Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Newstead Abbey muster

An excellent muter at Newstead Abbey this past weekend, including Bank Holiday Monday.
Weather held very well, and it was decidedly hot under all the woollen attire during the battles on both Sunday and Monday.

Prince Maurice's Dragoons. A fine body of troops!

During the battles we were matched against the Scots on the Sunday (amongst others), and seemed to end up facing Essex's pike block on the Monday for much of the afternoon. Now, being Dragoons, we have no pikes, so it made for an interesting day, with us firing a shot, closing to combat (at which, despite being outnumbered, we held our own, I'm pleased to say), before both sides retired, we fired again, and then closed for combat again, and so on. This cycle was completed about three times, before we and they were ordered off to do something else. An excellent contest.

The actions were declared a Royalist victory on both days, I think, but more importantly a good spectacle for a decent crowd, and good, safe fun.

Freddie Flintlock behaved well, firing off 16 shots on day one, and 18 on day two. Just a couple of misfires on day two which I can only put down to a well-worn flint, which will be replaced before the next action - Holdenby House in Northamptonshire on 2-3 July.

Another highlight of the weekend included a fellow Dragoon, Laurie (alongside whom I had done a lot of practice drill and training shots at last year's musters) passing his musket test on Monday. Well done mate!

Finally, a picture that sums up part of the weekend...



Bob "helping" Keith to pack away on Monday, by clearing up the previous evening's leftover Madeira! That's Dragoons for you!!


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Season 2 Episode 1

It's wonderful to come out of "Winter Quarters", and last weekend Keith, Bob and I headed off to the first muster of the year at Basing House.
Having just got back from a short break in Rome, I could only manage a "day trip", which also suited Keith and Bob, and so we set off early on the Saturday and arrived in time to draw powder, followed by a little sword practice, lunch in the local hostelry, and then onto the field.
This being "Royalist Army training weekend" (with only Royalist regiments present), someone had to be Parliament, and so we joined a number of units who played rebels for the day.
A good crowd enjoyed the spectacle, and my faithful flintlock fired 18 good noisy shots (with only 1 misfire, which I cleared at first attempt anyway), so a most enjoyable day all round.

A passing visitor was good enough to snap this picture as we posed amongst the ruins of old Basing House after the action...


Not sure whether it's the three musketeers, wise monkeys, or something worse!!

Anyway, it's great to kick the season off with a bang!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Bradgate Park

This weekend a small event took place at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, and Keith, Bob and I decided a day trip on the Sunday would be in order. And what an excellent little event it was, with a very good turn out from the public, and for a small event, a decent turnout of re-enactors to provide enough of a spectacle to entertain the crowds in terms of a skirmish.
The day was again great fun, in beautiful surroundings, and we engaged with plenty of members of the public at the Living History site. All were keen to know about the weaponry, the tactics, and the life of a 17th century soldier... and many were very keen to hold muskets to feel the weight, and understand the loading and firing procedure.
The skirmish itself (in which we three joined with members of The King's LifeGuard) lasted around an hour, and included us firing around a dozen shots, and having several bouts of hand-to-hand combat. All good stuff. And, I'm proud to report, the flintlock is behaving itself very well indeed. I feel as if I should give it (her? him?) a name! Suggestions welcome!

The fundamental flaw in my plans to record my re-enactment exploits for this blog will, I am sure, have been spotted by you, dear reader, long ago. Namely, that I am not in a position to take photos / videos during the action, as I'm generally in the thick of it!

However, here's a snap taken after yesterday's engagement...


Bob's post-battle euphoria is matched only by Keith's more mellow (almost philosophical) demeanour!

For those who do want to see some Sealed Knot action, to get a greater sense of what a battle looks like, in full swing, there are a number of Youtube videos of the Chester weekend which are quite something. Have a search (Chester Sealed Knot 2015), and enjoy!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Chester weekend

Saturday dawned, and I was on the road early to pick up Bob and join the rest of the regiment (most of whom had arrived on the Friday evening) for the march into Chester.

Above: forming up for the long march.

The march was around 2 miles from our campsite to the centre of town, but the decent weather meant it was an enjoyable Saturday morning stroll! It was helped by the opportunity to visit the city's taverns...


