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..
Battle medieval fayre is a wonderful community event put of in the heart of the british countryside.
My review of this event in years gone by can be foundhere
Held in the centre of this historic town, in the shadow of battle’s famous abby, this event is packed full of entertainment including maypole dancing (yes, you and your kids can join in), Knights in armour battling to the cries of you, their supporters and fans and of cause, that master of mayhem, the one and only DevilStick Peat and oh so much more.
There is also stocks for the unruly, games for the gameful and loads of stalls selling local products.
All in all a great day out for all the family, and it wont cost you a penny to enter
This event is also all held at ground level and as such is wheelchair accessible.
Once again we’ve had an exciting few months with not just events, but as a children’s entertainer, also birthday parties.
The queen of hearts;
It all started with a birthday party down in London. The birthday child had seen me performing at Templecombe medieval pageant down in the west Country and decided there and then that I, your sweet humble narrator, was the the man she needed to entertain her friends (even at that tender age, she had good taste).
I decided to train it to London as it worked out cheaper and less hassle than driving and arrived in London with plenty of time to spare. Finding the venue and the right bus to it was easy. It was paying for the bus that proved the problem.
London busses no longer take cash! Only oyster cards and contactless debit/credit cards. The problem is, being in entertainment and sharing dressing rooms and all, I won’t have a contactless card. Luckily for me the young lady driving the bus, taken by my dashingly handsome looks and realizing that I am but a poor country bumking, let me on for free!
Once at the venue (before the booker, which is always good). I changed into my motley (that’s the proper name for a fools costume) and set to work meeting all the young guests and getting them in the mood to party.
I should say here that the birthday girl looked awesome, all dressed up as the Queen of hearts, which given her reputation for head removals was a little disconcerting. Lucky for me that both, the Queen and her subjects, loved the show, with all the adults joining in the shouting of “oh yes you did” and the such like. It was a true pleasure to perform for them all, but for me the best bit was yet to come.
My performance over it was time to do the birthday cake and what a cake it was. Topped with lashings of thick cream, covered in sweet tasting fruit and mini marshmallows and festooned with candles it looked good enough to eat. But for me personally, the icing on the cake (pun intended) was the pictures of yours truly that towered above it all. Yes, I know that’s egotistical of me, but then that’s all part of being a performer. Silly little things like that just add to the beauty of what we do.
They even had “thank you for coming to my party” stickers with a photo of me on it. If I’d known that before hand I’d of asked them to include my website on it, but hey, you cant win them all.
Special needs workshops;
Recently we’ve been doing some circus workshops with special needs children via the NHS. These are children with conditions like autism and the such like. We do them at a special, discounted price for several reasons. Partly because we know how underfunded mental health is in this country. Partly because the work is rewarding and loads of fun. But mainly because we feel that it’s actually quite important. Not only because it helps them with spacial awareness and concentration, but also because it gives them something that is sadly often lacking in our society, the chance to interact with adults members of our community. O.K. so the adults in question are two professional fools, but hey, you cant win them all!
Cambridge Living History Fair;
Next was the Cambridge living history fair. Now although it’s called the Cambridge living history fair, it’s not actually in Cambridge. It’s held twice a year at the woodgreen animal shelter. Now although it’s called the woodgreen animal shelter, it’s not actually in Woodgreen, but Godmanchester. But despite these misleading labels it was very well attended by both public and traders. It’s one of the few gigs that book me for both, my skills as a fool, juggler and magician and my skills with the cláirseach (that’s fancy talk for folk harp). She’s a 26 string Colombo harp from “starfish designs” who, in my humble opinion, are not one of, but the best harp makers in the UK.
