My review of The Cambridge living history fair

jester devilstick peat

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.

 

 

 

an ode to England’s medieval festival

Children's entertainer ely

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

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!

Jester festival entertainer with repeat bookings

jester, juggler and magician devilstick peat

About This Jester Festival entertainer;

Although this weeks blog is entitled “Jester festival entertainer”, I’m actually a festival entertainer who gets a lot of repeat bookings. Many go back over 10 years. Some go back over 20 years! That’s nearly a quarter of a century of performing at the same festival year after year. So in this blog entry I’ve decided that, for the first time ever, I’m going to tell you some of the ways I insure repeat bookings.

Like I say, some shows have used me for over 20 years! So trust me when I say these ideas work. Adapt them to your persona and they will work for you as well.

Last weekend we were performing our “Total Immersion” show at a country fair on the grounds of Shugborough Hall. We arrived early on Saturday morning and eagerly set about putting up our brightly coloured medieval encampment. Then, once we were set up I headed down to the main gate, or “front of house” as we say in the trade. here I’d meet the public as they enter.

The show didn’t open until 10 a.m. I knew that there’d be no public there until 9 45 a.m. and my first show wasn’t until 10 30 a.m. But still I was there at 9 30 a.m. and here’s why.

Secret To Success;

I want every show that books me too want to book me next year as well. As this isn’t just good for my ego, but also my bank account. To do this the show needs to be a success and I need to be seen making it a success. So this week’s blog is an in depth look at some of the ways I achieve this. That doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you all about the routines I use. After all, what works for my persona may not work for yours. Instead I’m going to tell you the theory behind what I do and why it works. That way you can take the bare bones and add your own skin to it. As a stand up performer I know that the secret to a successful show is to have a strong beginning, middle and end. Well believe it or not, this also applies not just to your performance, but to the whole event.

Strong Beginnings;

Meet and greet routines ensure that the public are smiling before they even enter the event
Meet and greet routines ensure that the public are smiling before they even enter the event

Having polite car parking attendants and enough cash tills to negate any long queues is an ok beginning, not a strong beginning. A strong beginning is where the public are laughing before they even enter the event. Where someone can answer simple questions whilst keeping the queues amused. A strong beginning means that they will only remember the funny man at the entrance, not the cost of entry.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve got there early. I now have time to look at the program and see what’s on. Talk to the gate crew and ask a few questions (even if you already know the answers, ask anyway as it makes you look keen). Most importantly of all, if they aren’t rushing around in a last minute panic, have a quick laugh and joke with them. Get them on your side. Why? Because they are going to help get you that repeat booking, they just don’t know it yet.

By the time the public start turning up you need to know the following;

First Aid Tent;

In over 29 years of performing, I’ve never once needed to tell someone in the queue where the first aid tent is, but it’s always a good thing to know. Afteral, one day it might be me that ends up needing it (have you seen my knife juggling).

Toilets;

Where the nearest toilets to the gate are. After all, there’s no telling how far they have driven to get to the show and no one wants them to have to turn around again and go home just because little billy has had an accident. Well, not before they have paid to get in anyway.

Sure, they can ask the person on the till once they get to the front of the queue, but if little billy is bursting, then it’s much better if you escort billy and a parent to the toilet (if the event is well laid out then there will be one just inside the gate). Then escort them back to their place in the queue.

What’s On;

meeting the public as they enter the showground
Keeping the queues happy as they wait to enter.

One of my meet and greet routines involves telling the queues what on and “bigging them up”. This does two things. It not only adds to the excitement and expectation, but also helps convince people that the shows worth the money. You’d be surprised at how many families turn up, look at the entrance fee, then turn around and go back home. Thats a lot harder to do if the funny man has just told little billy about the jousting etc. However, never…… NEVER tell them what time the other shows are on, or where in the show ground they are performing.  This is really important. If you want to know why, then read on.

 

Now if you’ve done the above right and if you’re good at your job. Then it’s not just the public who are going to talk about how funny you were, but also the gate crew. Also, they’ll talk about how you made their job easier. Something that will get back to the event organiser, and that’s good news for you.

