food festivals, festivals, fayres and fairs

food festivals, festivals, fayres and fairs

Food festivals, festivals, fayres and fairs:

As the summer turns to autumn, and the leaves, once a dark green canopy, now turn vibrant yellow, so the festival season draws to a close for yet another year. But before we look forwards towards the Christmas season, let me tell you about our last few festivals and events.

Cherry Hinton Festival;

On September the 16th we were invited back to the “Cherry Hinton Festival” This is a wonderful community based event in a part of Cambridge known as, Cherry Hinton (Which is handy when you consider that it’s also the festivals name).

The public, undeterred by the traditional summer rain, turned out in surprisingly large numbers, but then those who know this festival, know just what great fun it is. Like any community based event, it has it’s fair share of community performances, including everything from Irish dancing to  Yi Zhong Yang-style Tai Ji (I can spell it, just don’t ask me how to pronounce it).

In the activities marquee was an assortment of activities ranging from messy play for the under 5’s to archaeological activities. Run by 2  archaeologists from Cambridge university, here you could  dig through the different layers of ‘soil’ and discover artefacts in the ‘Excavation chest of drawers’, including 9th century pottery, animal skulls and all sorts of things. They even had “The Brickologists” there with their lego building challenges and some doctor type folk who would help you make your very own “brain hat”

Outside there was a music stage with music and on the sports field there was demos and a chance to try out a whole range of sports. Everything from football to Zumba. Climbing walls and caving pods. Face painting and crazy giant balloon modelling, and all free. That’s right folks, everything on offer was free. A whole field filled with fun and all put on by volunteers from the local community. And to those volunteers I’d like to give a great big thank you. For this is what all community fun days should be like. I take my hat off to each and every one of you.

DevilStick Peat performing the mysterious Egyptian rings of mystery (and doom)

Upon finishing my days work there, Jester Dragonfly, Stormageddon and I headed south to Faversham, deep within the mountainous countryside of Kent (Hey, I live in the fens, one of the flattest parts of England. Compared to here, the north and south downs are two mountain ranges).

Faversham Food Festival;

This year the theme for “Faversham food festival” was medieval. Hence the reason I was booked (well that and the fact that they wanted entertainment that was of the same high standard as the food on offer). Although this part of Kent is my old stomping ground where I grew up (I’d tell you more, but wouldn’t want to shock you) the food festival started soon after I left, so I had no idea what to expect. Was it going to be one or two stalls with grannies selling home made cakes and the local girl guides selling brownies (the biscuits that is, not their younger sisters. That would just be wrong)? Or loads of market stalls from all across Europe and nothing to do with Faversham? More importantly, would there be a good performance space in which yours truly could perform his repertoire of gravity defying juggling, marvellous magic and “lace my corset tighter less I split my sides laughing” comedy?

I needn’t have worried, for the Faversham food festival was a pure delight of orally sensual overload. All laid on with local business’s and local produce. After sampling the free tasters (and not just the chilli sauces) I can put my hand on my heart and say that I now know why Elizabeth Carter, editor of the good food guide, once described this area as The east Kent triangle, an area of excellence.

As for the performance area? As you can see from the photo, they couldn’t of given me a better spot, or a more responsive audience.

Performing my custom made “jumping dragons (of doom)” routine.

 

Flora, the Singleton giant.

 

It was a lovely sunny day and once the Puppet show had finished I soon had both, kids and adults seated before me. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I can say that the show went down a storm. I judge how good my show is by how much hassle the kids give me (something that I actively encourage) and even the adults joined in, shouting “oh yes it is” etc. in the right places. And the jumping dragons (of doom) fooled all of them, including the adults. There’s even a video of it on their Facebook page. It starts with a 3 ball juggling routine (The likes of which most jugglers would give their right arm to perform). Then concludes with the jumping dragons (of doom). When not performing one of my stage shows, I was engaged in one or more of my walk about routines, including the somewhat apt repeating bananas (of doom) and of cause, woodbine with his pot noodle and another type of repeating.

Other entertainment included a great traditional Punch and Judy show, may pole dancing (in September), little red riding hood and my old friend “Flora the singleton giant”. Always a favourite with the crowds as she leads the parade. Today the parade consisted of all the children entering the fancy dress competition. To my absolute horror, I was asked to be one of the judges. I hate judging the fancy dress as I’m always worried that those who don’t win will cry, or worse still, hate me even more than they hate my jokes!

Then, after the day had finished, it was full speed ahead as we headed home to get ready for the next show

The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre;

We’d been really excited about this gig. Not only because it’s more money in our pockets, but also because it’s run by some old friends of ours. Many moons ago, when I still had hair (well, more hair than I have now) there was an event called “the Snailwell medieval fayre”. Run by friends of ours this event had a real village green feel to it and was always a favourite, not just in our calendar, but also in the calendars of most local re-enactors and with good reason. Put simply it was a good, well organised event. The type where everyone, families, traders, performers and re-enactors could relax and enjoy a weekend of all that’s best about medieval England. So when they contacted us and said they were thinking of running a new event, well how could we say no.

The set up;

It was held at Stow-Cum-Quy, which is quite local to us, enabling us to arrive early on the Friday. Once there we didn’t just set up and relax, oh no, that would be too easy. Instead Jester Dragonfly took over arranging the traders and allocating pitches and I lent a hand with the ground crew, erecting tents, putting up signs etc. This meant that the main organiser had more time in which to run around whilst muttering that most famous of all event organisers incantations  “never again, not ever doing this again ever” ( we don’t call her stress free shaz for nothing). Come night fall the event had come together and was now looking like a medieval event should on the night before opening (I.E. the beer tent was open and full of strange folk in strange clothing shouting things like “hussar” and “Oi watch where you’re poking that sword”).

I’ll be honest here and tell you that when I saw the beer tent, I panicked! During our consultations with the organisers we’d recommended what we consider to be the best medieval beer tent on the circuit. The world famous “Crimson Moon Mobile Beer Tavern” (Never ever call it a beer tent. It’s so much more). They, knowing that we see a lot of beer tents at events had taken our advice and booked the best. So why did I panic? Because it wasn’t until we’d got there that we realized that it was now under new management! “What” I thought “if the range of drinks aren’t as good as they were? What if the staff are a grumpy bunch of folk who aren’t into these events? What if”??? I need not of worried. The beer was good, The cider, very good (I checked it several times, just to make sure). A full range of spirits and kids drinks were all at hand. And all served by lovely friendly staff who were in character and more than “up for it”. Indeed I was so impressed that I’m still happy to call them the best mobile medieval tavern this side of the 16th century (and no offence meant to my good friend Iain, but it takes a lot less cider to find it’s new owner sexy than it ever did him).

Saturday morning we were up early, getting the last few things sorted (I.E. putting up our tents as we were too busy helping out Friday to set up our own camp). As often happens at these types of events, there was a few last minute changes to the program, resulting in a bit of a slow start to the day. But once it got going it was a great two days of medieval mayhem, music and civilized members of the public teaching their children that is socially acceptable to screem for blood whilst watching a bunch of fully grown men beat the hell out of each other with offensively big, heavy weapons.

Music;

Music was provided by some old favourites of ours, including “The pentacle Drummers” . A lovely bunch of nutters with a thunderous repertoire of deafening drumming that puts the likes of Cozy Powell to shame (if your saying who? then you’re too young) and the perfect way to wake up a sleepy village on a sunny morn.

“Serpentyne” were also performing with their perfect mix of modern and medieval instruments, all combining to create a magical mixture that perfectly combined the best of both worlds, old and new.

The re-enactors;

Blood, guts and battles and living history were provided by several re-enactment groups including “The Knights of Honour”, “Wuffa Saxon and Viking re-enactment”, “Ealdfaeder Anglo-Saxons” and our very good friends from your local medieval re-enactment society “Phoenix Warlords medieval re-enactment society”. This wide range of households meant that you had the chance to experience a whole range of different battle tactics. For the fighting style and moves of a fully armoured knight is vastly different from that of a Viking who, although wearing less protection, has the advantage of more speed and mobility. Not that I, as a poor humble fool (all be it Britain’s best poor humble fool) know a lot about fighting. My speciality is entertainment and as such I can say that these heroic warriors were very entertaining and not just on the field of battle. For they came equipped with every thing you’d expect war bands to have. Medieval tents, women cooking around the camp fires. Phoenix even brought their very own cannon with them! It was housed next to their “have a go archery”. Probably one of the most popular side shows in the event. This was where members of the public, both young and old alike, could practice their skills with the famous English longbow. All under the expert guidance of Some of England’s premier archers.

Jousting;

Jousters Jousting

 

But what would a medieval event be without that most quintessential of medieval sports, jousting? That’s right folks, not only was all the above housed upon this, most green of England’s green fields, but they even had jousting and awesome stunt riding from none other than “The horsemen of the knight”. A foolishly brave troupe of medieval stunt riders who kept us all spellbound as, clad in shinning armour, they took part in death defying duels, charging at each other with lance in hand to the cheers, gasps and applause of public, both young and old.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they displayed amazing acrobatic feats of skill. Hand stands on galloping horses and many another feat of daring horsemanship. The sight of which would not only get your heart pumping, but also leave the stoutest members of your local pony club reaching for their large bottle of vodka.

The most violent and bloodthirsty battle England’s ever seen, ever;

Both days ended with an awesome, furious battle, the likes of which have rarely, if ever, been seen on England’s fair lawn. These were no ordinary battles, oh no. For these were battles fought by the most fearless and blood thirsty of heartless, hardened warriors. A band of marauding rabid killers known collectively as “the children”.

Armed with long lengths of  pipe cladding, soft enough to do no harm. All the children present were invited onto the field of honour to wage war upon each other. We did try to get the knights to join in, but upon seeing the unabated bloodlust and violence unleashed by these future warriors (of doom), what knights we could find were suddenly way to busy shinning shields, or hiding in the toilets saying things like “don’t send me out there. I’ll be good”. or softly sobbing “I want my mummy”.

The only person brave enough to face the children’s war band was a female stall holder. Which says so much about our fearless knights.

All joking aside, the kids loved it as it was a chance to run riot and practice all the fighting skills that they had learnt through out the day. And from the parents point of view, they could laugh at their child’s antics knowing not only that the weapons were too soft to cause any damage, but also that, worn out by this last surge of mindless violence, their children were going to sleep well that night.

Next year;

But I’ll give you a little bit of insider information. The dates for this, East Anglia’s finest medieval event, may well change next year! “What” I hear you cry! “Then how will we find out the new dates”? Fear not my trusty followers. For all you need to do is click on and like this link to “The Ancient Oak Medieval Festival Facebook Page”. Then be you a trader, re-enactor, family looking for a day out, or just someone who enjoys supping on fine ales whilst watching big hairy men beat the living daylights out of each other. The truth is you’ll be able to sleep soundly, knowing that you’ll receive updates with the new dates etc. sent straight to your very own Facebook news feed.

What’s next I hear thee cry;

But enough about battles past. For the fighting/festival season is over. Our tents are once again cleaned and stored away till next year and Stormageddon, his batteries removed, is placed safely back in his box until next spring springs upon us once more.

Birthday parties;

So what will we do now the seasons are a changing? Lots is the simple answer. We have a whole range of birthday parties we’ve been invited to. Both here in our own sweet village of Manea and further afield in London and beyond. Indeed we’ve more parties than past winters, due partly to the ever growing reputation of our entertainment and birthday circus workshops, but also possibly to the constant tweaking I’ve been doing to our website.

Now although I’m a magician, who’s just won his second world wide magicians competition (Dear Brian Watson, thank you so much for donating the coveted 1st prize wand holder trophy) I’m no website wizard. So I’m going to ask a wee favour of you all. Could you please take a few minutes to click on the “Birthday parties link” and look at the latest changes. If you’ve any suggestions then simply add them to the comments section on this blog and in return I promise to love you dearly. Each and every one of you.

