Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Arthur & Gordon

Arthur (left) and Gordon (right) locked in mortal combat

I'm looking forward to impending fatherhood, but its certainly been a demanding task master.  Mrs Kinch has had a hard time of it, both physically and mentally. Multiple hospital stays have taxed us both, but as we get closer to D-Day things are looking hopeful.  CODENAME ARTHUR & GORDON are hale and hearty, are possessed of the appropriate number of fingers and toes and will be appearing relatively shortly. Albeit not quite as shortly as Mrs Kinch would wish. 

We don't actually know whether they are boys or girls yet and settled on Arthur and Gordon because Twin 1 and Twin 2 just didn't sound right.  

We were at a dinner party and I was asked if we'd given any thought to girls names.  This put me on the spot, as I didn't want to be rude, but it's a matter where we've been playing our cards very close to our chests. So, I said that while "Stephen Sondheim Sir Arthur Wellesley Gordon of Khartoum Kinch" was not a family name, it was certainly traditional and we liked it. 

Somehow Arthur and Gordon stuck.  

As for whether they are boys or girls, my money is on one or the other. I'm hoping for one of each, but that's mainly because I'm terribly indecisive. 

(artists impression, taken from life) 

I've had to cut back on my writing (blog and otherwise) of late, not least because we've been in and out of hospitals, but also because I sustained a head injury in work just over a month ago.  It's made things a bit more difficult, as it is harder to focus and concentrate on tasks. The headaches are definitely getting better. I will never, ever complain about another hangover so long as I live, but I'll be moving a little bit more slowly than usual. Recovery is taking rather longer than we'd hoped.   I'm finding it more difficult to marshal my mental resources and having to ration my attention accordingly. 

That I'm afraid, is why I haven't written up our Barbarossa campaign report or several of the other things that readers very kindly written and inquired about.  I will get to them in time. I have also taken the opportunity to dress up a few old pieces that I had written, but hadn't finished over the years. 

Rest assured J&F will continue chugging along, just at a slightly more leisurely pace than usual. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Farewell Bluebear Jeff

Bluebear Jeff of Saxe Bearstein passed away recently. May perpetual light shine upon him and may he know peace. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Casting session

The closest I get to competent DIY

A few weeks ago (actually over a month ago at this stage)* , I pulled out the old casting equipment and set to.  I will be busy come November, so I thought I'd try and get a head start on the Christmas casting. 

The Holy Families gathering 

Mrs Kinch got me a Nativity set for Christmas last year and hinted rather firmly that she would like one cast for this year.  I would like to make one for my Godmother as well, I thought I better get weaving.  I got quite a bit done and even snuck in a few Guardsmen towards the end. 

I have gotten a little better at casting and will work up the courage to vent a mould any day now.  I have started warming the moulds in the oven before hand which seems to help some of the flow problems.  It is certainly more effective than allowing the moulds to warm up through use. Another little lesson learned. 

Every day is a school day. 

*Entries are at Joy & Forgetfulness are written as and when I feel like it. And published in much the same way. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Eagle & the Hedgehog

A scene from a hedgehog internment camp

Today, I have mostly been making hedgehogs.  This may seem like a strange occupation for a man of thirty six. However, Mrs. Kinch has longed for a hedgehog  these many long years.  Encouraging  hedgehogs to live in your garden is apparently the best, cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to keep slugs out of your garden.  Or at least ensuring those slugs that do make it inside your garden end up in a hedgehog. 

I'm not so sure about the environmentally friendly part.  I'm pretty sure Mrs Kinch would resort to napalm and firing squads if she thought it would solve her slug problem. 

Sadly, the only hedgehogs available for sale are African pygmy hedgehogs, which don't like the cold and are ludicrously expensive.  The home grown equivalent do not thrive when restricted to a walled garden as they need to roam freely for distances of up to a mile. 

Curiously well traveled creature, the Irish Hedgehog. 

So while it appears that Mrs Kinch is willing to practically anything to deal with slugs; she is unwilling to intern hedgehogs. 

The Lesser Spotted French Hedgehog

The hedgehogs I've been working on is the Lesser Spotted French Hedgehog. This is somewhat larger than the Irish variety and no where near as cute. I believe they originated in Germany, but I'm no naturalist. Young Gorman has been making D-Day like noises of late and sadly, such things require plenty of the above.  I has a set from Italeri, but they were sadly fragile things and broke practically as soon as I'd put them together.  I was profoundly unimpressed.  

Looking at the Memoir '44 scenarios in question, I realised that I'd need nineteen of the benighted things and that excluded many of the commercial options.  I simply wasn't willing to spend that kind of money. I needed something that looked the part, was cheap and was robust. 

I took a snips to some old GW sprues I had lying around. Trimmed them until they were roughly straight and cut them to size. They took polystyrene cement rather well.

Say what you like about Games Workshop, their plastic is rock solid. I left these overnight and they are solid as a rock. Time for a quick blast of black spray, a drybrush of gun metal and possibly some kind of wash of rust? 

In the mean time have a gander at this thing, a rocket ship which Young Savage is building for his heir. 

Which bears a remarkable resemblance to a certain famous rocket ship of days gone by. 