All of the above has taken around 45 minutes. Sure, it’s more than they booked you to do, but look at it this way. You can spend more than 45 minutes looking for a booking for next year. Then you have to add on to that the time taken to email and ring a new event that may or may not book you. Truth is that 45 minutes has saved you a lot of time, guaranteed your financial well being and impressed not just that client, but also any other potential clients that have turned up to see what the oppositions booked.

The First Sneaky Bit;

5 balls, 2 hands, no problem
5 balls, 2 hands, no problem

When you told the queues what’s on and “bigged them up”, you didn’t tell them when and where they are performing. However, you did tell them where and when your first show is. Also, you “forgot” to mention that you’re doing 3 shows a day. You only mentioned your first show.

So far you’re the best (and only) thing they’ve seen. The kids are amazed by your magic and the parents are amused by your jokes. They know where and when you’re doing a show. All these things will help to ensure that your first show is a big one, and that’s important as the events only just opened, so the field isn’t at full capacity yet. This means that the event organiser can stand in the middle of the field and see all the stages and if you’ve got the biggest and loudest crowd, then that’s going to stick in his mind. In fact that’s one of the main reasons he is going to book you for this show again. Not in 6 months time, but at the end of this weekend.

Strong Middle;

The strong middle is basicly your shows and walkabout routines. There’s no point in me telling you what to do there as it’s your show, not mine. but here’s some advice on how to use your performance to your advantage.

If like myself, you’re booked to perform walk about as well as shows, always make sure that, whilst interacting with the public, you not only let them know where and when your next show is, but also invite them to come and watch it. Make the invite sound genuine and personal. This last bit really makes a difference with the children. They love the fact that the funny man invited them, personally.

comic juggling from the first show of the day
comic juggling from the first show of the day

When you’ve done your shows, don’t just say “thank you” and walk off. Always hang about and talk with one or two kids. This is important for two reasons. It gives the adults a chance to ask for a card, contact details etc (you’d be surprised at how many birthday parties I get via country shows). But more importantly, it gives kids and adults a chance to say how much they enjoyed the show and that’s something you can use to your advantage. When they’ve finished complimenting your show, don’t just say “thank you”. Instead be brazen. say something like “thank you, but if you really mean it, when you leave, if anyone asks what your favorite bit was, tell them it was me”. Because of my persona, I can make a joke out of this. It doesn’t matter if you sound like you mean it or not. What matters is putting that thought into their head. OK, so normally most people won’t say anything when they leave, but you’ve put a seed of thought into their heads. One that you’ll use at the end of the day. Most importantly of all, remember their faces, as they are going to make you look amazing.

Strong Ending;

The shows over, the public have had a good day and you’re worn out from a hard days work. There’s just one last thing to do to help ensure that repeat booking. You’ve got to be down by the gate as the people leave, ready to do the good byes. The goodbyes are probably even more important than the hallos, as it’s going to really stick in the people’s minds. I always take two sets of routines with me for the good byes. One set is quick stuff for people who don’t want to stop, the other set involves slightly longer routines for those who aren’t in a hurry to get home.

I never do the goodbyes in a static position as this makes me look too predatory. Like one of those charity chuggers you get in the high street. Yes I’m around the exit area, but moving around as I perform for the exiting public.

What ever routine I’m performing I always ask the person I’m doing it for if they had a good time and what their favorite bit was. this is valuable information for the client that booked you, and if you want a repeat booking then you need to be valuable to him in every way possible.

The Second Sneaky Bit;

Woodbine the burping polecat puppet (of doom) meets a somewhat confused dog
Woodbine the burping polecat puppet (of doom) says goodbye to a somewhat confused dog.

Remember how you told that child to tell the gate crew how wonderful your show was? Remember how I

told you to remember their faces. Well now you’ve noticed them walking towards you on the way out. As you’re moving around interacting with the public, so you’re going to move closer to the gate crew. When you do your goodbyes for that child, you’re going to ask him what his favorite bit was. You’ve already planted the answer in his mind but the gate crew don’t know this. All they know is that every time they have heard you ask the question, everyone’s given the same answer. YOU!

 

Summary;

If it’s a good event, then it stands to reason that it’s been put on by a good events organiser. Good event organisers alway have a crew debrief after a show. They will always ask for and listen to all the crews feedback.

