June is often a difficult month to organise events for, so the Retinue was really pleased to get and invite to the prestigious event at Greenwich’s Old Navel College. The college is right by the Thames, next to the cutty sark, which meant that the towers of canary wharf provided a surreal backdrop for thisTudor event. In addition our camp site was next to the music practice rooms of the college, so the whole weekend has a strange musical accompaniment.
This was the first re-enactment to take place on the site, they had a lot or rules and restrictions. The main problem was the fire, re-enactors are used to having a fire on the go all weekend, using it to keep warm , cook and just sit around, and in the 20 years I have been doing re-enactment, I have never even heard of a problem caused by this. However the college insisted that we could only have a fire during the daytime, when a fire marshall was on hand to put out any sparks. The fire marshal arrived in our camp on Saturday morning with two fire extinguishers which he put in our tent, next to our own extinguisher. When we actually examined his we found them to be of a lower rating than ours. We accepted their paranoia about camp fires, as we were next to the cutty sark, and we knew that that had recently had millions of pounds of fire damage, but when they started objecting to candles and the smoke from the fire, we began to realise just how unused to reactors they really were. I think next time, they will just have to nominate some reactors as fire marshalls, let us get on with it and every one will be happy.
The event itself was in effect 4 separate shows by different groups, each in a quadrant of the college, with one a combined parade towards the end. We running order was a basic arena show, but complemented this with more living history elements than normal, to give our quadrant more of a civilian feel. On Saturday we had a steady stream of public coming through our camp, keeping us all busy, then we heard a rumour that the event only been advertised for the Sunday so we all got a bit concerned about just how packed the site may be.
The entertainment on Saturday night, was largely supplied by Martin Cowley who (a bottle of mead to the good) was playing the Viking stick throwing game kubb against all challengers.
It was busier on Sunday, with a much earlier start. The grand parade that all the groups took part in pulled a lot of the public out of the camps, meaning that the last two arena slots were actually quite quiet.
We packed the camp up quite quickly, and I would have made good time home if the radiator hose on our hire van had not decided to become disconnected. The radiator boiled dry and the van over heated. Luckily we had enough bottled water on board to fill it back up again and limp to a petrol station to top up. Hopefully one of these weeks we will get a van that is not quite so badly beaten up.