July 22nd, 2006

ARVN Ranger

(no subject)

Bah. Humbug. It's Saturday morning and I've already heard from tlanti and Steve informing me of their presence at Beltring (plus an IM from Julian last night asking if I was going) and I'm at home - came home yesterday morning to pack/work etc. It does dawn on me that this is my own stupid fault for being too keen and taking the Monday morning start in Manila a tad too literally - I'll be first to arrive and the last won't be in till Tuesday evening. Sigh.

Still, I've had a very enjoyable week and got to spend a lot more time at Beltring than I had originally expected (ie at all). Hell, my original plan was to head back Thursday PM but, fortunately, Kate had the bright idea of me striking my tent Thursday afternoon, crashing in Simon's spare tent and heading out in the morning so I could stay for the evening.

Started last Saturday - picked up Kate then headed down to Epsom to Elite Urban to meet Pat and Simon for a bit of underground bunker skirmishing. Fascinting site - lots of dark tunnels. Style of games is definitely more Doom/Unreal Deathmatch than, say, Call of Duty/Battlefield - there was even a Terminator game with one chap with a pair of full auto AEGs, killable only by hitting two plastic cups on his arms, versus the rest of us on semi-auto only. Actually found myself using my pistol extensively for once - both batteries went down on me so I found myself decanting pellets from the P-90 mags to the Glock ones! One bummer: managed to lose the glass face off my beloved Nokia watch. Presume due to banging on a wall somewhere.

Overall: nice bunch of guys (plus very entertaining mad doggie), very interesting venue, convenient location but I think I still prefer Urban Assault and the sort of bigger, more manuevre-oriented games there.

Drove from there to Beltring. Shame I couldn't stay the full week but I still had a lot of fun. Just Kate, Simon and myself this year though, oweing to various people doing things like getting married and being out of the country and all that. Main memories:

Too damned hot, even in desert and/or tropical gear. Sure it wasn't that hot last year... Problem about turning up on the Saturday - the Turdises in the quiet camping area weren't operational till Monday and the length of the walk to the shower/toilet block required a... er... certain amount of forward planning in the evenings.

Bought way too much stuff - including a set of repro ARVN airborne camo, a portable gas cooker, a British tropical uniform for posh kit night and some ration packs (2 x Belgian, 1 x Dutch).

Hope I didn't bug Kate and Simon too much with my work-related calls and Blackberry sessions.

Not especially keen on current selection of beers on site - Shepherd Neame is no longer supplying brewer so no more Spitfire. Beer still way too expensive at £3 a pint though. On the other hand, bar staff were a lot faster this year.

Had a big shock in the main bar when we realised they were showing the piece on the Vietnam war arena events from the DVD of last year's show and there I was, togged up in ARVN Ranger gear on screen! Had to buy a copy after that!

Speaking of which, got recognised by whole load of the Vietnam re-enactor guys, even when in UNIT gear and nowhere near the Vietnam area! Graham's again pressing me to camp with them next year but it does seem like a lot of hard work - digging trenches, filling sandbags etc.

Minor variant on being recognised at cons - realised that, sometimes, people were acknowledging me not because they recognised me but because of the ARVN Ranger kit I was wearing...

Still rather wigged out by the sheer numbers of SS reenactors about. One weird observation in the beer tent one night though - seems the Waffen SS will not dance to the Macarena (unlike, say the suspiciously Anglo-Saxon looking "Jamaican Irregular Army") but will (some of them anyway) to the YMCA...

I was allegedly caught dancing in time to the music while getting drinks in at the bar, leading Kate to suspect my stories like celiaka saying I had the least amount of natual rhythm of any man she knew. However, I believe a few songs later, this would no longer have been the case ;-)

Ate one of the Belgian ration packs. Passable. Inoffensive but didn't leave too much of an impression and not very big. Kind of like Belgium really. This did spark off discussions about likening rat packs to country of origin ie US MREs: flash, expensive, high-tech but ultimately, rather bland. UK: not that much to look at but ultra solid. French: some very nice elements but overall rather unpleasant ;-)

The WWII American Airborne guys' erections get more and more impressive every year (ooh err...) - a replica ruined French church this year!

Suprisingly entertaining ad campaign for Johnsons of Leeds ("row F...") on Radio War and Peace all about how their old trademark Life Guard on a horse (with no lower jaw) in their was no longer there, replaced by a camel...

Now, wasn't planning to go back next but we concluded we couldn't not go as it'll be the 25th anniversary. Sigh. Between that and the 10th anniversary of the Malta Open, looks like I've already burned most of my leave for next year. The likes of Crete or Flanders/Belgium may have to wait till 2008 now...

Guess I'd better get back to prep for the Philippines...