The Cambridge living history fair is a wonderful event where all sorts of weird and wonderful folk gather to buy and sell all sorts of weird and wonderful goods. Should you wish to purchase a new bow or arrows, then there’s several stalls to meet your needs, including “Arbalist Armoury”. Run by my friend Nick Winter, he sells a wide range of products and is a wonderful guy who’s more interested in making sure you get what’s right for you than in making a sale (oh, and I’m also impressed with the way he interacts with children). Or maybe you want a period costume made to measure and unique to you, or something special for your wedding or party. If this is the case then make your way over to “Brighid Designs”. Run by a lovely lady with a real passion for her art (and trust me on this, her works are pieces of art) she can advise you and make your dream dress a reality. One you’ll treasure for ever.
But it’s not just a place to buy and sell. Oh no, it’s also a place to meet people and learn about our history in a way that a school or book just cant ever compete with. You can even find out about joining a re-enactment group care of groups like “A Moment In Time”. A wonderfully friendly bunch of nutters who enjoy re-enacting days of old and are always up for a laugh.There’s also loads of entertainment laid on, all free of charge! Including myself, a story teller and hands on demos from“The Ninth Legion Hispana”. Here both adults and children alike can learn the fighting skills of the romans. Arguably one of the best fighting armies in history.
And if you’re feeling peckish, then make your way to“Cowleys Fine Foods”. Their website says “We specialise in all things edible” and when they say “all“, they aint kidding. Here you can try and buy anything from vegan and veggie goodies such as “Suzie’s Vegan Jerky : Sweet Potato Texan BBQ” to more exotic goods like their “Gourmet Chilli Jerky Trinidad Scorpion”. As a veggie I’ve never tried it, but I know those who have and it comes highly recommended.
Sorry you missed it? Well fear not, for this fine event is so popular that it now happens twice a year. So there’s no reason why you cant come along and see my show at the next one on the 17th and 18th of February 2018.
Children’s entertainer and pirate in Manea;
Then it was time to get ready for another birthday party, this time a little closer to home. In fact it was a lot closer to home as it was being held in Manea village hall, which is in the same Street as our house.
The theme for the party was pirates, so I resurrected an old character that I used to play at larp events. A character I lovingly called “shipwrecked again peat”. I must admit to being a little bit nervous about this party, as most of the guests were of preschool age. Younger than most kids I work with. I’m pleased to say that I needn’t of worried. We split my show into two parts, so as to allow for a shorter attention span and put the birthday meal in between the shows (and unlike many children’s entertainers, I don’t charge for the extra time this involves). They loved it and the look on the birthday child’s face when a birthday card magicly appeared in an empty bag was priceless. Again the adults joined in, some of them laughing as much as the children. But then I always say that, although folk book me to entertain children, I class myself not as a children’s entertainer, but as a family entertainer, with good, clean wholesome fun for everyone. Besides, I realised very early in my career that it’s the adults, not the kids, who hold the cheque books.
Children’s entertainer in Huntingdon;
This time the party was in the metropolis known as Huntingdon. Apparently they, like so many of my bookers, had seen me at an event and decided that I’m just what they are looking for. I like it when that happens as it means they know what they are booking and what to expect. They’d tried to book me the year before, but I was already booked up (if only i could clone myself, I’d make a fortune), so they booked me very early this year. Maybe you should do the same and guarantee having the best in the business perform at your child’s/wife’s/husbands birthday party. Again, the party went well and even the adults looked surprised when, with a sudden flash of light, the large brightly coloured birthday cake appeared from a container way too small to hold it. I would tell you how I do it, but then I’d have to kill you! (I said that to a man once and he replied “great, tell my wife”).
When not performing I’ve been busy working on various projects, including getting sponsorship for a whole new routine that will be showcased next festival season (April time). I’ve spent a long time designing and redesigning some of the equipment I need for this, but that was the easy bit. The hard part was affording the props needed to perform it (nothing in my trade is cheap).
But being forever resourceful I decided to look for sponsorship. First thing I did was make a list of possible sponsors. The trick involves several bottles, 20 to be precise, so a company that sells it’s products in bottles seemed the most obvious choice. I divided a list of likely sponsors into two sections, those most likely to sponsor a trick and those I’d be proud to endorse.
