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.

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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.

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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.

puppet psychology

jester, juggler and magician devilstick peat

This coming weekends event;image1(1)

Before I tell you about puppet psychology, let me tell you about next weekend.

This Saturday, the 9th of July I’ll be performing in Earith. It’s the primary School’s summer party. Ran by Friends Of Earith School.

It’s a fun filled day where you can enjoy yourselves safe in the knowledge that you’re helping a good cause. I.E. the education of children.

It’s being held at Earith Primary school, School Road, Earith, PE28 3QB

I’m performing there all afternoon, so do come and say “Hi”.

Puppet psychology;

Hello
Hello

I’m going to share with you a little trick of the trade that I like to call “Puppet psychology”. I was booked to perform at a 2 day country fair in Danson Park in Bexleyheath. The show opened at 10 a.m. and my first show was at 10 30 a.m. Doing a show half an hour after the event has opened can be somewhat problematic, as most people don’t want to stop for a show. Their instinct is to look around first and see what’s where. Luckily for me, over the years I’ve developed several strategies to convince them otherwise. This time I decided to use my favorite way. It’s my favourite way as it’s a little bit devious, in the sense that they wont know that they are stopping to watch a show until it’s too late.

Woodbine meets a friend
Woodbine meets a friend

The puppet set up;

I set up my stand in my allotted place, on the side of the walkway and stood in the middle of the path facing the entrance. In my hands was a puppet I call “Woodbine“, my pot noodle eating, burping polecat (of doom) and waited. I made a point of not looking at anyone, preferring instead to look into the distance, behind them. My head was bobbing about a little as I tried to look over and beyond the people heading my way. This head bobbing was important as it really helps to get their attention, even from a distance.

After a couple of minutes a family stopped, transfixed by Woodbine, trying to work out if he was real or not. After a few seconds I pretended to suddenly notice them, but only the children. I moved closer as I spoke to the two children, making a point of not looking the adults in the eye. Then, once woodbine was a few inches from the oldest boys face, he suddenly pulled his head out of the pot and burped in the child’s face. It was a long, loud, deep burp that made both children jump back in surprise, before bursting out in laughter.

The loud burp, sudden movements of the children and their laughter, all worked to make a few more people stop and watch as I held Woodbine out for them to stroke. Then, when the mother went to stroke him, that’s when he shot up my arm, resulting in her giving a little scream. This was just the reaction I’d hoped for as it caused even more people to stop and watch. Up to now I’ve totally ignored all the adults, concentrating solely on the two children. This was important as, if I’d spoken to or even looked at the parents or other adults, half of them would of smiled politely and walked away. Something that obviously I didn’t want, as these people were going to help me get an audience. They just didn’t know it yet.

I asked the two children if they wanted to see a quick little magic trick, they of cause said yes. The use of the words “quick” and “little” were vital here as they implied to the adults (who still wanted to look around first) that it wont take long. I went to my stand and produced a little blackboard. It was imperative that it was a small trick as this not only strengthened the idea that it’s a quick trick, but  also encouraged people to move closer when asked. I walked part way back to the children before motioning to them and the other children that have stopped to watch to come closer. Still I hadn’t looked at or acknowledged any adults. The children came a little closer, followed by their parents.

Getting them closer;

I started a routine that involves chalk lines that jump around the blackboard, disappearing then reappearing. Then, just before the magic actually happened, I paused. Now it was time to finally acknowledge the adults.

“If you come closer” I said, looking at the ones near the back, “I get bigger”. This not only got a laugh but also, because those at the back tend to stand there in the hope that the strange man wont pick on them, it also convinces them that they are actually safer in amongst the crowd. As everyone moved closer, so I took a couple of steps backwards until I’m in line with my stand. There was now only about 15 people watching the trick, but the fact that they were all laughing and loosely grouped together (almost a crowd) soon attracted others to stop and briefly watch to see whats happening. After all, humans are nothing if not inquisitive.

The jumping ring (of doom)
The jumping ring (of doom)

At the end of the routine people were going to clap and walk on, an idea that I had to remove from their minds. So as soon as I’d finished that routine and they started to clap I reached behind my stand. My hand reappeared holding the next routine up proudly in front of me as I paused. Pauses are as important to visual art as they are to music. Done right, at the correct length and tempo and they can double the laughter, make an audience relax, or simply increase their antici……….pation. Done wrongly and you’ll ruin your whole performance as surly as you would a song (and if you’ve ever heard me sing, you’ll know why I do comedy for a living).

