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They then act as these persona would within a predefined but unknown to them story. The last one I helped write 'most of' was for forty players and consisted over fifty thousand words of Characterisations. It goes without saying that with this amount of effort required we only run one a year! Anyhow, these freeforms were based around the Arthurian mythos. That is, set in the fifth century when the 'real' Arthur was supposed to exist and 'based on Geoffrey of Monmouth's texts as well as other reference works.

My interest in the Anglo-Saxon period evolved from the desire to increase the freeform's sense of authenticity, I decided to acquire a better grasp on the "real world aspects" and history of the era. I wasn't surprised to find that most of the info was vague and based on a multitude of hypothesise with regard to people and events - so I turned to a better known age, that of pre Norman conquest - I felt that I could extrapolate the information in a backwards sense and get what information I needed that way.

However, not all my motivation to join Regia Anglorum, is based on research for a game. Participating in the combat side, does hold some animal fascination for me. It also provides me with a useful hobby that I can develop. Reading up on history, was never my forte before, but I have quite happily accumulated a couple of heavy weight history books, both of which I am wading through, so I can get the background.

I refuse to limit my research to one hundred years before the Battle of Hastings. That seems too narrow minded. In my humble opinion and this might seem bold coming from an outsider, you must have some knowledge of the background to any topic you are to research to have any conviction to your teaching. But I may be proven wrong. The research also, of course provides you with a talking point with strangers when coming into any circle of friends. But enough about ' Why' , I suppose everyone has their own personal reasons for joining the society, and in the end, I doubt as though it makes much difference, it seems to be a social group with a common interests, and as such, its sole purpose is to 'have fun'.

Over the following months my interest grew. During that time a friend of mine had joined a medieval reenactment group, and it sounded an enjoyable but potentially expensive pastime. However my interest lay in earlier times. Anglo-Saxon to be precise. So I went. I saw. And I liked. I was given a leaflet by a Regia representative, and a few internet "surfs" later I got into contact with Kevin Cowley, the leader [Thegn pronounced 'Thane' ] of my "local" group of Regia members [Sceaftesige pronounced 'shafts-see' Garrison].

Before long, myself and my wife went around his house for a preliminary chat. I had already decided to join, but it always pays to see the people who you're going to socialise with. They maybe a bunch of weirdoes and loons, smokin' dope, etc. Well, they were perfectly normal, friendly and very approachable. Quite a relief! We talked about what gear I' d need to get and how much it' d cost it ain't cheap and what I could expect during one of the events. I expressed my desire to know more and was cordially invited to the next weapons practise 'held locally' and went along dressed in thick, old clothing; well prepared for a rough and dirty time.

My first battle practise was good fun. There were five members there, and for the next three or so hours I was led through the basics of using a spear. Regia operate an 'advancement' scheme, which effectively means that the more you put into the pasttime, the more you get out of it. Practically, this has two aspects Regular practise means that you are allowed to use other 'more glamorous and more dangerous' weapons -like axes or swords- during 'National' events.

You effectively have to prove your competence with a weapon before you move onto weapons which require more skill. A sound idea in my opinion, though I felt a bit hard done-by at the time, about not being taught to use a sword. However I had no problems using the spear, and had a great time using it against the more experienced members. Apparently I'm not too bad. At least I'm not dangerous with it, which is quite reassuring.

You aren't going to become a "commander" if you do not dress like one. The other members present at the practise were pleasant and quite talkative, which was a welcome relief. Its always hard coming in cold into another social group. No problems here. I'm even going along to a roleplaying session in Windsor that some of the members go to, which should be fun! As an addendum, I went to Kevin' s house earlier this week, and finally paid my dues to make me a full member of the society. I received a thick book of reference material 'produced by Regia', which was unexpected but welcome.

All I have to do now is make my shield, get a shaft for my spear, and persuade my wife -who will become a member when she' s given birth to our first child next year- to make my clothing for me, and think of a 'character' name. Then it' s all systems go. With my shield and spear grasped, total immersion into 10th Century Anglo-Saxon England begins. The battle practices are continuing on a monthly basis, with varying attendance - cold weather and rain influences the motivation of even the hardiest warriors.

But, aside from missing one through being on holiday, I have been a regular attendee. I intend to be the best as I possibly can with the shield and spear. Its gives your morale a boost when your leader comments that you are "too good for a new member". I don't know whether he thinks I have had more experience than I have claimed, but it is reassuring to know I ain't all that bad.

Supplying my own kit is now high on my priority list. I have made my own shield and spear, spilling no small amount of blood in the process. Some might say it would bring good luck in battle! My wife simply shrugs. Having decided to make them from scratch I had to interrogate Kevin as to the manufacturing method. There are no plans available currently for new members, but I had the forethought to make notes from our conversations.