I emailed the first company on the “proud to endorse” list. I’ll be honest here and tell you all that I didn’t hold out much luck. It’s only a small company, but their product is awesome and in my humble opinion, the best around. I thought I’d give them a week to reply, then move on to the second best. So imagine my surprise when they replied within a couple of hours. Not with a “thank you but no thank you”, but with an email stating that they’d love to sponsor me to the full amount!
For the next few days I must of been pure he’ll to live with. Everything I said ended with the words “I’ve got a sponsor”. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve, a Christmas eve that lasted 4 or 5 days.
So the props are being made as we speak and should be ready next month. Then I’ve got to make the necessary changes to some of my stuff. Then practice, practice and practice, so that it’s all ready for next season.
What is this new trick? That’s a closely guarded secret, but if you subscribe to this blog (don’t worry, we wont give or sell your details to any 3rd party) then you’ll be one of the first to know.
Who are my new found sponsors. They’re a company who I’ve mentioned in several of my past blogs. Even before they became my official sponsor I was praising their skills, which shows how good I think they are. It’s a company called
As their name suggests, they make and sell mead, but not just traditional mead, also lovely and excitingly flavoured meads, including new flavours such as their rhubarb and liquorice and my personal favourite, the world famous magic mead chilli mead (the perfect winter warmer and Christmas present for your favourite fool). Please check out their website and if you ever see them at an event or market, ask for a free sample and mention my name. I tell you now, you really wont be disappointed with their products. Your only problem will be deciding which flavour to buy (my suggestion it buy one of every flavour, that way you wont be disappointed).
Up coming events;
Well that’s all for now folks. Other than to say that if you’re down in the west country in December, then you can see me at the “Dunster By Candlelight”. Held on the evenings of the 1st and 2nd of December, this promises to be a lovely event celebrating everything that’s great and magical about Christmas. After talking to the event organisers and looking at the website, I’m actually quite excited about this gig. It looks like loads of fun, fun and fun. A truly great way to get into the spirit of Christmas.
Once again I’m going to be standing in for my old friend Santa at several local events and of cause, I’ll be fooling and harping at The Cambridge Living History Fair in February. If you’re local, or in the area, it really is well worth attending, even if you’re not into history or re-enactment, you’ll find something you like (maybe even a bottle of mead from magic mead).
We’ve also got several“birthday parties” coming up, both local and further afield that also include our world famous “circus skills workshops”. Always a favourites with both children and adults alike. So to avoid disappointment, best you book me for yours now.
And lastly, I’ve just received a text message from the mother of the queen of hearts birthday girl asking if I can attend her sons birthday party. Apparently he is adamant that it’s got to be me. So I must be doing something right.
So if I don’t see you beforehand, I’d like to wish you all a very merry Christmas from all of us here at the fools house and hope to see you all next year (or at a birthday party somewhere).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!
“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.
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;
It’s 5 30a.m.
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;
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.
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;
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;
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;
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.
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;
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.
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”
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.
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
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;
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
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).
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.
As spring is in the air and Christmas is now nothing more than a distant memory, empty biscuit tins and sellotape marks on the ceiling, so I thought that it’s about time I enthralled you with yet another riveting blog describing the life, times and tribulations of a modern day medieval fool.
Here at the fool house we’ve had a great winter season. Some of the highlights of which were as follows:
Melford Old Christmas Fair.
This was a wonderful event put on by the local people of long Melford. I must say that they really know how to push the boat out. There was a Santa’s grotto, reindeer, stalls galore, wondering magicians and of cause, yours truly was there. Performing shows and walkabout routines. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, at the end of the day they had a lantern parade through the town. This was a particularly nice touch as it gave the local children (including the grown up ones) a chance to show off their home made lanterns and really put everyone in a christmassy mood.
You can see photo’s and find out details about this year’s fun packed event via this red coloured link to their facebook page.
