Archive for July, 2013

13 days to go

Jul 29 1 (1)As the realisation that invasion cannot come before air supremacy, so the raids increase in number and intensity.   The population is reminded of how to identify the German raiders

Rheims, (ed – masquerading as the Monterrey board for lack of suitable alternative) the champagne region of France, and host for the 2nd year running to the French Grand Prix.  Following the Spa injuries to Chiron & Taruffi, Frenchman Gus Mairesse & Belgian Jacques Swaters are given berths entering as privateers in Talbot-Lago‘s.  The Qualifying is uneventful and dry but come race day the heavens open setting the scene more reminiscent of Spa.

IMG_1867LAP 1 – This time Claes (Talbot) got the jump on the leaders and led into the first corner, Villoresi (Ferrari) & Fangio (Alfa-Romeo) in hot pursuit.  Further back Pierre Levegh stalled for the 2nd consecutive time but fortunately got away next round. Etancelin, de Graffenreid and Giraud-Cabantous also had poor getaways.  This led to a very congested first corner (ed – a 2 stopper in formula de speak) and inevitably there was a coming together. Andre Simon and Levegh took each other off followed shortly after by Rudi Fischer and Mairesse.  The damage didn’t stop there as debris was littered in piles all over the corner accounting for Sanesi, Etancelin, Manzon, Trintignant and Swaters. 9 drivers out all in the first corner of the lap!  Claes then made one mistake too many and spun allowing Fangio and the drivers that had avoided the pile up to catch and pass.
Just before the pile up Claes, Villoresi and Fangio lead the others away blissfully unaware of the carnage about to follow

Just before the pile up Claes, Villoresi and Fangio lead the others away blissfully unaware of the carnage about to follow

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo), 2nd – Farina (Alfa-Romeo), 3rd – Ascari (Ferrari), 4th – Parnell (Ferrari) 5th – Claes  (Talbot)

LAP 2 – Fangio pulled further ahead foregoing a pit-stop for tyre change. Farina was obliged to follow suit but most of the other drivers came in for a precautionary stop for fuel and tyres.  Again the 1st corner did for more drivers, this time Claes & Parnell who were in 4th and 5th respectively and further back Villoresi & Cabantous. Just 7 cars completed the 2nd lap making this the most attritional race of the season so far.

Top 5 positions at end of lap. 1st – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo), 2nd – Farina (Alfa-Romeo), 3rd – Ascari (Ferrari), 4th – Bonetto (Alfa-Romeo),  5th – Rosier (Talbot)

LAP 3 – The final lap became for the most part a processional one with the top 3 well ahead but with no chance of catching each other.  Fagioli & de Graffenreid were the final 1st corner victims, de Graffenreids crash being nasty enough to rule him out of the next two races. The order remained the same for the top three taking the chequered flag with just Bonetto and Rosier exchanging places continually up to the final corner where Rosier just pipped Bonetto to 4th.  With only 5 finishers this race has become the one with the least finishers in Formula de history albeit just one and a half seasons old, beating last seasons previous worst…………..also Rheims where in changeable conditions 6 managed to finish that time.


1st – Juan Manuel Fangio ARG (Alfa-Romeo) – 8 points +1 1st Lap Leader

2nd – Giuseppe Farina IT (Alfa-Romeo) – 6 points

3rd – Alberto Ascari (Ferrari) – 4 points

4th – Louis Rosier FRA (Talbot) – 3 points

5th – Felice Bonetto IT (Alfa Romeo) – 2 points

Fangio moves into the lead in the championship with 18 points, Ascari 2nd with 16 and Sanesi not scoring drops to 3rd with 12 points. Last years champion Farina after a slow start moves up to 4th with 8 points.

NEXT – GREAT BRITAIN – Silverstone

IMG_1818 IMG_182519 days to go

As the heatwave continues, silhouetted against the Summer sky Bristol Blenheims from Fighter Commands 10 Group patrol South Western England.  The Meteorological long range weather forecast for August 11th and beyond is inconclusive at the moment with both fine weather and heavy thunderstorms expected so how the weather will affect the game is still unknown with less than 3 weeks to go.  Meanwhile more evidence of preparations for the forthcoming air and maybe land campaign continue to grab column inches in the contemporary press.

JUL 19 2 JUL 19 1 JUL 19 3

More food porn as the good weather and dining “al fresco” continues (ed. an unsightly logophobic expression that moves the sphincter muscles in a twitch of disapproval almost as bad as the wifes current use of the term “sweating one out”)  Strangely we seem to be selecting hotter & spicier dishes as the temperatures outside soar causing more unsightly damp patches from our pits & bits. This recipe from Paul Gayler’s “Raising the Heat – cooking with fire and spice” can make your eyes bleed if not treated with respect.  But its a beauty and tastes even better than it looks.

