haircuts, hersty and the ancient oak

haircuts, hersty and the ancient oak

 

Welcome welcome one and all, to yet another long awaited thrilling entry in the continuing saga on the times, trials and tribulations of life as a modern day medieval fool. Or as I prefer to call it “my blog”.

It’s been a busy summer, busier than normal, but that’s the way I want it. After all, to quote from the great prophet, “an unemployed jester is nobodies fool”. I could write 4 or 5 entries about the fun we’ve had this summer, but instead I’m going to concentrate on a couple of the best. I.E. “England’s Medieval Festival” (A.K.A. hersty) and “The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre” (A.K.A. the ancient oak medieval fayre).

England’s Medieval Festival

England’s Medieval Festival is a great event held over the August bank holiday at Herstmonceux castle near Hastings in east sussex. This was it’s 26th consecutive year, of which I think I’ve performed at the last 24. During that time it’s seen many changes and has grown from strengh to strengh. The most notable changes from my point of view is the inclusion of camping for the public (including some groovy glamping tents). This is a wonderful and unique chance to fully immerse oneself in 3 whole days (and nights) of medieval life. And lets face is, what child (aged 9-90) doesn’t want to spend the evening siting at a table, listening to some world class, kicking music, whilst chatting to knights, princess’s and of cause, the worlds sexeyist (and most humble) fool.

Best mead ever!

And if that’s not your thing, then there’s the outside cinema with an array of medieval themed films. Or maybe you want to really push the boat out and enjoy a medieval banquet held in the castles great banqueting hall. If you’re really lucky, then some knights might even invite you to join them in their camp as they sit around a fire, supping on ale or a bottle or two of mead from the greatest of all mead producers, The “Magic Mead” company. In my humble opinion they are purveyors of the some of the best meads I’ve ever tried (and over 30 years of medievaling means that, in my time, I have tried a mead or two).

The other main change from my point of view, is the inclusion of a wet weather contingency plan. This ensures that the fun continues regardless of the traditional bank holiday weather, but more on that latter, for I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let me start at the beginning, which for us was turning up on the Friday afternoon and, in a break from our normal hersty setting up routine, setting up in daylight. It’s so much easier (and a lot less painful) to hammer in 83 heavy duty metal tent pegs when you can see what your doing. And a lot easier to juggle in my shows when my thumbs aren’t swollen from misaimed mallet swings.

setting up

Over the years we and the adjacent shows and stalls have always set up in the same places and know exactly where to place ourselves. In our case we are between the 3rd and 7th posts of the fencing around kids kingdom. Unfortunately the site owners have removed the fence, meaning that I and my neighbours spent a good ten minutes standing there, scratching our heads, trying to work out who goes where. Luckily for us, although we only meet up once a year, we all class each other as good friends, so it was all sorted out without fistycuffs or lances at dawn.

Day 1

Saturday morning greeted us with brilliant sunshine and the promise of a fun filled, action packed day, and so it was with a spring in our steps that Jester Dragonfly and I headed up to the front gate, eager to meet and welcome that mighty hord known as “the public”. Now it’s a long walk from our medieval encampment in kids kingdom all the way up to front of house, but one of the unique things about England’s Medieval Festival is the “gatters”. These are a fleet of golf carts that travel around the site. They are not just there to transport mega stars like my own humble self, but also members of the public. Simply wait until a gatter comes along, stick out your thumb, jump aboard (making sure its stopped first) and tell them where you wish to go. This free service is perfect for the elderly, parents with tiered out kids or those who simply fancy a ride.

As expected, it was a busy day and I was soon enjoying performing my “welcome routines”. These are a variety of short routines designed to get people in the mood for a fun day whilst also giving them some info on whats happening where. It also gives me the chance to interact 1 to 1 with people, thereby giving them the personal touch that this festival is well known for. Then, after a couple of hours of “welcome to england’s medieval festival. The best festival in the whole field” and other witty intros, it was time to head back to camp and get ready for my first show.

After checking all my kit was ready, I wandered out onto the footpath to talk to passers by. Telling kids, adult, dogs and anything else that ventured by that it was nearly show time and asking them to come and watch (well it’s really embarrassing if I’m the only one there). I need not of feared, for I had a great crowd and as I gazed out at them I recognised many faces of fans who come to see my kids show year after year. Some of them even had children with them!