This year I had the privilege of being allowed to play santa, not once, but twice! (and only one child was heard to say “hey, Santa sounds just like storms daddy”). O.K. so I didn’t get paid for it. Well, not in money anyway. But this job isn’t just about the money. It isn’t just about the look on their faces when Santa does some magic (although that is one of the best parts). It’s about playing with and feeding a child’s imagination. And with that comes both, great satisfaction and great responsibility.
Do it right. Feed his imagination in the correct way, and he’ll grow up to be an imaginative adult. Just like the ones who had the imagination to dream of a world where telephone lines could link computers, or of incubators to help keep newborn babies alive. O.K. that might sound extreme to you but, as some of you may know, in my role of a humanitarian, I have done around a dozen tours of conflict and war zones. Here I’ve met children whose imagination has been fed the wrong way. Children who quite literally havent even smiled in over a year. How many of them are now members of Islamic state is anyone’s guess. Look at it that way and you realize just how important our job is.
And that brings me to yet another of my winter highlights. I was approached by BBC radio cambridgeshire and asked if I’d be willing to talk about my work in war zones live on radio! It was broadcasted at 9A.M. on the 22nd of January on a program called “Nic Conrad on sunday”.
This is like a local radio version of desert Island disks. Nic played a selection of my favorite tunes (ranging from “Puff the magic dragon” to “The time warp”) and in between we chatted about my life. I openly admit to being very nervous at the start. Not least because the last time the BBC interviewed me about my work in war zones they asked the sort of questions that you really shouldn’t (E.G. what’s the worst thing you’ve seen!). However I have to say that Nic was brilliant. Not only was he sensitive to the subject matter, but he really made me feel relaxed. It felt more like a natter with a mate than an interview.
You can hear the whole thinghere. But hurry as it’s only available for another 11 days
We’ve been doing a fair fewworkshopsover the winter. Including brownie and rainbows circus badge workshops. When not jestering, Jester Dragonfly volunteers as the local girl guiding district commissioner. So we do a special, discounted rate workshop aimed at getting whole brownie packs through their circus badge (including the art section) in one night. I love doing these as the ladies who run the packs always seem to get more joy out of the sessions than their brownies do. More than once we’ve had a brownie leader squeal with delight as they get a plate spinning or a flowerstick up and flying. In Fact they’re so much fun that we now have a new page on the website, especially for the Brownies circus performers badge workshops
We also ran a workshop for a special needs group of young adults in the town of March. We’d been paid to run a workshop for them earlier in the year and it was just so much fun, that we offered to come back again for free around christmas time.
Again, it’s not just about the money in this trade, it’s also about enjoying the work and this group are a real pleasure to work with. Both Jester Dragonfly and I were surprised by just how much they’d remembered from our last visit. A sure sign that they’d had fun.
Up and coming events.
But enough of this nostalgic reminiscing. For winter is past, and spring, with its daffodils and snowdrops is once again upon us (Hence the reason their threatening snow). So it’s time to look forwards and let you know not only a little about what we’ve got planned for this coming year, but also how to get those all important discounted tickets!
Once again we will be performing at all our regular events, including, but limited to;
Battle Medieval Fayre. A lovely little event that’s held outside Battle Abbey in east sussex every year on the late may bank holiday. There’s no discounted tickets avalible for this event, but that’s because it’s totally free to enter.
The loxwood Joust. Held at loxwood near Guildford over the first two weekends in August. This event ranks as one of the best medieval events in the country. It has everything you’d expect to see and a lot more besides. A great day out for the whole family. Discounted tickets can be found on their website (Follow the red link above).
England’s Medieval Festival. This year the event, which is held at Herstmonceux castle in east sussex, is celebrating it’s 25th year. This has always been a big, spectacular event, but this year they’re really pushing the boat out to make it the best ever. It even has camping, glamping and bed and breakfast as well as a wonderful nightly medieval banquet. Discounted tickets can be found on their website (Follow the red link above).