The Cambridge Living History Fair;

But not only do we have birthday parties a plenty, we also have one more final yet fun filled medieval event. Namely “The Cambridge Living History fair”.

Held twice yearly the up coming autumn fair is being held at it’s usual venue in the Woodgreen animal shelter in Godmanchester, PE29 2NH. Every year this event goes from strength to strength, With more stalls, entertainment and customers than ever before. But although it’s a place to perchures all things historical, it’s not just a fair for re-enactors. For here you may see, taste and buy a number of items you’ll never find at any other market anywhere. Toys, as in real wooden wont be broken by new year cause they’re made of cheap plastic toys that, come Christmas morning, will delight children of all ages (even the grown up ones). Mead, the perfect winter warmer for those long, cold winter nights. Beautiful hand made dress’s, sown with love and care. The type that will look splendid on your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend (hey its the 21st century and who am I to judge). All these unique and splendid artefacts and many more can be found all under one roof. There’s even entertainment with story telling, my own sweet self jestering and yet more that we’re awaiting confirmation on. But it’s only on for two days, so make sure you bookmark October the 18th and 19th in your diaries and pick up some bargains galore at The Cambridge Living History Fair.

The only period event in England that can spell the word “fair” correctly.

Well that’s all for now folks. So I bid thee all a fair farewell. If you’re children are lucky enough to be coming to a birthday party I’m performing at, then do yourself a favour and stay and watch. For although billed as a children’s entertainer, I personally look on our shows as family entertainment, with gags that appeal to all ages. If you’re an event organiser looking for good wholesome entertainment, then get in touch, but hurry as we’re already getting booking for next year and are unable to clone ourselves. And if you’re looking for some excellent entertainment for your childs birthday party (or indeed, your own) then please take a look at our “Birthday parties page” and let us make your child’s birthday party so special that it not only becomes the talk of the playground, but also the envy of all the other parents.

So until next time, I bid you all, fair thee well.

Your fabulous fool

Peat

25th England’s Medieval Festival review

25th England’s Medieval Festival review

25th England’s Medieval Festival review

 

The 25th England’s Medieval Festival is truly unique in many ways, two of which are as follows;

  1. Set within the 300 acres of woodland and beautiful landscaped gardens that surround Herstmonceux castle in East Sussex, England’s Medieval Festival is the biggest medieval event of it’s kind. But don’t let the size of the grounds put you off. For the festival, ever vigilant of your needs, has a whole fleet of golf carts laid on with the sole purpose of transporting you to where ever you need to go. So if, after watching the amazing DevilStick Peat in kids kingdom, you wish to quickly travel to the jousting field, just put out your hand, stop a cart and say “Good day good knight, merrily I do ask thee to transport myself and family to the jousting field of honour”, and your wish will be granted.
  2. With the availability of camping, glamping and even rooms, you get the chance to fully immerse yourself in a by gone age of chivalry, honour and (as you don’t have to drive) mead and fine ales. Not just for a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon, not just for 3 whole days, but also for 3 whole nights!

Friday night;

Night time entertainment in the Buxom Wench tavern

“But what” I hear thee cry “Makes England’s Medieval Festival worth visiting for the entire late August bank holiday”? Well I’m glad you asked. Pour yourself a drink and sit back whilst I tell you all about an average day in the life of an England’s Medieval Festival attendee.

Imagine the scene if you can. You arrive on the Friday evening to the sight of field after field full of brightly coloured medieval tents, their banners flapping in the gentle cooling breeze. You drive right up to your already erect tent and quickly unload as your children, full of excitement, play outside on the grass. Fighting black knights and invisible dragons that only they can see. Then, once sorted, you wander down, pass kids kingdom and living history encampments to the long marquee that houses one of the bars and a stage onwhich a band is merrily playing. Here you sup on one of the many ales on offer. Your wife tries a glass of honey mead and your kids, still fuelled by the energy born of youth, run riot on the soft green lawn, stopping only to gaze in awe at some of the knights frequenting a table.

Your son timidly approaches the knights and asks to see their swords. You’re about to tell him not to bother them, after all the event doesn’t actually start till tomorrow. Too late, the largest of the knights is standing tall, slowly pulling his heavy sword from its scabbard and showing it to your son. He even allows him to hold it and pose for a photo surrounded by the other knights. A photo that he will cherish for ever and the event hasn’t even opened yet!

After the long drive to England’s Medieval Festival and a couple of surprisingly nice ales, your ready to call it a day. The trouble is your children aren’t. This isn’t a problem as you decide on a compromise. You head back up towards the campsite, then take a quick stroll down behind kids kingdom to the outside cinema. Here your kids have the chance to calm down whilst watching a medieval movie. Not only that, but it also just happens to be right next to yet another tavern, giving you the chance for a last night cap before bed.

Saturday morning;

Come Saturday morning your kids are up with the sun. It’s only 5 30a.m. but they’re so full of excitement that they’re fit to burst and your painfully aware of two things;

  1. It’s 5 30a.m.
  2. Your neighbours don’t have children and are very probably still asleep! Or worst still, now awake and planning how to get your kids, or you into the stocks.

You throw some clothes on and take the kids for a stroll whilst your wife goes back to sleep. Outside there’s a mist that wraps around you and the festival. removing you from the modern world and, like the mists of Avalon, magically transporting you back in time to a long gone age. You find yourself in one of the living history encampments. It’s eerily silent as you and your children talk in hushed tones, discussing the various implements outside the camps. Maybe you stroll through the beautiful gardens, or up into the woods, your kids wide eyed at the sight of a squirrel scrambling around on the ground before running up an ancient oak tree (the squirrel that is, not your kids). Maybe you head up to the swings and wooden play area far from tents and sleeping people (which, judging by the time of day and amount of weapons here, isn’t such a bad idea). Eventually you decide that its now a slightly more civilized hour and head back to camp. Here you meet up with your wife and head down towards the festival stalls and the wonderful smells of bacon, sizzling sausages and well needed coffee.

After a breakfast fit for a king you return to your tent and get ready for a day filled with fun, fun and fun. Your daughter is dressed in a blue and black dress with a purple cloak and looks surprisingly similar to princess Anna. Your son is dressed as a knight in armour, complete with plastic sword in hand and as you look at him, so the child inside you wishes that you too had a costume to wear.

Suddenly there’s the loud bang of a cannon firing. Rooks fly squawking from trees. You jump. Your kids scream and your wife, who’s just emerged from the tent, dives back in to change her underwear. “What was that”? your daughter asks with wide eyes. “That” you say as a smile slowly spreads across your face “means the festivals open”.

The fun begins;

As you hurry down to the festival your wife cant help but wonder who’s more excited, the kids or you. Your first port of call is the living history encampments that you wandered through earlier. Now they are a hive of activity. Smoke rises from innumerable camp fires. Here a maid is working a spinning wheel. There a lady is platting her daughters hair, as was the fashion in those days. A knight is sitting on a wooden stall, gazing intently at the long sword blade that he is running an oiled cloth along. Next to him, laid out on the ground is his armour and you stop to look at it. Another, younger knight emerges from the medieval tent, looks at your son, then says “Would you like to try it on”? Your son looks at you for the ok, his eyes wide in wonder. You nod and watch as the breastplate is put carefully over his shoulders and the full faced helmet on his head. In 5 minutes he has learnt more about medieval knights than any school history lesson could ever teach him.

You become aware that the first knight has stopped cleaning his sword and has now turned his gaze towards you. “”Sir Fredric” he says to his fellow knight “I think the young man isn’t the only one who’d like to try it on”. Any attempt to play the responsible adult has now long since left you, replaced by that inner child we all secretly house. Dressed in breastplate, chainmail and helmet and with sword in hand you turn towards your wife for a photo and as you stand there, beaming like a chester cat, so you cant help but notice not only your wifes look of approval, but also the glint in her eye as she stares at her very own knight in armour.

After the living history encampments you decide to head back towards the front of the castle and sit on a slope to its side. Here you’ll get a perfect view of what’s about to happen. The area in front of the castle is roped off and you all watch, spell bound as an argument breaks out between the leaders of the two armies. An argument that results in an epic battle known famously as,

The siege of Herstmonceux;

Projectiles fly high into the air. Crashing down onto the castle walls
Knight against Knight in mortal combat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A giant catapult, or trebuchet to use it’s proper name, launches projectile after projectile towards the castle. The sky darkens as arrows fill the air. A blood curdling cry rings out from the armies as screaming, they charge towards each other, each side set on the demise of their foes. This is no staged battle, with rehearsed moves and pulled punches. The soldiers on this field are fighting a real fight. When a sword smashes into a mans breastplate you can hear the resounding crash of metal beating upon metal, with a force that makes one wince in sympathy for his poor victim. These reenactors are men, real men, who are partaking in real fights with real, heavy weapons. They don’t get paid for it. They do it as a hobby, because that’s what they do. Where as me? I do nothing dangerous, I do it not for a hobby, but for money, and they call me the fool! (There’s something wrong there). Your sitting safely to the side, high up on a grassed bank, but still you feel a surge of adrenaline pulsating through you as spell bound, you watch as men fall whilst others roar in triumphant victory. All this and it’s not even dinner time yet.

Kids Kingdom;

medieval jester and festival performer
DevilStick Peat performing his jumping ring (of doom) magic routine

The battle over and the dead miraculously brought back to life by the crowd shouting that most magical of spells.” The beer tents open”. It’s time to enjoy the rest of the festival. Your wife wants to peruse the medieval market. Your kids want to investigate the apply named “kids kingdom”. You want to check out the medieval band that’s about to start in the beer tent. It’s not a problem, for what you miss today, you can enjoy tomorrow, or the next day. So your wife heads off towards the medieval market and you’re left in charge of the kids. You take them to the kids kingdom where, on a stage set between two oak trees, surrounded by hay bails and with a backdrop of medieval tents, a jester is getting ready for a show. Your kids head for the front row and you sit yourself at the back with the other adults.

The stage set, the jester walks on, arms raised as the crowd claps. He cuts them short, telling them that was rubbish. That his wife makes more noise than that on the toilet. Again he walks on, this time to clapping and cheers. Again he tells them it’s still not loud enough. “This time you have to clap, cheer, scream, throw little kids in the air and go crazy” he says. Again he walks on. The crowd goes truly crazy, and he hasn’t even started yet.

You thought you were going to spend half an hour bored, whilst your kids watch a children’s entertainer in a jesters costume. How wrong you were. For this is no children’s show. This is a family show. Good wholesome family entertainment for everyone. Performed not by a children’s entertainer in a costume, but by Brittan’s best ever real live jester. The one and only DevilStick Peat. But don’t be surprised, for that’s exactly what England’s Medieval Festival is all about. Good family entertainment for everyone, regardless of age.

The show is a mixture of tommy cooper type magic (all with a medieval feel) and highly skilled juggling. All of it bound together with a unique sense of humour that has you laughing as loudly as your kids. After the show Peats wife, Jester Dragonfly runs “The Jesters School of Jestering“. A juggling workshop where you and your kids can learn many of the skills DevilStick Peat used in his show. As you watch, one of her children teaches your daughter how to use a diablo, and you find yourself thinking that nothing is more authentic than a child following in her parents footsteps.

Drums, Hog Roast and Never Ending Bananas;

The awesome pentacle drummers

Then it’s dinner time and you make your way down to the front of the castle where you’ve arranged to meet your wife. She’s watching the musicians on the castle stage. You give her a peck on the cheek but say nothing. After all there’s no point in trying to talk, not while the 30 plus drummers from “The Pentacle Drummers” are playing like there’s no tomorrow. The sound of their drums is awesome. It fills your whole body. Entering via the ears it travels down to the stomach where it vibrates like thunder. Awakening some strange primeval instinct that forces your whole body to bop to the deep beat of beating drums.

Eventually their set is over and they collapse in a heap of fatigued, sweaty bodies and you go over towards the “buxom wench” beer tent. Outside and to one side, roasting over a wood fire, is a hog. It’s golden brown meat and wonderful smell makes your mouth water. You don’t care if there’s 20 people in the queue. You don’t just want, you need a roast hog bun.