I may suggest to Kevin that such plans are published on the web [Suggestion noted; I like a volunteer :- ]. The spear was fairly easy to construct, merely tapering the end of the nine foot ash spear to fit tightly into the spearhead, and drilling a 4mm hole through them both, pushing a sturdy nail through it sawing off the pointed end and bashing it to give it the appearance of a rivet. Unfortunately rivets are rather difficult to come by, at least those of appropriate size and strength, so sawn off coach bolts make do.

The shield was slightly more complicated, involving a couple of large 'Dog Chews' rawhide softened in hot water for a couple of hours and nailed onto its circular rim with 9mm carpet tacks. When dried, they offer excellent protection for the 12mm plywood rim. Someone recently suggested that you could sew the dog chews together and stretch it over the rim like a bicycle tyre.

I may give that a go next time. I may still toy with other methods later on. Without going into too much detail, the trickiest bit in making the shield was riveting customised coach bolts, that is the shield boss metal bowl in centre of shield onto the shield itself. A good metal drill is worth investing in, one with a variable speed, as I melted one by drilling at too high a speed. I may search hardware stores for alternatives.

The 10 top UK winter holiday destinations

Although it was suggested to beat the bolt end down to form a rivet - like appearance, I lacked an anvil, so I made do with grinding them down instead. Looks the same. The tunics and trousers are the next on the my wife's agenda. We visited the Blackbird Leys Near Cowley, Oxford Re-enactors market in October and bought wool and linen of suitably authentic loose weave and colour non-intense, natural colours , some tablet weave and a strap-end and buckle for my belt.

When they're done, I'll be fully kitted out, and I'll feel more like a full time member. My next purchase'll be a helmet, as I've already witnessed one eyebrow gashing during a practise, so it sounds a worthwhile investment, let alone a cool accessory. In perspective in nine years of re-enactment I've had two injuries requiring a visit to casualty and innumerable bruises.

In the nine years I've attended close on 30 National Events 2 days per event , 20 Local Events 1 Day events , 20 school shows 3 hours per time , and 70 battle practices. At the moment this only involves running up and down a hill! Though most of us are out of shape and provides little in the way of improving our fitness, it makes you aware of your body I don't know how else to put it!

This came about by several persons turning up "cold" after a longish period away and promptly falling over their own feet. Though bloody funny once it was aware it wasn't serious it did drive home the importance of warming up. At the last practise of , I was actually given the chance to try my hand at fighting with a Langseax, a long knife. It was, admittedly, quite nerve-wracking as I was expected to go for the areas which I had been deliberately avoiding before, namely the upper shoulders. Still it was quite an experience to fight close up for a change. Hurts the knuckles though, as a Langseax doesn't have a guard.

Thick gloves are therefore a must have. Anyhow, that's all I have to say for this instalment. See you all soon. Preparation : The long march of Winter and the close season progresses. But there's always training, and that new item of kit Training: Well, things have moved on apace since writing my last entry. Training has continued on a regular basis at The Lookout. Attendance has been sporadic due to inclement weather and a marriage, but there have been a couple of good bashes.

Things will quieten down in the summer as the vast number of events will make training sessions redundant. But also there's often a training session at every major show and even a "National Training weekend" at Shrewsbury which I attended - but more on that later. Shopping: Winter seems to be a time for sanding spears, scraping layers of mud and paint off shields, making clothes and more importantly, buying stuff.

At the time of writing this entry, there are two re-enactment fayres held at Blackbird Leys Leisure centre in Cowley near Oxford in the March and November of each year. They are good times to buy, not because they are any cheaper they aren't but because you are able to meet up with your mates and shop at leisure without worrying about rushing back to the living history encampment.

There is a myth that the good stuff is held back until these occasions, but I'm not too sure of that! If you cannot make it to Blackbird Leys, then go to a major show such as Kirby Hall, or Hastings and you'll find most of the same people there - they're like camp followers, of a sort. Since my last shopping expedition, Carole, my wife kindly manufactured for me a woollen over-tunic, a pair of trousers and a linen undertunic. My purchase this time was merely intended to be some wool for a cloak and a Scramsaex.

I ended up spending much more. Yes, I found the wool for my cloak and I did get my Scramsaex, but I also found a bone spoon, a leather pouch to carry it in as well as my valuables , a silver cross my Regia character is a good Christian, even if I ain't! I mean, I haven't even passed my spear test. At a later date I also bought another, somewhat more vital piece of kit, for "eventing".

A tent. As it will be some time before little Owen is hardy enough to survive a night in a tent let alone drag Carole out in one a two-berth tent was the order of the day. Throw in one portable gas stove, a kettle and saucepan, and apart from something to sleep in which I already had and food, that's all you need to survive.