If you’ve done your job right. Then the gate crew have seen you working the queue before the event even opens. They’ve noticed how you took the time to check what’s on and used this to entice people in. They’ve not only seen you working the public as they leave, but also heard lots and lots of public feedback, and it’s all been about you. Add to this the fact that your first show was bigger and louder than any of the others. All this makes you not just valuable, but invaluable to the event. and that folks, equals a repeat bookings. Some of which have lasted me nearly a quarter of a century.

Forthcoming events;

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

From the 5th of August until the 15th of August we’ll be away at one of Europe’s premier medieval festivals. “The Loxwood Joust“. This is a totally amazing concoction of everything medieval and I do mean everything. There’s jousting, living history, a gruesome executioner, knights and soldiers competing in battles and lots more. Including authentic witches (you’ll find them in the woods), enchanting music from the “Medieval Baebes” and of cause, our “Total Immersion” show, staring myself, Jester Dragonfly and the adorable Stormageddon.

Held every year at The Loxwood Meadow, WEST SUSSEX, RH14 0AL, this event has proved so popular with the public that it now happens for not just one, but two weekends! The 6th, 7th, 13 and 14th of August. If you only make it to one medieval event this year, make it this one. You really won’t be disappointed. It truly is awesome and a big point of pride that every year they choose us to be the jesters.

For a look at what’s in store, check out this video of last years event

 

 

 

Best Medieval Festival Entertainment This Year

medieval festival entertainment by devilstick peat


Beach within reach;

Before I tell you about the best medieval festival entertainment this year, let me  ask you a question. How many of you have fond memories of taking your kids to the beach? Of helping them build sandcastles? Of enjoying their squeals of delight as they paddle amongst the waves?

Yep, me too. Now imagine that you’ve never been able to join them on the beach! Or worst still, they’ve never been able to join you on the beach! Why? Because wheelchairs and soft sand really don’t mix.

Enter “Beach Within Reach” A wonderful bunch of people with one simple aim. To lend out beach friendly wheelchairs to anyone that needs them. These come with special, wide wheels designed to stay on, as opposed to in, the sand. They can even go in the water. Thereby enabling not just parents and grandparents to join in the family fun, but also little Billy or Jane.

WP_20160717_002
All terrain wheelchair

Now personally I think that this charity is awesome. Not just in the simplicity of their aim, but also in the effect it can have on the whole family. Making memories that can last a lifetime.

They don’t charge for this service. Their only payment is the knowledge that they’ve helped make your day special. But there’s a problem

These all terrain wheelchair ain’t cheap. Plus there’s the cost of maintaining them to a high standard. That’s why Sandwich medieval fayre gave them a free stand at the event. It’s also why I’m giving them a big shout out on my blog.

Now I don’t expect you all to go empty your bank accounts to help them, but there are a number of other ways you can help.

If you’re putting on an event in the area, why not offer them a free stall to fundraise from. Better still, put on an event to help raise money on their behalf. If you do, and I’m free. I’ll even come along and perform free of charge.

When all is said and done, a day on the beach with your loved ones is hardly one of life’s greatest luxuries.

Unless of cause, you’re a child who’s never had the chance.

The best medieval festival entertainment this year;

A horny knight

Due to prior commitments we didn’t get to sandwich till very late on the Friday evening. So rather than wake the whole site up by hammering in tent pegs, we stayed in a travelodge instead. this was handy as it gave us a chance to fill up the tea caddy free of charge. Now I’ll tell you a little known fact about travelodge. Years and years ago radio 4 done a damming report all about travelodge. Obviously travelodge wasn’t to pleased about this. Which is why, to this day, their T.V.’s have only have radios 1, 2, 3 and 5. There’s not a travelodge in the land that has radio 4 on it’s tellies. Talk about holding a grudge.

I’ve called this blog entry “the best medieval festival entertainment this year”, because for us, that’s just what “The Sandwich Medieval Fayre” was. We arrived on site early Saturday morning and were met by Barrie and Kate. They were the two main organizers of the event and, considering the amount of stress organizers suffer on the opening day, so laid back they were almost horizontal. A real pleasure to work with. They even let us decide where to pitch our tents. This was great, as it meant that I could juggle 5 balls without being blinded by the sun.

