Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fine Fayre

I'm shattered. Bone weary, aching muscles, an interesting array of bruises and a sun burnt face to boot. I've had hardly any sleep, I've been alternately soaked, chilled and baked by the changing weather, deafened by cannon fire and I've been stabbed in the back, front and side.

You know what? I've enjoyed every minute of it!

From early on Sunday morning until tea time on Monday I've been at the Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Park playing with swords for our annual public demonstration of the art of historical swordplay. One of the featured events this year was a  brief history of single stick combat with a public workshop – if the level of enthusiasm show by some of the participants is sustained then I think we are in with a good chance of getting it reinstated as an Olympic event in 2012. We also had a fascinating introduction to Di Grassi's treatise on Side Sword – very different to the rapier that it preceded, followed by our annual tourney with our very own Rachel coming a very creditable second losing out to Spanky Pete in the final match. Yay Rachel!

The weather stayed more or less fine on Saturday, although overcast at times and it looked as if we were in for a fine evening until the heavens opened and the rain started to fall as the sun went down. It was strangely surreal to be sat under a tent awning drinking some rather fine port and discussing trench systems on the western front with Craig, a member of our Leeds chapter and a World War One re-enactor. I remarked that if the rain continued he would be able to put on a realistic recreation of the Somme by the morning.

I retired to the little tent that I was sharing with Jamie and had a restless night listening to the rain thrumming on the walls. We had an hour or so of preternaturally bright early morning sunlight before the wind picked up and started to blow rain clouds in over the city. We dodged the rain for most of the day – laying out the swords on display and then having to cover them up and drag them under cover.

We set the practice target up, and I spent most of the day giving eager children a chance to pick up a sword and see if they could hit the heart in the center. Most of them had problems following instructions, but it was all worthwhile for the ones that grasped the principles with a big grin on their faces as the basic mechanics of swordplay clicked into place for them.

I underestimated the afternoon sunshine and picked up a bit of sunburn to my face, which in combination with a bit of dehydration and extreme tiredness left me feeling a bit woozy. I kept going whilst we packed kit away and waited for the site stewards to allow cars on site. I got home and after a shower, a brief snooze and after a meal of some gorgeous Chili and Red Wine, and Stilton sausages purchased at the Fayre I'm feeling almost human again.

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