 

There are two reasons why I paused here. one is to acknowledge the applause and wait for it to die down. The other is to give the people a chance to look at the object I was holding. A carved length of wood with 3 pieces of rope hanging from it. On the end of one piece was a large ring. I wanted them to look at it so as to arouse their curiosity. Sure, some folk walked off, but most were happy to hang on for a minute or two just to see what it does.

Getting the children to sit;

“Here I have a piece of wood” I said, and again I paused as a thought suddenly occurred to me. “hey kids, the grass is dry so take a seat and watch whilst I perform some high tech magic”. I didn’t say “do you want to sit” as this implies that they have a choice, and I didn’t want them to choose to stand. If they were standing then there was more chance that their parents would get them to leave.

Once seated I looked at the back of the crowd of maybe 20-25 people. “Adults, can you just move a bit closer as we’re blocking the walk way”. They weren’t, but the closer knitted they were, the more they would laugh (strange but true). Also, it meant that more people would come over to see what I’m doing if there’s a crowd blocking their view (again, strange but true).

“That’s it, just come close enough to throw money”. This last line does several things. It makes them laugh and it convinces them that everyone else is already moving closer. “Only joking” I said, “I’m paid to be here, that’s how comes I can afford to pay these children to sit here”. This line is again important as I didn’t want them to think I’m busking. Also, as I mentioned the kids, so I looked at them. There were still one or two standing and it gave me a chance to politely ask them to sit so that the children behind can see.

The show had only been open 40 minutes. I’ve only been working for 5 minutes and already I’ve got a reasonably sized crowd. One that’s big enough for me to start my show. Job done, and I hadn’t even announced that a show was going to happen. Now how cool is that?

Rum and fun;

You'd have to be a fool not to try this rum
You’d have to be a fool not to try this rum

I done 4 shows that day and lots of walk about in between them, so it was a busy day. But even so I made a point of doing little bits for the stall holders.

One of the stalls was selling “morant bay spiced rum” and its owner asked me to pose for a photo holding a bottle. Of cause I obliged. “Do you drink” he asked? “Occasionally” I replied. I knew he was giving away free tasters and was all set to decline an offer to try it (I never drink whilst working), but rather than offer me a thimble sized glass of rum, he gave me a small bottle to try latter! I drank it on the train Sunday night and can honestly say that it’s one of the nicest spiced rums I’ve ever tried. If you like your rum, you’ll love this one. I give it 10 out of 10 for smoothness and flavor.

The day came to a close and tiered but happy I retired to my tent, sitting outside and enjoying the late afternoon sun. Then about 7 p.m. I headed down to the beer tent for food.

On Saturday nights the beer tent puts on a roast meal for those staying on site. Tonights meal was roast turkey, complete with all the trimmings. As per normal there was more than enough to go round. I’m a strict veggie, so I didn’t have the turkey, but richards roast spuds are legionary and a good hearty meal is just what one needs after a hard days work. Now not only does he do good spuds, but he also runs a good beer tent, with several real ales (I counted 5 at this event) as well as lagers, ciders etc. He also has all the spirits that you’d expect to see in a pub. Not just the basics but all the girly ones like archers etc. So if you’re looking for a beer tent for a wedding or event, give richard a shout. I think you’ll be quite impressed.

Sunday;

My victim, I mean volunteer
My victim, I mean volunteer

Sunday brought glorious sunshine and even larger crowds. Everyone, showmen, stall owners and public were in good spirits, which always makes my job so much easier. Even so, working in that heat and jumping around in a woolen motley (that’s the correct name for a jesters clothes) meant that I had to stop at regular intervals to take on water. It was during one of these quick breaks that I got talking to the owner of one of the miniature steam engines that were on display. % minutes later I had a massive grin on my face as I proudly sat on it’s seat, driving it around site, beaming like a school kid in a sweet shop. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get a photo of it.