You join the queue and watch as your kids play at sword fighting with other children. Suddenly they stop playing and watch gob smacked as the jester from kids kingdom comes strolling down the road. As he walks, so he removes a small white ball from his mouth. Then another one and another and another. By the time his reached you he’s taken maybe 30 balls out of his mouth and still others appear. He stops and looks into the beer tent, seemingly oblivious to the attention he’s got from the queue. Another 10 balls are removed from his mouth before he notices the children. He gives them an embarrassed smile, then another balls slowly appears in his mouth. The group of children are in hysterics as ball after ball is removed from his mouth. Then he takes a banana from his bag with his left hand. He looks at it confused, shrugs and transfers it to his right hand. As he puts it in the bag, so he notices that another banana has magically appeared in his left hand. Again he transfers it to his right hand. Again another banana appears in his left hand. Again and again, every time he takes it with his right hand, another banana replaces it in his left. He looks at the children and does it slowly, really slowly so that they can see how he does it, but of cause they cant. You look at the wide eyed look of wander in your daughters eyes and are about to point it out to your wife but stop as you realise that she too is watching with wide eyed wander and disbelief. Suddenly your aware of someone talking to you. It’s the man serving the hog roast. Your now at the front of the queue and you didn’t even notice the wait.

The Mud Stage and Jousting;

The famous mud pit stage (of doom)

Your lunch over you decide it’s time to slowly make your way up to the top field where the jousting happens. As you make your way there, so you see a stage unlike any other you’ve ever seen. Sure it’s large and square with hay bails around it, like all the other stages, but this stage isn’t made of wood. it’s made of mud. Thick, gooey, dark mud. The actors on, or rather in this stage are performing a comic slapstick routine and you stop, take a seat and watch a while. Then they ask for a volunteer. With a bullet like speed your on your feet. Unfortunately your wife’s hand is faster than a bullet and she pulls you back down again. You look at her with pleading eyes, but it’s of no use. She’s giving you “that look”. The silent one that says everything. For a second or two your disappointed, but then you remember that not only are you here for 3 whole days, but so is the mud stage. Inside you secretly smile as you decide that tomorrow you’ll make dammed sure that your here without her.

Blacksmith, movies, cider and mead;

James helping a young lady to make a pendent

The show over, you wipe mud from the children and head towards the jousting. You soon realise that, like the battle, this is not a staged show. Neither the commentator or the knights in armour know who will win this championship, or who will be planted firmly on the ground as, at lightning speed, they charge towards each other armed only with a shield and lance. This really is as true and authentic jousting as you’re ever going to see anywhere, ever.

After the joust you hail a golf cart to take you and your son over to the blacksmiths. There are many activities that you and your children can take part in at England’s Medieval Festival, and blacksmithing is just one of them. Run by James from “odyssey blacksmiths”, this is a great yet fun educational workshop and you’ve had the good sense to book it in advance. Whilst you’re there, your wife and daughter walk through the medieval market where they stumble across a stall called “Magic Mead”.  She knows that mead is made from honey, but never imagined that there were so many types of mead. Yet this stall is filled with row upon row of different flavoured meads. Raspberry mead, cherry mead, rhubarb mead and my personal favourite, chilli mead. All laid out before you with samplers on request. By the time they sit down to watch the birds of prey soaring and swooping around the royal arena, your wife has a bag with several bottles of mead. All of which I’ve tried and give my personal seal of approval too. Magic meads meads really are, well, magic.

Evening entertainment;

Eventually the afternoon turns into the early evening. For those silly enough to only have day tickets, the day is over, but not for you. For you were wise enough to buy a weekend long glamping pass. You lucky man you.

The sound of the rousting band playing in the buxom wench tavern, although raucous,  in no way interferes with “A knights tale”, the movie the kids are watching at the open air cinema as you relax with a glass of cider from the adjacent tavern. You smile as your children, now experts in all thing medieval, point out inaccuracies in the costumes. “We should think about getting some food” says your wife. You look at your watch and, in an attempt to stall for time, suggest that you let the kids watch the movie first. Then, before she can argue, you make a suggestion. “why don’t you go and put on that dress you brought today. I’ll stay here and keep an eye on the kids”.

Your wife returns just as the movie finishes. “well” she says, “what do you think”? She’s wearing the crimson medieval style dress she’d brought from one of the stalls. “radiant” you say in all honesty. “You need a necklace with that dress” says your son and he pulls out the pendent he made at the blacksmiths earlier. Its a twirly black piece of iron work and not badly made either. Your wife wears it with pride and you look at your watch. “come on kids” you say “time for dinner”.

A Meal Fit for a King;

Ready to carve the roast meat jester style

You lead your family past the food stalls and around to the castle. You cant help smiling as you just know they’re going to enjoy this meal. A meal like no other. “are you sure we’re allowed in here” asks your wife as you enter the castles drawbridge room. “Oh yes” you say as you produce some tickets that you hand over to the young maiden at the door “quite sure”. You take two glasses of mead, one for each of you and pure fruit juice for the kids. Then you lead the way up the grand staircase and into the castles banqueting hall, which is all laid out for a medieval banquet. The look of surprise on your wife’s face as she realises that you’ve booked 4 seats at the banquet makes it more than worth the money and you beam with pride as you take your seats. The meal it’s self is several courses long and between each course there’s entertainment. Sometimes minstrel’s, sometimes dancers. Near the end of the evening the king, sitting at the high table calls for his jester and in enters none other than yours truly, DevilStick Peat, the very best in “banqueting entertainment”.

Your children, who only minutes earlier were yawning sleepily are now wide awake as the highlight of their day performs another set, with different yet equally amazing and amusing magic, including his very own medieval version of the infamous “glass bottle, bottle glass” routine. Then the banquet draws to a close and you head out of the castle. Your son is dead on his feet, tiered out from the days fun filled activities and you daughter? Well she’s already asleep in your arms as you carry her back to the tent. You have no idea what she’s dreaming of, but it’s a sure bet that it involves castles, knights in armour and a certain red and yellow jester (who just happens to be available for “birthday parties”). Your wife wraps her arm around your waist, pulling you close as she whispers a thank you into your ear. It’s only two simple words, but it’s said in a way that makes you walk tall and proud.

The perfect end to a perfect day;

Once back at the tent you put the kids to bed, then head over to the campfire. It’s only a few feet from your tent, so you can keep an eye on it as you chat with other revellers. Sharing tales and highlights of the day with each other. Eventually your wife yawns sleepily and suggests that maybe it’s time to hit the sack. The campfire is warm and inviting, but so is your bed. You walk back to the tent and tell your wife that you’ll be in in a minute. You just want to enjoy the warm clear night. As you sit outside the tent, thinking about how much fun its been, you open your programme. On the timetable you cross out the bits you’ve seen and circle the bits you still want to see (or in the case of DevilStick Peat, want to see again). Then you hear your wife calling you to bed and something in her soft tone tells you that the nights entertainment is still far from over.

And that folks, is a very condensed view of just one day at England’s medieval festival. The first day, when the festivals still just warming up. So what are you waiting for? Just follow the following link and book yourself into 3 days of fun, glamping and fun at “England’s Medieval Festival”. The best medieval festival in the whole of Herstmonceux.

Up and coming events

In two weeks time we’re taking our “Total Immersion Show” to a completely new show called “The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre”. We’re actually really excited about this event as, although it’s a new event, it’s run by the same people who used to run the Snailwell medieval fayre. This means that it promises to be a great, action and fun filled event for both public and reenactors alike. Its being held on September the 23rd and 24th at Quy Park, Stow Road, Stow-cum-Quy, Cambs, CB25 9AF, United Kingdom. So if your looking for a good end of season event, then come along and say hi.

Next week we’re at not one, but two events. On Saturday the 16th I’m performing my show and walk about routines at “The Cherry Hinton Festival” in Cambridge. This is a free to enter event and full of loads of different types of things happening all day long. I performed here 2 years ago and was well impressed not only by the variety of entertainment, but also by the professional way it was run.

Then that night we head down to kent ready to again perform shows and walk about, this time at “The Faversham Food Festival”. I’ve never performed at this event before so cant comment on it, other than to say that, judging by the write up on their website they are also having a lot of none food related entertainment there. So if you’re in the area, then why not come along and say hi. You know you want to.

Other stuff

The amazing Stormageddon and the hand balance (of doom) routine.

Today we had my sons 6th birthday party. Can you believe that Stormageddon is 6 already! It only seems like yesterday that he first appeared in my show, performing the hand balance (of doom) routine. It was a pirate party and the D.J. was a very good mate of ours who goes by the name of “Andy the clown”. Not only did he dress up in a pirate costume, but he also had loads of pirate themed music. He was a brilliant D.J. and when it comes to clowning, he is nearly as funny as me.

Lastly I’m going to leave you with a song by my good friend, Vollsanger. Why? Well it’s in honour of a good friend who recently passed away. He was one of the first reenactors I ever met and very respected in the trade. So fill up your tankards, turn up the volume and join me in a toast to our good friend “Gandelf Strutt”

the biggest and best in medieval events

the biggest and best in medieval events

The first of the biggest and best in medieval events is one that’s already happened, but don’t worry, for I shall also tell you all about some that are yet to come.

 

The Loxwood Joust

spot the cool fool

The other week we were at “The Loxwood Joust“, where we were proud to be performing with our now famous  “Total Immersion Show“. Held over the first two weekends in august, this festival has fast become one of the best medieval highlights of the year.

The publics point of view

From the publics point of view it quite simply has everything you need and a lot more. Sunny meadows and shady woodland glens. Medieval music for the musical connoisseurs, battles for the bloodthirsty and children’s entertainers for kids of all ages. Add to this authentic living history encampments, birds of prey and of cause, the Loxwood jousting team and you have one of the best value for money days out ever. You name it, this festival has it. Not only that, but every year it gets bigger with new zones opening every year. This year saw the inclusion of “The Torture Zone”. With its rack and hangman this new area was a great hit with the kids and next year they’re hopping to open up another area called……… Well I’ll let Loxwood Joust tell you about that when they’re ready too.

For more on why I personally think its such a great event for the public, please check out last years review.

The re-enactors point of view

From a re-enactors point of view, its fast becoming the most sort after event of the year. The layout of the living history camps is arranged not by the organisers, but by re-enactors. I.E. people who know which households get on camped next to each other and which ones don’t. Likewise the battle is also arranged by re-enactors, I.E. people who, over the years, have learned what works for both, the public and the re-enactors. From a non-combatants point of view, it looks like a jolly good bash (in more ways than one).

Also, it’s all expertly compared by a wonderful lady who once told me off for describing her as a goddess (ok, so it was “the Morrigan”, an Irish goddess of war, but hey a goddess is a goddess, right?) .

Then, once the public have gone home, there’s the evening entertainment in the beer tent. Loxwood Joust has tried various different beer tents over the years and this years beer tent was by far the best one yet. They supplied a wide range of beers, ciders and girly drinks that could cater for a wide range of tastes. All at a very good price. Add to this the lively music and people friendly staff and you have the perfect place to celebrate surviving both, the battle and the publics questions (is that real fire).

Also, as its on for not one, but two consecutive weekends, so the organisers allow participants to stay on site in between shows, free of charge! This makes it the perfect base for daytrips with the kids, or simply somewhere to chill with like minded souls as you practice your archery or sword skills.

The only down sides are

A) It’s only on for two weekends (although I am trying to convince them to take the whole show on tour, all summer long. Please join me in badgering them into this)

B) It’s now so popular with re-enactors that they are having to turn people away due to lack of space.

So if you want to be part of Britain’s best bash, then I have not just one, but two bits of advice.

1) Contact them now, while there’s still spaces left for the 2018 shows.

2) Make sure that you can supply everything that you offer. From an organizers point of view, there’s nothing worse than leaving a big space for 15 tents, only to have a mere 3 turn up (you know who you are).

