Thursday, 21 July 2016

Monsoon over the Khyber.

Wed 20 th June
Garvald's twin town-just a bit drier!

                     Before I write these blogs I try to think of some witty title to start the piece off and as I was heading up to Colin Jacks on a nice sunny evening for an Indian North West Frontier game a few sprang to mind usually with some 'Carry on' connotation as the gist of the title.By the end of the evening that notion had been surpassed by the local weather which after having been a nice summer evening turned into a months rainfall in the space of an hour.The amazing thing is that when I eventually got home,a mere 15 miles away,there was not a touch of dampness in sight.Welcome to Scotland,4 seasons in one hour.Until I showed Lady Watson the evidence on facebook,I'm sure she believed I had been on the booze.
The 'Third Foot and Mouth'advance.
                                 As I said the evening had started off as a normal games night with a nice repast and general chit chat that gamers indulge in.
The Khazi of Kalabar awaits.
The game was a 1920's North West frontier game involving the stiff upper lipped Brits trying to civilise the locals.I was undemocratically chosen as British cinc so I divided up the forces between myself and my partner in crime Dave O'Brien giving him a multi bunch of Indian army forces the pick of the them being the Gurkhas.
                                       Colin Jack and Bill Gilchrist took charge of the local rabble and true to their dastardly selves ambushed our forces as soon as they entered the board causing minor casualties with the worst being my lewis gun.Fire was returned immediately making the ambushers keep their heads down.This fire was followed up with charges up the hill on both sides of the valley with different results.Dave's ghurkhas dealt with all the opposition on his flank in true ghurkha style whereas my British regulars first pondered halfway up the way up the hill before heading back down to their starting point due to some terrible dice rolls.These dice rolls on my part were going to be the norm for the rest of the evening.
'Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes!'
                         Dave's flank was dealt with quickly and he continued towards the town walls whereas my forces had to fight for every inch of my side.I tried to move some of my other forces up by lorry but they were caught in a cross fire between locals embedded behind a wall and an artillery piece situated high up on the village walls.This combination decimated one of my squads.
'Left a bit,right a bit -fire at will.Poor Will'
                         Dave's forces began a firefight with more locals who were hidden in a house just short of the village walls.To add insult to injury for Dave's squad,Bill opened up with his mortar and using his Falkirk wargames club dice to help him struck gold first time meaning that if Dave didn't move his squad tout suite he was going to be hit by the mortar every turn.Dave's squad duly advanced to the rear.
'They will die the death of a thousand cuts'
'Well the British are used to that'
    My armoured car decided to move forward to support our beleaguered forces.Bill changed the direction of his mortar fire towards this new threat and lo and behold hit it first time making it hunker down.I hastily sent a lorry load of infantry towards the village wall,coming under ineffectual sniper fire from the village wall.My lads got out of the lorry and duly attacked the village walls overrunning the sniper team in the process.
'We're British,we don't do anything-until it's too late!'
                           Whilst our forces were slowly making headway towards the village the weather outside the gaming room went from rain shower to monsoon in a matter of minutes actually causing a couple of minute power cuts.Obviously night comes quick in the Khyber pass.After about an hour of incessant rain Colin received a phone call informing him that the river was overflowing and a few of the houses in Garvald were in danger of being flooded and was asked to help with sandbagging.As I didn't even have a coat in the car I decided with Bill driving behind me to head for home.Dave eventually joined our convoy and after a while of driving through large puddles and a few detours eventually reached the A1 at East Linton where the road was bone dry.Home was eventually reached without further mishap,the only casualty being a missing hubcap from my Golf.That's what I get for hitting large puddles at a rapid rate of knots.
                                      See you when I see you.Back to the next Cornwall report shortly.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

To the end of the earth-twice!

