Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hugs is good...

I am a firm believer in hugs. I have lots of people to hug me and I value every single one I am lucky enough to receive.
As an aside, with bad stuff in my past, I prefer to initiate the first hug but once someone is huggable in my estimation they are welcome to hug me anytime.
Amongst the people that 'give good hug' are:
MB - who has always enveloped me in a safe and caring hug, shielding me from the mad bad world.
Bobkat - she was the first woman in many years I have voluntarily hugged and she gives loving hugs.
cyberkitten - like MB, his hugs are a safety zone.
sleepypete - as my pseudo-adopted son, Pete's hugs are like that of a loving son.

Most everyone in the Company of Chivalry are hugging people. Some are perfunctory; a brief show of affection, some are fun and energetic; a result of an irrepressible nature, and some are just perfect.
Our Sergeant at Arms - being a big chap is an enveloping hugger, one of the people whose arms I just walk into.
My 'husband' Brambles - another big man who gives comforting hugs.
George (Brambles' real life wife) - another woman who gives warm loving hugs.
My friend and 'apprentice' 'Maud' - we enjoy sisterly hugs.
Lord Hungerford Jnr ('Maud's' real life son) - we have perfected the three-way hug; him, his mum and his 'auntie cq'.
Kate - my best girlfriend in the company; I can just walk into her motherly arms.
My friend Matt - little brother hugs; starting off comforting and safe, ending in a chest-crushing bear hug.
Finally, when things are quiet and I am in bed with my book, I get the best hugs of all - my big nervous floofy cat Charlie burrows in beside me and hugs me for as long as he can.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Off again...

This weekend I am back off to the 14 century, in Caerphilly Castle. We like Caerphilly Castle, it's good to stay in, nice washroom facilities and a big Great Hall for if (when!) it rains.This weekend is a big deal in two ways, it's the 20th anniversary of the Company of Chivalry, the birthday of one of the longest serving members - and my second anniversary with the Company.

It's funny to think the Aginoths [particularly Mr A] spent five years persuading me to take part, telling me I'd love it.
I hate how well my friend knows me......... :-)
[Mrs Aginoth and LMD talking to the public]

I have been asked in the below post comments which century I prefer.

Well, our approximation of the 14C is probably my favourite place. Given the small luxuries we have sneaked in from the 21C (bathrooms, sleeping bags, airbeds - coffee [out of hours, of course!]) I have grown to love the 14C. The time I spend with the Company has given me a whole new set of friends, people I love and admire. It is a place where I can let go of many of the issues I drag around with me during my normal life. Although Ugly Monster has managed to creep in occasionally, being with the Company is somewhere he is not normally found. I sleep better, I eat better, I laugh more. I am less ego-centric and I am more outgoing. I have learnt new stuff and it is (I hope) making me a better person. I admit, occasionally I curse my long dresses, am infuriated with the tent and feel sad in the rain, but I look forward so much to it each week.I'm so glad to be going back under canvas this weekend, but it is tinged with sadness that the season is nearly over, only two more events to go. Then it will all go quiet over the Winter, allowing for the Banquet, meeting up for market days and the Company meeting in the New Year, until Battle Practice and the new season kicks off next Spring.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Life goes on...

I've been spending a lot of time in the 14 century lately, with the last three weekends away from home and under canvas.
My 14 century life has changed dramatically since I discovered I couldn't hammer coins any more due to an elbow injury. I can still do the spiel and have found a very good apprentice who is expert at hammering coins.
So, while looking around for something to fill my day I volunteered to take part in the court scene as the 'adulterous' wife. I've always been a bit of a drama queen and this has allowed me to revisit that part of my life.
But life has been going on in the 21 century too - and my life has been changing there too. With various reorganisations within our area of the Ministry of Defence, some of our responsibilities have changed or been removed altogether.
So I have been looking to change my skills slightly to benefit both me and my work. And I have moved into the training/education area of health and safety - whilst maintaining my responsibilities in site health and safety management.
For the last few months I have been training dozens of staff in the use of defibrillators and basic life support (CPR etc), practising my teaching skills.

This week I held my first full training day in first aid for a selection of the 150 first aiders under my management.
With a lecture in cardiac conditions, a forum for them to air their opinions and experiences and a whole afternoon of practising assessment and treatment of a variety of conditions, bandaging and resuscitation this was a full day that the first aiders have been craving for years.
I was nervous all day, although I knew most of the students quite well. When the day drew to a close I gathered the feedback sheets (that told me what the students thought!) and hid them - too scared to read them.
My boss got to them first and read them before I saw them.
I was pleased to see the feedback was mostly positive, only little niggles that need to be addressed before the next training day in November.
As they say - life goes on....whether it is the 14 century or the 21 century....

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Wedding

This weekend just gone was the wedding of my friends Jon and Hannah. Long time members of the Company of Chivalry and medieval fans, it was expected for them to have a medieval wedding......
...and it was such fun!

Here are the happy couple in their wedding finery! Jon is simply dashing and his bride is positively glowing!

We all gathered in our medieval kit to help them celebrate the big day. It rained a lot and we all got very wet and muddy, but it was a wonderful day and night. The rain died away about 1am, so I got some quality 'fire time' by the roaring fire :-)

Part of the day's entertainment included a mummers play, starring our two Lords Hungerford, and Master Caunsfield as George.

