My very first Salute Day started with finishing a night-shift and then only getting two and a half hours sleep before jumping on the train with club members Chris and Rich. Somehow I managed to stay awake for the journey and Chris' navigational skills helped in getting us across London to the Excel Centre fifteen minutes before opening time.
Dan and the guys from Wargames Illustrated had kindly offered to transport all our figures along with their terrain down from Nottingham the day before, so it was nice to see everything waiting for us raring to go on the "De Montfort Must Die!" board. Ron Ringrose had done a lovely job on it, complete with 'Battle Well' and the incline leading up from Evesham onto the crest where the Royalist Army had been assembled. I won't go too far into the games we had with different people who came over to give it a try, but the highlight that stood out was one small kid (who could hardly see over the table) rolling sixes like a pro and making his Dad proud as his Assassin character cut a fine swathe through the throng. A big thank you has to go out not only to Wargames Illustrated for providing us with figures, food and inspiration but also those who spent time to simply come over and chat.
The one problematic thing about doing a participation game is that you don't have time to leisurely stroll around and see what everyone else has to offer. Nevertheless, we did try and take it in turns going for a wander. Combined here are some photos of those impressive games I managed to come across, and apologies to those I missed out! (it certainly wasn't intentional). I did notice a huge percentage of Fantasy games on display. Although not particularly into that side of things, it was impossible not to be amazed at the detail and dedication people put into some of them.
On the buying front I did go slightly overboard. I'd already pre-ordered a 15mm Sudan 1880's Mahdist Army from Peter Pig, and after collecting those I jumped straight over to the Timecast stand for some Old Glory Punjabi Native Infantry and British Highlanders (well those Mahdists need someone to fight don't they?). Then...surprise. A few stalls along Paul Meekin Books had a copy of The Colonial Wars Source Book for only £10 (RRP £30).
An honourable mention has to be made of "The Continental Wars Society" who had a nice stall with a display of Pickelhaube's and Kepis plus a selection of their home produced handbooks on the wars of 1866 and 1870 which I came away with.
Towards the end of the day we met up with fellow club member Mark then went to join the line outside one of the food stands in the Excel hallway. A long discussion ensued about spending habits (do you focus on one period at a time and work through it to completion? or do you take the scattergun approach, of collecting different periods all at once?). I'm trying to hone my lead addiction to only one or two periods. Primarily so I can put on some larger games at the club and be able to provide most of the figures that others don't have. Then again I do have a magpie tendency where the slightest thing (such as a good book, TV documentary or magazine article) can inspire me into collecting something else at the drop of a hat.
My day finally wound up with me humping a backpack stuffed with purchases over to St Pancras, and then falling asleep on the 19.29 with the new copy of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy on my lap until I woke up just ten minutes from my stop. All in all a great day :)