 
Then it was Saturday evening back at the campsite... time for food, drink, and more singing, socialising, and good-humoured banter.




Sunday was a big day for me.
OK, so it's not a big day in life's grander scheme, but nevertheless I had my musket test... and passed. So I am now a legitimate firing member of the regiment. Thanks go to all who helped with the training, and particularly to Keith who made sure that both the practical elements of the test and the theory were well covered in advance, and I felt well prepared. Keith was probably more nervous than me as we took a purposeful amble to the Powder Issue/ Testing area on Sunday morning.

As to the battles for the weekend...
Well, since these were my first as a "firer", there was a degree of trepidation, but that soon passed in the heat of the action. Looking along the crowd line I picked out the friendly faces of David (of "wargame amateur" blog fame) and his wife Kay who had emailed to say they would be cheering on from the sidelines!
Thoroughly enjoyed both days, and we got plenty of firing done. I managed 16 shots on both days, which seemed about par for the course, so I was happy to have kept up with the pace of the rest of the guys. On the Sunday we were defending the barricades and defence works against the Scots Bde, among others.
And on the Monday, we spent much of the battle pitched against a visiting group of 17C re-enactors from Bavaria who were as hard-fighting as the Scots had been the previous day. Excellent volleys cracked out, and vigorous hand-to-hand fighting was the order of the day, with battle chants ringing out between the sides. Tough and honourable opponents all... we doffed hats, bowed and huzzah'd at the close of play. Day one was declared a Royalist victory, with day two being deemed the reverse, I think.

Other notable highlights of the weekend.
1. Marching, lots of it. We were camped approximately 1.5 miles from the battle site at the racecourse, so that gave us chance to practice our marching and singing... as well as flying the flag for the roadside crowds to enjoy.

2. The auction of some recently uncovered Brigadier Peter Young SK memorabilia. The prime items were PY's sword and a rapier. Both went for good money, and to a good home, as someone who had known the Brigadier and ben a founder of the SK was successful with his reserve bids. There were plenty of other items being auctioned off, including signed books and the like.

3. The Regimental breakfast club tradition continued on the Monday morning...
nothing to beat a full English breakfast and a bottle of claret!

 
 
"Suits you, Sir." Chris, our CO, is a leatherworker of some considerable repute in SK circles and beyond. Here seen measuring up a punter for a rather nice buff jerkin/ singlet.
 

So, that's the last major muster of the season. Keith, Bob, and I plan a couple more days out - probably Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, and Edgehill, both of which will be "day trips", I think.
I'll post on these as they happen.
In a few weeks, I'll also put down some thoughts on the whole experience of this first season... It's been a blast!!

And if anyone out there has been inspired to give it a go, or even just to find out more, visit the SK website... there's contact details there and I'm sure you'll find the friendliest of welcomes from a regiment close to you. At least it's worth an email to the knot to find out more. I say, Go for it! I did, and have loved every second.


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Preparing for Chester

This coming Bank Holiday weekend, I'll be one of the many who trek to the beautiful city of Chester and after a couple of months of inactivity on the re-enactment front, I have to say I'm really looking forward to it.



(By the way, on the picture above, on the left, you can see one of this blog's regular visitors and commenters, Andy, of The King's Guard... looking very fierce and warlike!!)

On Saturday, there's a march through the town,
and the Sunday and Monday both involve Living History displays and sizeable battles at Chester Racecourse.

Full details are here...
http://earlofmanchesters.co.uk/

So, this week I've been getting my kit out of the cupboard, cleaning thoroughly my new flintlock (which I'm rather proud of!), making up cartridges, and making a few minor repairs to various bits n bobs.
With the weather forecast being "mixed", and anticipating the possibility of showers, I decided to take extra morale boosting victuals this time and so a   special supermarket run was needed to get the supplies required for such a weekend. I wouldn't want the normal weekly shopping trolley to collapse under the weight of extra alcohol and food!
Now, I'm all set; just got to load up Shogie tomorrow, and make an early start on Saturday.

If you're in the Chester area why not persuade the rest of the family to come along and enjoy the spectacle.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Naseby - 370th anniversary weekend

The first rainy muster of the season... but fortunately I really only got wet on the Friday evening as I pitched my tent. The rain stayed off during the battles on both Saturday and Sunday, so no one had their fun spoilt.

