31 October 2013

The Adventures of Ulysses Quicksilver

While away I read quite a stack of books, including these stories of derring-do from wordsmith Jonathan Green about hero of the Empire Ulysses Quicksilver.  This omnibus volume entitled The Ulysses Quicksilver Omnibus contains the following penny dreadful tales:

Unnatural History - missing professors, dinosaurs and mad anarchist plots in London.
Leviathan Rising - aquanef, underwater disaster, murder, revenge and cyber-kraken!
Human Nature - missing mermaids, vicious beasts and incompetent police officers in Whitby.

The omnibus also contains the following short tales:
Vanishing Point - spiritualism, mad science and Nazi agents in a stately home.
Christmas Past - murder and St. Nick in Oxford.

I absolutely loved this book, and enjoyed all the stories.  The series continues on with another pile of great offerings, including adventures to Russia and the Moon!

For those with a penchant for VSF and steam powered conveyances, this is a series not to be missed.  Lots of scenario ideas for In Her Majesty's Name too. 4 and half stars!

29 October 2013

Britney Spears scares off Somali pirates

I can see how this would work!

Britney Spears is being used as a secret weapon… to scare off Somali pirates.
Her hits are blasted out to deter kidnap attacks, merchant navy officer Rachel Owens revealed.
Spears’s chart-toppers Oops! I Did It Again and Baby One More Time have proved to be the most effective at keeping the bandits at bay.
Second Officer Owens, who works on supertankers off the east coast of Africa, said: ‘Her songs were chosen by the security team because they thought the pirates would hate them most.
‘These guys can’t stand Western culture or music, making Britney’s hits perfect.’
Ships in the region are in constant danger from gun-toting pirates boarding and kidnapping crews for multi-million-pound ransoms.
In 2011, there were 176 attacks on ships by gangs of bandits off the Horn of Africa. They are such a threat the Royal Navy has 1,500 sailors on 14 warships operating round-the-clock patrols in the area.
Jolly Roger to white flag: Britney Spears (Picture: Getty)
Ms Owens, who regularly guides huge tankers through the waters, said the ship’s speakers can be aimed solely at the pirates so as not to disturb the crew.
‘It’s so effective the ship’s security rarely needs to resort to firing guns,’ said the 34-year-old, from Gartmore, near Aberfoyle, Stirling.
‘As soon as the pirates get a blast of Britney, they move on as quickly as they can.’
Steven Jones, of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, said: ‘Pirates will go to any lengths to avoid or try to overcome the music.’
He added: I’d imagine using Justin Bieber would be against the Geneva Convention.’

28 October 2013

Round Hut Tutorial

I've wanted to have a few of these in my Dark Ages village for awhile, and just found this great tutorial by Loki:  http://napoleonicwargamingadventures.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/scratch-building-basic-28mm-scale-round_28.html

In the meantime, this week I have been building something new for my village...pics to follow soon!
Follow Lokis's tutorial and you can replicate cracking results like his!

25 October 2013

Voyages Extraordinaires

It's a dangerous business...going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to” ― J.R.R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings

Firstly, let me thank everyone who left messages of support here while I was away - your thoughts and well wishes were most appreciated.  I thought I might yield a few more details of where I've been in the last six months.