Why is the hedgehog wearing sun glasses?  Because Kinch made a hash of
 drawing his eyes. That's why. 

Now, no mention of hedgehogs could go by without Mrs. Kinch's hedgehog story. Some time ago, when Mrs Kinch was a small Kinch, such a small Kinch in fact, she wasn't even a Kinch yet, she was sent to a German school.  Mrs. Kinch is Irish and grew up in Ireland, but there was a strong chance that her family would be moving to Germany, so her parents decided that it would be no harm for her to get a head start on the language. 

So in school, she made something that looked a little bit like the hedgehog above, though probably considerably better.  I'm led to believe that the eggshells were stuck down with craft glue and there may have been gold stars involved. Records from that time are sketchy at best, but I choose to believe that my future wife produced a prince amongst hedgehogs.  She arrived home and proudly announced to her parents. 

"Mummy, look, I made an eagle!"

They told her it was very nice, but that it wasn't an eagle and she got rather upset.  Her father got very annoyed, "What the hell are we sending her to that school for? This is some pretty basic stuff."

And she became more tearful and distressed, 

An Eagle. 

"Mummy, look, I made an eagle!"

They told her it was very nice, but that it wasn't an eagle and she got rather upset.  Her father got very annoyed, "What the hell are we sending her to that school for? This is some pretty basic stuff."

And she became more tearful and distressed, but was absolutely adamant that she had made an eagle and not a hedgehog.  It was only after a further twenty minutes of argument, some throwing things and full blown tantrum - that Mrs Kinch's German speaking father suddenly realised what was going on.  His daughter was not suffering from some kind of mental illness, nor had she made an eagle. 

An Igel

She had made an igel or a hedgehog in German and had never heard the word hedgehog in English. 

And with that cautionary tale about of the many perils of bi-lingualism, I shall wish you all a good night. 

*And I know I will. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

British Paratroopers

This is sort of what I was aiming for. 

And this is how I did. I'm not sure about the pattern on the Dennison smock. Perhaps smaller patches of colour? 

A view from the rear - only another fifty or so to go. The smock looks a bit stark - perhaps a wash or something to blend the colours together. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: Too Little, Too Late by Mike Embree

“Too little, too late” is Mike Embree's account of the German portion of the 1866 Austro-Prussian war which marked the eclipse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as the pre-eminent power in German affairs and began the transition to Prussian dominance. Physically the book is a handsome hardback, weighing in at a slim 200 or so pages and illustrated with period etchings and maps.

In it, Embree chronicles the brief campaign against Austria and the smaller German powers, the fruitless victory of the Hanoverian army at Langensalza* and the defeat of the Hessians and the Bavarians. The book begins with a potted history of the period, outlining the strategic situation in broad strokes, but swiftly changes to the author's strong suit, drilling down into the detail with copious reference to primary sources.

The situation in brief is as follows, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, the German states banded together along with Prussia and Austria to form a loose union to prevent any recurrence of French aggression. This union was dominated by Austria and the conflict arose when Prussia seeking to wrest control of the union from that state, provoked a war in order to unseat Austria.

The composition of the opposing armies, including those of a bewildering array of minor German states (some of which barely rise to the strength of a brigade) are described in detail. The rest of the book is devoted to an operational history of this brief conflict, which lasted barely six weeks. The prose is a model of clarity and leaves the reader in no doubt as to what is occurring, though one complaint I would have would be the maps. Maps are a persistent thorn in the side of those who write (and read) operational histories – how many? Where to put them? And in how much detail?

The maps are fine and are clear, but they are all located (along with some uniform plates) in the centre of the book, rather than situated with the text which refers to them. They are also not appropriately referenced in the text, so that the reader has to puzzle out what map refers to which action based on the name of the action rather than a page number. A small point, but one that stands out in a publication as slick as this one.

What strikes me about “Too little, too late” is how contemporary it seems. Austria and her allies are constantly undone by Prussian hybrid warfare, with the canny Prussians using a mixture of diplomacy, threats, misinformation and lightning manuevre to unhinge and ultimately destroy the allied forces. The author neatly describes that mixture of traditional warfighting and diplomatic cunning in a way that makes the overall picture clear to the reader, illustrating the complexities without getting lost in the weeds. 

But for all the Austrian disasters, the Prussians do not escape some criticism and the difficulties of controlling independently minded commanders whose tactical decisions are imperiling the strategic vision - a problem any leader can relate to. 

Ultimately, this book is the best English language treatment of the campaign currently available and will be of interest to the historian and the wargamer, who will appreciate the wealth of detail on orders of battle. 

*ground which the author has covered before in a pamphlet available from the Continental Wars Society.   

Note: In the interests of full disclosure, Mike is a friend of mine.  I asked him if there was a general history that might be a good companion to this more specialised volume. He recommended "The Campaign of 1866 in Germany", the official Prussian staff history as probably the easiest and least controversial. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Take me to church

And that's quite enough from long haired whingers from Greystones.  I've had this DAPOL church kit in stores for quite some time now and I've finally put a brush to it. 

This is obviously a base coat and will need additional work, but I picked up a packet of large brushes in a pound shop recently.  I think they are for makeup. The large brush made short work of the building and I managed to knock it out in twenty minutes.