Thursday, 8 August 2013

Battle of Otterburn 1388 & Shortened Holiday

Two weeks ago it was all systems go for a Northumberland Holiday staying in Kielder Forest. Hazel and I had a large itinerary of places to visit and walks to do;  Hadrians Wall, Bamburgh castle, Cragside House, Alnwick Castle, Warkworth Castle, The Cheviot Hills, Flodden Battlefield, Farne Islands etc etc etc. All initially went well an excellent drive of 430 miles from Kent followed by a 12 mile walk next day along the Kielder Lake footpath, superb scenery and some jolly nice ale sampling at a local hostelry!
Kielder water is huge and surrounded by  massive commercial forestry operations which cut off the local electricity supply to Kielder Village when felling is in progress nearby. The whole area is set up for outdoor tourism with campsites and water sports centers 'all over the shop'.
The wildlife was superb and for a qualified Countryside Manager like me I was amazed at the amount of Orchids (lesser Spotted) growing like weeds along the footpath on our walk along the shore line.
Anyway BEER! I was delighted to sample two local brews by the Wylam Brewery 'Dognobbler' a 3.9% light hoppy and very refreshing ale after a hot walk followed by a more mature ruby red ale 'Red Kite' at 4.5% a very wholesome ale along the lines of Shepherd Neames 'Late Red'. The one thing you do need to do when walking along Kielder water is to cover yourself entirely in 'Mossie Guard'....them midges assemble in 'fighter gruppen' and descend on any exposed white flesh available!
The second day of the holiday included Cragside House famous for being the first 'domestic' home with electric light and the country seat of the Victorian Industrialist and arms manufacturer Lord Armstrong. A fantastic 'pile' with an 8 tonne Italian marble fireplace on the third floor supported on the rock face which the house is built into, interestingly for an industrialists house it was furnished in very much a William Morris Arts and Crafts sort of way although it can be said the whole house was definitely the domain of 'chaps' with Billiard rooms and hunting pictures and collections everywhere.
A picture of a Military Chap
A Victorian Painting 'After Chevy Chase' The Battle of Otterburn 1388 usual Victorian sentimentality and wrong period armour by about 150 years!
More BEER before 'doing the gardens' this time 'Nels Best' by the High House Farm Brewery a deep golden 4.2% ale another clean and refreshing modern ale named after the local farms Collie Dog!
The formal gardens were a good walk from the house but what a view!
Returning from Cragside to Kielder we went via the Village of Otterburn famous for its 'Private Battle' in 1388 basically English V Scots but in all reality it could have been billed as Percy V Douglas which Douglas's men won although Douglas himself was killed and Henry Percy 'Hotspur' was captured. Both armies were about 7,000 strong and the conventional English tactics of using longbows failed as it was getting too dark to fire arrows. The Ballad of Chevy Chase described the bloody encounter these three verses seem appropriate;

The battle began in Cheviot
An hour before the noon
And when even-song bell was rung
The battle was not half done

They  took 'on' on either hand
By the light of the moon,
Many had no strength for to stand
In Cheviot the hills above

Of fifteen hundred archers of England
Went away but fifty three
Of twenty hundred spear men of Scotland
But even five and fifty

The memorial stone to the battle is in the photo at the top of this piece and is contained within a grove of Larch trees planted by the national Trust in 1977 there is the one interpretation board and a few sorry looking picnic tables. behind the larches the land where the battle took place is shown above. A nice range of wargames figures are produced for this battle by Claymore Castings in 28mm
On Friday evening we heard my father had been rushed into hospital during the day so after a bad nights sleep we decided we would do Alnwick castle and then return south so we made the most of our last day in Northumberland by spending it entirely at the castle which I will follow up on in a future posting especially with regards to the Northumberland Fusiliers Museum.
Its  a very impressive edifice and has remained in the Percy Family the Dukes of Northumberland for over 700 years
The state rooms were very ornate (no photos allowed sadly) and some impressive masterpieces were on display including some Canaletto's which I always love seeing, the 'light' he put into his paintings always astounds me.
Never ones to miss an opportunity to look stupid we duly got togged up and got stuck in the stocks!
The castle gardens were equally impressive and the children were enjoying the joke fountains! Sadly the next day we left for Surrey and I have spent the last 10 days helping my parents, dad is now out of Hospital after contracting Pneumonia and blood clots on his lungs and is making slow but steady progress. I did take my 'modelling crate' thinking I would get time to complete some Panzer IV's etc but it was full on being a carer and sorting out medical appointments and support .... I also visited the Local Sainsbury's supermarket more times than I care to remember!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