My point of view

As for myself and why I not only like, but love the Loxwood joust? There’s a multitude of reasons. The main ones of which are as follows;

My trusty pet polecat Woodbine and I working at the entrance to the famous “Loxwood Joust”.

 

The organiser is not only very good at his job, but also a really nice guy, someone I class as a friend. Which makes working with him almost as pleasurable as taking his money. Everyone, public or otherwise are genuinely pleased and excited to be there. This gives the whole event a buzz that is often missing at other gigs. The public that attend are a great happy crowd that are up for a laugh. Many of them have been coming every year since the event began (and still laugh at my jokes). Often they will comment on our children and how much they’ve grown since last year. A true sign that it’s not just a family event, but a family event where everyone, performer, re-enactor and public, feel part of that family.

Then there’s the evenings. Once the public have wandered their weary yet happy way home and my family are safely tucked in for the night, there’s a dozen or more camp fires that I’m welcomed at. Some are known as party fires (not for the faint hearted). Others are frequented by families with young children, or are known as quiet gathering where one can chillax and discuss the battle and the interesting people that you slaughtered on the field of honour, whilst supping on an ale or mead like the civilised killers that you are.

In short this event is truly unique in the sense that it really does have something for everyone, be you public or re-enactors, party animals or families. The Loxwood Joust 2018 is the place to be. So be there, or be an equilateral rectangle.

“That’s all well and good” I hear you say, “but what about events yet to come”?

Patience oh reader, patience. For all is about to be revealed. Starting with the largest medieval event in the whole kingdom (shouldn’t that read queendom, or am I just being picky)? An event known as

England’s Medieval Festival

(Or “Hersty” to those in the know)

Held over the 3 days of the late August bank holiday at Herstmonceux castle, deep in the East Sussex countryside, “England’s Medieval Festival” is a medieval pageant par excellence. With multiple stages, a wet weather contingency plan (which, according to the forecast, we wont need) and a large, village square type medieval market, this is a festival the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. As well as battles, jousting, music and entertainment to suit everyone, it also has camping, glamping and a medieval banquet (held in the castles banqueting hall).

medieval jester and festival performer
DevilStick Peat performing his jumping ring (of doom) magic routine at England’s medieval festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year is the festivals 25th year, and to celebrate that fact they’re pulling out all the stops, with even more fun than ever before. But don’t worry, there will still be all your old favourites, like the battles, jousting and of cause, the worlds best ever jester, the one and only Stormageddon (aided by his two sidekicks, DevilStick Peat and Jester Dragonfly).

Then in late September (the 23rd and 24th there of) we’re performing at a brand spanking new medieval event.

The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre

Held in the beautiful grounds of Quy park in Stow-cum-quy, Cambridgeshire, “The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre” may be the newest event on the calendar, but the organisers have a long history of putting on great medieval events, including the Snailwell medieval fayre, which used to be held near the village of Snailwell.

If this event is anything like those ones were, then I’m going to have sooooo much fun and if you come along and join us, then so will you.

Well that’s all for now folks. As its late on the Thursday evening and tomorrow I have to perform in a local event before heading down to and setting up at England’s medieval festival. Hope to see you all there.

Your cool fool

Mr D.S. Peat

 

Stormageddon’s view of it all

Stormageddon’s view of it all
Sir Stormageddon the cute

I apologise for the fact that it’s been so long since the last blog entry. This is because DevilStick Peat and Jester Dragonfly have been so busy performing that they just haven’t had the time to put pen to paper, let alone finger tips to keyboard. That’s why this entry is being written by the true star of our shows, the one and only Stormagedden.

Girl Guiding

Well since the last entry mummy and daddy have helped me at various events. We’ve ran juggling workshops for various brownie and guide groups and daddy even earnt his girl guides circus badge! These are diffrent from our normal circus workshops, as they a specially designed to get them through their respected badges. When we tought our local guides pack we were joined by two of my sisters, nat and Sophie. Nat is great at teaching diabolo, Sophie is great with poi and I’m great at looking cute and getting all the girl guides to fuss me and tell me how sweet I am (cause I is).

Birthday Parties

We’ve also worked at several birthday parties, where daddy performs his magic juggling show (the one that has juggling and magic in it). Then mummy and daddy teach all the girls and boys how to juggle, stilt-walk and plate spinning. I like birthday parties. O.K so having to watch daddies show and pretend to laugh at his jokes is boring, but there’s always cake, crisps and e numbers to eat before the car journey home. Quite why adults insist on giving me e numbers before putting me in a confined space is beyond me, but they’re adults, so they must know best.

Battle Medieval Fayre

Then daddy had a weekend away at the Battle Medieval Fayre. Although i didnt go this year, i know from previous years just what a great event this is.

It’s always held on the late may Bank holiday, is free to enter and has loads of things going on. There’s, drummers drumming, a parade that parades through the town, may pole dancing around the maypole, fighting knights in armour fighting with swords and lots more.

Daddy says that this was the first real proper paid gig he ever done, many moons ago when I was but a twinkle in his eye. “What” said I “when you still had hair and a six pack”? I was sent to bed early that night.

Home-Ed Circus Camp

Then Mummy and Daddy took my 3 sisters and I to the foolhardy home ed circus camp.

Held in the school holidays (although why when they are home educated is beyond me) this week long camp is where home educated children get the chance to train alongside professional circus artist. For 4 hours a day, every day classes are held in age appropriate groups. In the Foolhardy Circus  big top the older children train hard in skills such as trapeze, juggling, clowning and magic. In the 2 slightly smaller panic family circus big tops the middle and younger children also train in tightrope, juggling, clowning etc.  I even got to demonstrate how to use the tightrope to the younger kids. Then, in our very little big top  (a mere 14 foot across) parents can relax with a cuppa whilst thier babies enjoy the shade offered by our tents,  or practice thier own juggling skills care of our workshop equipment whilst kids listened to stories or raced on bouncy dragons (of doom).

Daddy says it’s not a well paid gig, but it’s an important one as some of these kids really will be the next generation of circus and festival performers. In deed, several of them already have the skills and stage presents of a pro. I don’t know about that, but I do know that next to the tea urn there’s always an endless supply of biscuits which, togeather with the nightly shows makes it the best circus camp I’ve ever been to ever.

Templecombe Medieval Pageant

Unfortunately daddy had to leave a couple of days before the camp finished as he was booked to perform at the Templecombe medieval pageant down in the west Country. It must be so hard for daddy, having to leave mummy and his 4 lovely children, just so that he can spend 3 nights surrounded by hardened drinkers. Oh how he must of missed us. Apparently the land owner has had a new sheep pen built that just happens to look like a medieval tavern. It was all paid for by donations from re-enactors. The names of which are proudly displayed on Shields that adorn the walls and ceilings. And there, hanging over the bar was the name of another jester, Firery Jack (who is not only my God daddy, but also nearly as funny as daddy). I understand that daddy is in negotiations with them about having a shield put up above Firery Jack’s. One that says

“DevilStick Peat, funnier than”!

Country Fairs

We’ve also been working at various country fairs. These included the Cambridge town and country fair. A really big, free to enter event on parkers piece, right in the middle of the city, and Dansan park country fair, in Dansan park in London and the Rockingham country fair at Rockingham castle.

I love the country fairs as some of my bestest friends ever go to them. There’s Stan, the bouncy castle man. I love stan almost as much as I love his really tall bouncy slides and one of my jobs at these festivals is to incourage other children to go on them. I do this by spending hours and hours running up and sliding down them. It’s really hard work but I don’t mind because I love Stan and want to help him.

Then there’s the land train. They always get me to ride on the back and help people get on and off. Again it’s hard work, having to smile and wave as we pass people, but it does give my legs a little brake before I go back to stans bouncy castles.

And of cause there’s Sue. I love Sue and when I grow up I’m going to marry her. She works for Totally Alive and let’s me help her feed some of them and put them away at night. Then, after we’ve finished work, if she’s been good, I take her to the beer tent and read her a story from one of my school books before I go to bed.

Totally Alive also have ferrets, goats, sheep, cute little rabbits that you can pet, birds of prey (that you cant pet), ponies, all sorts of weird and wonderful chickens and of cause, last but by no means lest, blue the wallaby.

Corporate Event

We even done a corporate event last month. It was the companies 30th birthday. So it’s owner hired out a country pub and put on a big medieval party in the beer garden. There was birds of prey and stocks where you could throw sponges at management and tug of war and bands. Mummy and daddy even done their fire juggling routines in the night time. But the bestest bit of all. Even better than the bouncy castles, was the padding pool. It was full of really cold water and had bottles of soft drinks in it, but that’s not what made it so great. What made it so great and even more awesome than the power rangers was the water pistols. Imagine a foam rubber bicycle pump filled with water. One that can shoot a jet of water 30 foot across a field. Add to this loads of hyper excited children and a really hot day. Within about 5 minutes of the event opening I was drenched from head to foot, as was every other child, and any adults silly enough to get within range.

They even gave me 2 to take home and daddy says his going to have loads of fun taking them to events where he can shoot friends whilst remaining hidden in his tent.  But apparently  I’m not allowed to tell you that,  so I won’t.

Charity work

We’ve also performed free of charge for various good causes like the kingsfield school summer fete. Daddy says it’s important to support your local community, but personally I think he does it for the box of chocolates they give him every year.

Well that’s just some of the highlights of the last couple of months. But before I sign off and go back to my other job (I.E. being the multi coloured power ranger,  but shhhhh,  that’s a secret) I best tell you a little about some up and coming events.

Loxwood Joust

Me, relaxing at last years Loxwood Joust

This weekend we’re at the 2nd of this years Loxwood Joust. Held over the first two weekends of August this is by far the bestest and most unique medieval event of the year. It’s got men in armour fighting for king and country, super cool jousting, lovely music from the medieval babes, a witches wood and lots more, including a brand spanking new torture area with blood, guts and all the other really cool stuff that us kids love.

My sisters and I will be there both weekends running my Total immersion Show (with a little help from mummy and daddy). And this year I’m going to try and remember not to leave the top layer of finger skin stuck firmly to the really really  hot fire box!

You can read all about last year’s joust and just how much fun it was here

The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre

We’re also performing at a brand new medieval event in September.  it’s  called “the ancient oak medieval fayre” and is being organised by the same people who used to run the Snailwell medieval festival. Mummy says that means it’s bound to be a fun filled gig with a nice family feel to it. Daddy says that one day all these event organizers will learn how to spell “fair”.

British Juggling Convention

Next April we’re all going to the British juggling convention in Canterbury. Daddies been asked to perform in the big, posh public show. He says its not the first time his been asked to perform at it, but it’s still a great honour to perform for some of the worlds best jugglers ever. Jugglers, clowns and circus type folk from all over the world will converge on Canterbury for 9 whole days of fun, juggling and circus type things. Apparently there will be lesions in everything from “this is how to juggle” right through to “this is how to juggle 9 balls behind your back”! And lots of shows, games, and fun fun fun.

On the subject of how to juggle, heres a little video of me teaching 3 ball juggling

Welll hats all for now as I have to go and fight the monsters in my bedroom.  The imaginary ones that only I can see (cause I’m a super hero)

Yours

Stormageddon

(Power ranger, super hero and jester)

Aged 5

(But very nearly 6)t

Happy Aprils fools day

Happy Aprils fools day

A slightly belated “happy aprils fools day” to  all our readers. And what a great Aprils fools day we had. But before I tell you all about it, let me start by telling you that we’ve recently made some changes to our website and would love to hear your views on them.

Our “birthdays page has new, more up to date photos and we now also have a special page for our “brownie circus performers badge workshop“. Please take a look and give us your views etc via the comments section at the end of this blog.

East of England food festival:

It only seems like yesterday that we put all of our festival kit away for the winter. Yet already we’ve had to clean the kit, take the dust cover off Stormageddon and change his batteries. “Why”?. Because it’s festival season again. Indeed we’ve already got a few under our belts.