But the very next event we’re performing at is “The Cambridge Living History Fair” on the 18th and 19th of February. I’m not going to go into too much detail about this event as there’s already a review of it in one of my earlier blogs. If you missed it, then you can view ithere. For more info about those attending, or to book yourself a stall, please check out their facebook page. Surfast to say that there’s not just stalls galore selling goods from all historic periods, but there’s also some wonderful entertainment guaranteed to amaze and amuse the whole family. So if you’re looking for an unusual valentines present for your partner, why not treat them to a day at the fair.
Then, on the 25th and 26th of March, we’re performing our “Total Immersion Show” at “The east Of England Food Festival”. This is a wonderful event that’s held at The herst county showground, AL3 7TP.
This is a fantastic, fun filled festival of food, crafts and good wholesome family entertainment. There’s even going to be various personalities from masterchief attending.
So if you’re looking for a cheap, fun filled day out for all the family, then come along and join in the fun.You can even buy discounted tickets simply by followingthis link.
After that we pack up and head up north toAlnwick castle. here we’ll be spending April the 1st and 2nd celebrating Aprils fools day with various other fools. More info on that festival to follow latter.
As for all the other events we’re performing at. Well, I’ll tell you about them nearer the date. For now we’ll going to keep you in suspense.
“But What if I miss the next blog” I hear you cry. “Then I wont know where to see you”!
Fear not my friend. For all you need do is join that merry band of faithful followers who have subscribed to my blog. It’s really easy to do. Just enter your email address into the link at the top right hand side of theblog home pagethen click on the bit that says “sign up”, easy-peasy. That way you’ll get an email every time I post a blog and don’t worry. We at the fool’s house take privacy very seriously and promise not to sell or give your details to anyone else.
Well that’s all for now folks. I’m going to bid you all “hail and farewell”, switch off the computer, then stare out of the window at the snow clouds over head and think about how lucky I am to spend the winter in england with a wife and kids, as opposed to those horrible long gone winter days of freedom spent traveling around the beaches of India.
Before I tell you all about “The Cambridge Living History Fair“, let me firstly apologize for the late posting of this blog. We’ve had massive computer issues here at the fool house. I.E. no computer. But, because I know how much you all look forward to my blog, and have no doubt been wondering if you’ve missed my latest chapter in the life of a modern day medieval fool, so those wonderful people at “Bridgit designs” have added a new app to my website. If you just look to the right of the main blog page, you will see a piece that says “subscribe to the blog”. Just add your email address and every time I write a new entry, you’ll get an email to let you know. Thereby insuring that you need never again panic over whether or not you’ve missed another chapter in this, thrilling insight into the world of foolery.
Lastly, I’d like to give a special thank you to Evi Watts for the wonderful photographs. More of her
October saw me working at “The Cambridge living history
fair”. Which isn’t actually held in Cambridge, but at Woodgreen animal sanctuary. Which isn’t actually in Woodgreen, but in Godmanchester.
“But what” I hear you ask “is a living history fair”? Well read on oh ardent reader, and all shall be revealed.
A living history fair is a themed market. A place where purveyors of all things historical gather together to sell their wonderful wares. Here you can buy anything from Viking arrows to Victorian antiques, full sized spinning wheels to fabulous silverware and a lot more besides.
Even if you’re not into history or re-enactment, there’s still lots of goodies guaranteed to tempt you. There’s medieval mead, period novels, beautiful handmade dresses, super soft sheep skins and surprisingly unique Christmas presents galore. Things like classic toys and games made from real wood (none of your cheap plastic rubbish here) and large unicorn bean bags that would look great in your little princess’s bedroom. You could even walk away having hired a roman legion or joined a period polish army.
And at this particular fair, unlike so many others, you needn’t worry about the kids getting bored as you wander around, awe struck by the goods for sale. For Bernie, the organizer of “The Cambridge Living History Fair” hires in some great family entertainment for…….. well, all the family.