100 Blog Posts - Airfix Sam 2 Missile Set

To celebrate actually having written 100 blog entries ...only taken 5 years! as slow as one of Geoffrey Boycotts England innings! I am posting two pics for your amazement and wonderment of the Airfix Sam-2 Guideline Missile set.This I purchased at the weekend at the War & Peace Revival much to my amazement. There were hundreds of stalls selling everything from jeep and tank spare parts-kits-1940's underwear - Bren guns (£640 if you are wondering) etc etc. One stall was selling kits, the purveyors were from deepest darkest Cornwall and were jolly enough but their kits were priced at £15 for series 1 Airfix & Novo (bagged & plastic/card ) and almost went up by size of box with no relevance to rarity of the kit. I almost turned away thinking 'all a bit rich for me' when I noticed stacked with series 2 &3 1970's boxed Airfix kits one of my 'holy grails' an almost mint Sam 2 set, only marred by an ancient Woolworths price sticker.
Now as any collector and follower of the Airfix brand knows this is one of the kits which along with the Ferguson Tractor, SS France, Original Spitfire, the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 will not re appear as its mold was damaged or lost. Its price £10 I rapidly invested! (it seems to go for anything between £15 - £70 on e bay or at auction, with about £30-£35 being the norm) The original 1973 Airfix Catalogue description ' 19 No A303V SAM-2 Guideline Missile. This Russian defensive surface-to-air missile is currently deployed in North Vietnam and Egypt. This new 124 piece kit provides cab and trailer together with launching platform.'
 To celebrate the Sam -2 I also succumbed to the original Airfix Provost with Rocket rails in RAF Training Command colours, love the box art too. I remember my dad making this kit in the 1970's.
 Also at War & Peace Revival were some model displays and trading area but outside the racecourse main stand near the Battle of Britain exhibition with no clear signposting was a tent which contained this fantastic model collection of RAF aircraft involved with intercepting the V1 menace and late war fighter operations
 It looks like a lifetimes work sadly there ws not anyone present to quiz over how long it took to build this lot, but what a collection and shows how effective building to a theme can be.
 Below is a superb model of a V1 launch site. The whole display was well 'labelled' with information sheets
 At the back of the tent was a wargame display by the guys from 'Crush The Kaiser' who write fast play wargames rules for the Western Front. They also have a blog crushthekaiser.blogspot a set of WW1 aerial combat rules will be out by Christmas a sneak preview I have saw last autumn it uses telescopic stands adapted from a product bought from Tesco for 99p to give the 1/72 model planes different height levels. I hope to get a game with them sometime as they are East Kent based.
 The game at War & Peace depicted an early engagement of the battle of the Marne, the poppies a nice touch.
Will post a few pics of models from the MAFVA stand plus WW2 vehicles soon,  anyway on with house maintenance for the rest of the day in between thunder storms!

Monday, 22 July 2013

The War & Peace Revival Show 2013 - Part 1 The Cold War

Well Saturday was my day to celebrate having survived my first 2 terms working in education and what an event to do it at! The War and Peace Revival is the renaming of the now famous massive military vehicle extravaganza that was War and Peace show and held at the Whitbread Hop Farm at Paddock Wood for the past 20 years. Due to various factors they moved the show to the recently closed Folkestone Race Course on the South Coast of Kent and even nearer to the continent which probably attracted more attendees. It is also a larger site and there are permanent buildings with excellent facilities. I took a huge amount of photo's so I will break them up into subject areas and post, also my ID on some of these vehicles is not very good so any comments on that front very welcome but they will hopefully act as useful references for modellers/wargamers out there.
 Fox Armoured Car
 Stalwart (a favorite due to the Airfix 1/32nd model!)
 One of my Teaching Colleagues Husbands Ferret ! good to meet you David
Scimitar turret on FV432
 FV 432 Recovery or Ammo carrier?
 Rapier CVRT
 A Ferret mk2 with turret
 Inside T62 Turret hatch showing the breach
 BMP type thing
 CVRT 'Striker'
 CVRT family 'Spartan' ?
 CVRT with some kind of missile affair? I admitted to being short on knowledge on this subject
 Scorpion again (picked up an Airfix model of one at the show)
 The Abbot Self Propelled Gun (Another Airfix1/32nd favorite!)
 FV 432

 A missile supply vehicle
 Abbot again
 a Czech BMP type Russian job answers please!

 It was dusty!
 Centurion at speed
 Saracen at speed
 The Centurion is for some reason my favorite tank and picked up 2 'cheap as chips' Airfix models at the show
 Engineers vehicle on Chieftain chassis
 A trio of Scorpions
Interesting armor detail
As a reward for making your way through all those pictures of cold war vehicles the shows 'poster girl' who was posing for pictures like a live piece of B17 'nose art', well it seemed rude not to take a  photo! Also I got a very rare Airfix Kit at the show which I don't think the vendor knew was worth more than £10 guess what it was? all will be revealed in tomorrows 100th blog posting!