Having completed some rather intensive training over the first months of the year, we departed Sydney in April and steamed to the Middle East via Perth, Diego Garcia ( a beautiful little spot) and Kochi in India.  We then commenced our patrols as part of the Combined Maritime Force which comprises some 28 nations.  Our primary roles were piracy suppression and anti-terrorist related functions, and over the period in theatre they took us far and wide indeed.  We visited Fujairah in the UAE, and then ended up being tasked down off the Horn of Africa, through the Somali Basin where we ended up doing Search and Rescue on a disabled merchant ship with injured crew
Seahawk Helicopter winches injured crewmen off MV Perla - detail here
We then operated off the African coast and stopped at Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.  This was a pretty fascinating spot, having been the capital of German East Africa and the site of some serious fighting both on land and at sea during WW1.  In fact, we were there on the anniversary of the city being shelled by Australian Navy Cruisers which was interesting, and I managed to locate the grave of an Australian sailor from Australian cruiser Pioneer who died there in 1916.  (You can read more the RAN blockade of German east Africa here).
Ship's company of PIONEER in East African waters, 1915
From Tanzania we were back on the beat and stopped briefly in the Seychelles, which was a thoroughly beautiful spot, before battling the monsoonal conditions again.  We then did a range of patrols though the Gulf of Aden, the Straits of Bab el Mandeb and the Southern Red Sea with a brief stop in unforgettable Djibouti.  Having survived that experience, we transited the Straits of Hormuz to enter the Arabian Gulf.  We spent almost a month in there, stopping in Bahrain and Dubai, before returning to the Gulf of Aden.  After some patrolling both there and the Red Sea, we journeyed north to the city of Aqaba in the Kingdom of Jordan and what an amazing place that was.
The awesome city of Petra - made famous in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"
A number of posts to follow on that fantastic country but briefly the highlights included the ancient city of Petra, Al Karak Crusader Fortress, Wadi Rum (where a certain chap called Lawrence stirred up a spot of trouble with the locals), swimming in the Dead Sea and visiting Christ's baptism spot.  Just amazing.
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Wadi Rum
Completing further patrols in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, we stopped again briefly at Fujairah before starting the trek home, fuelling at Diego Garcia and Perth en route to Sydney.
Boarding a typical Arabian dhow
Looking back at this synopsis, of course it doesn't do the deployment any justice whatsoever.  Severe seas in the Somali Basin coupled with Arabian Summer conditions made it brutally draining at times.  In the end we directly operated with military forces from over 19 countries, completed over 150 boarding of all types, some in very challenging and uncertain conditions, and two Search and Rescue missions.  Overall we steamed over 50,000 nautical miles.  It was an amazing experience to Command such a fine ship out on operations and represent our country.

PS Yes - everyone came home in one piece!

22 October 2013

Ahoy Comrade James

Having had a week at home focusing on my family, I am now allowed 'out'.  Accordingly, Comrade James beat a path to my door today to catch up over several brews, which was fantastic.  He also gave me a few treats, including my birthday present of the British Army book for Bolt Action.  A clever and cunning chap that one, knowing I'd like to try the game with a view to a Brit Para force.  Nothing like having my somewhat rubber arm twisted!

So next week I will be furnishing myself with the core rules...and maybe some figures!

21 October 2013

Odinn's Champs - Season 3 update

 Berzerker Sven Forkbeard
The Lad has been playing his Norse team in the local ACT Blood Bowl league while I've been away.  Like always, its a season of ups and downs, but he has a few wins under his belt and has some nice development in a few key players.  A few recent deaths and injuries has helped him with team value bloat too, in a fitting way!

One particular rising star is his Berzerker Sven Forkbeard, who with some recent Strength increases is now a ST 5 monster with Block, Frenzy, Jump up, Mighty Blow, and Piling On.  With 18 career casualties including 4 kills (10 this season) he is currently 3rd in casualty standing for the season - nice!  Big things are expected to continue from this young raider (player profile here: http://www.southernvalley.bloodbowlleague.com/default.asp?p=pl&pid=2473)

Otherwise the Champions are 2-0-4 for the season, have the top Division scorer and two players in most casualties.  Not bad so far!

