Caccamo castle and military museum, Sicily

Phew, quite a week since getting back, I had forgotten I needed to do some 1:1 scale house painting and with the dry weather that had to be the priority. But continuing the what I did on my holiday was Caccamo castle. It's a bus journey inland from Termini Imerese, which is a train ride from Cefalu. It's an interesting bus ride and you pass below the castle on its impressive rock outcrop. Inside it still needs some TLC, quite a numbers of rooms are habitable, but you can't get up to the highest levels.

A view from the town

The route up to the entrance, quite a steep climb

The ascent from the first gate to the second. The keep is on the left.

The main terrace

With quite a view, much nicer than the heat of the coast in summer.

The main hall

An interesting WW1 gun, but no details

But the breech reveals its origins

I took some pictures in the local military history museum in the castle, mainly WW2 in the desert. All the captions are in Italian.

Some interesting swords wielded by Italian Askaris

The Risorgimento room


Back from Sicily - Cefalu & La Rocca

Just spent two warm weeks in Sicily based in Cefalu, it's been a shock to return to the cool UK. Cefalu used to have ancient walls but above it towers La Rocca an enormous chunk of rock that the Byzantines fortified and is well worth a visit.

There is a castle on the very summit

Which have tremendous views on all sides

The castle eventually fell to the Saracens and then it was recaptured by the Normans who rebuilt the walls around the lower town (little now remains of this).

There is one easy route up to the main plateau and it is defender by a pair of thick walls - the lower wall

The upper wall to the left with the lower below (partly hidden).

Not all the slopes are sheer cliffs so the plateau also has a wall built around it

A view from the east shows the extent of the plateau walls.

I also managed to visit a couple of other castles so I'll cover those while I get back up to speed on painting


periods I play (2016 update)

Back in 2007 not long after I started the blog I summarised what I had to play with so I thought I'd update the list to see what had changed.

20mm Ancients - Ancient British/Gauls, Greek Hoplites, Roman and recently Macedonian, Various oddments have been added and a Parthian army.

20mm Medievals Saxons/Normans and various medieval figures. A big increase here with Teutonic knights, Burgundians and Swiss and lots of extra figures enabling me to fight either HYW or WOTR games.

6mm Ancients (based for 15mm DBA so 4 times the figures per base) - Byzantine, Huns, Sassanid, Norman, Saxon, Viking. - No change

20mm Conquistadores & Aztecs - small increases in numbers

NEW 20mm Renaissance Ottomans, Poles and Cossacks

20mm TYW - Swedes/Saxons and Imperialists - No change

25mm ECW a foot and a horse regiment for each side - these were sold and I now have three foot and three horse regiments from Waller's Western Association

6mm ECW both armies (based for 15mm DBR so 4 times the figures per base) - No change

NEW 20mm WSS - Austrians, Bavarian and Hessians plus oddments like my fictitious Frundsbergers to fight small actions or to oppose my Renaissance Ottomans

20mm SYW - Prussian & Austrian - I've added Bavarians, Swedes, Frundsbergers and Jacobites

2mm SYW - little block armies, ideal for travelling game (missed from the list in 2007)

20mm AWI - British/German/Loyalist and Rebel/French - some small additions/improvements

NEW 20mm French Revolution - French/British and Mamelukes in Egypt and French and Austrians in Italy, plus some Frundsbergers

20mm Napoleonics - Austrian, British/Portuguese, French & their Allies, Prussian, Russian, Brunswick. (over 6,000 figures) - a number of small units has been added but mainly the work is repairing or upgrading individual units

20mm ACW – Union & Confederate (based for Fire & Fury) - also now used for Black Powder, just some tidying up.

20mm Colonial – British & Zulu - I now have forces for the Sudan as well

6mm WW1 – German & Russian (never used) - still not used!

20mm WW1 – various units for east Africa, plus British, French, German, Austrian and Russian - upgraded East Africa

20mm Interwars - Reds and Whites for the RCW (current area for expansion) plus French v’s Rifs - just added a few more units

20mm WW2 – where to start? Early War British, French German and Russian, Late war British, US, German and Russian. For the Mediterranean both British and Axis (mainly Italian). Plus Romanians, Japanese and other oddments - Major upgrades to the British, German, Russian and German forces - new mainly PSC units have been used to replace old ones that were sold. Lots more vehicles added as well and a substantial German force for North Africa added.

NEW 20mm WW2 winter - my recent big project covering forces for Stalingrad.

6mm WW2 – Desert – British & DAK, Eastern Front German & Russian - No change

20mm Modern – Vietnam US & NVA/VC and working on some figures for AK47 - generic African units added

plus various naval forces for various periods. - No change

Overall my 20mm armies have increased by 8,000 figures over the period.


Gothic cavalry and archers

The last of my variants for my Ancient Britsh/Gallic/German army was to add some extra figures so I could represent an early Gothic army. I already had some HaT Gothic cavalry and just needed a few more plus some more archers.

I had acquired some Italeri Gothic cavalry as part of a bulk purchase to provide a unit of nobles a commander and another unit of ordinary medium cavalry. They are nice sculpts but a bit rigid and repetitive.