Time will tell if I missed out something important. There is always the option of sharing, but sometimes you just can't wait for other, sleepier fellows to wake up before you have your early morning cuppa. Work, Work, Work. In my last entry I suggested that it would be a "good idea" if there were a set of standard instructions for new members for the creation of a shield. The words "Sounds like a volunteer" were uttered by my illustrious mentor in his editorial comment, so I did it! A step by step series of instructions should soon [a re-enactment term meaning don't hold your breath] be available in the Sceaftesige homepage when the drawings [and photographs] are sorted out.

I messed up at first, by NOT removing the bolts before bashing the ends down into "rivets". You may not think people would notice, nor indeed care like me , but, as it turned out in August's "History in Action IV" at Kirby Hall, the authenticity officer - whatever his name was - DID care so I was forced to borrow one of Kevin's spare shields.

Ho-hum, you live and learn. These defects were swiftly rectified, later at home. However, back in April, I fitted a new handle on my Scramsaex which I purchased the previous month. Unfortunately for me, the original handle was about two inches too short to be comfortable. So I hacked off the old wooden grip, cut out the rivets holding it together and with an angle-grinder, and ground down the tang the narrow metal bit which forms the basis of the handle.

I then sandwiched the now considerably narrower tang with two pieces of Beech wood filched from an old bedstead, with one side hollowed out in the shape of the tang and screwed it in place. The two pieces of wood were then glued together with two-part epoxy adhesive and shaped to fit my grip. The result looked much more authentic that the riveted method. Search Regia's own web-site for the way they believed the handles were fitted onto the blade. Only fourteen days after the birth of our son Owen I was compelled to only stay one night, being kindly put up by Kevin, in his roomy tent.

Leaving in the early hours of Saturday morning I set off for Shrewsbury. A hefty two and a third hours later, I arrived at the dew laden camp site, where I drove through hordes of apparently undead Regia folk. My fellow Garrison members had just roused, but Kevin was not to be seen for a good hours or so. Coffee was drunk and the others scoffed their break fast whilst informing me of what to expect. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain in full what went on, but I shall try to impart to you the colour of the day and a half's proceedings.

The activities started at 10am as usual, I would soon learn where the group that had assembled there proceeded to practise line fighting in a shield wall. A "shield wall" is meant to offer maximum protection whilst the "armies" try to wear each other down. There are inherent problems in that the only weapon to have any real affect is a spear, and the longer the spear the better.

Eventually one of the shield walls will break down, and the successful side separates and supposedly finishes off the enemy using the theory that the side which was broken will have less fighters in it and be more easily dispatched. Once one side is outnumbered, there is little need for the shield wall and the warriors on the offensive side break out of formation. However tempting to go it alone it is advisable to fight alongside another warrior, to reduce surprise attacks - as I myself have learnt on no small number of occasions.

This continued for quite some time, until the group showed signs of boredom. Then came the "games". Stepping stones : Shields are place on the ground a the teams are split into two sides. The idea is, as usual to kill the enemy and invade their space. The trick is, to stay on the shields whilst fighting. The purpose of this is to try and teach you balance. If you fell off the shields, you were "dead" and had to leave the field of battle. Long-ship : Spears are laid out in two triangular formations, one signifying the bow of s ship, the other - the front end.

The object is to invade the other boat. The shield wall technique is used again here. Of course, as before, if you fell off the boat you were "dead". Bridge : Similar to the Long-ship game, but a parallel set of spears were used to signify a bridge. Now walk north-east, towards Crowleys Wharf, passing behind Trinity Hospital — Garden and Riverside Almshouses providing sheltered housing. We cross the Greenwich Meridian as we walk under its massive jetty. Light-filled, Georgian riverside pub over 3 floors, with Thames views from the elegant dining room.

Do stop to admire the Pillars of the Empire, a sculpture on an old pier over the Thames. To see the sculptures it is necessary to walk through the piers when the Thames is at low tide. Carry on along the river as the O2 Arena originally known as the Millennium Dome comes into view. Go right around the Arena, always keeping the Thames on the left. Its bar is open on Tuesday evenings from and weekend afternoons from until Interested non-members are welcome to visit.

Despite all the chain bars in the O2, this is the only place on the Greenwich Peninsula where you can drink beer and look at the river at the same time! We pass aggregates depots and industrial warehousing until we reach our next destination:. An old fashioned but friendly Thames-side pub in Charlton, with a riverside terrace popular with Charlton Athletic football fans but also welcoming to Thames pathway walkers.

Keep to the path beside the river until you come right up to the barrier, turn left down a few steps and then take the subway right under the control building for the barrier. We emerge in a little park on the other side of the barrier. It also has a Cafe with an excellent view of the barrier — but no alcohol license!