014015So here is the baby, Pork fillet, seasoned and marinated with garlic and chilli powder then fried on a high heat.  Served on mash with a Chimichurri sauce of chilli peppers, garlic, coriander, parsley, oregano, white wine vinegar and olive oil.

Eat with gusto & remember the loo roll in the fridge for morning ablutions…..

26 days to go

Adding some more flavour to the build up of the 11th Aug start date. Here are some scans of the British coast taken by a Heinkel He-59 masquerading as a civilian air-sea rescue floatplane (Editors note – In reality they form part of a series of an aerial weather recce for the Queens Coronation Canberra flypast taken in 1953 by my Dad from the rear turret of his Lincoln bomber while serving with the RAF). Flying along the Kent and Sussex coast the Luftwaffe records potential landing sites, areas of population and targets for the air and land campaigns.

aerial 11 & 12  Fairlight Central & West aerial 13 & 14 Ore & Hastings East aerial 15 & 16 Hastings

Yep, those who know me know just how much I like to use this word. One in my arsenal for many many years and too cool for school. Whether its describing my darkening mood after watching the latest attempt on tv by Moffatt and co to destroy the sanctity of the classic Whoniverse by doing yet another redesign on a favourite Doctor Who monster from the classic canon just to sell another action toy, or my feelings after rolling ANYTHING but another sodding 1 on a d6 for the nth time at the most critical stage in just about any dice rolling board/wargame I play.

BUT like a top trumps superhero card, this word has has special powers. Just by using it, my mood almost always lightens a little and I become more content.  So in a weird way when I’m in a fractious state just by mentioning the word it starts to have the opposite effect on me compared to its definition.  Well I know what I’m trying to say, I just don’t seem to be able to articulate it…………(articulate………hmmm………………..)

So as we approach the final countdown to my latest attempt to stave off invasion over 1940 Britain under the auspices of a LIVE real time (sort of) version of West End Games’ RAF Wargame its inevitable that this word will be given pride of place very quickly into the campaign.


40 days to go

A full month before the start of West End Games RAF Solitaire wargame, the actual Battle of Britain had already commenced. This was Phase 1 (of 4) which covered the period 10th Jul – 10th Aug and was primarily concerned with Luftwaffe’s probing attacks on Channel Convoys in an attempt to test and weaken the British defences. Attacks had even commenced on British territory prior to this date notably when Portland was attacked on the 4th July and a posthumous Victoria Cross was awarded to an anti-aircraft gunner on HMS Foylebank for extreme gallantry.

IMG_1809  Interestingly an earlier account even before the French surrender was already using the term “The Battle of Britain” in their narrative. Reproduced here on the left purporting to be the first engagement of the battle on 18th June where German raids took place over a number of counties. The British propaganda machine in full swing claiming 7 aircraft shot down.  British media unsurprisingly took a belligerent attitude toward events, championing the indomitable Bulldog spirit and even attempting to turn disastrous events in France and the evacuation at Dunkirk into “minor” victories. Views almost certainly not held by ACM Dowding and his subordinates at Fighter Command.

For week ending 6th July the RAF had 644 serviceable single engine fighters  with another 554 in storage in varying degrees of availability. This force seemed adequate until compared to the Luftwaffe strength numbering 980 single and twin engine fighters, 280 dive-bombers & 1200 bombers. Odds of 2:1 in their favour including aircraft in storage & nearly 4:1 excluding them.  Worse still was the experience of the British pilots many of whom had only just completed a few hours in Spits or Hurricanes compared to veteran Luftwaffe crews of the Spanish, Polish, French & Low Country  campaigns.


Contemporary British articles from the week made it quite clear what was on everyone’s mind. German troop carrying aircraft recognition charts and “Broomstick Army” Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) recruits going through training could mean only one thing……..imminent INVASION.

So lets now go back 73 years to the day in preparation for the forthcoming battle. RAF Fighter Commands Order of Battle for 10, 11 & 12 Group (West End Games counter manifest plus my own variant unit version, NOT the true historical figure) stands at 35 Sqns consisting of:-

16 Hawker Hurricane Sqns

11 Supermarine Spitfire Sqns

5 Bristol Blenheim Sqns

2 Boulton Paul Defiant Sqns

1 Gloster Gladiator Sqn

The Chain Home RDF & Chain Home Low stations are all operational.  Groups and Sector stations are all in a state of high alert.

