The coldest Easter on record saw a hardy group of Buckingham’s Retinue members assemble to start the 2013 season with a 4 day event at one of England premier attraction - Warwick Castle. We had a prime location on the East Front between the main public site entrance and the main gate into the castle, so it was very busy each morning, though quieter in the afternoons as the public dissipated throughout all the attractions that Warwick has to offer. Space on the East front was at a premium this year, so we had to pitch the tents up close up against each other, but did manage to leave all the display tents with good public access, and share a common fire/cooking area with our friends from the Clarences. This year Horrible History are in residence at the castle so we slightly scaled back our normal show, with no action on the River Island although we did provide crew to the Trebuchet again, and watched from the far end of the island as it hurled fireballs towards us.
For the participants the main concern for the weekend was keeping warm, with temperatures reportedly down to -6 overnight, the water tap froze solid, as did cooking oil, alcohol wipes and any liquid left in the open. I did manage to get my new coat to a wearable state before the event, and brought every spare over kirtle, coat, livery, blanket and gloves that I could that I could get my hands on, but it was still bitterly cold at times. The Warwick “safety” wood did not help, though it did keep me warm chopping it up into more burnable chunks, and pumping the bellows to try and keep the fire going.
In camp the set piece displays of Arms and armour, games and surgery worked well, though the craft displays suffered at times as it was too cold for much of the planned needle work, though Jenni did appear to be spending most of the weekend unravelling a hat to knit a new one (apparently there was a ball of wool held in the first hat,) and Pete cunningly manufactured a pair of mittens on the first day to keep his hands warm for the weekend.
To aid staying warm we volunteered to demonstrate medieval games in the castles main courtyard, Paul manfully contended with the Warwick castle tannoy to commentate on the events, with buckler ball, hat fencing, hot cockle and ass kicking being demonstrated to an unsuspecting crowd. I did try to introduce Andy to the tactics involved in medieval games by kicking him in the shins in hat fencing and in the groin for ass kicking; unfortunately old habits die hard and I did pull both blows to such an extent that he did not even notice the latter, I will just have to remember to smack him in the face in bucker ball next time ;-)
Camping next to the Clarences was a joy, as we renewed our camaraderie and rivalry from the year before. We were too close to each other for the armed manoeuvres of the pervious Warwick, but there was much writing of notes between the groups and they did manage to sneak into our camp one night to planted dozens of little Clarence flags on cocktail sticks, which we all found highly amusing although noted that they did not attempt anything if we were actually awake. We all look forward to meeting up with them again, probably next at Harewood Hall in May.
Overall it was an enjoyable if cold start to the season. I just hope I thaw out enough to be able to feel my toes before Donnington for Saint George’s day.