Children's entertainer ely
Performing at Hersty

After my show and a quick bit of lunch, it was time to do some walk about. I love doing walk about as you never know who you’re going to meet or what the kids are going to say. As such you have to be ready for any and everything. From kids who want to see magic, adults who want to hear a joke and people who need info or have a problem. As the face of the festival you need to be ready for it all. But walk about is also my chance to meet up with old friends, re-enactors, traders and members of the public who, over the years, have become true friends. Then, after my second show and yet more walk about, it was time to head back up to the gates and do the good byes.

Another thing I like about this festival is the fact that, even though it’s one of the largest of it’s kind, the orginisors still take the time to listen to ideas from us mere mortals. One idea I had was to build a platform for me inside the castle tower a the entrance/exit. Here I sit chatting to the public as they leave. Asking them if they’d had a good day (in all my years there no one has ever said no). Laughing and joking with them and performing various short good bye routines, including one where I portray rapunzel’s brother, repugnant.

Eventually the last of the daytrippers, pushing prams full of tiered out babes leave and its time to have a couple of hours down time before my final show of the day. For although the kids kingdom has closed, we still have all the glampers and campers to entertain. This includes a fire possession from the camp site to the beer tent, where many bands perform through out the night. But that’s not something I take part in. My job is to perform for the grand banquet in the castles grand banqueting hall.

The Grand Banquet

Here the room is filled with 3 long tables. The two longest tables are

king and queen
England’s Medieval Festivals king and queen

surrounded by banqueters (if that’s not a real word, then it dammed well should be). The 3rd table is reserved for the nobles of the house, including the festivals very own king and queen. A lovely couple who, when not kinging, queening and presiding over banquets, spend their spare time running “The Crossed Keys“. A lovely old fashioned pub in chatteris. If you’re ever in the area and want the very best in food and ales, all served in a old world setting, then you wont do better than visiting the crossed keys pub (tell them I sent you, I might make a free beer out of it). Then, at around 10pm, and only then, is my days work done and I can finally stop playing the part of the happy, care free fool and go back to being a misible, child hating what name. (That’s a joke by the way. The truth is I love my job. It’s a true passion and oh so much better than working for a living). And so it is that, work finished, it’s time for a quick drink and dance to some great live music in the tavern, then off to bed, for tomorrows another busy day.

Day 2

Sunday morning brought with it dark, heavy clouds and the promise of rain. But unlike other, lesser events, this doesn’t mean we remain shut, for here at england’s medieval festival the moto is “The show must go on”. For not only are there the campers and glampers to entertain, but over the years the daytrippers have also come to learn that we remain not only open, but also up and running.

The promised rain began to fall just as I started my first show of the day, but one of the percurlyatites that I’m known for, is my love of a challenge and the challenge was this. Do I stop my show and move it under cover (stopping part way through is never a good idea) or do I prove to myself that I’m good enough to be able to keep people standing in the rain for the next 20 minutes just to watch me? I’m proud to say that I raised to the challenge.

Now whenever I’m performing, at the back of my mind, there’s always the fear that, mid performance, I’ll mess up and my balls will drop. Add to this the slippery nature of my now wet balls and you can understand just how uncomfortable I felt. (should I pause awhile here whilst those of you with a childish mind stop sniggering). but that wasn’t the only problem. The stuffing in my horny hat isn’t waterproof and the added weight of the water in the stuffing meant that, as I jumped about, so I was constantly being slapped in the face by a soggy horn (oh please, stop laughing and just grow up).

Like I say, I love a challenge, so my 30 minute show lasted about 40 minutes, simply because it was so much fun to keep them there. But eventually I drew my show to a close, took a well deserved squelchy bow and quickly moved my equipment into the dry before venturing out once again into the rain, this time to perform walk about routines.

I’m lucky in the sense that I have a full length, woolen medieval coat which keeps all save my head not only dry, but also warm. So I was quite happy to wander around in the rain. As the rain got heavier and heavier, so I headed down towards the massive medieval market. Here I knew I’d find lots of traders who, due to the weather, weren’t going to do a lot of trade. So I amused myself by strolling around singing “summertime”, “oh what a beautiful morning” and other similar themed songs in such a happy manner that it was almost guaranteed to get on their nerves (hey, its one of the perks of the trade). and it was whilst strolling around that I saw a show the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

The world famous hersty mud stage wasn’t affected by the rain

The jousting field was deemed too slippery for the horses to perform safely on, but our motto here is, as stated earlier, “the show must go on”. And so it was that I gazed upon the sight of crowds of people thoroughly enjoying getting soaking wet as they watched the jousters jousting without the horses!