Only last weekend we were performing at the “East of England food festival”. This is a well established show with a great reputation and despite the wind, it was well attended by both the public and traders.

I was in oral heaven as various stalls took it upon themselves to keep the cool fool fed. A wonderful lady selling succulent Indian food would accost me several times daily with bags of freshly cooked pakora and spicy samosas.

Farr Brew porter. You’d be a fool to say no

Those wonderful folk from “A moment in time” were doing a display of medieval cookery and, on discovering that we’re vegetarians promptly decided to make their display medieval vegetarian cookery, and very yummy it was.

The “Farr brew” brewery thought it would be good to have a photo taken of me holding one of their bottles of Porter.  Obviously I couldn’t be seen to endorse a product I haven’t tried, but I can now tell you that their Porter is a true work of art. As are both their dark and light bitters. I’ve heard a rumour that they will soon be releasing a new “joker ale”. I so hope that they want me to endorse that as well. Maybe I can do a deal with them where they use my logo on the bottles and I get a lifetime supply of joker ale.

But it wasn’t just fine food and drink that was on offer that weekend. There was also several marquees of craft stalls, including the lovely lads from “Lord and lama“.

These two gentlemen specialise in wooden, handmade works from far off exotic lands. Here you can pick up anything from a bespoke flower vase to a large teak table, or maybe you’d like a set of hand carved garden chairs with 7 foot high backs, all carved like giant oak leaves?

Stormageddon and jester Dragonfly weren’t at this event, so we didn’t have the full set up, but the fool was set up and running over the two days, performing his own brand of zany humour and magic. If you missed it then dont worry, as at the end of this blog I’ll tell you where we’re performing next (cause I’m nice like that).

Festival of fools:

Stormageddon in his new motley (that’s the correct term for a fools clothes)

This weekend, being April’s fools day, we headed up north to “Alnwick castle” in Northumberland.

We traveled up there via nottingham so as to pick up Stormageddon’s  new motley from those wonderful wizards of costumes and creations, “Brighid designs“. Who just happens to be one of the best creative costumers in the business. If you want anything from a handmade, unique wedding dress to a 17th century pirate coat (or even an amalgamation of the two), then these really are the folk to see. Please, dont confuse them with “bridget designs“. Although they are both outstanding in their fields, the latter is an amazing website designer. Funnily enough, I knew a scarecrow who was also called bridget, and he was outstanding in his field as well (think about it).

“But why” I hear you ask “did we choose to spend Aprils fools day at Alnwick castle”? Well I shall tell you. Alnwick castle is not just the ancestral home of the Duke of Northumberland  (who still lives there) and where several of the quidditch and broom flying parts of Harry Potter were filmed, but also one of the last castles to have a residential fool! So where else could be more symbolic than the lawns of Alnwick castle.

Oh, and the other reason is that they paid us to be there. Indeed this weekend they hired in a total of 4 fools (5 if you include our zany, the infamous Stormageddon) to partake in their festival of fools. An event that they hope to put on around this time every year!

On one part of the lawn was 2 fools known collectively as “Zooted”. I’ve known them for a good number of years and can say in all honesty that they are nearly as good as myself. On the other side was ourselves, with 3 of our medieval tents, the jesters school of…….well……….jestering and my magic and juggling shows.

The highlight of the shows for me was getting the chance to gatecrash a really posh wedding banquet that was happening in another part of the castle and perform a couple of quick impromptu routines for the bride and groom. But the highlight of the whole weekend must have been the B&B we stayed at.

Like father like son

Wedding anniversary:

We arrived at “The Alndyke farm ” B&B friday evening and were greeted by its owner, Laura.  She’s the type of woman that you instantly feel at ease with and, upon learning that we’d be leaving before breakfast time, said she’d leave milk and cereal out for us. The room was lovely, with a single bed for storm, a massive double bed for so many pillows, we could of used a different one every day.

The next day was Saturday, the first of April. Now this date isn’t just special to us because it’s April fools day. It’s also special because it just happens to be the day I got married! And funny enough, it also just happens to be the day that my wife also got married. Well, when else could a fool do something so foolish? Besides, it’s a date I can remember.

Work went well with large crowds for both, our shows and our workshops. So when we got back to Alndyke farm we were well and truly tiered (except for stormageddon who runs on duracell batteries). Unbeknown to me, my wife had told Laura that it was our wedding anniversary and given her some banners and balloons to put up in the room. To get back to that was a wonderful surprise for me. Then we noticed the bottle.

Thank you Alndyke farm B&B, it was a lovely surprise

Laura,  upon discovering that it was our wedding anniversary had gone out and brought us a bottle of champagne! It was a lovely gesture and something that I’ll remember for years to come. It’s little things like that which make special days magical and one of the many reasons why I really can’t recommend this lovely, family run business highly enough. If you’re ever looking for a relaxing break in some wonderful english countryside, at a B&B that looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is, then check out Alndyke farm. You really won’t be disappointed.

Sundays weather was a lot warmer than Saturdays, so the crowds were even larger. James, the castles events manager came to watch my show and was impressed, not only by my linking rings (of doom) routine (of which I am immensely proud), but also by some of our bespoke, custom made magic props, designed to look medieval and professionally made just for us. After all, you can’t have plastic props in a medieval show, that would just be wrong.

 

Eventually the day came to an end, the crowds went home and we were left to break camp, pack the trailer, then head back to the B&B where Stormageddon  and Jester Dragonfly fell asleep in front of the telly, leaving me to relax, practising my latest trick. I don’t want to say to much about it yet, but if all goes well then this summer I’m going to be performing a close up magic routine that really will blow your minds. All I’ve got to do now is practice, practice and practice.

Having fallen off of my broomstick, it then hovered back down to me.

Monday morning came along and, after checking out of the B&B, we headed back to the castle to play at being members of the public. The state rooms are truly stunning and give a big insight into the “upstairs downstairs” life of times gone by. I was particularly moved by their display about employees who joined the forces to fight in the 2 world wars.

Then Stormageddon and I took part in the Alnwick castle “broomstick flying lessons“. These are great fun and very well taught. They also include some great tips for photos of the students flying. Both Stormageddon and I loved it. Infact, Stormageddon loved it so much that he took part in it not once, but twice!

The morning quickly turned into the early afternoon. So, with a long way to go, we decided to head homeward, back to Manea and the fools house. Once home it was time to unpack and clean the equipment before reloading, ready for our next event.

“But what is your next event”? I hear you cry. Well we’ve got an action packed summer full of events, including some old favourites, such as “The loxwood joust“. This is surely the best medieval event in the country. Infact it’s so good that it happens not once but twice! Always on the first two weekends of August. There’s also some new ones like “The Berkshire easter craft and country fair” near reading. Held on easter Sunday and monday, this is an action packed show with entertainment all day every day. Then, on 22nd and 23rd of April we’re performing at the Calne ST Georges day medieval reenactment in, well,  Calne. This is a wonderful event. It’s put on by our dear friends from “The white hart coaching hotel” and is guaranteed to bring you all a taste of life in medieval times. Not just the excitement of Knights fighting for honor on the field of valour, but also living history where you can see and chat to all sorts of folk from days gone by.

Well that’s all for now folks. Please take a look at the new improved “Birthdays page” and make any comments via the comments link below. Also, my facebook page “DevilStick Peat” now has 949 likes. That’s so close to the magic 1,000. So if you haven’t liked it yet, please do so and in return we at the fools house promise to love you for ever


 

winter past and spring to come

winter past and spring to come

As spring is in the air and Christmas is now nothing more than a distant memory, empty biscuit tins and sellotape marks on the ceiling, so I thought that it’s about time I enthralled you with yet another riveting blog describing the life, times and tribulations of a modern day medieval fool.

Here at the fool house we’ve had a great winter season. Some of the highlights of which were as follows:

Melford Old Christmas Fair.

devilstick peat performs at christmas fairs
The long melford olde christmas fair lantern parade

This was a wonderful event put on by the local people of long Melford. I must say that they really know how to push the boat out. There was a Santa’s grotto, reindeer, stalls galore, wondering magicians and of cause, yours truly was there. Performing shows and walkabout routines. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, at the end of the day they had a lantern parade through the town. This was a particularly nice touch as it gave the local children (including the grown up ones) a chance to show off their home made lanterns and really put everyone in a christmassy mood.

You can see photo’s and find out details about this year’s fun packed event via this red coloured link to their facebook page.

Santa Claus.

devilstick peat performs as a magic performing santa claus
When Jester Dragonfly came to visit Santa, guess which book I found her in?

This year I had the privilege of being allowed to play santa, not once, but twice! (and only one child was heard to say “hey, Santa sounds just like storms daddy”). O.K. so I didn’t get paid for it. Well, not in money anyway. But this job isn’t just about the money. It isn’t just about the look on their faces when Santa does some magic (although that is one of the best parts). It’s about playing with and feeding a child’s imagination. And with that comes both, great satisfaction and great responsibility.

Do it right. Feed his imagination in the correct way, and he’ll grow up to be an imaginative adult. Just like the ones who had the imagination to dream of a world where telephone lines could link computers, or of incubators to help keep newborn babies alive. O.K. that might sound extreme to you but, as some of you may know, in my role of a humanitarian, I have done around a dozen tours of conflict and war zones. Here I’ve met children whose imagination has been fed the wrong way. Children who quite literally havent even smiled in over a year. How many of them are now members of Islamic state is anyone’s guess. Look at it that way and you realize just how important our job is.

BBC INTERVIEW

And that brings me to yet another of my winter highlights. I was approached by BBC radio cambridgeshire and asked if I’d be willing to talk about my work in war zones live on radio! It was broadcasted at 9A.M. on the 22nd of January on a program called “Nic Conrad on sunday”.

Devilstick peat about to be interviewed by the BBC about performing in war zones
DevilStick Peat at the BBC studio’s

This is like a local radio version of desert Island disks. Nic played a selection of my favorite tunes (ranging from “Puff the magic dragon” to “The time warp”) and in between we chatted about my life. I openly admit to being very nervous at the start. Not least because the last time the BBC interviewed me about my work in war zones they asked the sort of questions that you really shouldn’t (E.G. what’s the worst thing you’ve seen!). However I have to say that Nic was brilliant. Not only was he sensitive to the subject matter, but he really made me feel relaxed. It felt more like a natter with a mate than an interview.

 

You can hear the whole thing here. But hurry as it’s only available for another 11 days

Other highlights.

our circus skills badge session starts with our demo and ends with the students demo
Stormageddon and DevilStick Peat teaching Brownies how to use the equipment safely.
whole brownie, girl guide and scout packs get their circus skills badge in one session with devilstick peat
Juggling 3 scarves.
Scarves are perfect for learning the basic juggling pattern as they are so slow and floaty

We’ve been doing a fair few workshops over the winter. Including brownie and rainbows circus badge workshops. When not jestering, Jester Dragonfly volunteers as the local girl guiding district commissioner. So we do a special, discounted rate workshop aimed at getting whole brownie packs through their circus badge (including the art section) in one night. I love doing these as the ladies who run the packs always seem to get more joy out of the sessions than their brownies do. More than once we’ve had a brownie leader squeal with delight as they get a plate spinning or a flowerstick up and flying. In Fact they’re so much fun that we now have a new page on the website, especially for the Brownies circus performers badge workshops

We also ran a workshop for a special needs group of young adults in the town of March. We’d been paid to run a workshop for them earlier in the year and it was just so much fun, that we offered to come back again for free around christmas time.

Again, it’s not just about the money in this trade, it’s also about enjoying the work and this group are a real pleasure to work with. Both Jester Dragonfly and I were surprised by just how much they’d remembered from our last visit. A sure sign that they’d had fun.

Up and coming events.

But enough of this nostalgic reminiscing. For winter is past, and spring, with its daffodils and snowdrops is once again upon us (Hence the reason their threatening snow). So it’s time to look forwards and let you know not only a little about what we’ve got planned for this coming year, but also how to get those all important discounted tickets!

