Sunday, 24 February 2008

Heir to the Throne

It is with the greatest Pleasure that we announce our Heir, Francis John Joseph Williams (affectionately known as 'Frankie').

After a very long Labour he was Born by emergency caesarean weighing Eight pounds Fourteen and a half ounces, at four minutes past Six in the evening of the Twentieth of February two thousand and Eight.

The Grand Duchess and young Frankie are making good progress after a difficult start. The Grand Duke is feeling exhausted but elated.

We send our grateful Thanks to the representatives of the various Imagi-Nations for their messages of Concern and Goodwill.

P.S. Whilst still on the operating table, the Grand Duchess asked the midwife what would have happened in this situation years ago. The midwife asked if we really wanted to know, and Judy said yes. The midwife told us that the baby would have died, and that the mother usually died too. Then the anaesthetist interrupted saying 'Happy stories!' and began cracking jokes to distract us. How amazing it is to benefit from terrific advances in medicine! As if Frankie is not miracle enough, I am very thankful to the brilliant staff of Nevill Hall hospital that, unlike our Lace Wars analogues, we are all very much alive and healthy, and the worst thing we suffer is being sleep-deprived.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

The Wars of the Himmelbad Succession

After the disastrous intestacy of Alberich III, Himmelbad initially splintered along the following rough lines:

At first, none were overtly hostile to any other, but certain allied tendencies were already apparent. Kitschberg and Friedwald had affinity as Siegfried and Gustav were close as brothers, and Bohesia gravitated towards them under its loyal Warden. Meanwhile Angstlust under Ferdinand exerted significant pressure on the weak Isabella's Beringia, and Saxestadt's Warden remained loyal to Ferdinand, as surprisingly did the Warden of Hanemia, who declared for Ferdinand 'for the good of Alberich the Great'.

Busenwald was initially neutral, as Ruprecht the bastard took some time in assuming control of his inheritance, for reasons we shall discover.

Only Ostwald and Warzenhof remained truly neutral: Ostwald because it was a particularly dense and swampy forested region, and Warzenhof because it seized the chance to be a nexus of trade for the entire kingdom, hoping to become independently wealthy out of all proportion to its size.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


The only painting I'm doing at the moment is varnishing and staining the wooden floor of the cottage extension, but that did not stop me creating my own painting backlog by acquiring a couple more sets of miniatures today.

Another box of Revell 1/72 Prussian Cuirassiers, a box of French Line Infantry, Cossack Cavalry, British Hussars, a round tower, three square towers, plus a couple of HaT miniature sets that I'll catalogue later after the floor is finished.

All in all I'm accumulating a nice waiting list for the old paintbrushes. Baby has still not arrived yet, (and if it's anything like its old man will be two weeks late!), leaving me time to draw tentative maps, design rudimentary family trees, and rough out some details of the various warring states in The War of the Himmelbad Succession. Perfectionism was tending me towards waiting until they were done before posting, but where's the fun in that? I'll post up some basic and rough bits and pieces later on today and tomorrow, to expose the process and record how things evolve.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Buildings & Babies

Well, only one of each so far :-) and neither quite done yet.

Life has been very busy these past four weeks, with the building work on The Cottage (Grand Duke Siegfried's private hideaway, wherein he goes by the monicker 'Paul') approaching the finish line, and Grand Duchess Judith approaching the due date (Feb 11th, tomorrow!) for our firstborn.

The dust and disruption got so bad that a couple of weeks ago we moved out to a holiday let on a neighbour's farm just across the valley. Since then we have been busy trying (and failing) to clean while the builders are still working, and busy hosting the in-laws. All-in-all, they do say that moving home, building your own home, having a baby, and living with your in-laws are the most stressful things in life. So to do all four at once seemed like a good idea. Luckily we broke up for half-term on Friday, so although I still have plenty of marking and lesson plans to write, at least I don't have any teaching contact hours. (I calculated that my 'A' level essays take 45 minutes each to mark. With 40 of those to do, I am beginning to wonder if I will make any headway before baby arrives and I am supposed to take paternity leave...)

So, no work as yet on the shed / studio for my gaming, model making and figure painting. The dust is so bad in The Cottage that I can hardly sit in there for more than a few hours, let alone attempt anything that needs a clean surface! (My coffee, once poured, acquires a thick film of dust within a few minutes).

I have not been idle however. A sale in a local model shop prompted me to splash out on a number of promising 1/72 scale plastic miniatures. Here's the list:

Italeri 1/72 Scale
Prussian Light Cavalry
Austrian Infantry
French Hussars
French Line Infantry
French Imperial General Staff
Cossack Cavalry
Austrian & Russian Allied General Staff
British & Prussian Allied General Staff

Revell 1/72 Scale
2x Prussian Cuirassiers
2x French Hussars
Austrian Artillery
French Horse Guards Artillery

Now, I know that these are mostly Napoleonic miniatures, but of course a bit of customising and delicate painting will naturally reveal them to instead be bona fide Seven Years War Kitschberger and Angstlustian military units. Some of those fellows were way ahead of their time in terms of uniforms and colours you know.

I am also busy gathering materials and paints for scenery, terrain and buildings. My ally in the Art Department has persuaded me on the merits of tissue-mache (must find out how to produce accents and umlauts for this blog) for my terrain squares. And Stokes Schwartz over at the Grand Duchy of Stollen has made my life a lot easier by posting up his process for making SYW buildings, which has inspired me to have a go. As for scenery, well, while writing up my histories of Himmelbad, Angstlust, Kitschberg, Busenwald etc., I have included a few historical sites such as an old Roman ruin and some Medieval castle remains, and so these will be making an appearance on the battlefields of Urope too.

I also picked up some Plasticard to see what it is like for buildings, roofing etc. If it's no good I'll try some balsa wood buildings Stokes Schwartz style.

So my gaming goals are basically to survive baby's arrival and stay smiling, before setting up a clean, dust-free space to do some figure painting and building construction. I'm aiming for two battalions for each side at first, and they'll be small ones. I can't quite imagine how my life is going to change post-baby, so all these plans may fall by the wayside yet, but at least I set a goal!