Here the path briefly leaves the river so turn south along the signed path. Keep to this street all the way until you meet the A, the busy main road in the area. You continue past modern flats to the road leading to the Woolwich Ferry. The attractions of Woolwich South pretty much mirror those on the north side:. The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich — Historic armaments factory and explosives research centre for the Ministry of Defence which closed in It is now a major redevelopment area for residential and commercial buildings, but some original parts have been saved, including the Greenwich Heritage Centre which tells the story of Woolwich, including the Royal Arsenal.

It contains a number of bars including:. So, walk south towards the town centre to:. This is London in the raw, old London, with chirpy cockneys and diamond geezers. Full of old boys watching the horse racing on the TV, sipping their beer and waiting for the property developers to come and destroy what is left of their community. Betrayed by the left, right and moderates, I wish I had something better to offer them — anarchy?

Maybe nihilism? Open your eyes and take a good hard stare at the mural of the Woolwich ferry at the back of the pub. Freedoms from the opinion of others… even the opinions of yourself? From Waterloo Bridge to the Woolwich ferry is a 12 mile walk, which could be completed in 4 hours excluding stops, but we will be stopping! Leaving Waterloo Bridge from the northeast side, take the stairs down to the Embankment and turn left, walk east on Victoria Embankment, beyond the silver dragons which mark the boundary of the City of London,.

Continue under the Millennium footbridge. A modern wine bar with outdoor terrace and spectacular views of the Thames where you can sample wines, ciders, real ale, cocktails, champagne and Cornish mead. Pub and contemporary restaurant with exposed bricks, modern art and panoramic river views. Set in a historic warehouse, this is a hidden gem in the heart of the City.

The next one is really close too, just walk north on Stew Ln; turn right onto High Timber St; turn right onto Queenhithe; then take the pedestrian underpass with interesting murals underneath Southwark Bridge;. There are two bars in the Perkin Reveller; one hand crafted from an antique church pulpit and topped with beautiful zinc,. This is a contemporary, casual brasserie with a fabulous river vista and setting by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, outdoor tables and a menu of British classics.

Come on, do keep up! Because of restricted capacity and the inability to cope with large modern ships, St Katharine Docks were the first to be closed in , and were redeveloped into a marina between and It is cited as a model example of successful urban redevelopment and featured in the classic British gangster film The Long Good Friday , starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren.

Ignore the lounge bar in the grim Thistle Hotel on your left, but keep an eye open for pop up bars on the riverfront on the right. The present building dates from , but the first pub on the site originated in the s during the Wars of the Roses and was called The Hostel. The notorious Judge Jeffreys was caught outside as he tried to escape on a collier bound for Hamburg after the Glorious Revolution of which overthrew King James II.

By it was known as The Town of Ramsgate. Generally, s theme pubs are best avoided but this one is a good example of the genre and serves excellent Samuel Smiths beer. It is named after the seventeenth century pirate William Kidd, who was executed at the nearby Execution Dock in Just 9 minutes until our next drink, walk east on Wapping High St, turn right onto Wapping Wall and our destination will be on the right:. The original flagstone floor survives and the pub also has a rare pewter-topped bar as well as old barrels and ships masts built into the structure.

Most areas of the pub have spectacular views over the River Thames, including the beer garden and first floor balcony and terrace. The pub was originally frequented by those involved in life on the river and sea and was a notorious haunt for smugglers, thieves and pirates. More recently, the Prospect was a favourite during the s with celebrities and royalty. A Gordon Ramsay gastropub in a handsome Grade II-listed building with flagstone floor, conservatory and terrace offering panoramic waterside views matched by a modern British menu and good real ales.

Narrow downstairs bar with small Thames-side terrace and upstairs restaurant dating from In the young Charles Dickens visited his godfather in Limehouse and knew the district well for forty years. It had outlasted many a sprucer public house, indeed the whole house impended over the water but seemed to have got into the condition of a faint-hearted diver, who has paused so long on the brink that he will never go in at all.

Just nine minutes to the next one: Walk east on Narrow St, then slight right. Private Eye published an hilarious account of a hack becoming tired and emotional on the boat, suffering from turbulence whilst leaving via the gangplank, and dripping dock water and pond weed as he staggered up the road to the railway station. Westferry Circus is an elevated roundabout serving Canary Wharf from the west. To get down to the bar, just take the stairs or lift down to the river side terrace and the bar is the last unit on the left:.