The battles themselves were the usual mix of hurry up and form up, then wait around, then march (and these marches were unusually long), then plenty of confusion on the field... so pretty authentic!
On the final day I staged a dramatic death near the crowd line (poser!) being cut down by ironsides when our cause was lost and most others had already fled or died.
Managed to get some more practice firing in, this time with a flintlock which I may soon own (subject to a visit/ inspection of my storage arrangements at home tomorrow morning).

The Sunday morning included a commemorative service in Naseby village. Although a realistic degree of soldiers' apathy and grumblings had broken out when this was mentioned, the turnout was rather good... with a massed march to the Church green in the village where we joined the local congregation for an outdoor service. Very tasteful. And quite right too. Whilst the Sealed Knot is a hobby and all about fun, it's good to properly remember the sacrifices made 370 years ago... just as we all see fit to commemorate more modern conflicts with such reverence.

The local populace seemed friendly enough, and interested, and despite the ever-present threat of rain, our route to the battlefield each day was lined with folk wielding iPads, phones and other gadgetry to capture the spectacle and the pageantry.

Anyway, here are some pictures from the weekend...

Below: a Soldier's Life... Bob catches a few valuable zzz's before we have to     muster for action. Keith can also be seen, horizontal, on left... more zzz's!


Above: forming up. Prince Rupert's Foot regiment, with the stripey pikes of Godolphin's in the background.
Below: the pikemen of our own brigade, ready for the long march to the battlefield.

 
Below: members of Owen's regiment, also in our brigade.


Below: returning from battle ... "Give Way"?! The Royalist Army gives way to no one!!!

 
 
More scenes from the weekend.
Below: the start of an evening in regimental HQ! Armed with sufficient alcohol and snacks we can talk for hours... and do! Mind you, Keith's got his work cut out selling those strawberries! The Cadbury's chocolate fingers, on the other hand (excuse the pun), went in a flash!
 
On the Saturday evening, the chatter in the regimental tent (once the bawdy singing had abated), turned to the subject of flags. It seems that some research suggests that at some point during the wars, our regiment (at that point named Washingtons), had been issued with Infantry Colours (their role as dragoons and also occasionally as infantry perhaps mirroring our own re-enactment role which switches between the two). These colours, it is reputed, may have been green and white... Hmmm.
More news as it breaks...
 
Below. Breakfast Club... a Sunday morning tradition! Just 4 of us this time...
Yes, that's full English breakfast, plus a bottle of claret ... of course!.


Next big muster is Chester (August bank holiday... so 29-31 Aug). But might manage a couple of short outings before then.

Thanks for stopping by...

Monday, 1 June 2015

Stanford Hall Muster - 23-25 May

Another cracking long weekend - they're coming thick and fast now!
Lots of training shots fired too (20) as I await the arrival of my various licenses.
I'm at the stage where, having completed the loading sequence, I am always relieved (and somehow surprised) to hear the gun go bang!
I have to say, I'm veering towards flintlock as my preferred weapon.

The battles themselves were good fun, with around 800 people on the field I think... and this time with some cavalry on both sides.
And I'm now fully blooded too! I picked up a "war wound" on the Monday as someone whacked me on the finger with their sword... a fair bit of blood and bruising under the nail... but "only a flesh wound!" Despite suggestions from others that I should really leave the field and get it tended to, I bravely (haha!) fought on for the cause of the King!

Some pictures of the weekend, sent to me courtesy of Keith Foster...
Above: our regiment, looking sprightly despite the weekend having included "one of the most eventful night-time guard duties" anyone could ever recall.
And below: marching onto the field, with a spring in the step, regardless of the fact that on both evenings, alcohol was taken and songs aplenty were sung! A number of the unit's members are talented song-smiths. Having purchased the regimental songbook, however, I was able to join in and reduce the talent quotient to a more unacceptable standard!
 

Next up, Naseby. 13-14 June.
This will be the 370th anniversary of the battle so should be another great weekend.
Check out the Naseby battlefield website for details of what's happening, and come along to give your support to the event. I'm sure you would agree, it's important we keep our history alive.