...and post Salute Blues.
I have had the flu! Not the 'man flu' I hasten to add, but the Full Monty, in your face variety. As a result I've painted nothing for a fortnight! All the excellent progress I thought I had made on WWII in Burma has been knocked back. As pride always comes before a fall, I think the flu must have been sent to remind me not to count my chickens...
As a result, I did n't know if I would make it to Salute or not. In the end on the Thursday evening Phil found cheap accommodation at a Travelodge near the Excel centre, so we did go, Phil kindly driving us all down on Friday evening.
I look forward with very mixed emotions to Salute every year: I look forward to seeing and buying new toys but at the same time I really loathe the venue. It has no soul and everything is swallowed up in the black hole that is the hall its lodged in. Its also, like Partizan in its own way, miles from anywhere else interesting, so really you either stay all day or you look, buy and go home. There are too many people there; the queues are too long to get in; its often hard to talk to folk for the noise; the seating areas are primitive and the food offerings in the concourse are dreadful! I really think I should not go, but there I was sitting at a table in the concourse eating breakfast while watching the entry queue disappear around the next corner out of sight. It certainly seems a waste of time being there for 10.00 a.m. if they can't get folk in any quicker. Perhaps dispensing with the bag and associated junk might speed it up beyond the glacial! Salute seems in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. As it was, having bought the pre-entry tickets, we just walked in when we felt ready, unaware that even pre-entry folk were still being asked to queue! Oops!
Having got in I headed first for the chaps and chapesses I'd preordered stuff from: some Old West figures from Dixon; some ACW Generals from Redoubt (Matt has made me some heads in my likeness); General Buller from Empress for the AZW; a third Chindit squad from Warlord; and from Oshiro several of their excellent Victorian terraces, shops and a small factory, intended for use in our pulp Holmes games allied to the existing dockside and cemetery tiles. I was so taken by these I ordered another two later in the afternoon.
With my purchases safely ensconced in the car boot ~ cheers Phil! ~ I was then at leisure to wander the event, look at the games, browse the trade stands and meet and chat to friends from round and about. There were some very nice games on show, all looking lost in the vastness of the venue I think. I liked the WI Little Round Top game: having umpired a game played on it earlier in the year and written it up for the current WI it was nice to see both halves of the TM Terrain boards united for the display. The other ACW games left me sadly under enthused I have to say. All perfectly fine I'm sure in a more sympathetic venue. For me the highlight was the Mars VSF game. I'd been following its development over on LAF and was very much looking forward to seeing it in the round. I was n't disappointed: for me it was THE game of the show beyond a doubt.
I hope these poor camera phone images will give a taste of a really marvellous and utterly barmy effort! There were, of course, many other fine games which folk with a different perspective to mine and having different interests would probably have chosen in preference to this, but its very much a case of speak as you find for me in this matter.
I enjoyed chatting with Nick and James from Boot Hill and Oshiro respectively; Richard, or Captain Blood, who despite selling his soul to the Dark Side of plastic figures is a first class chap!; Sean from The Bunker; Colin from Rapid Fire!/Valiant ~ thanks for the Normandy Battlegroups book Colin!: Duncan on his Trent Miniatures stand and Dan on the WI stand, who kindly gave me a Chamberlain figure.
Now I have to say that by the mid afternoon I was pretty much played out, a combination of the post flu weakness and the old knee replacement taking their toll. I sat for a while watching the world go by, made the odd sortie back to Mars and Pennsylvania, but did n't buy anything else. I did try to buy a bridge from Sarissa's new Oriental range but they had just sold the last one! Oh well, perhaps James will produce one for me. If not, I can get one later in the year.
So Salute passes by for another year. Bought some toys, met some pals, saw some nice games and arrived home late in the evening ~ thanks for closing the M6 who ever you are and adding an hour to my trip. Telford must be turning in his grave at the jokers responsible for building and maintaining roads today! Now I'll close by saying that I have cleaned up, spayed and based some of my new toys but I have n't touched a paint brush yet. Post Salute Blues ~ gets me every year! Perhaps I really should n't go you know...