new spitfires, 109's and Hawks hit the shelves and a reworking of the Matilda Tank to carry mortars an Aussie invention I believe called the Hedgehog. Soon to be released will be brand new toolings of the Sea Harrier in 1/72nd and the pre production test shots looked very nice indeed as did the new Mig 15.
Finally a couple of really interesting books have been published recently ...the Boys Book Of Airfix and the Vintage Yearsof Airfix Box Art. I highly recommend both for that nostalgia trip and the serious student of plastic kits....amazing it's not become a degree course yet as you seem to be able to take degrees in most subjects these days!!
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
For once as a family we were organised to make the most of the free entry to historical sites weekend and this included the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Quebec being commemorated at General James Wolfe’s boyhood home Quebec House and Squerryes Court the home of his friends the Wardes (still in the family ownership/Nat Trust) Quebec House was open and ‘populated’ with reenactors including a guard from the New France & Old England re-enactment group. I had a chat with them and learnt about the shortening of Brown Bess muskets for use in wooded terrain guerrilla fighting in the forests, how you source uniforms and more about the politics involved with celebrating the event in Quebec, Canada. Amazingly the group had been contacted as late as Friday night 11th September by a powerful French Canadian group requesting that the event in Westerham should not be put on! It is amazing how long memories last or is it protecting national identity under attack from globalisation, which I can understand with my environmental hat on or yet again is history being politically corrected ! In the Coach House There is an excellent exhibition on the Battle of Quebec, the men involved which included a young Captain Cook, the details of the ordinary soldiers and militias involved, the lead up to the battle then the actual short lived engagement that resulted.
Wolfe by Gainsborough
Map of the battle
re-enactor checking up on the facts! These chaps had trouble getting around the exhibition what with carrying muskets and wearing tricornes in a narrow exhibition space!
Display cabinet of Figures ....very nice but due to lighting & display cabinet impossible to photograph close up.
British Troops Landing
the French General Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm-Gozon
After taking in the harpsichord playing, the exhibition on the James Wolfe hero industry of the 18th century and a quick look around the house itself it was of to the reenactors camp and re fight of the famous engagement on the Plains of Abraham at Squerryes Court in front of the Duck lake. Total saving £14 a head on admissions at both properties…hurrah!! SO a good contribution went into the ‘help for heroes’ collection bucket and the Scouts tea stall!
Above living history in the drawing room Quebec House, below Squerryes Court house
The Camp was superb and I will let the photo’s do the talking, the reenactors were brilliant interacting with the visitors/spectators & children. The Model boat clubs remote controlled ‘men o war’ were superb and beautifully constructed, the trailer they brought them in was also yellow and black like a ‘ship o the lines sides’!
The actual shooting bit of the re-enactment was impressive in respects of the sound of a musket discharging and watching the loading procedure…the children shouting around us ‘go on general Wolfe die’! (they were only 6 or 7 years old!) It must be said the chap playing the general did slightly resemble James Wolfe and the re-enactment of the death of wolf painting scene a nice touch if done before I believe. The re-enactment probably lasted longer than the actual engagement in 1759!
After the hardfought battle we retired in good order to the Generals very own pub for a pint of Greene King Abbott, sadly it wasn't Westerhams own Brewery which brews a good pint.
Absolutely Recommended reading is Ralph's other superb blog Flintlock & Tomahawk where video clips and more info on the battle can be read.
I am resisting launching myself into yet another period here but what figures are available depicting Wolf? Front Rank do a pistol toting general Wolfe, RAFM who’s figures I have always liked for this conflict do a better representation of him….can you get RAFM French/Indian Wars figures in the UK or is it silly postal charge time???, Redoubt do the units involved but no general Wolfe, are there any other makes???????
Sunday, 6 September 2009
A small superb model show is held annually at the Royal Engineers Museum every year on the first weekend in September. It is organised by Medway Modelling Society and Kevin Nunn who used to own Beaney's Model Shop of Sittingbourne (sadly no more,next owner couldn't 'make a go of it') Kevin is a huge modelling enthusiast and has close connections with Airfix, runs his own model business Brigade Models (yup another one with that name! which specialises in 1/48th Spitfire Conversions)and Product Development & Advertising manager for Aviation Workshop Publications.Kevin always knows the latest 'new model release news' and above all he encourages young people into the hobby, at the Medway show children were being assisited in building free Airfix kits and I think this is a very important part of the Scale Modelling/Wargaming hobby that all of us should encourage.
I prefer shows situated at a Museum as you can also look at the exhibits and the Engineers Museum is a little known gem. This father and son team display their models in the shadow of a 1:1 scale GR3 harrier it doesn't get much better than that! I can also recommend anyone to visit the Model Shows at the Fleet Air Arm Museum the next is the Autumn Model show.
The display area in the museum where various model clubs and traders had their stands all the club members were friendly and willing to talk about their models and give tips. The pictures tell their own story so enjoy looking at the following models. Which diorama is a full scale 1:1 exhibit at the museum!!
I will blog more on the museum when I have revisited and can spend time looking at the exhibits properly, your admission enables you to visit again as many times as you want to for a year! Also a picture of the new Airfix 1:24 scale Mossie to follow shortly as I met Trevor Snowdon 'Mr Airfix' at the show.