Facing this from the Luftwaffes Order of Battle for LF2, 3, (& 5), are 81 Gruppen:-

24 Me109 Gruppen

10 Me110 Gruppen

14 He111 Gruppen

11 Ju88 Gruppen

9 Do17 Gruppen

9 Ju87 Gruppen

1 Fw200 Gruppe

1 He59 Gruppe

1 Hs123 Gruppe

1 Hs126 Gruppe

All that can be done now is to wait for the enemy to show.

Just a few weeks to go till the next chapter and baptism of fire for Crystal Palace FC in the Premier League. Despite being an ardent Palace supporter for 35 years, to be one is to know less than your fair share of ups and a whole lot more than your fair share of downs. So lets be under no illusions, staving off relegation will be a massive task considering the resources available to the other clubs established there. 40 points seems an almost a insurmountable task but we earnt that right and like a Spitfire Summer we will give it everything we’ve got. And of course at the time of writing we are joint top of the league……(check the league tables for 8th July if you don’t believe me)
So these little sub 2 minute clips are to remind us that no matter how bad it gets, we will always have the honour of being the first club to destroy our arch rivals (Brightons) home undefeated league record at their brand spanking new plastic stadium in 2011/12, then in 2013 we did it again to earn a wembley play-off final place, £120M, and consign the Weed to an eternity of despair.
Glenn Murray was a Brighton player who switched allegiance to Palace on a free transfer claiming amongst other things and quite rightly that Palace had more ambition. Last season he was the 3rd highest goalscorer in all of Europe (taking in the top 2 divisions of every European league) behind only Messi & Ronaldo. The first clip was taken by Brighton fans in their end just minutes after they had gone 2-1 down to Palace and after leading 1-0 from the 7th minute up to the 80th minute. The Palace fans at the far end of the ground are in full song adding only to the Weed fans realisation that they may be about to never live the moment down. Then up steps Glenn Murray and a Brighton fans desperate remark enters Palace folklore. The second clip is the party mix!

WARNING the second F in the title is a use of colloquial Anglo-Saxon that some listeners may find offensive

IMG_1683Not sure but this photo appears is bordering on food porn. I’m not a huge fan of burgers although I have had my fair share of them over the years.  Japans awesome Freshness Burger chain and also the old school Wendy’s and in my younger years Wimpy were my personal favourites  but the ones I used to have at home have invariably been disappointing affairs quickly consigned to oblivion from the memory cells.  However after buying some home made ones from one of our local farms as oppose the connective tissue mechanically reclaimed meat from supermarkets we decided to try to give this fast food a bit more respect.  We only bought them for the convenience of a quick meal but as always happens after the first attempt, started thinking about how to improve on the basic burger in a bun.

After just one or two variations we think we have got it about right although possibly the order could be still worked on and rearranged. Out went the lettuce and mayo base (made the roll too soggy). In came more gherkin, thicker onion slices and more moutarde. So the latest creation from bottom up is

Bun lightly toasted

Red onion ring thickly sliced


cheese added 1 or 2 minutes before removal from grill and prior to it dripping off the meat

French’s classic yellow American mustard – no substitute for this

1 – 1.5 large gherkins sliced into about 3

Bun/bap top

The next question – “How on earth are you supposed to you eat these King Tiger tank versions of the burger world”?

v1 v2Yes, just a few weeks to go before this years attempt at a live game version of West End Games’ RAF solitaire wargame.  Last years effort ended in a detailed defeat for the RAF after just 9 days so hopefully I can do a bit better this time and I’m a lot more confident after the relative success of my last non live game where I managed to fight to a draw and as per history force Hitler to cancel his invasion plans.

Each day will be fought on the actual day of the battle (commencing 11th August) and using the weather conditions that are outside my window.

The next game will also feature the painted Bristol Blenheim models (joining the Spitfires and Heinkel He-111‘s) so more aesthetics and 3d representations of the aircraft used. Also, joining the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, Bristol Blenheim and Gloster Gladiator this time will be the Boulton Paul DefiantFairey Fulmar, Bristol Beaufighter upgrade and the twin engine cannon armed Westland Whirlwind.  For the Luftwaffe joining the arsenal of Messerschmitt Me109, Messerschmitt Me110, Junkers Ju87, Junkers Ju88, Heinkel He111 & Dornier Do17 will be the Heinkel He115, Heinkel He59, Focke-Wulf Fw200Henschel Hs123 & Henschel Hs126

To finish off and whet the appetite here’s part of the narrative from the game box.

“Goering……believed the RAF was no match for the powerful Luftwaffe. Hitler unleashed this massive air force on British radar, factories, and finally the cities themselves, in preparation for a seaborne invasion – Operation Sealion.  No conqueror’s foot had trod English soil for a thousand years.  Where Bonaparte failed, Hitler would succeed. All that stood between Britain and disaster was the RAF”.