Thursday, 7 July 2011

Summer Reading Material



We are well into the Spanish summer and are adjusting our routine to the higher temperatures. Gone are the twice weekly walks in the hills, replaced with twice daily swim in the pool.

The Costa Blanca is not by any means the warmest part of Spain, but to anyone brought up on the average British summer temperatures in the mid 30s need adjusting to. The locals do it by avoiding the sun, and doing any chores in the early morning or late afternoon. And of course the famous siesta.

We try to do the same. Gone are the twice weekly walks in the local hills, replaced by twice daily dips in the pool. But you still need something to keep your mind occupied.

We are fortunate that the wargames room is the coolest part of the house. So we have an hour or so each afternoon. There is a large ceiling fan over the table which further reduces the heat.

But that still leaves a lot of the day to fill.

When not wargaming we often watch a DVD for an hour. With the shutters closed and the ceiling fan on high the sitting room is quite comfortable. My son bought me the whole series of The Sopranos on DVD for last Christmas. There are 28 DVDs, which is about 84 hourly episodes. That should see us through the summer months.

But we still need some mental stimulation, and my attention has turned to Nick Lipscombe’s The Peninsular War Atlas.

This was another Christmas present. I had to have it for the excellent maps, but I realised as soon as I saw it that it would be heavy going to read. It looks very similar to Esposito and Elting West Point Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars, and I had also found that very hard to read.

I am reasonably well read on the Peninsular, having read Napier and Oman plus many more. In fact I read Oman’s seven volumes for a second time when we moved to Spain five years ago. But I do have to work at it.

I made a gallant start on Lipscombe in February. It is one of those books that you have to sit at a table to read, certainly not bed time reading (or at least not my sort of bed time reading). The first part of the book deals with the early Spanish battles, and I always find those hard to follow. I am now more aware of the Spanish locations, but I still find it difficult to remember which commander is which. So by April I had given up the effort.

Recently I read on TMP the suggestion that it would be a good idea to David Gates The Spanish Ulcer and use the maps from Lipcombes Atlas. The former is one of the few easy to read books about the Spanish war effort, and the latter does have excellent maps. So this seemed like a good suggestion. But first I felt I owed it to Colonel Lipscombe to read his full text.

So The Peninsular War Atlas has been added to my list of tasks to complete during the summer months. It is not a book I could sit and read for too long. So I try to read one page two or three times a day. So far I have got to page 273. Only 76 pages to go.

Perhaps next year I will tackle Gates and Lipscombe together?

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