The ninth legion of the roman empire was there, teaching young legionnaires skill at arms with short sword and shield. A story teller brought to life an age when dragons roared, heroes quested, and lovers? well they done what lovers do best. There was even an amazing harper playing ageless ballads and of cause, yours truly was there, performing a range of walk about and stage shows that appealed to to of all ages, from 4-400.
Saturday, day one;
I arrived on the Saturday morning and was pleased to see many familiar faces. Not just people I know, but people who I class as real friends, all gathered together under one roof. This weekend was going to be fun. All I had to do was perform, have fun and not spend too much money on all the glorious goodies that
were up for grabs.
In between shows I was performing walk-about routines. This gave me a chance to catch up with old friends. Reminisce about shows gone by and maybe try or comment on their latest products.
One such trader was the infamous Dr T. Bottom, owner of “The Trolls Bottom” bar and a man with a real passion for making fine flavored spirits. One of his latest concoctions is a smooth and deceptively mellow “honey rum”. He wanted my opinion on it and well, it’s good to help your friends, so I tried a little taster. Was it yet another one of his finer wonders? Well let’s put it this way. I walked away a little poorer and he was now minus one bottle and a little richer.
Martin from “Cowleys Fine Foods” was also there with his jerked meat and vegan thingies stall. With his “brake lights red” hair and “lieutenant sharp green” millitary tailcoat, Martain is a somewhat colourful and flamboyant person. He has a northern accent and the abillity to take what to you and I may, at first glance, sound like unlikely foods, such as horse, kangaroo and scorpion, and turn them into culinary delights such as kangaroo marinated in thai green curry sauce. Marketed as “Tank girl treats, Thai me kangaroo down”.
If foreign foods aren’t your thing, then how about his “My brittle pony, pony expressso”. Here’s what his website says about it.
“This is a new addition to our range, horse meat is lean, healthy and full of flavour. This jerky is made with espresso coffee, Dijon mustard, garlic and a dash of Soy Sauce and is guaranteed to contain no horse meat substitutes such as beef. Once opened it needs to be eaten within 5 years.
But my favourite thing about his stall. the thing that makes my mouth water every time I think about Cowleys fine foods, is his range of chilli thingies. From dried chilli mushrooms to thick moist chilli sauces, this stall has it all. His sauces come in a variety of strengths, from sissy weak to “ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch”, but all of them come with a decadent depth of flavour that washes over you in waves that, depending on the sauces strength, can be anything from ripples on the shore to surf that tsunami. Somehow I managed to enter his stall to try a taster, pay for one bottle, yet walk out with 3! Not that I’m complaining.
Another one of those old friends is “Bernie The Bolt“. bernie isn’t just the organizer of this event. he also runs a historical haberdashery. Selling rolls of felt, cotton and the finest silks. All of which are needed by re-enactors from all periods. Oh, and there’s one other thing bernie is known for. Bernie is what I call “one of nature’s gentlemen”. A nicer, more honest chap you’d be hard to find anywhere.
As I stopped to chat with him, so I couldn’t help but notice a large roll of bright red felted wool. The type that would look really good in my next motley. I knew that I had no choice but to buy some. Not so much because I wanted it, but because I knew that my wife, Jester Dragonfly would also spot it, and it takes a braver man than me too stand between her and my hard earned wages.
So far the not spending too much of my wages part of the plan wasn’t actually going to plan, but hey, you know what they say about a fool and his money. As for the rest of the plan, I.E. perform and have fun, that at least was going well. So two out of three aint bad.