We were performing our “Total Immersion” Show and the promise of a hot day meant that we had
loads of happy crowds and soon “The Jesters School Of……..well……..Jestering” was full of happy kids. Eagerly they tried and learned new skills and a larger than average amount of adults also joined in the fun. A sure sign that today was going to be a good day for both, them and us.

IMG_1827
Medieval muskets

The first performance was “The Medieval Siege Society” trebuchet. A giant medieval catapult that sent cabbages sawing into the distance to the cheers of the crowd. Then came the first battle of the day. People cheered and boo’d as the two armies, muskets, swords and pikes in hand, clashed in mortal combat (and sweaty armour). This was followed by jousting from “the knights of the dammed”, one of England’s best stunt riding and jousting teams. As per normal, they put on a great display, leaving both the public and reenactors alike, very impressed. Hyped up by an over load of mindless violence, the3 crowds were in the mood for still more fun and merriment. Which was handy for me as it was now time for my first show of the day.

The Knife Juggling Routine (of doom);

The knife juggling routine (of doom)

I soon gathered a crowd around our encampment. To the front of the crowd sat the children. Behind them stood the parents. behind them, standing back a bit from the crowd, stood the adults who wanted to watch the show, but didn’t want to be seen enjoying a children’s show. I enticed them closer, joking about how they can just pretend to be with the children. Most took the hint and moved closer, ready to see if I was worth watching or not.

Although I advertise as a children’s entertainer, I class myself as a family entertainer. This is because my show has jokes and skills that can be enjoyed by all ages. Not just the kids, but also those holding the cheque books. And when I stand there, waving 3 large, offencive looking knifes in the air shouting “who wants to see the weirdo hurt himself”? It’s always the adults who shout the loudest.

My knife juggling routine (of doom) is a funny piece of entertainment that combines both skill and comedy. The part where I go from juggling the knives, straight into balancing one on my chin always gets a great reaction. Today was no different and I fed off of the applause and cheers. Although I say so myself, today I was on form. I.E. the knife ended up point upwards on my chin. Not point downwards and sticking out of my eye. Always a bonus.

I must’ve done something right as after the show I got rid of most of my business cards. Always a good sign that they enjoyed the show. The organisers even allowed me to add some friends to the guest list. So they were also happy.

Great jousting from the knights of the dammed

The heat of the afternoon sun mellowed the crowds with many retreating to the shade of the large beer tent to hear the bands whilst sampling the cool beers and ciders that were on offer. Due to the positioning of the beer tent and it’s open front, it was possible to enjoy it’s shade whilst still seeing the jousting or birds of prey. More importantly, you could hide from the sun whilst still keeping an eye on the kids as they battled imaginary dragons with wooden swords brought from one of the many medieval stalls.

Dinner and music;

After the days festivities had ended, we quickly secured our tents and headed off site to Dover for food and a romantic touch of nostalgia.

Dover is where I lived when I met my wife. Whenever she’d come to stay I’d treat her to an indian meal. In my life I’ve traveled the world, including Asia. In my opinion the indian restaurant in dover was one of the best I’ve ever found. Beaten only by osho’s in Mandvi, India. All day long I’d mentally been savouring its pallet burning delicious delicacies. So I was a little disappointed to discover that it has now changed hands. The meal was still very nice but, unlike the romance that blossomed there, no longer the best ever.

After the meal we headed straight back to site and enjoyed an evening comprising of lovely, cool cider, really good bands, and pleasant conversation with crew and reenactors. Eventually, tiered out by working in the heat of the sun, we retired to our tents and peacefully fell asleep as the music continued in the background.

Magic dealers And Credit Cards

Sunday was pretty much the same as Saturday, but with two major differences.

A) Zanes magic shop turned up with a stall

B) Jester Dragonfly allowed me to approach it with a pocket that contained not one, but 2 credits cards!

I like both, Zanes magic shop and it’s owner, Zane. He is a nice man, easy to get on with and more interested in making sure you’re a happy customer than he is in making a sale. End result? I’m now working on a routine based around a tightrope walking, acrobatic flea. More on that when the routine is ready.