The way to do it is to walk south-east along the Thames Path, turn left onto Cuba St, up the stairs, turn right onto Marsh Wall, at the roundabout take the 1st exit onto Manchester Rd, then right onto Coldharbour, and our destination will be on the right:. Steeped in history, the Gun dates back to the early 18th century but took its current name from the cannon which was fired to celebrate the opening of the West India Import Docks in The Gun also has a long association with smugglers landing contraband on the site and distributing it via a hidden tunnel.

To the die hard walkers, I salute you! Despite lying on the northern side of the Thames, North Woolwich was long administered as part of Kent, an anomaly imposed in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest which was not resolved until with the creation of the London Borough of Newham! The North Woolwich Pier — Opposite the former North Woolwich Station, the structure is sound but the wooden decking at the north end is in poor condition with timber missing.

There is a steel shelter with an asbestos roof; this has an open end onto the pier and locked gates at the other end. Within the shelter these is a small booking office that has suffered fire damage. Externally and internally the building has suffered from vandalism and graffiti. The Royal Victoria Gardens — Created In by the entrepreneur William Holland, who escaped his creditors by leaving the park in a balloon.

By it included an esplanade, bowling green, rose gardens, walks and a maze. There was also an Italian garden, a Chinese dancing platform and a stage beyond a lake. Having done my bit for the North Woolwich tourist industry, I reckon I deserve a couple of pints! I had some good pubs lined up, just back from the riverfront. On the other hand, the custom and practice of the time was that we needed a site office for lunch time meetings, so I was sent to survey the area, and discovered Churchills, where Connaught Road turns into Albert Rd, newly built on the site of the Kent Arms. The landlord was keen to attract lunchtime business customers, and I got to know him well but one day we found it all burnt out.

Churchills closed permanently in and has since been demolished. Our site office moved to The California at 12 Albert Road the opposite end from Churchills but this closed in and has now also been demolished see photo below :. Unfortunately this building is now surrounded by ugly modern hotels, the worst being the Premier Inn.

Even more unfortunately, all original internal features were lost in the refurbishment. By the time I reached this point the light was failing, but I managed to catch a spectacular sunset over London, looking westwards back along the Royal Albert Dock:. Gallions Hotel was opened in for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, to accommodate travellers who were halting overnight.

Restoration was too late for the interior. Moreover, it is now surrounded by bland modern apartment blocks and the ground level raised so that the building appears to be disappearing down a sinkhole! So, this is the end of the first leg of our journey, eastwards is Essex, the county of white handbags and matching stilettos, of Dagenham Dave and Billericay Dickie. After Southend, there is just an immense seascape that circumnavigates the earth, connecting the Thames to both the Congo and Mekong rivers. If you close your eyes and listen carefully you can hear the Congo calling.

Can you hear the drums? Can you feel the heat, the humidity, the flies? Can you smell the putrid stench of decomposing hippo? Never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddamn right! I was accompanied on this leg of our journey by Huw Powell, an old friend that I had not seen for over twenty years. However, the real struggle is for the future when their journey turns into a battle for mankind.

A bustling hangout under railway arches with cask ales, pub grub and a small outdoor area where the homeless used to gather during the Thatcher era. This post will explain the significance of our famous and historic starting point. Thanks to its location on a bend in the river, the views from Waterloo Bridge are amongst the best in London.

The first bridge on the site was designed by John Rennie and opened in London County Council decided to demolish the bridge and replace it with a new structure designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The new bridge was not fully completed until The bridge features in scenes at the beginning and end of the film Alfie , starring Michael Caine.

In the final scene of the film the title character is seen crossing the bridge followed by a stray dog. Georgi Markov, the Bulgarian dissident, was assassinated on Waterloo Bridge on 7 September by the Bulgarian secret police, using a pellet containing ricin, fired into his leg from an umbrella. I would often see him as I frequently drove along Waterloo Road. The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June Despite previous defeats, France had been the dominant power in Europe since the reign of Charlemagne — Waterloo changed that forever, European revolution was suppressed and the reactionary forces prevailed, resulting in the establishment of a German confederation out of the former Holy Roman Empire, and the centre of European power shifting permanently to the east.

Having so carelessly lost its first empire in America, Britain was given the opportunity to build another. Waterloo really did change the world.


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There is a darker side to the aftermath of Waterloo, the teeth of tens of thousands of dead soldiers were pulled out with pliers by surviving troops, locals and scavengers from Britain. Then, when the bodies had decomposed, the bones of both the men and horses were removed and shipped to Hull, then on to bone-grinders in Doncaster, before being sold as fertiliser to Yorkshire farmers. When you walk the pathways of Yorkshire, tread softy, for you tread on British heroes. The number of pubs in London has fallen by more than a quarter in the last fifteen years.

Two London boroughs have lost more than half their pubs since Barking and Dagenham, which has lost 56 per cent, and Newham, which has lost 52 per cent. In total, the number of pubs in the capital decreased from 4, to 3, between and , a decline of 1, at a rate of 81 pubs a year.

