Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Malmesbury and Cheltenham musters

A couple of excellent events to report on.
First up was Charlton Park, near Malmesbury, Wiltshire... a beautiful part of the country.
This was a full weekend event, and with Dianne being away in Singapore on business, I decided I would make a full weekend of it (no point being stuck at home alone when there's serious re-enacting and beer drinking to be done instead!)
So, early on Saturday morning (27th May), I picked up Bob, then we headed off, via a supermarket to pick up last-minute supplies (Bob only went in for a bottle of wine, but came out with what seemed like a full weekly shop!). We stopped off in Redditch to pick up Mark Allen who was coming along for the weekend... but who would he fight for? He's a died-in-the-wool Parliamentarian, so he intended to join up with a few of his pals in Manchester's regiment, which is exactly what he did... but... well, let's just say, he switched sides on the Monday for the second battle, and even carried our standard into action! Turncoat!!!
Above: Turncoat Allen! 
Once we'd arrived and met up with Keith and the rest of the regiment, we set up camp, and the remainder of Saturday was spent socialising in the glorious sunshine, and well into the night.
A night-time Guard duty (each regiment takes turns throughout the season in keeping the campsite secure, and ensuring all is well) meant a late start to the Sunday. So, we missed out on some drill. Result!

We drew powder, and then it was time for action.
We managed to spend quite a lot of time marching around Parliament's right flank and threatening to take their guns which they had left flapping in the breeze, unsupported for a large part of the action. Well, as you can imagine, a bunch of marauding dragoons (along with musketeers from Owens, Vaughans and Rivers regiments) couldn't resist taking them - much to the chagrin of the Parliamentary hierarchy!

Above: our unit marching on.
Below: yours truly, post battle, posing for photos and ready to tell tales of derring do!

The second battle, on the bank holiday Monday was a similar affair, and again our reputation for flanking the enemy and taking the guns (from the rear this time) was enhanced.

Sadly, the rain came down on the Monday, and although the powder wasn't affected (all muskets seemed to perform well), and the battle was unaffected, the tents got soaked!
Never mind... the joys of camping! Once I'd returned home, I laid the tents out for the day, they were soon dry and ready to be packed away.

Below: the real joys of camping... early evening on the site. Keith's large 8-man tent which we use as a regimental community hub is in the background. My new tent is in foreground. I was delighted with it. It's warm, and roomy enough for all my kit. Vango Beta 350XL, for those who want to know. Recommended. 

Next muster was Cheltenham. Just a one-day affair on 10 June.
I decided to day-trip, and picked up Keith for a leisurely drive down (just over an hour), ready to draw powder, and enjoy the events of the day. The host regiment (Rivers) had really gone to town in the detailed planning of a number of cameos, drill demonstrations, and even a mock court martial, to entertain the audience. The small skirmish battle was excellent and we drove the rebels from the field. The crowd was substantial too as the event was part of the Cheltenham beer festival organised in support of the Samaritans. Held at a rugby club, I'm sure you can imagine the atmosphere. Well done to the organisers.

The next outing is not till July (22nd and 23rd) at Newark. Looking forward to it!


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Basing House - Easter 2017

As is traditional, the fresh season began in earnest yesterday with a "day-trip" to Basing House, where the Royalist Army training weekend was being held.
The day's action was captured by Dianne who kindly came along to take photos...


Next muster is end of May at Charlton Park, Wiltshire.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Bradgate 2016

Last weekend saw the final muster of the year for me... it's been a sparse season in terms of my attendance this year, although I've managed 4 musters: Basing House, Newstead Abbey, Holdenby House, and Bradgate. So much other stuff has had to take precedence, but I've enjoyed all the events I have been to, enormously.

Keith and I were the only attendees from Prince Maurice's at this muster, and we joined up with some chaps from King's Guard, amongst others, to form a musket block, and drive the Parliamentarians from the field in a skirmish that lasted less than an hour.
This final muster was a really nice way to finish though, as despite the intermittent drizzle, there were no powder problems, and I had no misfires, getting off a dozen shots. Faithful Freddie Flintlock cracked out some nice shots, and our rank were specifically commended for the quality of the volleys.

A couple of snapshots from the day...

Above: arriving and starting to unload the back of Shogi!
Below: Keith takes shelter under a tree for lunch. 

 Above and Below: a well-supported Living History area right beside the field of battle.

So, that's it for season two, although Keith, Bob and I have a "planning session" lined up (basically a trip to the pub to discuss all things re-enactment over a few ales). Then it will be winter quarters... we'll probably be tempted to pop to The Original Re-enactment Market (TORM) which takes place only a short distance from where I live - handy for picking up more kit I definitely don't need!!
See you next season.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Newstead Abbey muster

An excellent muter at Newstead Abbey this past weekend, including Bank Holiday Monday.
Weather held very well, and it was decidedly hot under all the woollen attire during the battles on both Sunday and Monday.

Prince Maurice's Dragoons. A fine body of troops!

During the battles we were matched against the Scots on the Sunday (amongst others), and seemed to end up facing Essex's pike block on the Monday for much of the afternoon. Now, being Dragoons, we have no pikes, so it made for an interesting day, with us firing a shot, closing to combat (at which, despite being outnumbered, we held our own, I'm pleased to say), before both sides retired, we fired again, and then closed for combat again, and so on. This cycle was completed about three times, before we and they were ordered off to do something else. An excellent contest.

The actions were declared a Royalist victory on both days, I think, but more importantly a good spectacle for a decent crowd, and good, safe fun.

Freddie Flintlock behaved well, firing off 16 shots on day one, and 18 on day two. Just a couple of misfires on day two which I can only put down to a well-worn flint, which will be replaced before the next action - Holdenby House in Northamptonshire on 2-3 July.

Another highlight of the weekend included a fellow Dragoon, Laurie (alongside whom I had done a lot of practice drill and training shots at last year's musters) passing his musket test on Monday. Well done mate!

Finally, a picture that sums up part of the weekend...

Bob "helping" Keith to pack away on Monday, by clearing up the previous evening's leftover Madeira! That's Dragoons for you!!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Season 2 Episode 1

It's wonderful to come out of "Winter Quarters", and last weekend Keith, Bob and I headed off to the first muster of the year at Basing House.
Having just got back from a short break in Rome, I could only manage a "day trip", which also suited Keith and Bob, and so we set off early on the Saturday and arrived in time to draw powder, followed by a little sword practice, lunch in the local hostelry, and then onto the field.
This being "Royalist Army training weekend" (with only Royalist regiments present), someone had to be Parliament, and so we joined a number of units who played rebels for the day.
A good crowd enjoyed the spectacle, and my faithful flintlock fired 18 good noisy shots (with only 1 misfire, which I cleared at first attempt anyway), so a most enjoyable day all round.

A passing visitor was good enough to snap this picture as we posed amongst the ruins of old Basing House after the action...

Not sure whether it's the three musketeers, wise monkeys, or something worse!!

Anyway, it's great to kick the season off with a bang!

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.