As the show came to an end, so I wandered over to the exit. here I would joke with the public as they left site. This is important for several reasons. By laughing and joking with the public as they leave, So I put a strong ending to the day, meaning that they leave feeling happy and not sad because the days over. Something I call positive psychology. Also it gives me the chance to get any feed back from them and pass it on to the organisers so that they can constantly improve year after year. It came as no surprise to me that all the feed back was positive. After all, it has been the best medievfal entertainment this year.

The day ended but, rather than eagerly pack and leave, we instead took the unusual step of relaxing first. After all, not only had we been working in the heat all day long, but we’d also been doing it in woolen clothing! Or motley to give a fools costume its proper title.

As I sat there, enjoying a last cider (Jester Dragonfly was doing the drive home), so I looked at the new kit I’d brought from Zanes. My thoughts jumped back and forth between two things. One was the tightrope walking flea routine (Of doom) and the other was my greatest fear. Indeed it’s surly the greatest fear of every magician in the world. Not, as one might expect, that a trick will fail, but rather that, should I die before my wife, then she, in all innocence, will sell all my magic for the price I told her it cost!

Foot note
Foot note

Next week we’re performing our “Total Immersion Show” at “The Shugborough country fair”. We’ve never done this show before, but have had some good reports about it. There’s a medieval village, birds of prey, a horse display and loads more. So if your in the area then come and say hi to the cool fool and co. Go on, you know it makes sense.

Spectacular medieval entertainment

Spectacular medieval entertainment

Spectacular medieval entertainment;

This coming weekend 16th and 17th july) there’s going to be some spectacular medieval entertainment at “The Sandwich Medieval Fayre”. Where we will be performing our  “Total Immersion show.

The event has tried to book us in the past. The trouble is we’re so popular that we’ve always been booked elsewhere. So I was really pleased and excited when this year, they booked us before anyone else could.

Why was I so excited? Because I’ve heard great things about this particular show. Not only is it a well thought out show with loads happening, but it’s also attended by “The Medieval Siege Society (or MSS to those in the know).

the medieval siege society's trebuchet
The medieval siege society’s trebuchet

The MSS are a great bunch of lads and ladies. They put on not just great battles, including the use of a trebuchet, but also living history encampments as well.

You can wander round the bright colourful medieval tents. Smell the smoke that’s lazily raising from the camp fires. Watch as ladies prepare their brave knights for the battle to come. Their members are even happy to answer any questions you may have about life in days of old. Even the disgusting questions that only a child could think up. So it’s not just a fun filled day, but also highly educational for both children and adults alike.

The quaint english tradition of charging at your mate on horse back with a bleeding great big stick
The quaint english tradition of charging at your mate at break neck speed whilst on horseback, with a bleeding great big stick.

More spectacular medieval entertainment;

But that’s not all! There’s also jousting from England’s best loved jousting team. “The knights of the dammed” Not only are their stunt riders leaders in their field (and I don’t just mean fast riders), but their story lines are often bespoke, made just for that event. What ever storyline they use, the fact is they are the best for a reason, and guaranteed to have you sitting on the edge of your seat cheering for your favorite knight as they joust with all the force and speed of real knights of days of old.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s stunning displays of birds of prey and oh so much more. Including not just myself, but also the prestigious “Jesters School Of………..Well………..Jestering”. This is where you too can learn the skills needed to become as brilliantly great and famous as my own sweet humble self. Don’t worry, it’s not just you, but also the children who can have a go at juggling, plate spinning and other circus skills.

All this and more crammed into 2 action packed days of fun, merriment and of cause, the quaffing of fine ales. All served to the relaxing sounds of brave and heroic knights suffering agonising deaths on the field of honour. (On the subject of drinking. A lot of you will drive to this event. So it’s worth pointing out that one third of all road accidents involve alcohol. This means that you’re two thirds more likely to crash if you’re sober! But try telling the judge that).

So don’t delay, book today, and come along to the spectacular medieval entertainment known as “The Sandwich Medieval Fayre”.

More information and updates can be found via the following links

Twitter: Sandwichshowgr

Facebook: sandwichshowground

 

birthday party and Battle

Children's entertainer ely

Wow, what a busy time we’ve had of late. 8 days of work in 9 days. Birthday Party, Battle medieval festival entertainment and circus skills workshop, all in 9 days|

Children’s birthday party entertainment and circus skills workshop;

It all started two Saturdays ago when Jester Dragonfly, Stormageddon and myself loaded up the car and headed down to East Sussex where we were performing at a birthday party for two of my fans (aged 9 and 12).

