The retinue of his grace the duke of Buckingham had their first full event of the 2014 season at our regular Easter camping ground of Warwick Castle. With the increased size of the Horrible History displays, and the "Slimy Stuarts" arena occupying some of our traditional camping space, our friends in the Clarences and Rosa Mundi had to relocate to pageant field, leaving us and the Gloucesters on the East front.
To make best use of the space, we set the camp up with open tents for surgery and games displays, on the road along with the arms and armour and the other awning. We placed our fire slightly back from the road but in clear view and next to the Gloucesters fire, filling in the back of the camp with closed tents. Our newly repainted cannon (Gwenevere) took pride of place on the road, acting as a focal point to draw in the public.
We had to hit the ground running on Friday, as Warwick was as busy as ever. We used the red awning to showcase crafts and cycled the usual suspects (Rory, Mike and Nathan) on the arms and armour, accompanied by Doug and Carl as willing new volunteers. With just the one area slot to fill we decided to take the opportunity to perform our games display in the courtyard arena at 3pm, after the last regular arena slot had finished, we completed nearly the entire display before being kindly asked to leave as we were too entertaining and distracting public from other timetabled activities. We had arranged to use Gwenevere and our new, still to be named, hook gun as part of the trebuchet display, but were unable to do so on Friday as Warwick wanted to double check the paperwork before signing off on this aspect of the display.
Saturday started with a massed Livery and maintenance drill practice in the courtyard, with the aim of understanding how different units drill to allow us to work more closely together in the future. The was also a plan give people from different groups the chance to run a large bill block, although our newest member Matt was randomly selected first having only even heard the drill commands 10 minutes before and was probably a little out of his depth. With the prospect of no access to the courtyard arena during the day, and no firepower display, the Bucks took it on themselves to organise their own additional entertainment, renewing our friendly feud from the year before with the Clarences. A party bucks of the lead by Ellie raided the Clarence camp and those who managed to returned came bearing the Clarence's fire bellows. Forest can in search of the bellows and was "persuaded" to stay with us for a while, though he did manage to take possession of the Clarence bellows and we could not price them from his grip, we then noticed that our bellows were missing, taken by the Gloucesters and the gifted to the Clarences so we "borrowed" the Gloucester bellows too. After a little note writing and negotiation the bellows situation was all resolved and bellows were returned, as was Forest although the Clarences had not noticed that he was actually missing.
Once everything had calmed down we visited the Clarence camp again, this time for a little bit of theatrical medieval mumming and a chance to catch up with old friends. After close of play Zoe introduced us to a new card game – a very simple concept with a deck of cards containing sentences with blanks, and another set of cards containing possible missing words. Everyone plays a suggested "blank" and the best sentence winning – it was highly amusing entertainment, won hands down by the newly nicknamed inappropriate Nat.
Easter Sunday arrived, and after drill we noticed that the Clarences has crept undetected into our camp and hijacked our pavise, and would only return it when given a promissory note for "pudding futures", we spent the morning shaping marchpane into nice shapes for sharing with the Gloucester's, and more derogatory shapes for the Clarences. The weather forecast was poor so the numbers of visitors was lower than the previous two days but we were happy as wefinally had the all clear from Warwick staff to take part in the trebuchet show, so had the first chance for use the groups new hook gun in anger. In fact with three hand guns, cannon and archers the castle staff were so impressed they asked for us to take part in two shows the following day. The evening saw the debut of yet another card game, this time Pete introduced us to a game of deduction with three randomly assigned werewolves hiding in a village. A murder happens each night and the villagers trying to reveal who the werewolves are before they are picked off one by one.
Monday again had a poor weather forecast and public attendance lower than usually for Warwick (although still in the thousands), We worked a little harder having to drag Gwenevere to and from the island twice for both displays, having used the new hook gun a few times we finally settled on a name for her and hence forth she will be known as Barbra, after the patron saint of gunners. Pack down went well, and all in all it was an enjoyable Easter and we are all back to Warwickshire in less than a week for a trip to Kenilworth Castle.