Grown men in full armour running at each other with great big, long wooden poles, often slipping and fulling in the mud long before they reached their target, as they done a truly brilliant job of entertaining the crowds. It was one of the funnest thing I’ve seen in a long time and proof of just how hard everyone at england’s medieval festival works to make it one of the best shows around. regardless of the weather.

Day 3

Monday was, thankfully another dry day and warm enough to cause steam to raise from soggy knights and damp damsels. The crowds were larger than normal and a great time was had by all as knights battled, jousters jousted (with horses this time) and I, your humble narrator, donned his spare, dry hat and spent the day fooling, juggling, magicing and all the other “ings” that one would expect from Britain’s premier humble fool. Then, after the last show was completed  and the last goodbye said, it was time to pack up our tents, wring out our soggy bits and finally head home from what must be one of the best and most enjoyable herstys we had in a very long time.

But our time at home was somewhat short lived. For we arrived home late tuesday night. Unpacked and washed kit Wednesday, then repacked Thursday ready to venture forth once more bright and early on the Friday. This time to a smaller, yet no less entertaining show known as The ancient Oak Medieval Fayre.

The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre

Based just outside of Cambridge, this is a wonderful medieval show put on by a friend of mine. In fact the show is so good that Jester Dragonfly and I are always more than happy to not only perform at it, but also help by crewing free of charge. I also supplied free advertising for them on both, TV and radio. You can watch and listen to them by clicking on the red links, but I wont as I hate watching myself

Out on a wing falconry

Like all good shows it had all the basic elements of a fun filled medieval re-enactment. I.E. knights in armour hitting each other on the head in a historical manner, jousting from the world famous “Horsemen of the knight“. living history camps with vikings, saxons and of cause medieval encampments from over 10 different reenactment groups! It had a medieval market where one could buy anything from mead to armour, wooden swords to full on, double-handed war axes forged by master blacksmiths and oh so much more.

There was a wonderful birds of prey display by tim and tina from “ Out on a Wing Falconry “. This lovely couple perform one of the best falconry displays I’ve seen in a very long time and are also really nice people who have a true love for their birds. So if you’re looking for a display for a show or birthday treat, or maybe you want to give someone special a one to one day flying birds. Then give them a call. You really wont be disappointed.

there was even a chance to tryout your skills as an archer care of the “Phoenix Warlords Medieval Reenactment“. The rather good and nicely priced beer tent was supplied by “The Trolls Bottom” and came complete with an array of fine ales and ciders as well as mead and a selection of their own flavoured spirits.

Our dear friends “The Pentacle Drummers” were there performing with ear splitting enthusiasm as they beat dried animal skins with lumps of wood and I, your poor humble narrator, performed comic skills of mystery and dysterity. All this and more was happening at east Anglia’s biggest and bestest medieval reenactment, all contained in a field just a few miles from the centre of Cambridge city.

Now every gig is different. They all have their strong points and their weak points. and the strong point about this event, the one thing that sticks out in my mind even more than the awesome entertainment, is it’s feel. It’s like being on your local village green with family and mates.

It was a sunny weekend and families set up house on the green surrounding the main arena. Spreading out blankets and picnics as they settled down for a fun filled day. Once settled they could let their kids run free, safe in the knowledge that they could watch them from a distance as, vorpal swords in hand, they challenged other kids to do battle. As the kids from one family made friends with kids from another family, so their parents would chat and new friendships were made.

Then the 5 kids fighting each other would decide to team up and fight the kids from a couple of other families At one point I sat at my tents, watching as this happened and thinking that it was like watching 11 year olds acting out “Game of thrones” (but with less blood and more clothing).

There was an array of food outlets, including one of my personal favorites “Dragonjaks“. A wonderful bunch of chefs who not only knock out great food at great prices whilst smiling and chatting with folk, but also kept me in a constant supply of coffee. Even the medieval market had a big family feel, for it was chock-a-block full of the “cream de la cream” of traders. All of them being the old school type of people who would always go that extra mile to help someone out, be they fellow traders or members of the public.