Saturdays work came to a close and I was given a lift home by Rachel of “Brighid Designs”, our favorite seamstress of choice. She has made some wonderful creations for Jester Dragonfly, but the main reason we use her is because it’s hard to improve on perfection. Her two children had spent the day at the fool house, playing with Stormageddon and we arrived home to find a lovely home made meal, all piping hot and waiting for us. Andy the storyteller had also joined us and was staying the night at our house. It felt quite Walton-esk as children and adults crammed around the dining table passing bowls of munchies from person to person. Plates became laden with food, cleared of food, then re-ladened again. Then, with bellies bigger than Donald Trump’s mouth, we retired to the sitting room for an evening of polite chat before bed.
Sunday, day two;
Sunday was very similar to the day before, but with one difference. Sunday I took my harp “Leanne Shee” with me.
Leanne is a 26 string lever harp made by “Starfish Designs” up in scotland. Although they are not the cheapest of harps, and last time I checked there was around a year’s waiting time between ordering and collecting your harp. The fact is Starfish harps are more than a practical, performance grade harp. They are practical, performance grade works of audio art, and the after care you receive from their small team of experts is second to none. I’ve never had a harp like her, she is worth every penny and then some.
I gave her the name “leanne Shee” as it’s a play on the Irish words “Leannan Sidhe”. The leannan Sidhe are irish fairy folk. They are generally depicted as a beautiful muse who falls in love with and offers inspiration to a bard in exchange for for his love and devotion. However, although this results in him composing wonderful works of music, it also drives him into madness and premature death. But hey, that’s the celts for you. They love a happy ending.
Playing harp in a hall full of my peers, as well as more than one historical musician wasn’t scary. It was terrifying. So I found a quiet spot and sat with my back against the wall. Then I placed Leanne on my lap and my fingers on her strings. I then waited a few seconds as I took a deep breath or two, then started to play.
Thankfully I got many compliments for my playing and more than one person was surprised when the fool proved that he could actually knock out a half decent tune or two. Hitting all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order. One stall holder was so impressed that he felt compelled to leave his stall and come over and compliment me. Telling me that I was the best live music he’d heard all weekend! It was only latter that I realized that I was the only live music he’d heard all weekend.
A good friend of mine, Chad, was so impressed that he put a clip of it on youtube. Which can be viewed here
Dr T. Bottom must of seen how nervous I was as he offered me yet another taster to calm my nerves. This time it was a drink known as “Cloudy water”. My view of which is thus:
If you had a good night last night and awoke with a cloudy head, then cloudy water is what you need. It will not only clear your head with all the vigour of a blackboard eraser, but also (if drunk in sufficient quantity), knock you out again until tal pain has past. An aniseed based drink that is not so much a pernod, more of a per-yes. As in “purrrrrrrr yes, oh yes, I need a bottle of that”.
I must say that I was quite impressed and surprised by people’s reaction to my harp playing and, encouraged by their compliments, spent the day swapping between walk-about, shows and harp playing.
Then 4 o’clock came and the fair came to a close. So, with harp in hand and goodies galore, I headed home, not as rich as I’d hoped (for I’d spent more than I’d meant to) but happy and (dare I say it, yes I dare) proud, not of my harp playing skills, but rather of the fact that I’d been brave enough to try playing in front of my peers.
So, having read my review of one of Britain’s best living history fairs, are you sorry you missed it? Well fear not oh ardent readers, for this momentous event is now so popular that it happens not just once, but twice a year! Always in October and February, and always with loads and loads of free entertainment. So dig out your diaries and make a date for the 18th and 19th of February when woodgreen animal centre will once again pay host to The Cambridge Living History Fair.
Lastly, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page. You will see that there is an app that allows you to sign up to my newsletter. Don’t worry, I’ll not inundate you with loads of rubbish, but I will occasionally contact you with a list of events I’m attending. Many of which are free. It will also contain links to websites offering discounted entry to events as well as previously unseen clips of yours truly in action. So go on, take the plunge. I dare you.
Finally, if you’re enjoying these blogs, please leave a comment on the comments part. It’s not only nice to get feedback, but it also helps with my google ranking.
So until next time I bid you all adue and fare thee well.