My Old Hobby Refocused

I’m taking a semester off from university studies at the moment because of a family trip to Turkey and Italy in little over a month now. We’ve been dreaming of a family trip for years, and I certainly don’t want to spend my time in Istanbul writing essays!

Since I’m no longer studying, I have time to rededicate myself to a lapsed hobby of mine. Reading.

I used to read veraciously when I was younger. But then, I consumed everything of immediate interest to me in the house and in our small country library, and I didn’t go looking for ways to find new books. I still read a lot, but it was a lot of re-reading old favourites, rather than a busy regime of new books.

Now I have discovered, that with my own debit card and a part-time job, I can afford to buy my own books. Mum would have bought me books, but there is something about having your own card and your own money which gives you the freedom, if only in your own head, to go and buy stuff yourself. It’s easier, so you actually get around to doing it.

There are so many books out there I would like to read!

I bought this one from The Book Depository on something of a whim. Jesus strikes us as the social worker and revolutionary healing the sick and subverting culture, while Paul seems more interested in authoritarian dogmas and moral codes. In short, Jesus and Paul seem to have two very different teachings. Coming from maybe a more “emergent church” perspective, Kirk attempts to show that Pauline theology fits in with Christ by taking a “narrative” approach to Paul’s teachings. Looks interesting, but I’m not sure if I’m going to fully agree with it’s more “emergent” aspects or language.

I love military history, not only as a dramatic story but also as an insight into human nature, leadership and the influence of ideas. From Hitler and Stalin’s own megalomanical leadership to the very reason Hitler wanted to invade Russia in the first place (his infamous lebenschraum), to the horrifically brutal street warfare in Stalingrad to the massacres on the Steppe, the Eastern Front has all of that.

Winchester claims that had Germany defeated Russia Germany would have won World War Two, and explores this savage conflict. I’m going to buy it (if I buy it) from– I get a 20% membership discount for $4.50 a month!

Also from, this book’s a hobby buy. I love wargaming and railway modelling and both hobbies are meant to be visually attractive hobbies, with lots of eye-candy. I’m hoping this book will provide me with some inspiration to make some basic terrain myself. I see so much inspirational scenery on websites like Angus Konstam’s fabolous Edinburgh Wargames Journal or model railroading magazines, and I’d love to provide some of my own creations with that visual jazz.

Now this is a pleasure read. I actually only picked up fiction again this January at my grandmother’s; and it’s been really good for me to just read books “for fun”. I’ve been hearing some very good things about Mantel’s series about a powerful courtier, Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s court. It’s historical fiction, but telling a true story. By the sounds of it the book is not only very well written but explores the changing times from the days when the warlords ruled to the dominance of bankers and moneylenders like Cromwell.

Other than “Jesus I Have Loved” I haven’t actually bought any of these books. I just want to. I need to get through some of my current books before I do though!

Maybe I should set myself a goal of having them all read by the end of our world trip in August. I’d imagine international flights give you a lot of reading time.

Travel brings up another question for me- hardback or Kindle versions? Kindle versions are cheaper and the only serious option if I’m to take it travelling for six weeks, but there is something wondrous in getting a real book in the mail and holding it in your hands. Not sure on that count yet.


Wargaming the wars of Napoleon

Here we go… the first photos I’ve ever posted on this blog (or any blog for that matter!) Excited? Here you go…

And… they’re about plastic objects.

That figures. (Excuse the pun.)

One of my hobbies is wargaming. Apparently wargaming conjures up images of computer games, so I better clarify what I’m talking about. Although I do play some computer wargames, when I say “wargaming” I mean playing with soldiers.

The idea is that you buy some model soldiers and paint them with the correct uniform, and then normally you glue them onto wooden bases. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to play battles with your new miniature army. There are many different sets of rules for different time periods (ancients, modern, Lord of the Rings) but most of them all work the same way.

The way most rules work is that you use a ruler to measure how far your troops can move (depending on how fast the real-life soldiers were) and a dice for fighting. While good troops are more likely to win fights, the dice means that there is still a chance factor, just as in real life, where you never know exactly who will win. There’s also a strategy factor- you make your own decisions, and your own mistakes, instead of slavishly copying the historical battleplan. The rules limit you to the limitations that the real generals faced- how fast their soldiers could march, how good they were at fighting etc, and then you have to make your battleplan around that, just as the real generals did.

So I have been painting some of Napoleon Bonaparte’s infantry (in the blue coats) from 1808 to 1812- when Napoleon was at the height of his power. I’ve glued them to balsa wood bases which I’ve painted green and cut some polystyrene foam and painted that green for hills. Put that on a felt cloth and you have…

These cannons are actually English Civil War models, but they look similiar to Napoleon's!
While these are all Napoleon's infantry, there were several types, which is why they have different coloured feathers (plumes) on their hats (called Shakos) in some of these photos
Ready! Aim! Fire!
Last one- a birdseye view of the battlefield

Daniel, my younger brother, and I are having a painting spree at the moment so I’ll post up more photos when we have more figures.