Once again we will be performing at all our regular events, including, but limited to;

Battle Medieval FayreA lovely little event that’s held outside Battle Abbey in east sussex every year on the late may bank holiday. There’s no discounted tickets avalible for this event, but that’s because it’s totally free to enter.

The loxwood JoustHeld at loxwood near Guildford over the first two weekends in August. This event ranks as one of the best medieval events in the country. It has everything you’d expect to see and a lot more besides. A great day out for the whole family. Discounted tickets can be found on their website (Follow the red link above).

England’s Medieval FestivalThis year the event, which is held at Herstmonceux castle in east sussex, is celebrating it’s 25th year. This has always been a big, spectacular event, but this year they’re really pushing the boat out to make it the best ever. It even has camping, glamping and bed and breakfast as well as a wonderful nightly medieval banquet. Discounted tickets can be found on their website (Follow the red link above).

The Cambridge Living History Fair. Well attended by traders, re-enactors and the public

But the very next event we’re performing at is “The Cambridge Living History Fair” on the 18th and 19th of February. I’m not going to go into too much detail about this event as there’s already a review of it in one of my earlier blogs. If you missed it, then you can view it hereFor more info about those attending, or to book yourself a stall, please check out their facebook pageSurfast to say that there’s not just stalls galore selling goods from all historic periods, but there’s also some wonderful entertainment guaranteed to amaze and amuse the whole family. So if you’re looking for an unusual valentines present for your partner, why not treat them to a day at the fair.

Then, on the 25th and 26th of March, we’re performing our “Total Immersion Showat “The east Of England Food Festival”. This is a wonderful event that’s held at The herst county showground, AL3 7TP.

This is a fantastic, fun filled festival of food, crafts and good wholesome family entertainment. There’s even going to be various personalities from masterchief attending.

So if you’re looking for a cheap, fun filled day out for all the family, then come along and join in the fun.You can even buy discounted tickets simply by following this link.

 

After that we pack up and head up north to Alnwick castle. here we’ll be spending April the 1st and 2nd celebrating Aprils fools day with various other fools. More info on that festival to follow latter.

As for all the other events we’re performing at. Well, I’ll tell you about them nearer the date. For now we’ll going to keep you in suspense.

“But What if I miss the next blog” I hear you cry. “Then I wont know where to see you”!

Fear not my friend. For all you need do is join that merry band of faithful followers who have subscribed to my blog. It’s really easy to do. Just enter your email address into the link at the top right hand side of the blog home page then click on the bit that says “sign up”, easy-peasy. That way you’ll get an email every time I post a blog and don’t worry. We at the fool’s house take privacy very seriously and promise not to sell or give your details to anyone else.

Well that’s all for now folks. I’m going to bid you all “hail and farewell”, switch off the computer, then stare out of the window at the snow clouds over head and think about how lucky I am to spend the winter in england with a wife and kids, as opposed to those horrible long gone winter days of freedom spent traveling around the beaches of India.

Yours foolishly

DevilStick Peat

My review of The Cambridge living history fair

My review of The Cambridge living history fair

Before I tell you all about “The Cambridge Living History Fair“, let me firstly apologize for the late posting of this blog. We’ve had massive computer issues here at the fool house. I.E. no computer. But, because I know how much you all look forward to my blog, and have no doubt been wondering if you’ve missed my latest chapter in the life of a modern day medieval fool, so those wonderful people at “Bridgit designs” have added a new app to my website. If you just look to the right of the main blog page, you will see a piece that says “subscribe to the blog”. Just add your email address and every time I write a new entry, you’ll get an email to let you know. Thereby insuring that you need never again panic over whether or not you’ve missed another chapter in this, thrilling insight into the world of foolery.

Lastly, I’d like to give a special thank you to Evi Watts for the wonderful photographs. More of her

work can be found on her Facebook page at “Evi Watts photography

What is a living history fair?;

October saw me working at “The Cambridge living history

I say magic words......... "Magic words"
I say magic words……… “Magic words”

fair”. Which isn’t actually held in Cambridge, but at Woodgreen animal sanctuary. Which isn’t actually in Woodgreen, but in Godmanchester.

“But what” I hear you ask “is a living history fair”? Well read on oh ardent reader, and all shall be revealed.

A living history fair is a themed market. A place where purveyors of all things historical gather together to sell their wonderful wares. Here you can buy anything from Viking arrows to Victorian antiques, full sized spinning wheels to fabulous silverware and a lot more besides.

If you want the juggling jesters (of doom) scream "yes"
If you want the juggling jesters (of doom) scream “yes”

Even if you’re not into history or re-enactment, there’s still lots of goodies guaranteed to tempt you. There’s medieval mead, period novels, beautiful handmade dresses, super soft sheep skins and surprisingly unique Christmas presents galore. Things like classic toys and games made from real wood (none of your cheap plastic rubbish here) and large unicorn bean bags that would look great in your little princess’s bedroom. You could even walk away having hired a roman legion or joined a period polish army.

And at this particular fair, unlike so many others, you needn’t worry about the kids getting bored as you wander around, awe struck by the goods for sale. For Bernie, the organizer of “The Cambridge Living History Fair” hires in some great family entertainment for…….. well, all the family.

 

The ninth legion of the roman empire was there, teaching young legionnaires skill at arms with short sword and shield. A story teller brought to life an age when dragons roared, heroes quested, and lovers? well they done what lovers do best. There was even an amazing harper playing ageless ballads and of cause, yours truly was there, performing a range of walk about and stage shows that appealed to to of all ages, from 4-400.

Saturday, day one;

I arrived on the Saturday morning and was pleased to see many familiar faces. Not just people I know, but people who I class as real friends, all gathered together under one roof. This weekend was going to be fun. All I had to do was perform, have fun and not spend too much money on all the glorious goodies that

Please let it work, just once
Please let it work, just once

were up for grabs.

In between shows I was performing walk-about routines. This gave me a chance to catch up with old friends. Reminisce about shows gone by and maybe try or comment on their latest products.

One such trader was the infamous Dr T. Bottom, owner of “The Trolls Bottom” bar and a man with a real passion for making fine flavored spirits. One of his latest concoctions is a smooth and deceptively mellow “honey rum”. He wanted my opinion on it and well, it’s good to help your friends, so I tried a little taster. Was it yet another one of his finer wonders? Well let’s put it this way. I walked away a little poorer and he was now minus one bottle and a little richer.

 

Martin from “Cowleys Fine Foods” was also there with his jerked meat and vegan thingies stall. With his “brake lights red” hair and “lieutenant sharp green” millitary tailcoat, Martain is a somewhat colourful and flamboyant person. He has a northern accent and the abillity to take what to you and I may, at first glance, sound like unlikely foods, such as horse, kangaroo and scorpion, and turn them into culinary delights such as kangaroo marinated in thai green curry sauce. Marketed as “Tank girl treats, Thai me kangaroo down”.

If foreign foods aren’t your thing, then how about his “My brittle pony, pony expressso”. Here’s what his website says about it.

The amazing knife juggling (of Doom) routine
The amazing knife juggling (of Doom) routine

“This is a new addition to our range, horse meat is lean, healthy and full of flavour. This jerky is made with espresso coffee, Dijon mustard, garlic and a dash of Soy Sauce and is guaranteed to contain no horse meat substitutes such as beef. Once opened it needs to be eaten within 5 years.

But my favourite thing about his stall. the thing that makes my mouth water every time I think about Cowleys fine foods, is his range of chilli thingies. From dried chilli mushrooms to thick moist chilli sauces, this stall has it all. His sauces come in a variety of strengths, from sissy weak to “ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch”, but all of them come with a decadent depth of flavour that washes over you in waves that, depending on the sauces strength, can be anything from ripples on the shore to surf that tsunami. Somehow I managed to enter his stall to try a taster, pay for one bottle, yet walk out with 3! Not that I’m complaining.

Another one of those old friends is “Bernie The Bolt“. bernie isn’t just the organizer of this event. he also runs a historical haberdashery. Selling rolls of felt, cotton and the finest silks. All of which are needed by re-enactors from all periods. Oh, and there’s one other thing bernie is known for. Bernie is what I call “one of nature’s gentlemen”. A nicer, more honest chap you’d be hard to find anywhere.

 

As I stopped to chat with him, so I couldn’t help but notice a large roll of bright red felted wool. The type that would look really good in my next motley. I knew that I had no choice but to buy some. Not so much because I wanted it, but because I knew that my wife, Jester Dragonfly would also spot it, and it takes a braver man than me too stand between her and my hard earned wages.

So far the not spending too much of my wages part of the plan wasn’t actually going to plan, but hey, you know what they say about a fool and his money. As for the rest of the plan, I.E. perform and have fun, that at least was going well. So two out of three aint bad.

Saturday night;

Saturdays work came to a close and I was given a lift home by Rachel of “Brighid Designs”, our favorite seamstress of choice. She has made some wonderful creations for Jester Dragonfly, but the main reason we use her is because it’s hard to improve on perfection. Her two children had spent the day at the fool house, playing with Stormageddon and we arrived home to find a lovely home made meal, all piping hot and waiting for us. Andy the storyteller had also joined us and was staying the night at our house. It felt quite Walton-esk as children and adults crammed around the dining table passing bowls of munchies from person to person. Plates became laden with food, cleared of food, then re-ladened again. Then, with bellies bigger than Donald Trump’s mouth, we retired to the sitting room for an evening of polite chat before bed.

The fool on harp
The fool on harp

Sunday, day two;

Sunday was very similar to the day before, but with one difference. Sunday I took my harp “Leanne Shee” with me.

Leanne is a 26 string lever harp made by “Starfish Designs” up in scotland. Although they are not the cheapest of harps, and last time I checked there was around a year’s waiting time between ordering and collecting your harp. The fact is Starfish harps are more than a practical, performance grade harp. They are practical, performance grade works of audio art, and the after care you receive from their small team of experts is second to none. I’ve never had a harp like her, she is worth every penny and then some.

I gave her the name “leanne Shee” as it’s a play on the Irish words “Leannan Sidhe”. The leannan Sidhe are irish fairy folk. They are generally depicted as a beautiful muse who falls in love with and offers inspiration to a bard in exchange for for his love and devotion. However, although this results in him composing wonderful works of music, it also drives him into madness and premature death. But hey, that’s the celts for you. They love a happy ending.

Playing harp in a hall full of my peers, as well as more than one historical musician wasn’t scary. It was terrifying. So I found a quiet spot and sat with my back against the wall. Then I placed Leanne on my lap and my fingers on her strings. I then waited a few seconds as I took a deep breath or two, then started to play.

Devilstick Peat going twang
Devilstick Peat going twang

Thankfully I got many compliments for my playing and more than one person was surprised when the fool proved that he could actually knock out a half decent tune or two. Hitting all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order. One stall holder was so impressed that he felt compelled to leave his stall and come over and compliment me. Telling me that I was the best live music he’d heard all weekend! It was only latter that I realized that I was the only live music he’d heard all weekend.

A good friend of mine, Chad, was so impressed that he put a clip of it on youtube. Which can be viewed here

Dr T. Bottom must of seen how nervous I was as he offered me yet another taster to calm my nerves. This time it was a drink known as “Cloudy water”. My view of which is thus:

If you had a good night last night and awoke with a cloudy head, then cloudy water is what you need. It will not only clear your head with all the vigour of a blackboard eraser, but also (if drunk in sufficient quantity), knock you out again until tal pain has past. An aniseed based drink that is not so much a pernod, more of a per-yes. As in “purrrrrrrr yes, oh yes, I need a bottle of that”.

It's not easy, trying to be taken seriously as you play sweet, moving music, whilst wearing curly up shoes
It’s not easy, trying to be taken seriously as you play sweet, moving music, whilst wearing curly up shoes

I must say that I was quite impressed and surprised by people’s reaction to my harp playing and, encouraged by their compliments, spent the day swapping between walk-about, shows and harp playing.