The day came to a close, the public left and we started to pack up. I was on a tight schedule due to train times but made it to the station with minutes to spare. My train came in and I sat in my seat. I was feeling very tired and wondering how on earth I was going to keep myself awake. It was then that I remembered the bottle of rum I’d been given the day before. As we left london I sat there, sipping away on a wonderful bottle of rum. Thinking about driving steam engines and how incredibly lucky I am to do what I do.

I love my job, I really do

circus skills workshop in chatteris

Circus skills workshops march

This coming weekend I’m performing on my own (no circus skills workshop, Jester Dragonfly or encampment) at “The Danson park country fair” in Bexleyheath, Kent. Postcode DA15 9PW. There’s loads of other acts booked to support me including; birds of prey, steam engines, medieval reenactments, have a go terrier racing and loads more. I’ve never done this gig before so if you’re in the area then please come and give me some support.

The circus skills workshop gets a helping hand (or 2);

Stormageddon teaching spinning plates
Stormageddon helping daddy teach spinning plates

Last weekend we were performing and running our circus workshop, “the jesters school of…….well…..jestering” at “the chatteris midsummer festival“. This is a gig that’s close to our hearts as until quite recently, we used to live in the town. Also, my partner in crime (Jester Dragonfly) helped to start it up several years ago. The festival has gone through many changes since then. Originally it was a medieval reenactment festival, then a multi-period festival. Now, every year the town has a public meeting where the locals can decide on that years theme. This year the theme was “the Rio Olympics”.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. You’re thinking “what on earth has a medieval jester got to do with the Olympics”? Well the answer is not only a very simple one, but when you think about it, it’s also a very obvious one. Nothing, but the fact is that over the years we’ve become firm favorites at the festival. Enjoyed by both, adults and children alike. So it was a true pleasure to be invited back again. This year however the booking was different. This year I was booked not to perform, but to run a circus skills workshop with our jesters school of…….well……..jestering.

circus skills workshop at chatteris midsummer festival
circus skills workshop at chatteris midsummer festival

 

However, before we could arrive and set up, we had two major problems too over come. The first being that, due to problems with one of our trailers (see my last blog post) we needed some urgent welding doing to it. The second was that, due to the hire car that replaced the hire car (again, see my last post) not having a tow bar, we had no way of moving a trailer. Enter the wonderful world of reenactors.

 

 

The reenactment world is a small, close knit community of lovely (if somewhat strange) people who really do help each other out when needed. Within minutes of posting on Facebook I had two offers of help. One from a member of “the phoenix medieval group”, (a wonderful local reenactment group who are well worth seeing/booking if you get the chance). He offered to weld our trailer back together. The other one was from a member of “A moment in time“. Another reenactment group who were booked to run the have a go archery at the event. They reenact various different times in history and can even supply you with some unusual foreign armies. They offered to pull the trailer for us and we really cant thank those groups enough. Your true stars.

So it was that I arrived on site Friday morning and eagerly set up our medieval encampment. Then had a lazy evening sitting around a camp fire with some old friends from the pentacle drummers, before retiring for the night as tomorrow was going to be a busy day.

Parades, performers and a party in a park;

Stormageddon practising for when I'm older
Stormageddon practising for when I’m older

Saturday morning was spent putting the finishing touches to our encampment before taking Stormageddon and his younger cousin up town to the parade. The parade passed through he town center and was, as always, a noisy, colourful affair. It consisted not only of performers, but also lots of local groups, including brownies, preschools, army cadets etc. All dressed up as athletes, Brazilian parrots and the such like. Except the army cadets, they were dressed up like army cadets.

Taking the kids for a stroll jester style
Taking the kids for a Saturday morning stroll jester style

 

People cheered as the parade passed through the town with majorettes twiddling their batons, drummers drumming and preschool kids not having a clue what was happening, but happy to take part anyway. As we passed the crowds, so they would join onto the end of the parade and follow us down to the festival site. (Note to other events. This is a really good way of getting lots of attendance and the sudden influx of people, all full of excitement, really helps set the mood for the day).

Once at the site I stayed near the entrance, using my skills to entertain the queues and keep them amused as they waited to enter. Then I opened up the circus skills workshop, and I must say that I was genuinely impressed with how busy it was. All day long I was kept busy with teaching juggling, diabilo, devilsticks and lots of other circus skills. It wasn’t just children who enjoyed the circus workshop, but also parents and other adults had a go. Due in part to some comic one liners that I’ve come up with specially designed to entice the adults in.

