Shedcon 2008, Carcassonne and Calbourne Water Mill

The Mill Race 2008

The arrival of Andy and Ruth Finkel on the Island heralds the arrival of yet another Shedcon, the event during which Andy and I in theory retire to the garden shed and play with toy soldiers for a few days. It allows us to playtest a few ideas for games, and this time we got round to playing my Huzzah! rules, but using Andy’s ideas for applying them to the American War of Independence (or the American Rebellion, depending on your point of view). We christened these Huzzah! By George!, in honour of both King George and George Washington.

I took great delight, as the general in charge of his most glorious majesty’s forces, in crushing the rebels and capturing George Washington. Andy provided all the troops, all of which are the excellent 6mm figures from Baccus and which proved readily adaptable to Huzzah!

I also introduced Andy to the board game Carcassonne, which in turn I had only been introduced to earlier this year by old schoolfriend Mike Lewis. As production editor of the late Games International, I’d actually known about Carcassonne for years, but with a shortage of players on the Island I’ve shied away from buying board games and in fact have sold most of my collection. Carcassonne, however, is a rare find: an excellent two-player game with easy to understand rules, yet huge subtlety in play. Andy, of course, beat me hollow in his first two games, though I rallied in the series of five played over the weekend.

With the unusually fine weather on the Sunday afternoon, Andy, Ruth and I headed for one of the nearer attractions on the Island: Calbourne Water Mill. I haven’t been for years, though I have noticed in that time that the owners have added considerably to the features, planting fruit trees, adding a pitch and putt, and installing punts and pedaloes on the mill race. There’s a pleasant enough walk along the water’s edge and up a gentle but challenging hill, where some fine views are to be had of the countryside. The museumy aspects of the mill have been tidied up and rendered less tatty.

The mill itself, of course, hasn’t substantially changed, and is a working water mill, grinding flour that can be bought at the gate. The organic strong white flour bakes a bread that is a pale fawn colour, and it makes a nice enough loaf, as I proved by making a local loaf for Andy and Ruth for breakfast the next day.

Entrance to Calbourne Water Mill was GBP7.00 per adult, and we spent about an hour there – enough for a walk and a quick look round. The entrance fee buys you free return visits for the duration of your holiday; Island residents get free return visits for the season, which is a great encouragement to go back with a fresh batch of guests. As a result it’ll feature strongly on this year’s excursions.

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