Woodbine and I, ready for a fun filled afternoon of shows, sillyness and circus workshops

The party was held in an old barn in some wonderful woodland that really helped to set the mood for the party

We started with Woodbine doing “meet and greet” as this helps to break the ice and get the children in the right mood. After Woodbine’s antics I led the way into the barn where I performed my “complete Fool” show, with Stormageddon jumping in as and when he felt the need to try and put daddy off. Bless him, he is turning into a great performer and helps to keep me on my toes.

Stormageddon and DevilStick Peat performing their comic intro to 5 ball juggling
Stormageddon and DevilStick Peat performing their comic intro to 5 ball juggling

After the show, which was enjoyed by both, children and adults alike, we had a little drinks and run around time before running the circus workshop.

Circus skills workshop;

IMG_9383
The birthday boy trying to unlink the 2 rings he just watched DevilStick Peat magically link

Jester Dragonfly and I started the workshop with a comic demo of how to use all the equipment safely then, after the demo, it was the children’s turn to play as Jester dragonfly and I went around teaching and giving hints on how to improve their skills.

By the end of the day we had a few new plate spinners and diabilist and the birthdays boys were practicing devilsticks like there was no tomorrow.

After the party we headed to Cranbrook and stayed with a good friend of mine that I know from Black Company, A dodgy band of mercenaries who’s Christmas party I’ve had the privilege of performing at for several years now.

Next morning was an early start as we were off to Battle, near Hastings for their medieval fayre, but first we just had to stop at the “route 1066” cafe.

This is a bikers cafe in Robertsbridge and a great place to eat and we really do recommend it very highly.

After breakfast we headed on down to battle for what we know to be a great little event.

Battle medieval festival;

DevilStick Peat uses “the wand of doom” to produce an object from thin air

Battle medieval fayre has been running for around 26 years now and is the first medieval event that ever paid me to perform for them, and they still ask me back!!!

It’s held just outside the Abby, which makes a very impressive backdrop to the tents and stalls that lead up to the maypole where the shows are held.

 

It’s a small, but action packed event held on the Sunday and bank holiday Monday and, despite it’s size, there is a surprisingly large amount of things going on. These include knights in armour, crossbow archery range, medieval medicine (not for the faint hearted) maypole dancing (you can even have a go yourself) and of cause shows and walk about by that most famous of fools, yours truly DevilStick Peat.

I’ve been performing at the event for over 20 years now, so it’s like meeting old friends, not just the stall holders but also members of the public who turn up year after year (and why not, after all, it’s not only a good event, but also free). I even bumped into a fellow member of “the chaotic minions support group” (A secret group of select magicians*). So in between performing shows and doing walk about with woodbine, regurgitating ping pong balls and never ending carrots (if that makes no sense to you, come see one of my shows) I got to chat and catch up on all the local gossip.

The grand parade;

IMG_9515
Stormageddon and daddy heading down Battle high street

On the Monday there was a grand parade through the town. Stormageddon took part, proudly walking at the front with one of jester Dragonfly’s dragon puppets which he happily waved in the faces of members of the public (weather they wanted him to or not).

Then, once the show had closed, it was time to pack up the box of tricks and head back home. Unload and reload the trailer and get ready for the next show. A whole five days of circus camp for home educated children where we…………….. Arrrrrr, but that’s another story, for another day.

*editors note: DevilStick Peat didn’t mention his connection to the minions to brag, he done it so that other minions would click on his blog to see what he wrote about them, thereby increasing the amount of clicks his website gets.

and unless you promise to stop up staging me, that's just where you're staying boy
And unless you promise to stop up staging me, that’s just where you’re staying boy

new premises, last show and next show

Due to the increase in business and our constantly expanding routines etc, we’ve had no choice but to move to another location. But don’t worry fenland folk. We are still local (Manea) and based close to Ely and March, and available for all types of gigs, including festivals, weddings, children’s birthday entertainment, circus skills workshops and money. but now we are based in the lovely village of Manea, as opposed to Chatteris.

