Monday, 14 September 2015

Bradgate Park

This weekend a small event took place at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, and Keith, Bob and I decided a day trip on the Sunday would be in order. And what an excellent little event it was, with a very good turn out from the public, and for a small event, a decent turnout of re-enactors to provide enough of a spectacle to entertain the crowds in terms of a skirmish.
The day was again great fun, in beautiful surroundings, and we engaged with plenty of members of the public at the Living History site. All were keen to know about the weaponry, the tactics, and the life of a 17th century soldier... and many were very keen to hold muskets to feel the weight, and understand the loading and firing procedure.
The skirmish itself (in which we three joined with members of The King's LifeGuard) lasted around an hour, and included us firing around a dozen shots, and having several bouts of hand-to-hand combat. All good stuff. And, I'm proud to report, the flintlock is behaving itself very well indeed. I feel as if I should give it (her? him?) a name! Suggestions welcome!

The fundamental flaw in my plans to record my re-enactment exploits for this blog will, I am sure, have been spotted by you, dear reader, long ago. Namely, that I am not in a position to take photos / videos during the action, as I'm generally in the thick of it!

However, here's a snap taken after yesterday's engagement...

Bob's post-battle euphoria is matched only by Keith's more mellow (almost philosophical) demeanour!

For those who do want to see some Sealed Knot action, to get a greater sense of what a battle looks like, in full swing, there are a number of Youtube videos of the Chester weekend which are quite something. Have a search (Chester Sealed Knot 2015), and enjoy!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Chester weekend

Saturday dawned, and I was on the road early to pick up Bob and join the rest of the regiment (most of whom had arrived on the Friday evening) for the march into Chester.

Above: forming up for the long march.

The march was around 2 miles from our campsite to the centre of town, but the decent weather meant it was an enjoyable Saturday morning stroll! It was helped by the opportunity to visit the city's taverns...

Then it was Saturday evening back at the campsite... time for food, drink, and more singing, socialising, and good-humoured banter.

Sunday was a big day for me.
OK, so it's not a big day in life's grander scheme, but nevertheless I had my musket test... and passed. So I am now a legitimate firing member of the regiment. Thanks go to all who helped with the training, and particularly to Keith who made sure that both the practical elements of the test and the theory were well covered in advance, and I felt well prepared. Keith was probably more nervous than me as we took a purposeful amble to the Powder Issue/ Testing area on Sunday morning.

As to the battles for the weekend...
Well, since these were my first as a "firer", there was a degree of trepidation, but that soon passed in the heat of the action. Looking along the crowd line I picked out the friendly faces of David (of "wargame amateur" blog fame) and his wife Kay who had emailed to say they would be cheering on from the sidelines!
Thoroughly enjoyed both days, and we got plenty of firing done. I managed 16 shots on both days, which seemed about par for the course, so I was happy to have kept up with the pace of the rest of the guys. On the Sunday we were defending the barricades and defence works against the Scots Bde, among others.
And on the Monday, we spent much of the battle pitched against a visiting group of 17C re-enactors from Bavaria who were as hard-fighting as the Scots had been the previous day. Excellent volleys cracked out, and vigorous hand-to-hand fighting was the order of the day, with battle chants ringing out between the sides. Tough and honourable opponents all... we doffed hats, bowed and huzzah'd at the close of play. Day one was declared a Royalist victory, with day two being deemed the reverse, I think.

Other notable highlights of the weekend.
1. Marching, lots of it. We were camped approximately 1.5 miles from the battle site at the racecourse, so that gave us chance to practice our marching and singing... as well as flying the flag for the roadside crowds to enjoy.

2. The auction of some recently uncovered Brigadier Peter Young SK memorabilia. The prime items were PY's sword and a rapier. Both went for good money, and to a good home, as someone who had known the Brigadier and ben a founder of the SK was successful with his reserve bids. There were plenty of other items being auctioned off, including signed books and the like.

3. The Regimental breakfast club tradition continued on the Monday morning...
nothing to beat a full English breakfast and a bottle of claret!

"Suits you, Sir." Chris, our CO, is a leatherworker of some considerable repute in SK circles and beyond. Here seen measuring up a punter for a rather nice buff jerkin/ singlet.

So, that's the last major muster of the season. Keith, Bob, and I plan a couple more days out - probably Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, and Edgehill, both of which will be "day trips", I think.
I'll post on these as they happen.
In a few weeks, I'll also put down some thoughts on the whole experience of this first season... It's been a blast!!

And if anyone out there has been inspired to give it a go, or even just to find out more, visit the SK website... there's contact details there and I'm sure you'll find the friendliest of welcomes from a regiment close to you. At least it's worth an email to the knot to find out more. I say, Go for it! I did, and have loved every second.