Sunday 26 November 2017

Our Spanish Adventure – Part Five

Our first wargame in Spain

We both worked full time until we moved to Spain.  In fact I finished work on the Thursday and caught the boat to Spain on the Friday.   So not only did we have to adjust to retirement, but also to leaving behind our social life.   Whilst working we found that one evening a week devoted to wargaming was sufficient, though I did paint most days for an hour or so.

I found the most striking adjustment was having every day completely free of commitments, and being able to fill them up with whatever you felt like doing.   For a couple of weeks I felt quite guilty for “having” to do anything.

We quickly joined the Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers, which accounted for one day.   What I used to call “personal administration” when I was in the army took another two days.  That left us four days free.
Our new kitten helps me rebase figures

In those early days I still hoped that we might be able to either join, or form, a wargames club.  That would allow us to wargame and make new friends at the same time.  Unfortunately that did not develop.   So we started by allowing one full day for wargaming.   This worked quite well for a couple of months.   But we found that we did not want to spend a whole day wargaming, and gradually changed to an hour or two most days.   We found this suited us much better and continued to do so.

Having so much time to game we found it increasingly difficult to come up with new ideas.   One early solution was to refight historical battles.   In 2009 we started with Wellington’s battles in the Peninsula, and wargamed each of his battles, concluding with Waterloo.   I started a blog to record these games, as I hoped they might prove useful to other wargamers.   

When we finished Waterloo I tried to do something similar with Napoleon’s battles.  But they were much larger and required too many figures for my wargames table.   I did experiment with his Italian campaign, but it never developed.

In April 2009 I also started my 1813 campaign.   This was designed to provide an endless supply of interesting battles to wargame.  It proved much more successful than the refight of historical battles.   We are currently gaming the 269th battle in that campaign.

I have written quite a lot about that campaign on this blog, and I will not repeat it again.  However if you would like to know more just select Label 04 on the right and look through the posts.

I always knew that wargaming and hill walking would play an important part in our retirement.  But I had not anticipated how important blogging would become.   To conclude this series about our life in Spain I will outline my introduction to blogging next week.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Our Spanish Adventure – Part Four

Salisbury Journal 1984

We arrived in Spain on 18 March 2006.   We had travelled by boat from Portsmouth to Bilbao.  This meant we spent St Patricks Night with a mass of Irishmen wearing green top hats and knocking back gallons of Guinness.   As I was born in Dublin myself this was a very appropriate way to start our new life.

On arrival we had three priorities.   One sort out the house.   Two arrange to join a walking group.  Three sort out our wargames room.   Number two proved the easiest to solve.  This area is very popular for walking, and there are many small groups.   The most popular is called Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers.   It is very similar to the Ramblers Association in the UK, but is free to join.  They walk twice a week and offer two or three walks each time.  So they cover all abilities.   We joined in the first month and soon after moved to a smaller private walking group.  We have walked with them every week since.

First walk with Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers

Sorting the house would take a year or so.   The unpacking was completed in days, but with a new house there are a lot of small, and not so small, jobs required to make it a home.

The wargaming packing boxes were stacked in our brand new wargames room and we set about planning just what sort of wargames set up we wanted.

The first decision was what sort of wargames table and shelfing for the model soldiers and buildings.   We knew the size, but were not sure what sort of playing area we wanted.   Our table in Salisbury was inspired by our visits to Peter Guilder’s Wargames Holiday Centre.   He used 3x3 foot scenic squares to create his terrain.   We had much less space, and settled for 2x2 foot squares.  That size has served us very well for 20 odd years.

First Wargame in Spain

We considered getting a mat cover and using flexible road and river terrain.   But eventually I decided it would be too much trouble setting up each wargames table, and we would need a lot of terrain sections to be able to create the wide range of games I anticipated playing.   So we decided on 2x2 foot squares.  But these would not be covered in pollyfiller as our previous ones.   They had required constant repair as the paint chipped off.   The squares would be painted, but only hill sections would be built up.   The end result was more basic, but I liked it much better.

We had brought three armies with us.  6mm Heroics and Ross, 18mm AB and 28mm Elite figures.   As the roads would be painted on the squares we settled for a compromise between 18mm and 28mm.   Our broad plan was to fight small battles with 28mm, medium with 18mm and very large with 6mm.   All three armies had the same order of battle, so this would not be a problem.  

I was aware from research before the move that there were no formal wargames clubs or groups in our immediate area.    There was a Spanish group in Alicante, but that was too far to travel regularly, and there would be the language problem.

When we moved to Salisbury and formed our first group we did so by asking the local newspaper to publish an article.  They were happy to do so, and we had a good response which got us started.   There are two English language newspapers here, and we approached them to do the same.  One sent a reporter to take photos and did a full page write up.   The response was promising, but none of the ten who contacted us had any experience of wargaming.   None had sufficient interest to commit to a weekly wargame either.   Two of them had a casual interest, and we arranged a couple of games.   But it did not achieve what we wanted to do.   We wanted to be able to wargame on a daily basis, and could not do so if we had to set up a different wargame once a week.  So we decided that the answer was to restrict it to just the two of us.   This would allow us to have a game set up permanently on the wargames table, and we could play an hour or two whenever we wanted.  For the first time we would wargame daily, rather than weekly.

Next week I will explain how we adjusted to daily wargaming