So, come on London, use them or lose them! There are already too many London pub guides and blogs, so this one needs to be different. My first post will tell you a bit about London and the Thames in general, whilst the second will give you a more detailed account of Waterloo and its history. Then in my third post we will embark on our journey. Apart from being a statement of the obvious, he fails to acknowledge that London is so much more than a sum of its parts. Gods such as the Roman Tiberinus share the long hair and beard of Father Thames.

The name Thames derives from the pre-Celtic idea of tame or teme meaning darkness in the sense of holiness. On the foreshore of the Thames, just opposite the MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall, some old timbers have been discovered. Built years ago in the Bronze Age, the wooden remains of a three metre wide structure were first noticed in They concluded that the structure was either a pier or a bridge to a gravel island in the middle of the river. The structure is located at the confluence of three rivers, where the Tyburn enters the Thames from the north and the Effra from the south. The eddies caused by the confluence of these rivers may have formed a gravel island in the middle of the Thames.

When the Thames was wider and shallower, this would have been the tidal turning point, the furthest point upstream that tidal flotsam could be found. This would have made it a sacred site for Bronze Age tribes. Around the bridge were found votive offerings of valuable goods to appease the spirits of the river. Conrad describes a voyage up the River Congo into the heart of Africa, but starts his narration aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames, at Gravesend.

As I had and still do intend to be able to use my sword as soon as possible, I leapt into the organised fray, and died hideously time and time again. Well - to do myself some credit - I didn't die that often, but I died more than I'd like! The layout of the arena was sprawling. There was one large 20th century - style trading tent stuck all alone in one part of the field, and on the same side was the authentic section. This was cramped in comparison and could have done with spreading itself about a bit.

The other two sides of the quadrangular arena were dotted about with food tents. It isn't as bad as it sounds on paper, but the layout could have been better in my opinion. Shortly after I came off the field, I was swiftly approached by a gentleman whose name I have forgotten and asked whether I would like to help row the longship they had moored on the river which passed through the village. Being new, I quickly accepted and joined the other applicants on the dray horse carriage which took us ploddingly to town free of charge.

They did try and suggest that we and other Regia society members pay for this speedy form of transport, but they got no money from us in the end.

Related Heroic Yomps - Pub walks in Kent

The boat was situated by two remember that, TWO pubs! And after the assumedly new Regia member was told to put a cloak over his 20th century clothes, we rowed away and vast speeds. There isn't a lot you can say about rowing, except it was hard work I'm sure I was the only one rowing really hard , unless something goes wrong. Well something did not dramatically, but the commander's friend I do remember his name, but I shall avoid embarrassing him too much. He knows who he is took command - I think he had done it before, but I'm not sure. At a particularly nasty bend, he realised his limitations as we almost ran aground.

Cue lots of reversing yes you can reverse a longship and sheepish looks. We did return eventually and received lots of second looks from tourists who were walking along side the river and after negotiating a ratbag who took our mooring position the main event was about to begin. So no refreshments!!! I forget the format of the show, but it revolved around locals offering money to avoid being ransacked by the Vikings one of whom was me.

A pittance would be offered to us, we would reject it, fight and fall back. They would then throw a bag full of bones at us, as payment instead. We would take this as an insult and attack. But disaster struck, as my shield strap came undone moments before the attack began, so until the initial clash was finished, I swapped my two handed spear with Paul's single hander. In the majority of battles, there is always an "initial" clash, where all we do is make lots of noise and "ham" it up.

This was easily achieved, and once completed, I re-threaded by strap and took up my two-hander again. In the end, it was a bloodbath and we were on the wrong end. The enemy out manoeuvred us, by flanking our shield wall on both sides. We were disorganised and our morale dissipated. But all in all, it was rather good fun! A bit like battle practise, but a lot shorter. After the public were invited onto the field, and questions were asked and, with an assumed air of authority, answered by yours truly, I left the field to do a serious bit of shopping.

Originally it was to have been of a Viking spectacle design, but as my character was ultimately Saxon, and all of my other kit was Saxon, and of later age, I changed my mind and vouched for a standard nasal helm. This helmet, I can use in practically all of Regia's events, and made a lot more financial sense. Friday 11th June This is the flip-side of Regia activities, and a surprisingly enjoyable one.

WALKING IN KENT - WESTERHAM AND CHURCHILL'S HOUSE

As part of the national curriculum, Regia is asked to give a talk on what life was like in the "Settlers and Invaders" module Kevin, you may wish to comment here!! At Oaklands Junior School, our venue was the school hall. I must say that it was odd, turning up at the school and waiting for the rest of the team, in the teacher's staff room.