Next to our colourful, medieval encampment was a “have a go archery” stall, run by The phoenix war band. These are a wonderful bunch of reenactors who banded together to raise money for charity. Their have a go encampment has a range of bows of different size and strength to cater for all ages and the money they raise goes towards good causes. They also had a large, square medieval tent with the sides taken down so that they had some shade. And here it was that the true star of this blog, the stupendous Stormageddon, had his Stupendous haircut.

“But what” I here you cry “Is so stupendous about a haircut”? Well read on dear reader, for all shall be revealed.

Storms Sponsored Haircut

Our son, the fazmagorical Storm (A.K.A Stormageddon) is very nearly 7 (14th of September) in all those long years, he has never had, what my parents would call “a real haircut”! and he is very well known for his long, flowing blond locks. However, earlier this year he told us that he wanted, as he put it, “A boys haircut”.

Neither his mother, Jester Dragonfly, or myself wanted him to lose his rupunzalish look, but at the same time, he is now old enough to make the decision, and so it was that we begrudgingly agreed. After a talk with him about it he decided to do several things. The first was that he wanted to donate his hair to “The Princess Trust“. A wonderful charity that make wigs for children who, due to cancer and other illness’s, have lost their hair. Something that I personally feel is a wonderful idea made even more beautiful by it’s pure simplicity.

He also decided to see if people would sponsor his hair cut to raise money for 3 other good causes.

  1. Muscular Dystrophy UK are a wonderful charity who work in a number of ways with and for those who, like Storms cousin, suffer from this genetic condition. As we have the condition in our family it is, understandably, a subject close to our hearts.
  2. The Anne Harris Children’s fund are a small charity who raise funds for child related good causes. They were also the main funders for my work with children in conflict zones and, when we told them that we needed £2000 for a hoist to lift my nephews wheelchair into the car, offered to fund the whole lot!
  3.  Last but by no means lest, he wanted to raise money for his beaver pack (like cubs but for younger kids) as he wanted to give something back for all the fun.

We decided to set a goal of £1,000 to be shared equally between the 3 . I’ll be honest here and tell you that I was really worried that we had set the goal too high and he would be disappointed when we failed to reach it. I’m immensely proud to say that I need not of worried. For not only has he reached his goal, but he has passed it! I cant tell you how much yet, as the money is still coming in and people are still donating. Some in person with hard cash, others via his fund raising page https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stormshaircut

To all our friends, in-laws, nephews and total strangers who donated and/or shared his page on social media, we here at the fools house would like to send you our sincere thanks. Indeed “Thank you”  falls far short of the gratitude we feel for your amazing response. There are way too many of you to mention here, but what I will say is that “the phoenix warband” made the largest, single donation. Something that literally brought tears to Jester Dragonfly’s eyes (where as I, being a manly type of man, merely had smoke in my eyes).

The cutting of the hair was performed, free of charge by the lovely Sue from “Short Back And Sides” in March and was happening at the same time as one of my shows, so I didn’t see the work in progress, just the end result, and what a result! Truth is I hardly recognized him as he looked so…….well……..normal! And I’ll never forget the look on his face when I took a photo and showed him what he now looks like. I admit to having a fear that he wouldn’t like it and would ask for it to be put back on, followed by the tears when we say that we cant. However he was totally amazed by his new look and also (I’m relieved to say) impressed with it, and still is.

can you tell the difference

sadly sold out

Eventually this event had to do what all events do, I.E. come to an end. And so it was that, with heavy heart, I waved goodbye to happy parents and tired children. However, my sadness at their departure was short lived, as the event owner not only paid us cash, but even gave it to me rather than the better half! And so it was that, with a skip in my step, I headed at full speed towards a stall going by the name of “The king of Cups“.

I’d strolled by their stall earlier in the day and just happened to notice that they were selling their own brand of chilli mead. Now as anyone who knows me will tell you, I love chilli’s, so I sampled a wee taster. It is one of the best chilli meads I’ve had in a long time. Not only is it a lot hotter than most commercially available chilli meads, but (and this is what all chilli lovers look for) it had a real depth of flavor.