The archers are the Revell "Saxon" archers mixed in with some more Airfix Ancient British. Typically a brittle arm snapped while basing, but I successfully managed to glue it back in place.


Hedges - first batch

This batch was very much a test of my approach and I'm pleased with the results. I like the hedges produced by last valley, but they are a single colour The basic framework is rubberised horsehair "glued" with acylic caulk onto a 15cm lolly stick

The foliage is simply sawdust dyed with assorted colours of ordinary green emulsion then mixed up to provide a variety of colour combinations. I then spread thick PVA over an area of the horsehair and rolled the hedge in a bowl of the sawdust mix. Once hardened I brushed off any loose material and glued another colour. Finally I sealed with finished hedges with a dilute PVA spray and once that was dry a blast of cheap hairspray.

The last picture shows a closeup of the resulting hedge with couple of figures to show scale


White scout car

A disappointing pair of pictures of my latest project. After hunting for what seems years for an Esci White Scout car to complete my British desert mine cleaning team I spotted a reasonably priced resin version from Early War Miniatures.

It's a lovely model, but for some reason I haven't discovered yet my camera won't always focus on my desert vehicles

Note, if you visit the EWM site you'll find the model in the US section, with crew described as having Kelly helmets


On the workbench - October 2016

Having stormed through my year plan so far, my main task this month is to finish everything off and then start work on reducing the size (volume) of the stash, which really means plastic kits for the fastest results so this will include the Plastic Soldier Kickstarter whenever it arrives. So quite a short list

  • Gothic cavalry and archers
  • Numidian cavalry
  • White scout car for my desert British
  • Lots of hedges
  • Frontier light horse (just because I fancy doing them)
  • Medieval commanders


Q3 Review

A nine months have past and I decided it was time for a final review against my plan and decide on what needs to be dome for the last quarter.

(all moderate sized projects)

  • Terrain - only a few bits needed like new hedges are needed, but I'm tempted to produce some proper winter terrain to go with my figures Work has started and MDF gates have been ordered.
  • Saracen cavalry and a few more archers (cf 2015) - completed
  • Crusader cavalry (cf 2015) - completed
  • HYW/WOTR English add some cavalry and a few more infantry (cf 2015) - completed
  • Five Ancient German Warbands (18 strong) (cf 2015) - completed along with rebasing the entire army
  • Some Assorted Ancient Light Troops to fill in various gaps in my armies (cf 2015) - completed all the obvious candidates
  • Russian Partisans (cf 2015) - completed
  • Upgrade my WW1 East African Germans with the new HaT figures (cf 2015) - really must do this! - completed
  • Some extra Russians and Romanians for my WW2 winter games - completed
  • More woodland Indians so I can fight more French & Indian War games - completed
  • Plus a number of bits to fill in gaps in existing armies
  • - this is what I need to decide


  • It looks like I won't need to produce anything for this years big game and my Lentini terrain will get another outing
  • - Have replayed Lentini at Bristol, unfortunately the big game was cancelled and I replayed a bigger version of Stalingrad instead. Also just played a large one day Carentan game.
  • One of the days at Gauntlet will be a Korsun pocket game, so I may need some terrain for this.
  • - Gauntlet was a great sucess and the terrain was appreciated
  • I'll also try and organise a big SYW game for one of the Deeside Defenders gaming weekends
  • - still to do, I'm still wavering between rule sets - Honours of War, Black Powder or upgrading my own set.

Breakdown of painting/modelling completed
Well I've achieved 1805 items, which is a substantial increase on the 917 half way through the year, and near to beating my annual record.

broken down as follows
Ancient 602
Medieval 419
Terrain 230
WW2 222
WW1 196
SYW 12
Revolution 1

Finally Stash reduction?
Down from 7,420 to 6,824, so moving in the right direction, although investing in the Plastic Soldier Kickstarter may push me a bit off track, plus the bargains I've just picked up at Derby and not added to the database..


Derby show 2016

Another great day out in Derby and thanks to Andy for the lift, driving back in the rain wasn't much fun. For a change I was helping out on the Pike & Shot Society stand and I ended up a bit hoarse as I'd been talking all day.

Now for the pictures of game and modelling that tempted me, Double click the images to get bigger versions.

TFL Viva Ras Begus - Rich was on fine form demo'ing Sharp Practice

WW2 Eastern Front game

Rorkes Drift with plenty of Zulus, and at least as many again still had to be brought on the table

Thirty Years War - battle of Rain, 1632, I must get around to sorting my TYW armies out and using then again.

Seige of Athlone 1691(again) but the river looks greener, but it might be the lighting in the Derby shed.

Battle of Carabobo 1821 The final battle of the South American Wars of Independence

The Ilkley Lads: Lobositz 1756 - just super

Battle of Hastings 1066. Another one of the "Like a Stomewall" big games

A low key Battlegroup Tobruk

First of two Mexican Revolution games

The second

Back to winter with a retreat from Moscow game.

I can't resist a bargain, my haul from the show. The big box of medievals was a fiver!