Our encampment and circus skills workshop
Our encampment and circus skills workshop at the chatteris midsummer festival 2016

Some had never tried circus skills before, others wanted to improve their circus skills and learn more tricks, or the chance to show off to their mates etc. Whatever their reasons for joining in, join in they did. All day long. So by the end of the day I was a tired but happy jester who was proud of the fact that I’d managed to teach so many children and adults so many circus skills. My only regret was the fact that so many people asked what time my show was going to be and I had to tell them that it wasn’t happening because there were so many other acts booked this year. So once I’d finished for the day I went and spoke to the organizers who reorganized the Sunday program so that I could do two performances, and I didn’t even charge them for it, but then you know what they say about a fool and money.

Learning archery with "A moment in time"
Learning archery with “A moment in time”

Although the circus skills workshop finished at 5 p.m. the festival didn’t, as on the Saturday night they have “the party in the park”. A long mobile stage (I.E. a lorry trailer) is set up at one end of the festival and here local, yet highly talented bands and musicians can showcase their skills with a wide variety of music ranging from country to rock. One man and his guitar to complete bands. The weather was good and the night air warm, so people relaxed in chairs under the large half moon listening to artist performing both original works as well as covers.

Whilst enjoying the music, they also enjoyed a pint or two from the  sportsman beer tent, including some lovely real ales. The sportsman supports the festival all through the year, running fund raising nights etc. So if you’ve enjoyed the festival, please show it by using their pub, especially on fund raising nights.

Just chilling
Just chilling

Tug of war shenanigans;

DevilStick Peat being manly and Joining in the tug of war
DevilStick Peat being manly in the tug of war

Sunday the event changed somewhat. There was still lots of entertainment, but also lots of competitions. These included an archery competition ran by “a moment in time” in which my partner in crime, Jester Dragonfly came third. I should add here that she is also a medieval archer, which is why I’m always happy when I get home and she says that she missed me. There’s also a dog show with lots of different categories. A silly yet fun “it’s the knock out” type of games, and a tug of war.

This year the first two teams in the tug of war was the sportsman (Now I think I’m right in saying that in all the years that the tug of war has been held, they have always won it), and the festival crew. The crew team was made up of mainly ladies. The sportsman’s team was made up of fit, burly men with a giant of a man on the end. Jester Dragonfly, who was helping to run the competition wasn’t too happy with this. She thought it was somewhat unfair. So did she offer to join the ladies? Oh no, instead she volunteered me!

I strutted out to the middle of the field in a manly manner. Well, as manly as one can in curly up shoes and a horny hat. I took hold of the rope and leaned back, ready to pull for the crews honour. Then, after someone pointed out that I was facing the wrong way, I about turned and awaited our chance to do what every team has done over the years. Lose to the sportsman. So I was somewhat surprised when we won the first of the best of 3 rounds. Then came the second round. Win this and we’ve finally broken their years long winning streak.

The sportsman’s team eyed us like a pack of lions eyes an injured zebra as we, bolstered by our surprise win, took the strain. Others, encouraged by our British trait of reveling in the face of certain disaster, decided to lend a hand and came running across the field to join us. And so it was that, in a totally fair match (well, as fair as possible when your team has 7 more members than your opponents) the festival crew team won first place in the tug of war. Hooray.

My second show;

After our win it was time for my second show of the day. Some of the audience had come to my first show, so I decided to change some of my routines for this one. Amongst the different routines I put in was a routine I call “the blindfolded card trick performing duck (of doom)”. I really enjoy this routine as it not only involves a child volunteer, but also a quick one liner gag that, in true Tommy Cooper style, is guaranteed to make the adults groan out loud. Today was no exception and the whole show went down a storm. I even got a couple of enquiries for birthday parties out of it. A sure sign that I’m doing something right.

Then, after the last of the competitions had been won (and lost). The last show performed and the last child with an ice cream smeared face was led sleepily home, it was time to pack up the circus skills workshop (much to the disappointment of the adult who’d spent most of the weekend perfecting his club juggling). Drop the tents and head off site and back to the real world.