Wed 22nd June

        Cornwall has a unique claim to fame in that both the most easterly and southerly parts of mainland Britain are situated within a few miles of each other as well as being in the same county so therefore we decided to visit both in one day with a stop off to see Cornwall's own naval base( albeit without any ships).
Plenty of tourists-most of them Chinese
            We headed(with a few hundred more) to Lands End to see what was on offer and I had been warned that it is a bit tacky.A bit like John o' Groats with warmer weather.We drove through the meandering country lanes,crossing myself at every corner and arrived at Lands End with my expectations proved correct.
Longships lighthouse complete with atmospheric mist.
Land's End is a disturbing mixture of beautiful views,landscape and very tacky commercial outlets with  theme parks thrown in.
                                            The theme parks consist of a Shaun the sheep theme park and a very  dodgy Arthur's Quest.I always thought that Shaun the Sheep was from northern England and history is definitely shot to pieces with Arthur's Quest.No wonder an awful lot of people grow up to be unemployable.
Hopefully come to rescue us from the sheep.
                             On arrival I decided to walk round the scenic paths before tackling the tourist hang outs.As I said earlier Land's End is like chalk and cheese with beautiful scenic paths which run for miles along the cliffs contrasted with the clothes outlets and theme parks.I was passed by hikers going at a rapid rate of knots along the cliff path heading for the Minack theatre further round the coast and I met up with them when we headed  there after our land's End visit.
Well even Daleks have to go on holiday.

               We had a tour around the souvenir shops and decided to have lunch of the obligatory Cornish pasty which for being bought in a 'franchise'type cafe was actually very nice and set us up for our afternoon shenanigans which would culminate at the Lizard point which is the most southerly part of mainland Britain.
We definitely didn't go in here.
And this was only yards away.
                                 After we made our departure from probably my one and only trip to Land's End we headed a few miles to the Minack theatre which is unusual in that it is open air.The place is astounding in that there are always plays being shown and it is always full.As we arrived late we had to watch the production from a vantage point high up on the cliff.The production on offer was a version of Roald Dahl's Bfg.Obviously getting in their version before the film comes out.
BFG-al fresco!
And again.
                              Once back in the car we toddled of towards the Lizard stopping of at RNAS Culdrose as I had noticed on the map that there was a viewing point around the back.
With what?
So off we headed for HMS Seahawk, near the town of Helston .Culdrose is the biggest helicopter base in Europe but I have been reliably informed that it is also one of the foggiest areas around.That sounds like normal Royal Navy planning.We arrived at the viewing area and took a few photos and watched the boys in training.I noticed that there were a few Harriers around but have been since informed that the area is the 'dummy deck ' and these Harriers would be shells for practising  with before the trainees head out to sea
Just hanging around.
..As we were just about to leave we were overflown by a Merlin approaching the airfield which was a good end to our visit
Sibling rivalry
                            Back in the car again we continued south before finally arriving at the Lizard and it was good to see that there was no tackiness around.The Lizard lighthouse which is still in operation albeit automated and  complemented by two enormous foghorns.Plenty of history around including the fact that this is where the 1588 Spanish armada was first sighted.Once again there are plenty of good walking paths around the area.
You can't get in!
We arrived just in time for the doors of the lighthouse being closed for the day so we just had to content ourselves with walking around visiting the old lifeboat station and caves before finishing of our visit with a nice Cornish cream tea complete with some still warm scones-ah bliss!
Still the quickest way to launch a boat.
No'it's not a Weatherspoons.
An awfully lot of Cornish cream tea for not a lot of money.
                                      After what turned out to be a very busy day we headed back to Moushole to plan the following day's trip which actually involves a samurai.Watch this space.
It was probably Angus.
                                          See you when I see you.
Getting nearer..