Season's Top Scorers
1profile Fafnir Bearclaw Norse RunnerOdinn's Champions 7
2  Herky WerewolfACT of Violence 6
3  Fluffy Khemri Blitz-RaKhemri Crows 5
-  Knifink the Silent Gutter RunnerMutinrot Flesh-Cutters 5
5  Paul Errin Human CatcherRiver Stir Slayers 4
-  Utti Jaeger Slann CatcherThe Paratroopers 4
-profile Vepar Chaos WarriorAnarchist Angels 4
-  Replacement Thro-Ra 1 Khemri Thro-RaTurner Eternals 4
-  Bella WerewolfPulp Horror United 4
-  Syph Ilys Gutter RunnerBelleville Punching Club 4

Season's Top Casualty inflicters
1  Tomas Torgersen MarauderChaos Theory 19
2  Cadby Nordre MarauderChaos Theory 13
3profile Sven Forkbeard Norse BerserkerOdinn's Champions 10
4  Halfling Shitter BeastmanChaos Madness 8
5profile Choronzon Chaos WarriorAnarchist Angels 6
-profile Geryon Chaos MinotaurAnarchist Angels 6
-profile Angry Agnarr Snow TrollOdinn's Champions 6
8  Fallen Simon Chaos WarriorChaos Madness 5
-  Charlie WightACT of Violence 5
-  Gilim Orcbreaker Troll SlayerCrimson Breweries 5

19 October 2013


In the best traditions of awful B grade shark movies, my kids made sure I saw this sensation which appeared in my absence.  Its is best described as "Sharknado is a 2013 made for television disaster movie about a waterspout that lifts sharks out of the ocean and deposits them in Los Angeles" - and thats exactly what you get!

A must watch laugh from end to end!

18 October 2013

Some interesting stats

Like many bloggers I rejoice in seeing hit counters hit milestones; enjoying the idea that other, similar minded gamers enjoy my humble gaming and hobby related ramblings. While I was away this blog surpassed the heart warming half a million hits mark, but how many of them are truly attributed to human action as opposed to some kind of 'bot' I wondered?

So it was with interest that I looked at my blog stats for the past year, during which my post count was barely a third of the previous 12 months.  I know that many 'bots' hit sites with recent updates - if so, does this perhaps show a truer representation of gamer activity?

Honestly, I just hope that whoever pops by finds something of interest or a link that takes them somewhere they like.  I found this trend of interest though and wanted to share it.  Hits aren't anything really, its the blogosphere community and interaction that I think is fantastic - I missed being part of it while away.


16 October 2013

Back into the Man Cave

Representative picture only - Paul's Man Cave is unlikely to look exactly like this

So I've been home a few days now and been able to venture back into the Man Cave to start its reconstitution after six months of dust and family dumping in my absence.  Its nice to just walk around and touch my stuff again.  There may have been a couple of packages waiting for me, just to make me feel welcome...

...plus maybe a Blood Bowl Halfling team (minus treemen)...

In addition to sorting out the Cave, Hobbywise I am focusing on:
- playing some Blood Bowl and SAGA,
- painting 15mm Vietnam figs, and 28mm Cthulu characters
- putting together a Brit Para force for Bolt Action
- getting started on my forces for In Her Majesty's Name
- NOT getting involved in the Mars Attacks Kickstarter!
- maybe getting a few figures started for a Dux Britaniarum Romano-British force
As always, my eyes are bigger than my time allocation but what the heck!

I'm also enjoying catching up on everyone's blogs and projects over the last six months or so.  In the interim I seem to have cracked 450 members and 500,000 hits.  Sorry about the lack of festive competition - I'll make up for it at 500 members instead!

And what the heck are all these advertisements at the start of every post on everyone's blogs? Yuk!

13 October 2013

Return to Hearth and Home

A most satisfying return today to Sydney where over 1200 families and friends, led by the Prime Minister of Australia, were waiting patiently for my mighty warship to berth.  The Fleet Admiral and the band were there too, but nothing beats that first family hug after six months away.  I'll post some more later with anecdotes of derring-do during almost 50,000 miles of voyaging, but for now its family time with a well earned beer.

Great to be home!

10 October 2013

Enter the Dragon!

Last month we caught up with HMS Dragon, a sleek new Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer.  Swapped some crew, did some exercises and I had a great fish and chips for lunch on board!  Here we are together in the Arabian Gulf
But now, thats 177 sleeps down and just 3 to go now until we get home!