Amember of the public learning club juggling at our circus skills workshop
A member of the public learning club juggling at our circus skills workshop

Because it was a local event it didn’t take that long to get back home and I must say that it made a pleasant change to arrive back at base at a civilized hour. Once home I kicked off my boots, put the telly on and watched the news. It seemed full of people reeling with shock and horror and saying how horrible it was that the British voters had got their own way regarding Europe. As I watched this it occurred to me that the British people view politics much the same way as they do the summer. I.E. they spend most of the year saying how good it will be when it happens, then come the day they complain that it’s too hot

But hey, what do I know after all, I’m just a fool.

 

 

drummers and daddies day drama

drummers and daddies day drama

One of my many roles as a modern day medieval jester is that of children’s entertainer, and it was in this role that I was booked to perform at the pentacle drummers summer solstice celebrations in Eastbourne.12717653_10153374508462727_3183717243936643879_n

We arrived Friday evening about an hour before sunset, which was perfect timing as we only had the one tent to put up and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and catching up with family and old friends.

Saturday morning we awoke to heavily overcast skies and a dawn chorus made up of thousands of seagulls all screeching madly like a gathering of wild banshee’s with attitude. but we didn’t let this dampen our spirits as we knew this was going to be a special day of celebration.

Drumming and dancing

Giving your all to make a noise
Giving your all to make a noise

The show opened with a spectacular drumming display by the pentacle drummers, all beating their drums with the type of enthusiasm rarely seen outside of a bible belt gospel meeting. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever witnessed loads of drummers before, but the sound was awesome (it even put the seagulls to shame) and the vibrations rattled around our tummies like lottery balls before they come out of the machine. Add to that the particularly high skill level of the pentacle drummers and you’ll realize just why this was such a great way to kick off the celebrations.

 

 

After the drumming there was various other performances including Morris dancing, belly dancers (several groups of) and loads more. Then came my turn.

Just one of the Morris dancing groups that attended the event
Just one of the Morris dancing groups that attended the event
belly dancers, although in this photo there's not a belly to be seen
belly dancers, although in this photo there’s not a belly to be seen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s entertainer

The crowd gathered around my tent as I purposely took my time getting ready, letting the tension

DevilStick peat and Woodbine, his friendly, pot noodle eating polecat
DevilStick peat and Woodbine, his friendly, pot noodle eating polecat

mount as people waited in antici……………………..pation.

Then, when the crowd was suitably excited enough, I began the show.

 

I performed one of my children’s shows which, although I call it a children’s show, it’s not just aimed at children. A better description would be “family show” as there’s gags and stuff in it that everyone will enjoy, even the adults (after all, they are the ones with the cheque books). So I was not surprised to see that the adults out numbered the children 3-1.

I walked out onto the stage and the crowd clapped, cheered and threw little children in the air with excitement as I started with a routine of my own creation called “the regurgitating ping pong balls (of doom). I love this routine as it baffles both old and young alike, then, just as they think they have figured out how it’s done, I prove them wrong.

The ceremony

After my show there was the solstice day ceremony. The summer solstice is a celebration of the longest day of the year and has been celebrated in a multitude of ways by countless civilizations since prehistoric times. It is after all, an important date in the farming calendar.

for this particular ceremony we all gathered around in a circle and watched as two performers staged an ageless play about the oak and holly kings who represent the lengthening and shortening days. Through the play they reminded us all that the high heat of summer will all to soon give way to the cold darkness of winter, which in turn will once again give way to summer. An important fact of life, not just to ancient peoples, but also relevant to modern man, although we’re now seemingly somewhat removed from mother nature and forget (or should that read “deny”) that, despite all our modern inventions and cleverness, we are still as reliant on her for life as we’ve always been.

Stone Henge games

Stormageddon taking part in the Stone Henge games
Stormageddon taking part in the Stone Henge games

After the ceremony we had the “stone henge game”. This is where they produced a large, lightweight plastic stone, like the standing stones of old. It was fixed to two wooden sleigh like runners which in turn rested on several pieces of plastic piping. The idea was to have timed races, seeing which team could go from A to B the quickest, taking the pipes from the back and replacing them at the front as the stone rolled along them.