I felt as though I had done something wrong! Eventually, of course the gang turned up and we set out a display of our kit at one side of the hall and waited for the children to arrive.

6 Great Kent Pub Walks

First, the various ranks were described, while one of us, dressed appropriately stepped forward to give Kevin who was addressing the children a visual reference. A certain amount of interplay was made between the person being described and the speaker, to liven things up for the children. In my case, I was the humble peasant; bare-footed and subservient to my Lord, Ketil. Cue lots of cowering and humble looks. Athelstane, dressed in his gambeson walked up next and finally Bassa, in his chain-mail and helmet, who attempted to frighten the children by attempting mock charges and stabbing himself with an obviously sharp knife [our chainmail is remarkably effective - even against modern knives].

Interspersed with all this, were staged fights between the warriors. It made a hell of a racket, in the hall. I wonder what the other children in their classrooms thought was going on? Also breaking up Kevin's talk, were Marnie and Liz, who spoke about our lifestyle, what we wore, how it was made, and what we ate. A personal favourite of Liz's is going through the entire body of a deer, describing how each organ was used. Watching the children's faces as she spoke about sausages being made from the intestines and how the bladder was used to carry water, was most amusing! Rounding off the talk was a question and answer session.

This is a hit and miss affair, and generally depends on the children, and whether they talk to us in "character" or as people who have an interest in Anglo-Saxon life. In all, I quite enjoyed the experience. It was fairly rewarding to see the children look "interested" in what was effectively a dramatised history lesson.


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Why wasn't this sort of thing going on when I were a lad? Saturday 12 th June The Donkey Derby The only difference between this and the day before's was the outdoor venue a school's sports field , the presence of the Wic, and a variation in format. Liz and Marnie didn't address the public from the arena, but stayed at the authentic site, speaking to the general public there. There were a few more warriors present, as Animal and Andy turned up. Animal, however, was soon incapacitated - by fracturing a finger - early on in an over enthusiastic fight with Andy.

But that's Animal for you. This year, it was much improved, though during our second display the heavens began to open up, bringing the display to a speedy conclusion. So yet again we got rather damp. Unfortunately this was yet another event I was obliged to turn up for only one day. I plumped for the Friday. My logic was that there would be more socialising that night rather than on Saturday.

I was wrong. But more on that later I should have guessed from tales Kevin, our group leader told me, of nightmarish Friday evening journeys. Never again!. Either I go up straight after Friday lunchtime, or I go on the Saturday morning but that has its own pitfalls. In the end, by the time I got there and had put up my tent, it was gone nine. Kevin and Liz weren't going to be there due to a mechanical problem with their Land Rover, so I was prepared to be amongst strangers.

Fortunately both Simons and Matt was there. Matt a keen drinker and I both had the mind to get to the pub quickly, as the light was diminishing quickly at the same rate that our thirst was increasing. However the mysterious "things" that women do coupled with random conversations with infrequently met friends delayed the pleasure of alcohol more and more. So much more, that I left Matt whom I had thought of as being a kindred spirit in the boozing club and went to the pub myself and downed a swift pint or two before emerging to see the others finally gathering together themselves to join me.

We took over the dining area all of four tables and drank the night away. I drank rather energetically compared to them and was in a rather jolly frame of mind by the time I crawled into my tent. Jolly good pub that! I just wish I could remember it's name! Please note: I don't want you all to think all I like to do in Regia is drink, drink and drink - it is a glorious pastime and an essential part of male bonding - and without other forms of entertainment nothing more is inspiring for unique topics of conversation than five pints of real ale! It was during the following morning's very fine pub breakfast, that I learnt of my mistake of arriving on a Friday.

Free beer! Free Beer? I missed out on free beer? Oh well, how was I to know? Coping with the disappointment quite well, I reminded those very few people who were allegedly organising the event, that the barrel was awaiting delivery and swiftly changed into Regia kit. I helped someone beat into the iron hard ground vast quantities of wooden stakes, and as the temperature rose steadily to the late 80s, we settled down to an informal practise session.

It was still rather quiet on the public front, when we were called to join the parade. We were placed towards the front of the parade directly behind a group of pipers, who were leading the procession. Matt spent most of the time trying to scare children and women, whilst I was attempting to be the proper upstanding member of Regia Anglorum that I always aspire to be. I've got plenty of time to develop a Regia personality though I am sure that Matt's Viking personality is all his own!

It was a long slog around the backstreets of Wing, by which time I had firmly decided to do some adjustments to my second hand shoes bought at Kirby Hall the previous year. Several cans of fizz later, the event was about to begin. The theme of this "battle" was to be a group of Vikings asking tribute from a small settlement the Living History site.

