Saturday, 15 August 2009

No knowledge is ever useless

At least that's what my history teacher told me, I think he was encouraging me to acquire at least a smattering of the subject. But more of that anon..

I have been continuing unpacking. We moved here about six years ago and all my figures got put out of boxes, but actually sorting out much of what I have has never happened. So the projects that I was halfway through in Bucks have never really taken off up in Wales. So at present I am not too concerned about what I am doing, just as long as I finally get some progress on these armies.

Last month I got a few kilos of 20mm ACW lead organised and a nice batch of painting done. However a visit to hospital intervened and while I spent 36 hours on the ward waiting for an operation that was finally cancelled I had the opportunity for a nice quiet read. No domestic emergencies, no telephone, no wife wanting to chat...perfect! So I managed to read the whole of Anthony Beevor's revised book on the Spanish Civil War; 'The Battle for Spain'.

I enjoyed the book very much, though if you are not familiar with CEDA, POUM, JONS, PSOE , FIA and the rest ; or if you don't know your Miguel Primo de Rivero from your Jose Primo de Rivero then don't expect it to be a light read. It is probably the must have book on the subject but to be honest for the needs of the wargamer his earlier paperback is cheaper more accessible and has just as much military information.

My Spanish Civil War collection began back at Partizan in 1997 when Dave Ryan had the just republished uniform book by Jose Bueno on his stand. Coincidentally (or not) Irregular had just released a nice 20mm range of figures and I had not made a tank for years.So I bought ' a few, just for a skirmish'. Ha!

I might have managed, but a few weeks later at the Reading show I spotted a large Spanish flag draped across a stand, and underneath Rolfe Hedges had Banderas Miniatures. Wonderful character filled figures in every pose and type you could possibility imagine. I was lost. From then on an annual trek was made, in November, to his stand to stock up on Legionaires, Requetes or Dynamitaros.

By and large the Bueno book was first class, though he was a little light on the Republican side, probably because he had no interest in what he saw as a bunch of Communist, Godless, murdering, bastards. Superb on the army of Africa though. One thing that caused me pause was the colour of the uniform of the native troops described as Lentil colour. Now in England a lentil is small and salmon pink but not always so abroad where they eat green and even purple lentils, so I am told.

However being a good Brit I plumped for a nice pinkish hue as figure right (above). Returning last week to the book I noticed that the original Spanish word is Garbanzo which through useless knowledge I know to be a chickpea. Now we are talking, a chickpea is a sandy yellow no doubt about it. So my current unit is being painted as the centre figure.

And the final figure on the left; he is wearing a native coat modelled on a Moroccan blanket that my wife brought back from holiday thirty years ago.

Finally, for those of you who enjoyed the garden photos. A supremely useless piece of knowledge that stuck in my mind was that after the Great Fire of London, Rocket grew so profusely on the derelict ground that it became known as London Lettuce. I have always enjoyed Rocket but never had any success growing it so this year I just scattered it over a bed that had all the last years bonfire ash dug into it. The plants are huge and it has cropped all summer.

Stand by for more top gardening tips coming soon.


tradgardmastare said...

I await the garden tips with interest - are you gardening organically by the way?

johnpreece said...


I fear you may wait some time for anything useful. I am the worlds most reluctant and inept gardener.

My Garden is about 300yds from the sea. the soil is 9 inches of sand over a boulder and clay deposit of glacial scree. Everytime something is growing well we have three days of icy salt laden winds which kill all new growth. Gardening here is interesting.

In answer to your question, I am semi organic. I don't mind chemicals especially if they work. However a couple of years ago I noticed that the soil seemed devoid of all worms. I stopped using nitrogen fertiliser altogether and went back to organic fertilisers and compost. The soil seems to be coming back to life and the veg does taste better.This year I paid for a load of manure to be spread on the ground.

That and the old fashioned wet summer are why the traditional English crops are doing well in the photos.

My current bugbear is finding something to kill the catapillers(!?) now that Derris dust (completely organic) is banned.

Der Alte Fritz said...

"I'm just going to buy a few figures for skirmish gaming only..."

Experience has taught me that this is the beginning of a project that will grow into several thousand figures by the time it has reached its conclusion. Witness my 1806 Project and my Late Romans vs Barbarians Project, both of which started life as "skirmish" projects and mushroomed into vastly larger armies. However, if it brings me contentment, then what the heck.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Having been raised on the west coast of North America I have no idea of what "Rocket" is . . . what is "Rocket"?

-- Jeff

johnpreece said...

Good question Jeff,

I am not sure I know the answer.

I have looked in Larrousse Gastronomic which gives it as a mediteranean herb also called Argula.

Wikipedia seems more helpful but I can't put a quick link in comments.

At any rate it is a mildly spicy salad leaf. I use it with pear slices and hard cheese shavings.

tradgardmastare said...

We had probs with a vicious ,non native predator, leech -like worm called the New Zealand Flatworm. It looks like an old rubber band until it begins to move...
It feeds on earthworms - to their disadvantage and the gardener's too. happily they are becoming fewer and fewer round our way.
By the way what is Derris dust ?I havent used it.
On an entirely different matter , have you seen the 1938 source book for A very British Civil War ?
best wishes

DC said...


Re. caterpillars - i know someone who swears by the nemasys brand organic caterpillar spray e.g.

Never tried it myself though.

Re. the SCW - i have Beevor's book (and many others), my brother in law buys me a SCW book when he can't think of anything better for xmas and birthdays - he knows my father was a veteran. I've never read any of them - i fear i'll find the contents too depressing. I can see how it would make a great wargame period though. As for the old man - he was definitely a communist, and godless, not so sure about the other 2 though... cheers.

guy said...

Mighty impressed with the gardening photos and tips. I have an allotment but subscribe to the slash and burn school of agrculture. However this year due to the v wet weather and the fact I have been busy I have hardly been down there. As a result the crop/produce is fantastic. The rocket (which I also v much like)was a failure and I will try your tip.