The bands

people soon started to get up and dance the the music
people soon started to get up and dance to the music

Then, in the evening the bands started to play. I’ve finished work now and could relax and enjoy the music, safe in the knowledge that the free bouncy castles that the kids had been on all day long meant that they were now sound asleep.

It started with jimmy lee morris, a one man and his guitar, next was a kicking Irish group called feckless, which included a unique guitar who got folk up and dancing followed by the first of not one, but two fire shows next was a band called mad magdalen  that, for reasons I cant recall, I managed to miss. Then came a great folky type band called love street and last was a rocking band called WojtekGodzisz, but don’t ever ask me how to pronounce it. Unfortunately the time was getting on by now and someone complained to the council who sent the environmental health officer round.

Just one of the many bands performing that evening
Just one of the many bands performing that evening

He decided that we had to stop the amplified music and that we could only have acoustic music. The look on his face when I loudly suggested to the crowd that it’s not a problem as we have over 30 drummers here was a mixture of shock, horror and hatred. It’s good to know that my skills as a fool are appreciated.

Daddies day drama

The next day was fathers day. A day when tradition says that fathers should be woken up with breakfast in bed, and so it was that I was awoken with the news that it’s time to get up, pack up, drop the tent and head home. This I duly did and by 10 a.m. we were on the road home, stopping off at a friends on route so that we could pick up one of our kids who’d had a sleep over with her mate.

The friends house was in a thin lane and so to turn around we had to disconnect the trailer from the car. It was at this point that the hire car (ours is in having it’s mot done) decided that it liked reverse gear so much that it refused to go into any other gear. We called the garage and got an answer phone message telling us the out of hours number to call in an emergency. This we eagerly called, several times. At first the calls went unanswered, then they just went straight to engaged, so I sent a text message. A few minutes latter i got a text in reply telling me that they are out of the country but that someone will contact us soon. 5 minutes latter we got a call from the owners father and explained the problem. It was decided that, as we have AA recovery, we’d call out the AA. An hour latter the AA arrived and fiddled with the engine before ringing for a flatbed to tow us home. Our friend offered to take Jester Dragonfly and the children home whilst I waited for the flatbed to arrive, and so I waved goodbye to my family and spent fathers day not with my loved ones, but with my friends boyfriend. However he did have an ample supply of cider, so the day wasn’t a complete loss.

The flatbed arrived about an hour latter, loaded the car onto the back and hitched the trailer behind it, then off we went back to sunny old Manea as his stereo blurted out tunes by the who, Lynad skinard, and other classics. About a mile or so from home he slowed right down, explaining to me that the road was very bumpy and he didn’t want the trailer coming off, which sounded fair to me. Then, about half a mile from home we heard a strange noise coming from behind us. We pulled over to investigate and discovered that the welding holding the trailer box to the frame had broken, resulting in the box flapping about like a goldfishes mouth. He strapped the box down and slowly, very slowly crawled along until we eventually got home. he unloaded the car, parked up the trailer and departed, leaving me to explain to the other half that we now have a broken trailer. I done what any sane man would do in this situation. I expressed my frustration on Facebook, and was somewhat surprised and relived when a friend sent a message offering to weld it all back together again. And so it was that, relieved yet tiered I crawled into bed, leaving the fathers day bottle of beer that I know the family have brought me, but still haven’t been given, unopened till another day.

Drummers both old and young perform in the pentacle drummers
Drummers both old and young perform in the pentacle drummers

Good news for Chatteris midsummer festival

The good news is that the trailer is now repaired and we have another hire car that has forward gears as well as backwards. This means that there’s nothing to stop us heading to chatteris next week for the chatteris midsummer festival. details of which can be found on it’s Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/groups/210070255762758/

This festival has a very special place in our hearts, for not only was Jester Dragonfly one of the main driving forces in starting it, but she has been involved in the organizing of it ever since. It started off as a medieval event. Then became a multi period event and is now a festival with a different theme every year. This year its the Rio Olympics.

We’re booked to bring just our circus school to it (the jesters school of……well…. jestering) but because we used to live in Chatteris and we are very community minded, so we’ll take everything, tents, performance stuff the whole lot, as described in our total immersion show. It really is a great show, so if your in the area, please drop by, enjoy the show and come and say “Hi” to Jester Dragonfly and myself.

 

 

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