I must admit to being more than a little disappointed when I discovered that “Manea” is pronounced “main-e” and not “mania”. Which would had been so much more fitting for a man in my trade. So after a manic week of packing boxes, moving boxes, dropping boxes marked “fragile” on my toes and then unpacking them again. I’m pleased to say that we are moved in, up and running and open for business .

This is just as well as Friday I had to travel up to “Tatton park” near Manchester for a weekends work.

Medieval jester show

I was performing at “The Tatton park country show” for the lovely people at Oakleigh fairs, and what a great weekend it was. The sun turned out, the public turned out and a good time was had by all.

I was based next to the beer tent so that mummy and daddy could have somewhere to sit and relax whilst keeping an eye on their children as the enjoyed my shows. Obviously many of them were tempted by the fine selection on ciders, lagers and real ales that were on sale, but many of them had driven there so, in the name of health and safety, I felt compelled to point out the following fact:

One third of all road traffic accidents involve alcohol, which means that your actually two thirds more likely to crash if your sober! (but just you try telling the judge that).

This was the 4th time that the event had been held and the second time that I’d been booked to perform at it. I must admit to being somewhat surprised at the amount of adults and children who remembered me from last year. I was also quite relieved that, as always, my show had evolved from last year, so that I had lots of new tricks etc to keep them entertained. I’m still not sure who laughed the most, the children or the adults. What I do know is that they really enjoyed not only my shows, but the whole day.

Many old friends were also performing at the event (my support acts), including Jezz, a stunt rider who does crazy things with motor bikes and drives cars that role head over heels.

“Moment in time” also had large living history displays at the show with every thing from medieval through to the second world war, and some very loud cannons thrown in for good luck.

The evenings were spent sitting around camp fires whilst enjoying the clear night sky’s and laughing and reminiscing about past shows. We even had a lovely roast meal (with a veggie option) laid on by the bar. So a good time was had by all.

I purposely haven’t taken any booking for next weekend as I want to spend the time putting the finishing touches to the new premises, but the weekend after (which is the late may bank holiday) I’ll be performing at a private event on the Saturday, then on the Sunday and Monday I’ll be at Battle Medieval Fayre, which is held (surprisingly enough) at Battle, near Hastings in east Sussex.

Battle medieval fayre

DevilStick Peat is available for festivals, weddings, children's birthday entertainment, circus skills workshops banquets and all types of events
DevilStick Peat is available for festivals, weddings, children’s birthday entertainment, circus skills workshops banquets and all types of events

This is a lovely small but action packed event that is held in the town center just in front of the abbey.

It is run by the local chamber of commerce and totally free to entre. That’s right folks, if you’ve missed my show and want to see what’s new, then may bank holiday is your chance to see me for free. You can also see several other acts there and even take part in the may pole dancing.

Battle Medieval Fayre has a very special place in my heart as it was the very first ever event to actually pay me to be there, over 24 years ago. During that time the fayre has grown and gone from strength to strength. So please come along and say hi to me, my lovely wife (jester dragonfly) and of cause, our very own jester in training, the one and only Stormageddon. (Did you know that the correct term for a jester in training is a “zany”. There you go, you live and learn).

 

To find out more info on the event, simply log onto Facebook and search for “Battle Medieval Fayre”. Here you will find out lots more information on what’s
happening, as well as see photo’s from past years. You never know, there may even be a photo or two of

yours truly. just like this one here.

DevilStick Peat uses "the wand of doom" to produce an object from thin air
DevilStick Peat uses “the wand of doom” to produce an object from thin air

Well that’s all for now folks, as I’ve got loads of new magic and juggling tricks to go and learn. But whilst you’re here, please take the time to look around the rest of my site, as there is always something new to discover.

Your favourite fool

DevilStick Peat

White Hart St Georges Day Medieval Fayre, Calne

Children's entertainer march
Medieval Festival Entertainer
children’s entertainer, DevilStick Peat from cambridgeshire performing magic in one of his walk about routines

Medieval Festival Entertainer for St George’s Day in Calne, Wiltshire;

What a great day.