The king at the king of cups stall

I stood there as way after wave of flavor washed against the inside of my cheeks like a finely mixed napam and paintstripper cocktail, before swallowing and enjoying its warming feel slide down my throat, kicking my tonsils on route with all the subtleness of a welsh rugby team on a stag night. “Yes” I thought “I want a bottle of this”. So you can imagine my disappointment when my eagerly held out hand of hard cash was met with the news that they’d sold out! And so it was that, with a crushed heart I returned to our encampment, handed our wages over to Jester Dragonfly and broke camp, ready to head homeward.

I can’t say how good this festival is and also how much bigger than last years. If it keeps on growing at this rate then some of the more established local events had better watch out and up their game. As this has all the promise of becoming one of East Anglia’s major attractions.

Future events

But enough of times past and onto up and coming events

Cambridge Living History Fair

October 20th and 21st

I’ve been performing at “The Cambridge Living History Fair” since it first started, many moons ago. Since then it has simply gone from strengh to strengh. “But what it a living history fair” I hear you ask “And would I, a mere member of the public enjoy it”? Again you can check out the link above or read My review of The Cambridge living history fair in my blog entry entitled “My review of The Cambridge living history fair“.

King Henry’s Christmas Court

This year King Henry the 8th will be holding a christmas court at the mary rose museum in Portsmouth. The quite sensibly named “King Henry’s Christmas Court” will be held over several weekend in the build up to and over the christmas period. And what king would dare to hold court without his trusty fool, yours truly the one and only DevilStick Peat. I’ve never performed here before, but a couple of years ago we took the kids to the museum and everyone, adults and kids alike, had a great time.

 

And on the subject of christmas. Booking are coming in fast. So if you’re charged this year with finding great entertainment for your works christmas bash, medieval banquet, or christmas market, then why not hire the best. The one and only DevilStick Peat.

Well that’s all for now folks, but before I go I’d just like to wish our son and the trus star of our show, the one and only Stormageddon a very happy birthday.

The Loxwood Joust

The Loxwood Joust

Held over the first two weekends of August, The Loxwood Joust is quite simply the best medieval event since medieval times. If you want to know why I say that, check out this review here from 2 years ago, but bear in mind that the event isn’t just 2 years older now, it’s also 2 years better and bigger.

If you’re a reenactor or household, you might want to also check out this review here

But whether you’re a reenactor or a member of the public, trust me when I tell you that this is the medieval event of the year.

This event has special viewing areas around the arenas for disabled people, but please bear in mind that it is an outdoor, grassed event so ground my become soft in certain climates. To the best of my knowledge, all areas can be accessed by wheelchairs, however as the event area grows larger every year I advise checking access with the organizers via the website listed below (don’t be shy, they are really nice people).

The Loxwood Joust

The Loxwood Joust

Held over the first 2 weekends of august, The Loxwood Joust is quite simply the best medieval event since medieval times. If you want to know why I say that, check out this review here from 2 years ago, but bear in mind that the event isn’t just 2 years older now, it’s also 2 years better and bigger.

If you’re a reenactor or household, you might want to also check out this review here

But whether you’re a reenactor or a member of the public, trust me when I tell you that this is the medieval event of the year.

This event has special viewing areas around the arenas for disabled people, but please bear in mind that it is an outdoor, grassed event so ground my become soft in certain climates. To the best of my knowledge, all areas can be accessed by wheelchairs, however as the event area grows larger every year I advise checking access with the organizers via the website listed below (don’t be shy, they are really nice people).

Templecombe Medieval Pageant

Templecombe Medieval Pageant

Well, what can I say about Templecombe Medieval Pageant, deep in the heart of sommerset that hasn’t already been said.

I used to perform at this event years ago, way back when I still had hair and am so pleased and thrilled to be welcomed back again (and they call me the fool). I do believe that Stormageddon (the jesters jester) mentioned it here

Here is just part of what the event says about itself. For more info please check out their website:

This event, and others like it throughout the nation, present you with an opportunity to see history in a way television, museums and books simply can’t. Reading history, seeing exhibits and watching historical dramas or documentaries are all worthy ways to learn, but when you can actually speak to people who have learnt for themselves lessons about things as small and specific as how to actually strap on and rig armour, how important it is to care for their weapons or how cooking on cast iron and trying to bake at a fire presents unique ways of perceiving our history. We present these things with a borderline obsessive enthusiasm. We want to entertain and educate you, but we never sacrifice comedy for dry information or vice versa. We present factual information in a way to make you laugh, because if it amuses you, you are more likely to learn something. Also we have Vikings. They are loud..

food festivals, festivals, fayres and fairs

food festivals, festivals, fayres and fairs

Food festivals, festivals, fayres and fairs:

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

Cherry Hinton Festival;

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faversham Food Festival;

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

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

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

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

 

Flora, the Singleton giant.