The medieval party went with a swing and they even managed to perform the Honour Arch while the company were still standing.......

But what wedding would be complete without children? My little friend LMD Aginoth and her grown friend Master Caunsfield. (I love her making eyes at my dear friend Matt - that girl will go far!).

With thanks to Aginoth, Master Turner and Master Caunsfield whose photo albums I plundered......


Thursday, August 07, 2008


Well, this has been a busy few weeks with re-enactment. We were at Caerphilly Castle two weeks ago and last week we were at Pembroke Castle.
Yeah, yeah, I know - you're all dying to know about being Mistress Brambles.
Well, my 'husband' was the lovely Anthony....

And Arthur of Fopwood was charmingly played by Matt (on the right in this photo)

I have never been the adulterous wife before - and was secretly hoping to be found guilty so I could be burned at the stake! :-)

Anthony must be about 6'5" and towers over everyone. When we were arrested and were waiting for the Lords to arrive, he periodically took some lunges at 'Arthur' and I tried to pull him off by his padded jack. He would get exasperated and throw me across the field. I could hear the heartfelt gasps of the women public as I crashed to the ground time after time.

With Anthony throwing me around and dragging me across the field on Saturday I have some LOVELY bruises - finger marks on my arms and compression bruising on my knees.

But it was an almost cathartic experience; having been in a violent marriage I found being chucked around by Anthony (who I could control totally) went some way to cleansing the memories I have carried around for twenty years.

On the Sunday show my beloved 'husband' was more gentle with me, as I had told him my knees were hurting. I told him and the sarge they must help me up from my knees - but make it look like they were hauling me roughly to my feet......and it worked.

'Arthur' recited some of his delightful poetry to me for the pleasure of My Lord's court - and you could hear a wide range of female sighs from the audience as he knelt in front of me, spoke the words and then gallantly kissed my hand. I swear, given half a chance, the women would have trampled me to get to 'Arthur'.

The sighs were cut short as Arthur and I were roughly pulled apart and thrown back on the mercy of My Lord Hungerford.

Let me see - what else is there.....?

Oh yes, when I was handed back to my 'husband' for punishment he hauled me behind a tent and then faked a beating with a switch on the tent canvas. With me screaming at each hit, it was reported to me later that the women in the audience went white. Reality TV eat my dust!

It was cool - painful but cool. I could really get into the part of Mistress Brambles and the following were overheard as I walked the castle grounds later....

'Miss - were you really crying?'

'Did he really hurt you?'

'Look! There's that poor woman........'

I think I'll do that again :-)

Oh, and to answer that eternal question 'why do you do this?' - I offer this wordless answer:

Pembroke Castle at dusk.......does life get any better than this?


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Perils of Friendship

I have discovered that this season I can't hammer coins as I have developed a very painful elbow and it hurts to heft the hammer.
So, in order to fill my day and add value to the show, I volunteered to take part in the crime and punishment segment - as the adulterous wife! :-)

Of all the men in camp, my 'husband' just happened to be the biggest - and the most awesome looking.....and married in reality to a good friend of mine.

So allow me to take you back in time to 1370 and tell a sad story....

My name is Mistress Brambles and I am married to Billy Brambles, brother of Sergeant Little, sergeant at arms of my Lord Hungerford. Billy is a powerful and violent man who is an impressive soldier but not a sensitive husband and I am an unhappy wife.
I meet Arthur Fopwood, the elegant and debonair younger son of the Earl of Fopwood - meaning he has money and no responsibility. We hit it off and a friendship develops, fuelled by his love of poetry and my desperation in a tumultuous marriage.

But when my 'beloved' husband saw me promenading the castle with young Arthur of Fopwood, he demanded Arthur and I be tried by our Lord Hungerford for adultery.

He dragged me off through the market to get justice from the court. Meanwhile, Arthur was taken into custody by the guard.

Here is Segeant Little giving evidence on behalf of his wronged brother, Billy Brambles. I am begging for leniency on my knees by my husband - young Arthur is being held between the two big ugly soldiers on the right.

Sadly, my Lord found grounds for the case and decreed that Arthur's innocence would be decided by trial by combat - against my husband.

We were all required to swear our allegiance and accept the outcome of the trial on the Holy Bible. Arthur had no fighting garb, so he was dressed in the clothes of a poor recently deceased soldier.

Needless to say, despite his best efforts and using all the skills he had read about, Arthur was no match for my big angry husband - and the outcome was inevitable....

So, as a result of the trial by combat, the delightful and entertaining young Fopwood was decreed guilty, taken from the arena, stripped naked and thrown out of the castle.

But that still left my punishment. I cowered in fear as my Lord Hungerford spoke about the choices - burning at the stake or delivery into the hands of my cuckolded husband. Given the effeminate nature of Arthur, my Lord decreed that any adultery would have been impossible and decided to be lenient, handing me over to my husband for punishment as he saw fit.

I was duly taken from the field and was (very noisily) beaten by my husband.

When walking later I discovered Arthur's hat, which was my last memento of my lost friend.

So, that is the sad story of the misguided friendship between Mistress Brambles and Arthur of Fopwood - tune in tomorrow to read what it's like being an 'adulterous wife' in the 14C..