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Camera has Landed

Tues 21st June
Cornish irony-If you die we'll still sue you.
                       Life got back to normal today for Lady Watson with the purchase of her brand new camera courtesy of Argoos in Bodmin.Whilst she was waiting for her camera I nipped into Halfords as I fancied some car number plates with the Cornish flag on them but was informed that it was illegal-bummer.With the camera stowed away securely we headed for the port of Charlestown situated near St Austell.
Lady Watson is coming -Oh s**t.Hide the vodka!
                                       Charlestown was a harbour and dock built by Charles entrepreneur,for the use of the local copper  mining industry in the late eighteenth century.It was used up until the nineteen seventies for the export of china clay but even although the harbour had been extended through time it wasn't large enough to cope with today's modern ships.The harbour was neglected until it found other opportunities especially as a base for sailing ships and most notably for film sets.One of the reasons I was lured here by Lady Watson was because one of the things that was filmed here was Poldark(new version).
I'm now third on the list.
Anything to keep her quiet.
Somehow the two don't go together.
                                     After we parked the car which was situated beside a full size model of an ancient galley used in some sword and sandal effort we headed towards the harbour and as we drew nearer some seemed familiar about the harbour.
Shrugging the notion off I followed her ladyship into the local hostelry so that she could get her new camera into working order and also partake of a local ale since it was near St Austell.Familiarity crept in again whilst I was in the pub and with the help of the ale I had a picture of Donald Sutherland getting thrown out the pub windows by some German paras and when I went outside I realised this is were some of The Eagle has Landed was filmed.Now I was interested and that was before I saw the Shipwreck,Rescue and Heritage centre.
Lady Watson's standing her hand'
Keifer's dad has just flew out the pub window.
    There were a couple of sailing ships in port as well as a nice yacht which I was reliably informed I couldn't have.
Bah humbug!
We had a look around the harbour and the surrounding houses which apart from the cars parked in front of them looked like they were straight out of the nineteenth century.
                     We then headed for the piece de resistance of the trip(in my reckoning)which was the Shipwreck centre.In order to get to the entrance you have to go through one of the tunnels where the clay would come out to the waiting ships.
Funny looking seagull
Bird no 2-think I'll have better luck with the first one.
                                At the entrance to the centre was the Oakley class lifeboat Amelia on display to the public as well as a few guns from throughout the ages.

Couldn't have been a French crew.They'd given up long before then.
                      At the entrance door there were figures of the ubiquitous pirates.
It amazes me that everybody now thinks that all pirates look like Jack Sparrow.I suppose it keeps the kids and no-brainers amused.Also at the front door was a big pool where you could control a radio controlled boat and try your hand at guiding it through the water maze.There were some mad people out  there making me thankful that they weren't out in real boats.
Tudor naval guns
                                        Once inside there were various exhibitions ranging from Tudor guns,wreck diving,souvenirs from wrecks,pictures and films relating to local fishing,smuggling and life in Cornwall throughout the ages and of course the numerous references to Poldark.The new Poldark TV series must have been a godsend to the Cornish tourist industry.
Also there were many references to the worlds most famous shipwreck-The Titanic.
As usual with all these centres there is the proverbial souvenir shop with some nice little gems intertwined with the usual tat.I purchased a nice souvenir poster showing most of the famous wrecks including the Torrey Canyon which ran aground between Lands End and the Scilly Isles in 1967.This was the first supertanker incident and numerous attempts were made to stem the flow of oil from its ruptured tanks and being the first super-tanker accident was a case of the blind leading blind.
Spread of the oil from the Torrey Canyon
Eventually the navy were called in to eradicate the problem by bombing her but even that didn't really solve the problem.
Wee bit poetic license.
               They also had on display figures and mannequins depicting life through the ages and also workers in the mining industry both in the mine and on ground level including office workers who always seem ignored.
Not pasty again!
                 A great time was had by one and all and after a look round the nearby shops,the visit was rounded off with a rather nice ice cream albeit at tourist prices.I think the shop owner was a bit taken aback by a mad Scotsman stating "How Much?".
                        We rejoined the' run to the west' which is the popular name for the A30 and it lived up to its name as it was nose to tail.Lady Watson said maybe we should come of the main road and find a nice place for dinner.No sooner had the words left her mouth and we were heading for the surfing village of St Agnes on the north coast of Cornwall.We ended up in the Peterville Inn for some nice simply grilled Sea Bass and a large amount of mussels for Lady Watson.All washed down by some nice ale courtesy of Jennings brewery.
Hurry up my beers getting warm.
After dinner we nipped down to the beach to watch the surfers and also watch the kids braving the waves.It was nice to see them out and enjoying themselves with no games machines in sight.Hurrah for the Endless summer.
Surfs up.
                              Speak to you soon.