Friday, 31 March 2017

Sorry about the wait.

For starters, I just want to say that I have been extremely lapse in my postings of late and that is due to a number of factors, not least of which was being diagnosed with the dreaded ‘D’ –Depression. Not only did this take a long before it was recognised for what it was by myself but also time for the prescribed medication to take hold. So it was late December before I more or less had the damn thing under control but it wasn’t until I had to change my medication –with a two week lay off period to shift the old lot out of my system- that I concluded that some of it may have been psychosomatic in as far as I was on medication for Depression therefore I must be Depressed. As soon as I came off the first lot I started feeling better so the new lot are still in the bag, unopened, unused and happily to say unloved.
Because of all of that I have painted next to nothing in the last 6 months or so but I have been doing other stuff, albeit extremely slowly. The writing has been coming along in fits and starts, I am now on my third draft/re-write/proof read of the manuscript and am on the last couple of chapters now.
Also in the intervening period I made a couple of visits to mainland Europe, both in the guise of a holiday. My friend found a little place in Flanders which is absolutely perfect for chilling and forgetting the world in general. It’s near Wormhoult in Flanders and the first time the four of us went (my friend and his missus, Ma Subs and myself) we travelled to Ypres and we had a look around the WWI museum there (photos duly taken) before finding our place.
Now call me daft or militarily ignorant if you will but I didn’t realise that Wormhoult and the nearby town of Bergues (a Vauban fortress by the way) were on the retreat route of the BEF on its way to Dunkirk and the only reason I found out was because there is a local church in the village where not only are locals buried but there is also an area which is protected by the War Graves Commission and there are the graves of 61 British servicemen. The regiments are known as is shown by the carving on the headstones with the Welsh Guards being predominant but the individuals are not. Very sad place so I thought I would take a picture of the sun going down behind the gravestones as my mark of respect.

The small but very poignant graveyard in the village of West Capell, nr. Wormhoult in Flanders

On our second visit we had more time so we went to Bergues, which is a lovely place. As I said, it is a Vauban fortress with all the wall trimmings but what interested me the most was the Abbey in the centre. Now consisting of only two impressive towers and a marble gate, the place was destroyed during the French Revolution, damaged by fire in 1940, destroyed by dynamite in 1944 and rebuilt again in 1961 and is now a World Heritage Site as of 2005!

The Abbey Tower in the front, a dovecote in the centre and the belfry in the middle of town at the back.

I decided not long into our five day break that I would quite like to do the Early War period, specifically, the war in the Flanders region so I took photos of nearly everything that looked old enough to have been there in 1940 for future reference. Mind you, apart from farms, hedges and trees, other terrain will be a doddle –the place is as flat as a pancake, so the hills can stay in the draw! The only tricky bit could well be the drainage ditches that are along most of the rural roads but I might just wing it with them. Dunkirk and Bray Dunes were also given a visit and more pictures of the local architecture were duly taken. We arrived back in the UK yesterday evening after a great rest with very warm weather and after a lengthy wine-necking period. After all, at €1.59 a bottle (about £1.25 at the time of going to press) it would have been churlish not to, now wouldn’t it?
   So now to the wargaming side of things. Early last week I had an FPW itch that I felt needed scratching and before the holiday I had painted and based 8 blocks of Confederation troops with another 24 half way through. Then it’s the remainder of the commanders, artillery and cavalry and I reckon I won’t be far off done with them…for the time being anyway. And now I’m to do a little research on the BEF and Wehrmacht in 1940.