First off, I'm now officially half way through my degree. Finished off my last monster 12000 word paper on the French in Algeria from 1840-1870 the week before christmas, and thanks to my professor Philip Dwyer for being very understanding and flexible with due dates. Still waiting on results though, as he is off in Paris until March trying to finish the second volume to his Napoleon bio (please forgive this bit of a plug: anyone who hasn't read Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769-99, I highly recommend it - and not just because Philip is marking my paper :). It's nice to have a recent, thoroughly researched and unbiased bio on such a polarising character).
Anyway, in between all of this i've spent a week in sunny Nouvelle-Caledonie, working on my French. Noumea is a fascinating place, and i was exceptionally lucky in that not only were my famille d'accueil (host family) very accommodating and friendly, but that the other five newcastle students who i travelled with were easy-going and nice. With such a small group thrust into such an unfamiliar and often stressful situation, we were all amaze that there wasn't one argument. Anyway, suffice it to say that my spoken french has improved vastly thanks to both the opportunity to practice and the lessons we took in the french school, CREIPAC. The school was located in the commandant's office of the old penal colony on the Nouville peninsula, very scenic and lovely old French colonial architecture. The weather was spectacular, and it was really nice to get a chance to relax on the beach as well as the studying. I've attached a few pics to this post, of the CREIPAC building and of the Baie des Citrons. I've got a load more pics and an update about my trip over on my Travel Blog
Anyhoo, on to the miniatures! My Normandy brits are pretty much done. This is rather the milestone to me, the first army i've actually finished. I've got bits and pieces to add to, as is always the way, but they've been getting a few games in at the local club.
First off, a troop from B Squadron, 3rd RTR, part of 11th Armoured Division. Firefly VC and one of the Sherman Vs are cromwell, the other Sherman V is Milicast. The crewman is from AB, and stowage is from Grubby. I've got another Sherman V to fill out to a full troop, but for the moment they are understrength. In keeping with the 3RTR tradition of tank names beginning with 'c', i've named these Cardinal, Canute and Curmudgeon.
Below is a Crusader AA tank, from 3rd RTR. Tank and crew are Raventhorpe RTR
Below is a Cromwell and a Challenger from the recce regiment of the 11th Armoured. I know that it is most likely that 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry were disbanded before receiving their Challengers and replace by 15/19th King's Royal Hussars, but in keeping with the Normandy theme, i've painted the commanders cap badge as 2nd Northants. Cromwell is Britannia, Challenger is Raventhorpe RTR, the commander is AB, and stowage is from Grubby Tanks.
Below is an M5 halftrack from 8th Bn, The Rifle Bde. This was the motor battalion of the 11th Armoured Division. Halftrack is RTR, crew are Kellys Heroes
Below is a Sexton from 190th Field Battery, RA, attached to 44th (Lowland) Bde of 15th Scottish Division. Gun and crew are Britannia.
Below is a 3" Mortar team from 6th KOSB, figs from AB.
Below is a Morris 15cwt Truck from 6th KOSB. Truck and figs are Raventhorpe RTR.
Below is a carrier from 6th KOSB. Both carrier and crew are Britannia.
Below is a Churchill Crocodile flamethrower tank i've named Culloden, painted up as a vehicle from 141st RAC, part of the 79th Armoured Division, 'Hobart's Funnies.' Both the tank and the crewman are from Britannia, and as usual were great to paint up. The kit gun barrel was replaced with a brass one from ebay.
Below is a ruined walled farm. This is a scratchbuild from foamcore, cardboard, printed vintage wallpaper and signage from google images and various bits and pieces. I used the lasemodellbau buildings for scale.
Finally, here are some pics of my entire collection, set up for a mock battle. I still have to finish off the modular road system, but otherwise it's all but done.
Well, that's it for now. I've got to finish off my current commissions in the next week, so there will be some more late roman goodness heading onto the blog. Also, i've got a few bits and pieces from my next projects, more 20mm WWII, 1940 French and 1944-45 Hungarians.
On top of all of that, on the 15th of this month (so less than 2 weeks away), Laura and I are flying out for our 6 month study exchange to the University of Leeds. Not a lot of painting will be getting done, but in the 3 months worth of Holiday time we'll be travelling across Europe, and hopefully visiting a few historical sites and museums. I'm also hoping to get to a few gaming shows while in the UK, i'll miss Salute as i'll be in the north of Sweden when it is on, but any suggestions for any other shows worth a look would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again to everyone who's offered advice regarding accommodation as well, it's all been very helpful.
As far as the travelling goes, thus far we've booked a week each in Sweden (Stockholm and then up above the arctic circle in Abisko national park for some aurora watching), Berlin, Budapest, Paris. After end of semester in May, we're planning on heading to Turkey, Italy, Austria and Croatia. I'll be following the progress of our trip on my new travel blog, http://benlauraeurope.blogspot.com/, i'll try to crosspost some of the more military history related updates on here though.