Then 4 o’clock came and the fair came to a close. So, with harp in hand and goodies galore, I headed home, not as rich as I’d hoped (for I’d spent more than I’d meant to) but happy and (dare I say it, yes I dare) proud, not of my harp playing skills, but rather of the fact that I’d been brave enough to try playing in front of my peers.

So, having read my review of one of Britain’s best living history fairs, are you sorry you missed it? Well fear not oh ardent readers, for this momentous event is now so popular that it happens not just once, but twice a year! Always in October and February, and always with loads and loads of free entertainment. So dig out your diaries and make a date for the 18th and 19th of February when woodgreen animal centre will once again pay host to The Cambridge Living History Fair.

Lastly, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page. You will see that there is an app that allows you to sign up to my newsletter. Don’t worry, I’ll not inundate you with loads of rubbish, but I will occasionally contact you with a list of events I’m attending. Many of which are free. It will also contain links to websites offering discounted entry to events as well as previously unseen clips of yours truly in action. So go on, take the plunge. I dare you.

Finally, if you’re enjoying these blogs, please leave a comment on the comments part. It’s not only nice to get feedback, but it also helps with my google ranking.

So until next time I bid you all adue and fare thee well.

 

 

 

Maui Waui music festival

Maui Waui music festival
Maui Waui music festival 2016
Maui Waui music festival 2016

Maui Waui, What, Where, Who and When;

Early September saw me working at Maui Waui music festival, a small but very nice and friendly festival set in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Unlike most of the festivals that I work at, this one isn’t medieval or a country fair. it’s actually a music festival (hence its name), with all the Paraphernalia you’d expect to see at such an event, but I’m a mercenary jester and will go wherever the money is. So when Cosmo from the foolhardy circus contacted me and asked if I’d perform in his evening cabaret I jumped at the chance. Partly because I need the money, but mainly because it was a chance to work with and catch up with some old friends.

The foolhardy circus big top at Maui Waui festival 2016
The foolhardy circus big top at Maui Waui festival 2016

Cosmo is one of those old friends, in fact we’ve known each other for the best part of 30 years. He was the first real clown I ever met, when I was booked, many many moons ago, to help out with a few days of juggling workshops for Norwich university.

That event was organized by a then young student called ken, or Dr Ken as he is now known. He uses juggling, comedy and the such like to run very funny yet highly educational science shows. So if any teachers or home ed folks read this, he is well worth the money and can be found here. He was also booked to do shows over the weekend and, as I stood in the shadows watching his performance, I couldn’t help but feel a touch of pride  at the thought that maybe, just maybe, meeting me and learning about my lifestyle was a life changing moment that helped to inspire him to follow in my footsteps.

It was just me at this festival as Stormageddon and Jester Dragonfly were off doing other things. So all I had with me was a small two man tent which I quickly set up behind the foolhardy big top. Then Thursday evening was spent chilling with the rest of the troop as we listened to Wilson, a very funny and talented musician, playing his new computerised squeeze box (similar to an electric yamaha organ, but nowhere near as annoying). Then an early night as tomorrow the public would arrive and chaos would commence.

The calm before the storm
The calm before the storm

I wasn’t booked to perform until late friday evening so that day was spent relaxing, catching up on sleep and exploring the festival. It was set up in an oval shape that could be walked around in about 15 minutes and comprised of stalls, cafes, and around 5 stages where one could see anything from one man and his guitar to full on bands. There was even a body painting show on one stage! Here young ladies would parade eroticly on a catwalk wearing nothing but body paint. The nudity of which shocked me so much that I felt compelled  to sit in the front row and take it all in. Just to be sure that it was the sort of show that I disapprove of and wouldn’t want to watch.

The body painting fashion show
The body painting fashion show

Another stage was called the “crime scene”. This had a large front painted up like a run down building in a dodgy part of town. You entered through a door that led to a winding alleyway festooned with wanted posters and at the end of the ally you had a choice. You could either turn left and enter the dance tent with its heavy “BOOM BOOM BOOM” of hard rave music, or you could carry straight on and into the chill out tent. Although it’s not my type of music (for starters I play a folk harp) it is the tent that I spent most of my free time in, but more on that latter.

The crime scene
The crime scene

My first show at Maui Waui;

10 30p.m. saw my first show of the weekend. Cosmo gave me a great intro and I walked out onto the stage and into the glare of the lights. Now there’s a big difference between performing in a field and in a big top. The main advantage is that, with a big top, you don’t have to be so loud, as the walls not only keep other sounds out, but also bounce your own voice back. Also there’s no wind to worry about when balancing things like my razor blunt knifes (of doom) on my chin. However, the main disadvantage is the lights. With two sets of sidelights (one set each side of me, hence the name “sidelights”) and a full set of around 8 lights in front of me, it was impossible to see either the audence or, if I’d positioned myself wrong, anything I’m juggling.

I remember back in my early days as a superstar I was booked to perform contact juggling in a theater show. Come my turn to perform all the lights were turned off in the hall and a spotlight was shone onto me. The result was that I couldn’t see a thing and spent more time picking the ball up than I did juggling it. Because of this I always insist on a pre show lighting check, using chalk if need be to mark where best to stand for which part of my show. This I’d done earlier in the day and so the lighting wasn’t a problem. The problem was engaging with an audence that I couldn’t actually see (and looking them in the eyes when you can’t actually see if they have any, isn’t easy)!

Inside the foolhardy big top
Inside the foolhardy big top

Luckily for me there’s numerous tricks of the trade that I’ve learnt over the years to not only engage with an unseen audence, but also to gage their mood and reactions. Then came the part of my linking rings (of doom) routine where I needed a volunteer. normally I’d ask the children for a volunteer, but at this time of night I doubted that there would be any children in the audence. I could of asked the adults who wanted to volunteer, but they rarely do, so instead I just walked into the crowd and picked one at random. Well, I say random. All through my show I’d been listening to the audence and had pinpointed where the most mouthy person was. I wanted to use them partly because the fact that they were heckling me meant that they were someone I could interact with, hopefully in a humorous manner. Partly because they sounded like they would enjoy the limelight, so were unlikely to refuse to join me on stage (there’s few things worse than a volunteer who point blank refuses to volunteer). However, the main reason that I picked on them, I mean picked them, was because they were heckling me, which meant they deserved whatever I decided to throw at them.

“What’s your name” I asked?

“I don’t know” she said, trying to be witty, “what do you want to call me”?

“I know what I want to call you, but this is a family show so let’s just stick with your name”

“Suzanne”

“Thats funny” I replied “that’s my wife’s name. well, I say wife, we’re not married yet. In fact, we’ve only just met”.

It took a second or two for her to realize that it was her I was talking about and then she must of decided that she’d met her match, as she suddenly stopped being so lippy. Shame really.

It was around midnight by the time I’d finished and got changed. I sat in my tent and thought “I’ll just take 5 minutes rest, then I’ll go enjoy the festival. Then promptly fell asleep, completely missing the first nights fun.

My morning magical malarky;

I awoke around 6 a.m. (I’m always an early riser) feeling refreshed and ready for the day. I walked out into the arena to see what, if anything, was happening. There was a group of around 20 people around a large “off the ground fire box” in which several large logs were smoldering away. I joined them around the fire and, as I listened to them talking total rubbish I soon realized that they were all suffering the after effects of what we shall politely call “self inflicted chemical imbalances” (read into that what you will).

“perfect” I thought “time to have some fun”

I was wearing my long red and yellow medieval coat, the one that always has some ping pong balls in it’s pockets.

Now don’t ask me why, but 6 in the morning after a good night’s raving is, for reasons unbeknown to myself, not the time of day when most people expect to come face to face with someone who’s busy regurgitating 50 odd ping pong balls! The mixture of shock, horror, disbelief, manic laughter and confusion it created amongst what until then, had been a peacefully chatting group of festival goers was music to my ears as, balls still spewing forth, I wondered off in search of more heads to play with.

The rest of Saturday was spent chillaxing backstage, chatting with fellow performers and working on some new and frustratingly difficult linking ring moves. I don’t know if I’ll ever put them in to my routine, but that’s not the point. The point is I’ve been trying to learn them for ages. To long to give up now.

Night time magic for an unsuspecting crowd;

It was about 11p.m. by the time I’d finished work and got changed, but this time I actually made it out into the festival in search of “fun” and found it in the crime scene tent.

The tent was crammed packed full of ravers. All facing the stage and dancing to the repetitive beat of music blasting out at a stupidly loud volume. I made my way to the front left-hand side of the stage, then slowly made my way across to the right-hand side. This was a slow and laborious task as I had to watch out for flailing arms and bopping ravers that were packed tighter than lemmings on a cliff top. Luckily this is just what I wanted as it gave me a chance to move slowly, doing heads in as I moved.

Ravers raving in the rave tent
Ravers raving in the rave tent

I have a magic illusion the effect of which is this. I can pull a small yet bright light out of thin air, then make it disappear at will. Add to this a paper bag and little bit of imagination. The result is that I’m eating lights like a kiddy eats sweets. Taking them out of the paper bag and putting them into my mouth (Oh, and occasionally snorting them up my nose). The reactions I got as I slowly made my way through the crowd with a dead pan, nonchalant look on my face was great Several times I weaved my way through the crowd with this gag. Then, bored with the lights, I retraced my steps, this time regurgitating ping pong balls (of doom).

Some people’s idea of a fun night out is dancing to a repetitive beat, others like to get wasted on beer (or whatever). Me? my idea of a fun night out is doing magic when it’s just not expected. The reactions are totally different from performing on a stage. Most people laugh and a few totally freak out over it, which just adds to the amusement of their friends.

Eventually I tired of these games and retired to the chill out tent. Here I sat of a sofa and joined in a conversation or two whilst enjoying a rather exquisite bottle of chilli mead, a gift from the magic mead company. Next to me a young man happily snored away, oblivious to the face paint that his so called friends were applying to any and all exposed parts of his body. Some games are just timeless.

Not just the best mead at the festival, but the best mead anywhere, ever. check out their chilli mead. It's so yummy).
The best mead anywhere, ever. check out their chilli mead. It’s so yummy.

Sunday morning in the chill out tent;

As always, I awoke early on the sunday and wandered out into the arena in search of a cup of tea. Then, tea in hand (actually it was two teas, one in each hand) I made my way back to the chill out tent. I wasn’t surprised to see the same people sitting in the same chairs, even the paint plastered young man hadn’t awakened, or even moved. In fact the only thing that had changed about him was the amount of face paint that was plastered all over his body. Well, that and the fact that, bored with painting him, people had started to see what they could balance on him without waking him up, a sort of human buckaroo. This included beer cans, ashtrays, a full sized wooden barrel, a hay bale and a really nice looking arm chair. All balanced with the precarious precision that I, as a juggler, could really appreciate. Like I said, some games are timeless. Which presumably is why they’s also tied his shoelaces together! I finished my teas, placed some cushions where I hoped he’d fall (I’m nothing if not kind) then headed on my way safe in the knowledge that I’ve done my good deed for the day.

Towel jugglers;

Sunday night was the last show of the festival and Cosmo had given us all a free hand to do whatever we wanted. The only stipulation was that it had to be obscure and obscure it certainly was. The highlight of that show for me was a hilarious routine by Lucas, Jack and Wilson. Clad in nothing other than a towel each (in Wilson’s case, a towel and a squeezebox) they proceeded to use the towels to perform various juggling maneuvers whilst doing their best not to reveal too much of themselves. It was the sort of routine that Jim Morrison would of been proud of*. Considering the fact that they’d never tried it in front of a live audence before (or, I suspect, since) none of them showed just how nervous they really were.

*(if you get that joke, then you’re an old hippy).

Monday morning was spent breaking camp and saying my goodbyes to friends both old and new. Then I just sat and waited until Stormageddon and jester Dragonfly came to pick me up and take me home to a warm bed and a hot bath. Oh luxury.

