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

The loxwood joust (first weekend)

The loxwood joust (first weekend)

Without a doubt the best medieval festival in Britain. We are truly proud to be part of this event. If you only make it to one show this summer, make this that show. Every year it not only gets bigger and better, but also better and bigger You really won’t be disappointed.

Our totally unbiased review of last years event can be found here

Discounted tickets can be brought here

Cambridge town and country fair

Cambridge town and country fair

THIS EVENT IS FREE TO ENTER

Please come via public transport. Local parking charges apply

Now in its 11th year this much loved and popular family event takes place in the heart of Cambridge. All day entertainment will include brand new Savage Bike Skills Display Team, the ‘FANYS’ Historical Re-enactment Horse Display Team, birds of prey flying displays, terrier racing, children’s entertainer Devistick Peat plus Circus Skills Workshop, the goat show including bottle feeding lambs and kids, children’s petting pens, historical re-enactment and much much more. Plus demonstrations of rural skills for you to enjoy including have-a-go black smithing

Arts, crafts food drink and gifts marquees as well as outside trade stands.

Fully catered & with a licensed bar

And on Sunday at this event we are proud to host The Companion Dog Show  so bring along a canine friend and have a go (all proceeds from entries go to Marie Curie care)

THIS EVENT IS FREE TO ENTER

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.