 

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

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

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

The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre;

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

The set up;

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

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

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

Music;

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

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

The re-enactors;

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

Jousting;

Jousters Jousting

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next year;

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

What’s next I hear thee cry;

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

Birthday parties;

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

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

The Cambridge Living History Fair;

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

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

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

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

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

Your fabulous fool

Peat

ancient oak medieval fayre

ancient oak medieval fayre

This is a brand, spanking new Medieval event in the heart of Cambridgeshire. Held over 2 action packed days in QUY PARK, STOW ROAD, STOW-CUM-QUY, CB25 9AF The ancient oak medieval fayre will be host to some of the best medieval entertainment around.

Entertainment

Horsemen Of The Knight – Jousting, stunt riding and combat (one of my favourite jousting teams)
Out On A Wing Falconry – Flying and static displays
Serpentyne – Medieval music One of Britain’s premier Medieval bands  (Full band on Sunday only)
Pentacle Drummers – Drumming troupe (Hear and feel the awesome power of their drums)
History Off The Page – Historical demonstrations and learning
Yarnsmith Of Norwich – Storytelling (I can spend hours enjoying his tales from days gone by)
Rob Nicholson – Greenwood worker, pole lathe demonstrations
Honest Jim’s Wanderin Shop –  Entertaining talks and demonstrations
Spearman Supplies – Wood and leather work demonstrations
Tanya Celebrant – Handfasting ceremonies
Byron Robinson – Fine metalwork and alchemy demonstrations
Green Dragon Morris Men – Saturday only
Have-A-Go Archery

And of cause, the worlds greatest jesters ever, yours truly, DevilStick Peat and Jester Dragonfly will be there with our “Total Immersion Show”

Living history and battles from

Wuffa – Saxon and Viking re-enactment
Ealdfaeder – Anglo-Saxon re-enactment and living history
Phoenix Medieval Society – Medieval re-enactment

to name but a few.

Ticket prices;

Adults £8 on the day, £6 in advance (plus booking fee)

Children under 16 free

O.A.P’s £5 on the day, £3.50 in advance (plus booking fee)

More info

For more information please check out “Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre”

 

 

 

25th England’s Medieval Festival review

25th England’s Medieval Festival review

25th England’s Medieval Festival review

 

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

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

Friday night;

Night time entertainment in the Buxom Wench tavern

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

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

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

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

Saturday morning;

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

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

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

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

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

The fun begins;

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

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

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

The siege of Herstmonceux;

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Kids Kingdom;

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

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

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

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

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

Drums, Hog Roast and Never Ending Bananas;

The awesome pentacle drummers

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

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

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

The Mud Stage and Jousting;

The famous mud pit stage (of doom)

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

Blacksmith, movies, cider and mead;

James helping a young lady to make a pendent

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

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

Evening entertainment;

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

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

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

A Meal Fit for a King;

Ready to carve the roast meat jester style

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

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

The perfect end to a perfect day;

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

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

Up and coming events

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

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

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

Other stuff

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

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

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

England’s Medieval Festival

England’s Medieval Festival

Held over the bank holiday, this is one of the largest medieval events of it’s kind, and as this year they are celebrating their 25th year, so it’s going to be even bigger and better than the last 24 years combined.

It’s also one of the few medieval events that you, the public, can camp at, so the fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down.

For advanced tickets, please click here

To read my somewhat poetic review of last years festival, please click here

the biggest and best in medieval events

the biggest and best in medieval events

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

 

The Loxwood Joust

spot the cool fool

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

The publics point of view

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

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

The re-enactors point of view

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

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

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

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

The only down sides are

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

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

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

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

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

My point of view

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

England’s Medieval Festival

(Or “Hersty” to those in the know)

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre

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

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

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

Your cool fool

Mr D.S. Peat

 

The loxwood joust (second weekend)

The loxwood joust (second weekend)

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

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

Discounted tickets can be brought here