Calne is a small sleepy town in the heart of Wiltshire with a green in the centre where, on Saturday the 23rd April, the town was host to its first ever “St Georges Day Medieval Fayre” run by the white hart pub.

We arrived Friday tired but excited. Tiered because it was gone 11pm, but excited because we were staying at the White Hart.

The White Hart is owned by two friends and is a traditional English pub, with walls covered in antlers, shields and old paintings. All hung in a haphazard manner that gives it a genuinely homely feel, the likes of which would leave the most prestigious of interior designers speechless with awe and wonder. It also boasts a wonderful old banqueting hall that is matched only by the quality of the food, that comes in portions large enough to satisfy an army. Which was handy as that’s just what that nights guests were. An army of medieval knights.

St Georges Day Festival Entertainer, Wiltshire, Cambridgeshire
British steel plate society fighting at the st Georges day celebrations in Calne, Wiltshire.

The event itself was well attended by both reenactors and public alike. The British plate society (a lovely bunch of nutters with large, heavy weapons and the type of shiny metallic clothing that really cant go in the washing machine) ran the living history, where both kids and adults could try on armour and learn about life in days of old.

They also ran the battles, where large ugly men with big weapons and unstable personalities hit each other on the head in an historical and educational manner, whilst responsible parents teach their children that it’s socially acceptable to scream for blood and cheer whenever a human being is slaughtered.

Medieval Festival Tents
Stormageddon , our 4 year old jester in training outside our two smaller medieval tents

In between battles a charity for the welfare and protection of ferrets (yes such a thing really does exist. Don’t ask me why, but it does) ran ferret races. These drew such large crowds that I was unable to get close enough to see, so I’m unable to describe the sight of ferrets,  encumbered by their human jockeys, struggling to make it through tunnels etc. But judging by the cheers from the crowds, succeed they did.

Mevieval Jester Entertainer Cambridgeshire, Wiltshire, Calne
DevilStick Peat and Stormageddon in one of their comical walk about routines

Added to all this was our own sweet selves. DevilStick Peat, Jester Dragonfly and Stormageddon (our 4 year old jester in training). We were performing our “TOTAL IMMERSION” show. So called as we honestly believe that, with medieval encampment, the jesters school of…well…jestering, and our walk about and stage shows it provides everything you need to totally immerse the public in the life of a medieval fool. My stage shows even have special spot appearances from Stormageddon (normally when I least expect it), and what can be more authentic than a son learning his fathers trade.  You can find more information on “TOTAL IMMERSION” here.

Circus Skills Show for St Georges Day, Calne, Wiltshire
Stormageddon showing DevilStick Peat how to walk on a tightrope (that’s been disguised as bales of hay)

The White Hart provided hay bales as seating which were laid out in a horseshoe shape to the front of our encampment, giving the show a medieval amphitheatre feel whilst allowing parents to sit at the same level as their children. They were a great audience with adults and children alike all cheering and laughing in the right places, although whether this was a sign of my skills as an entertainer or proof that the inhabitants of Calne don’t get out much, who can say. What I can say is that I really enjoyed performing for them, they were a great audience and a pleasure to work for.

Eventually the show, as all good things must, came to an end. So once the last worn out child, asleep in his pram, wooden sword held loosely by his side, was wheeled home, we broke camp, cleared the green of rubbish, and headed back to our home from home, the White Hart.

Devilstick Peat and Stormageddon Circus Skills ShowHere we all gathered in the banqueting hall and as we sat, munching on Chinese take-aways and patting each other on the back, so the conversation turned to next year with comments of “lets do it again but bigger and better”, or “next year lets add this and that” and “you never know, if we can get funding from the council, then maybe next year we can afford a funny jester”

So I’m sorry Calne, but we will be back.

White Hart St Georges Day Entertainment, Calne
Just part of the living history camp, where people of all ages could learn about life in days of old

P.S. the whole event was privately funded by the White Hart, so I think that not only do they deserve a big thank you for being so community minded, but also lots of support from the local community so that they can afford to do it again next year. And lets face it, how often do you get the chance to say to your wife “but I only drank 15 pints so that I could help the local community.”

Next weekend we’re spending 3 whole days at Morden Hall Park, south west London, where we’ll be performing for the awfully nice folk from Oakliegh Fairs.