I thought it worth doing a little write up of how the first show of the season went for me personally, given that it’s the first with a ton of new kit, and there were inevitable teething problems that I want to keep hold of. This will be another wall of text until I can get some decent photos from the weekend.
To begin with, Wrest Park was cold. It seems like it’s been cold each time we’ve done it – the first year the inside of the (modern) tent froze from the condensation from our breath. It was reasonably dry throughout the weekend, and when the sun came out was glorious. However when the sun went away and the wind picked up, it felt like (and probably was) somewhere down around freezing and my hands absolutely froze all weekend.
Sadly this is, to the best of my understanding, the last of this sort of event at Wrest Park that English Heritage are running. Their budget for running events has been slashed (three cheers for Austerity), and they are winding back events all over. This is a pity, I have a soft spot for the event. The site is absolutely gorgeous, it’s a low-key beginning for the season, and it remains the first event we did with the Beaufort Companye.
The other downside for the weekend for me was that I woke in the early (cold) hours of Sunday morning with a shocking headache, that got worse as the night wore through. I suspect that this may have been a migraine (there is some family history) as I was quite photosensitive, and very nauseous. This meant that I spent half of Sunday curled up in bed in the tent with a woollen hat pulled down over my eyes hoping that the top of my head would not fall off. It eventually abated for me to get out and about by the middle of the day, but I was still fairly unwell throughout the day and into the evening.
The first bit of new kit that we had out was the new tent from Tentorium.pl – this was the one we had been waiting on and that arrived just after the last season ended, being a ‘soldier’ tent like the other one we had from them but slightly larger and hand sewn. Like the previous, this is really well made, and was snug and warm despite the rain. Even though it got quite wet on the outside overnight, it was dry by the end of each day, and no water or wind got through the fabric at all. One thing I like about the slightly larger one is that the poles are segmented, which made them easy to deal with for transport, and felt like they were under less stress. The other thing I really liked was being able to stand upright, with plenty of room. For me, that is the definition of luxury. One thing that we will do with the tent though is make or acquire a purpose-sized groundsheet. We did have some (cotton) groundsheets to put down, but they got a bit wet, which made our bedding a little wet as well. A partly water-resistant groundsheet is one of those anachronisms I’m happy to compromise on, just for the pragmatic desire to not have other kit damaged from water, or to have a massive post-event cleaning effort.
The essential bit of new kit was of course the new giant car – the War Rig – into which we can get everything we need without stress. There’s more room available, we did not make a huge effort to pack efficiently and things are stuffed in semi randomly. There’s space on the roof racks for more pole weapons, and potentially a bench and a table, and more room in the roof box than we used efficiently.
The first few parts of the new sets of clothing from Lady Malina were ready for this weekend – the slightly-less-posh yellow doublet and blue hose, and my short gown, which I’d previously posted photos of. These were superbly comfortable, the most comfortable I believe I have ever been in period clothing, which is a testament to the excellent tailoring Malina provides.
The only downside was that I discovered that for some reason I cannot put on my thigh-high boots with these blue hose. It’s a puzzle, because I’m sure that the interim hose that I grabbed from Black Swan have heavier – and more – fabric than these, but some how I just could not get my foot into the boot at all. The boots have always been a bit tight and a bit of a struggle, so I’m guessing this was just a case of a fraction of a millimetre too much. I will try them with the fancy red hose, of course, as it is my intention that is what they will be worn with. In the interim, the low shoes I made years ago are standing up well to rigours I subject them to, and I have some low boots on order which should be ready within a few months.
I also need to get off my butt and make some new shirts – the two current shirts I have were a quick and dirty effort, and I made the sleeves over-generous, and the neck opening huge. I will take the effort to make some that have fitted sleeves so that I’m not trying to shove so much fabric into the doublet sleeves, and also to give a bit of a collar under the doublet collar.
The bit piece of kit that I got to try out briefly was the new harness. This worked very well, although I am conscious of being embarrassingly out of shape, and was gasping alarmingly after only about 15 minutes of combat. As hoped for, the harness proved comfortable and flexible during combat, allowing me a full range of controlled movement. I also took the new poll-axe out for the first time, and equally found that nicely controllable. I may have to adjust my thinking and tactics a little when fighting against the bill block though: I was being very careful to seek out whatever small pieces of harness they may have been wearing and striking to them. Meanwhile they were stabbing the hell out of my breast plate, quite hard – I think I might need to return the favour if they are so intent on trashing my kit, and allow myself to strike the shoulders, arms, and chest that they kept presenting to me. I will also have to do a bit of work to practice the range of throws and grapples available to me – if I’m going to be a tank, I’m going to do my damned best to stay on my feet, even if some pissant spearman is poking my armoured chest.
There is a little bit of work still to do on the harness. I did not have time to finish the mail skirt that should be worn with it, and I think this was the reason my tassets popped off. Without the mail skirt for the tasset to slide over, the point was catching on a stop-rib on the top of my legs, which meant when I stepped it lifted one or the other tasset strap out of its buckle. I may need a different mail standard as well. We tried putting it on over the breastplate, which did not work well as it shifted around a little. We can put it under the breastplate, but it’s not clear that we will be able to get the points for the shoulders through the mail. We will try some variants on this next weekend, and see how it works out.