Night time in down town Maui Waui
Night time in downtown Maui Waui

The verdict;

So, marks out of 10 for the Maui Waui festival

Layout and organization = 12

Musical diversity = 12

Food prices = 9

All round entertainment = 9 (it loses one point as I feel it could do with some roaming walk about acts, both day and night time)

Friendliness = 15 (one of the most friendly festivals I’ve been to in a very long time)

Is it worth going to if you’re a punter……… HELL YES.

 

 

 

 

 

an ode to England’s medieval festival

an ode to England’s medieval festival

Before I recite “an ode to England’s medieval festival”, I’d like to apologize for the late publication of this blog post. It’s been a very busy August. One minute we’re heading south to a medieval festival, the next we’re heading north to a hippy festival and in between I’ve been helping to build a timber framed house, teaching at workshops and learning loads of new magic for next year’s festivals (more on that at a latter date).

Things are slowing down now. I’ve a couple of weeks of private events (birthdays and the such like) then we’re at Rockingham castle for their annual country fair. If you’re in the area, then do come along as it’s a great, fun filled event. If you click on this link, then you can even get discounted tickets from their website.

Anyway, enough of that. Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. My foolish attempt at poetry, entitled

An ode to England’s medieval festivalflaglogo-734x120

We’re on the m11 zooming down the motorway

the kids are hot and sweaty cause it’s a hot and sweaty day

but we love this sunny weather and we really hope it lasts

cause we’re off to England’s medfest and it’s gonna be a blast

Medieval men at arms, ready to hit each other on the head with large, heavy weapons in the name of "fun"
Medieval men at arms, ready to hit each other on the head with large, heavy weapons in the name of “fun”

With knights hurting each other in a medieval way

it’s very educational to see them fight that way

as clad in shining armour underneath the baking sun

they roast like christmas turkeys till they are well and truly done

A brave commander leading his army onto the field of battle
A brave commander leading his army onto the field of battle

Now we’re at the dartford tunnel and the traffics at a halt

my wife is hot and irritable and says it’s all my fault

that the cars in front aren’t moving so I snarl as I say

Look we’re off to England’s medfest so just smile bitch, ok

Not just the best mead at the festival, but the best mead anywhere, ever. check out their chilli mead. It's so yummy).
Not just the best mead at the festival, but the best mead anywhere, ever. check out their chilli mead. (It’s so yummy).

With many a merry maiden and some buxom wenches too

all serving cooling honey mead, I’m gonna have a few

then after the merry maidens I might even have a mead

that’s if my darling wife ever lets me off my lead

Id just like to point out that these two pentacle drummers are merry maidens and definitely NOT wenches
In the name of self preservation, Id just like to point out that these two pentacle drummers are merry maidens and definitely NOT wenches

Now we’re on the A21 driving over rolling hills

through ancient woodlands and past farmers fields

we’re tired and we’re hungry but we won’t stop and rest

till we’re at England’s medfest because medfest is the best

A bespoke piece of medieval magic known as "The run dragon run trick of doom)"
A bespoke piece of medieval magic known as “The run dragon run trick (of doom)”

With it’s own jolly jester he’s the highlight of the show

he’s witty and he’s skillful and the main reason that we go

his show is oh so funny we all laugh until we hurt

(it’s just a shame that jonathan won’t pay him what his worth)

The putting the ball on the head very very quickly trick of doom)
The putting the ball on the head very very quickly trick (of doom)

Now we’re here at Herstmonceux and I am so delighted

the drivings done, we’re gonna have fun and the kids are so excited

pass through the gate, then down the hill and 600 years back in time

to england’s medieval festival, the best one of it’s kind

A living history demonstration of how to make medieval fishnet stockings
A living history demonstration of how to make medieval fishnet stockings

With a medieval market, living history and more

jousting jousters jousting and soldiers by the score

there’s camping and there’s glamping and there’s shows both day and night

so if you wanna come and have loads of fun, then just click here for their website

 

Two grown adults poking each other with great big long poking sticks
Two grown adults poking each other with great big long poking sticks

P,S, dont forget to like my facebook page; WWW.facebook.com/D.S.PEAT

 

 

Loxwood Joust Review

Loxwood Joust Review

This blog entry is called The loxwood joust review as its a review of an unique event that’s called (surprise surprise) The loxwood Joust. “But what is the Loxwood Joust and what makes it so unique” I hear you ask. Well I shall tell you.

What is The Loxwood Joust;

loxwood joust
Me, about to be trampled to death by a knight in armour

The Loxwood Joust is fast becoming the best and most unique medieval event of the year. Not just a firm favorite with re-enactors, many of whom come year after year, but also with the public, for they know a good event when they see one. In fact it’s become such a popular event that they had no choice but to extend it from one, to two weekends! Always the first two weekends of August.

Firstly, unlike many medieval events, they don’t simply hire a field near a castle. Instead the owner hunted high and low, scouring the country for the perfect venue. Then, once he’d found it (at loxwood, which is quite a coincidence when you consider that it’s called the loxwood Joust), he didn’t just rent a field or two, he brought them! and not just the meadows, but also the woodland surrounding the meadows.

Every year he clears more and more of the undergrowth, creating new and different areas for even more fun filled entertainment. This is an important and (in my humble opinion) a much understated attraction of the festival, and here’s why.

Why is The Loxwood Joust unique;

Two of the jousting jousters jousting
Two of the jousting jousters jousting

Picture the scene if you will. It’s a sunny sunday in August and you’ve taken the whole family to the loxwood joust. To add to the fun the kids are dressed as knights and princess’s. Even daddy has joined in the fun and brought himself a cheap fancy dress knights costume. A fact that he is now regretting. For as you watch the loxwood jousters charging towards each other at break neck speed. Their lances lifting knights clean from their saddles and planting firmly on their backsides, or face down in the grass. So you’ve become aware of several things.IMG_2399

Firstly you realize that the black nylon of your costume is absorbing the suns heat and turning into a mobile one man sauna. And as for the tin foil helmet? Well that’s now baking your head crisper than a christmas turkey. Despite your best efforts, the children are dehydrating, and as for the smell. You’re now acutely aware that, what you thought was piped in medieval smells, is actually a result of the wife’s sweaty armpits!

At any other event you’d be tempted to call it a day and head home, but not so at the loxwood joust. Here you just about turn and take a slow walk down the gentle slope. Then, in under two minutes, you find yourself within the sweet shade of a wooded glen. Once in the glen you see a clearing that’s shaded by a canopy of green oak leaves. On one side of the clearing is a large, rustic looking stage with an abundance of hay bales sprawled in front of it. You sit on one and watch the show. Maybe it’s a juggler who’s nearly as funny and skillful as myself, or actors performing a centuries old mummers play. Or maybe, just maybe, the stage is adorned with those heavenly elfin like maidens known as “The Medieval Baebes”. You sit a while transfixed as, with voices clearer and sweeter than a mountain spring, England’s premier medieval band verbally caress your very soul with enchanting ballads from days gone by.

Or maybe you sit at the cafe situated opposite the stage and treat your wife to that most quintessentially English of herbal potions, a nice hot cup of tea. Then, as she sits there contentedly watching the stage show whilst the kids sup on ye olde coca-cola. So you wander over to the conveniently placed tavern and sample a glass or two of loxwood mead, nectar of the gods.

Fortified by it’s sweet, honey based properties and feeling a lot cooler, you ask the kids if they’re brave enough to venture further into the woods? and brave they must be, for once you’ve crossed over the wooden bridge, you leave behind the woodland stage and enter an area known as

The Wytches Wood;

The feared Loxwood Dragon
The feared Loxwood Dragon

Now like any self respecting witch, the witches that live here have a large cauldron that bubbles a murky brew of secret herbs. The magical powers of which are known only to the most wise of witches. But unlike those fabled witches from your childhood story books, these ones don’t wear black pointy hats or have an evil cackle for a laugh. These are true traditional witches who can give you a true rune reading should the urge take you. Alternatively they can also curse you to the 3rd generation should the urge take them.

You loiter a while and chat with the witches. Then you’re distracted by a deep, menacing growl. You turn to look for what ever made such a evil sound and there, through the trees and rearing up from behind some ruins, is a dragon! Before it, chained to a tree is a helpless princess. A sacrifice sent to appease the demon serpent from hell. “Fear not” says a witch, and she explains to you not only the hypnotic powers of dragons, but also how to ensure that you don’t fall under its hypnotic spell.

The witches of loxwood
The witches of loxwood

Then, as one, you all turn towards the sounds coming from the footpath. As you gaze through the trees so you see that the sounds of clanking metal comes from an army of soldiers that, with grimly set faces, advance through the trees and on towards the battle ground.

Your kids are rehydrated, the wife’s arm pits have calmed down and stopped singing to you quite so painfully and your helmet is now cool enough to place on your head as, with more excitement than the children. You lead the family back through the woods, following the army towards

The battle of loxwood;

The crowd gathers around the battle field as excitement and anticipation fills the air. For today, there’s going to be a battle of epic proportions. The type that the bards will sing about for years to come. A battle so marvelous that even the Morrigan, that ancient celtic goddess of battle madness has come to watch. You know this as you hear her voice, louder than any mortals, as she not only tells you the background to the battle, but also gives a running commentary as the battle unfolds. using her divine magic to make her voice come out of the strange black boxes that are conveniently placed around the battle field.

two great armies face each other, both ready to fight to the death. Suddenly a great cry raises up from one army and they charge, swords and axes raised high. The opposing army responds with an equally blood curdling cry as they too charge forwards. With a mighty crash the two foes meet in mortal combat as sword meets not just sword, but also shield, flesh and bone.

Before you stand two brave knights. they have broken away from the main melee and now fight man against man. They fight for their kings, for honour, but most of all, they fight to stay alive as each tries to kill the other.

One knight retreats as the other, his vorpal blade going snicker snack, advances. Your son tells you the names of the various cuts and thrusts used by each knight. He knows them because earlier in the day you spent some fun filled hours in

The Bowlore sword school invite you to learn the art of swordmanship
The Bowlore sword school invite you to learn the art of swordsmanship

The children’s kingdom;

Here he attended the knights training where, for a few groats, a  mighty soldier from bowlore and veteran of many a battle took your son under his wing and taught him the knightly art of swordsmanship. Whilst your daughter, too lady like to partake in such base activities, tried out the face painting stall. here your cute little princess sat with a beaming smile whilst the artistic painters used their skills to give her a lovely sword wound to the face. From there you wandered over to the jesters school of…..well……jestering. Here, in front of our brightly coloured medieval encampment, Jester Dragonfly helps not just knights and princess’s learn circus skills, but also their mothers and fathers. After a while the school shuts for a break as it’s arena becomes a stage for yet another highlight of The loxwood Joust.

DevilStick Peat;

The area in front of our tents soon fills with people. Adults standing at the rear and children of all ages sitting in front. then my show begins and I open with the regurgitating ping pong balls (of doom). This is followed by the jumping dragons (of doom). A bespoke piece of magic that I commissioned especially for medieval festivals and themed parties. Next comes the 3 ball juggling routine (of doom). A routine so skillful that most jugglers would give their right arm to be able to perform it. but whether your favourite part is the razor blunt knives (of doom), the 5 ball juggling (of doom) or the worlds only card trick performing duck (of doom). The fact is that my show is just like The Loxwood Joust. I.E. good family entertainment for the whole family.

So whatever your highlight is. Be it the battle or the medieval baebes, the jousting or the jester, the truth is that the Loxwood joust really is a fun packed day. Its not just a medieval festival, it’s a medieval experience. One that will leave not just the kids, but also the adults dreaming of a time when knights rode free, dragons roared, and ancient lovers………well, they done what lovers do best.

Such is the magic of England’s premier medieval festival. The infamous

Loxwood joust

Our next event is Englands Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux castle in east sussex. This is englands largest medieval festival. One that we’re proud to have been part of for well over 20 years!