Salisbury Wargames Room
Wargaming played a major part in our decision to move to Spain. It had been a major part of our life for the previous 40 odd years, and it would certainly continue to do so in retirement.
When we house hunting in Salisbury we wanted to ensure that we had a suitable area for a wargames table. We were fortunate to find a nice house with a very large outbuilding. I think it was built as a garage, but it was solid and free standing.
It was our first permanent wargames table and we wanted to make it as big as possible. We managed 12x6 foot. We used it for 20 odd years and it was home to our weekly wargames for most of that time. We provided all of the models and scenery and I organised all of the games. Membership varied from four to twelve, and the large table allowed for quite complicated games.
When we started planning for moving to Spain we had to make some major decisions on the type of wargaming we would want to cater for. We hoped that we might be able to form a similar club, but realised that it might not be possible given the much smaller population. We never even considered a mixed Spanish and English speaking group. We had tried it in Germany many years earlier and it just did not work. We have no great language skills and could only master pretty basic Germany. Ok for shopping and casual conversation, but not sufficient for complicated communication. We expected that it would be similar in Spain.
House in Parcent
In 2004 the demand for new houses in southern Spain, at least the type ex pats wanted to buy, was at its height. There were relatively few ready to move into, most had to be bought “off plan”. This meant that the house would not be started until the builder had a deposit, and consequently it would not be ready to move into for at least six months. Often longer if the site needed preparation, roads built, electric and water installed etc. It could, and often did, take more than a year. On the other hand because no work had been done, it was possible to discuss exactly what you wanted with the builder.
Our house in Spain was “off plan”, and we were able to extend the plan to include a large under build. This would add an extension to the master bedroom and, more importantly, a large utility room which would become our wargames room.
Our New Wargames Room
Once we had agreed the extension, and knew the maximum size of table, we could plan the size and scope of our wargaming. We had already decided that if there were only two of us wargaming a 12x6 foot table would be too large. So we were happy to settle for a 6x6 foot table in our new home. This would be comfortable for two players and could cope with four at a pinch.
We had collected model soldiers to make full use of our larger wargames table. And I had extended the original 25/28mm figures to include similar armies of 15/18mm and also 6mm. However we agreed that they would have to be reduced by about 50%. During the 12 month wait for our house to be built we sold off half of the collection on EBay.
I had also made a decision that I would no longer paint any figures. This may seem strange, given that I had painted most days during the previous 40 years. But I was finding it more difficult to paint, especially the smaller figures. And I wanted to concentrate on wargaming rather than painting.
Even with the collection reduced by 50%, packing for the move would be a major operation. We collected a large collection of ice cream boxes, the plastic type. All of the figures were removed from their bases and packed carefully. The ice cream boxes were then packed in large boxes provided by the removal company. I got rid of most of our scenery, but that still left a lot of buildings in all three scales. These required different size boxes, and they were collected throughout the year. I was surprised, and not a little relieved, that they all arrived in Spain without a single breakage.
It was hard to get rid of the wargames table. It had provided all of my wargames for almost thirty years. It was hand built and the table consisted of 30 wooden squares each 2x2 foot. I tried to sell it, but without success. I then tried to find a good home if I gave it away for free. Again no success. Finally my son dismantled it and took it to Newcastle, where the wood was used to convert his outbuilding into a home cinema. I was sad to see it go, but pleased that it would continue to provide pleasure for years to come.
Next week I will tell you about arriving in Spain and trying to establish our new wargame system.