This small settlement basically tells them to "soddeth offeth" and a battle commences. The only real points of note worth mentioning, is that firstly, a hit point system was trialled, whereby unarmoured squishies get one hit - in the normal approved areas, and the armoured fellows in chain, would need three hits in the appropriate areas for them to go down. The obvious outcome from this, is that on the whole, only the armoured men survived the fight. Secondly, a Dane axe system of shield destruction was enforced, where if the axe was swung realistically, then the owner of the shield which was struck, would be required to dispose of said shield as soon as possible, whilst role- playing having it smashed.

This was brought about because of the crap way Dane axes were used in the past. They were wielded like glorified spears. Hardly befitting a weapon of mass destruction I anyone's opinion! The only modifications to their use, is that the wielder must wear full armour and have their shield strapped to their back if they insist on carrying one. The actual battle lasted quite a while and was thoroughly enjoyable - one of the more rewarding fights I had been in so far.

Part of the added enjoyment was getting to know the other regulars better and better! This is what Regia is all about. I shall avoid mentioning the non "Regia" idiots talking near by throughout most of the night, while I tried to sleep and shalln't mention the fact that the only way for me to get sleep before four o'clock in the morning, is now to get hideously drunk! I will not talk about the vast amount of time spent looking for ways to spend hundreds of pounds on chain mail and other nick knacks. Nor the seemingly hours spent slaving over a smouldering pan of bacon on Sunday Morning. Instead, I will talk about what it was like to be on the other side of the barrier, having attended History In Action III, the year before as a member of the public.

I was, in a way, expecting too much from this event. It would never live up to any of my ideals. I'm not saying that it wasn't fun; it was. In hindsight, it just wasn't any better that Wing or Wareham. The main problem with Kirby Hall, was that you felt a very small part of a very big machine and I get a lot of that working for the civil service!

Though I said I wasn't going to talk about it, I have to say the shopping was fun. I got a bloody good deal on a suit of chainmail which was made up into a Romper suit ala Bayeaux tapestry images No living person could get into the thing and pull the hood up, as surprise, surprise, the hood didn't stretch. You would have to cut you own head off to pull it up! An average chainmail suit will cost about , to , pounds. I got this for , Considering there were other suits on sale for twice that, without arms and considerably shorter in length. I must have been blessed. Many thanks to Paul, who drew my attention to it.

I owe him one! With regards to the battle s that Regia was there to re-enact, the event in question was Stamford Bridge. An event that was to be recreated by us, later in October. This gist of it went like this. There were two forces. Each side was composed of a central core of armour, flanked by two sides of what is cruelly termed "squishies" that is, unarmoured spearmen.

The very rough plan was that each side would only face off their opposite number throughout the battle. If the Vikings won the battle however, they would run off.

If the Saxons won, then they would "ham it up" by pretending to rob the dead and finish off any dying warriors. The battle on the first day was a complete non-event as far as the right flank my flank was concerned. All we did was rattle our spear at each other until the final charge went off, by which time the enemy Saxon armour had dispatched our armour and came at us from behind. Dashed unsporting, I say!

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The following day was a hell of a lot more interesting and well worth turning up for! The added bonus was having Carole and Owen there to "see" me in action. They were, unfortunately, at the other end of the battlefield, and only really saw me as I walked off at the end. Neither battle was as much fun as when it was recreated in October, at Battle see next instalment.

Apart from a humorous incident involving me and an egg, where I spent ages, at breakfast, cooking my egg lovingly over the fire, only to have it "leap" into the cinders, the only real event I can remember is the final parade where every single re-enactment group filed in front of the crowd at the main arena.

After which we lined the campsite road and applauded all the other enactment groups and whistled at the nuns, jeered the Germans, and so on until our legs gave out. Besides, it all sounded like complete chaos and rather silly as well. Maybe next year. Whilst I thought it was just plain silly at the time and cared little for such antics, the article itself implied that the incident was offensive to the ethic minority present at the event.

Being a civil servant, we are constantly criticised and nay, dare I say it, conditioned to think "equal opportunities" during every working hour. With this in mind, such activities can only harm Regia's and indeed any re-enactment society's reputation I am not sure to which group they belonged to - but that hardly matters, as we are guilty by association How are we, as a society, going to be able to flourish in a multi-ethnic society if such racial stereotypes are going to be portrayed.

Said it. Now on with the diary So, having been on both sides of the barrier, which is better. I think being a member of the public is more fun, especially for the first time, when confronted with such a large event as this. But being on the re-enactment side is a tad more fulfilling. Not many people actually ask questions. Our group leader was either lying comatose in front of his tent, or off at a pre-battle meeting, Liz was manning a trading stall, for someone else who couldn't seem to be bothered and mostly every one else seemed to be off shopping.