Here we are at the end of two weeks of school holidays and I feel absolutely wiped out. Not because having the kids around has worn thin, they seem to have grown up enough for that not to be such a problem any more. Rather it’s because I’ve spent pretty much the whole 2 weeks with a horrible lurgi. Same thing happened to me last school holidays too. I feel cheated. All I can say is it’s a damn good thing that being a Dark Ages reenactor doesn’t require you to give up paracetamol and anti-histamines as well as plumbing and electricity.
Let me tell you some more about last weekend. I did mention that the only facilities at Beorg-wic were pit toilets, didn’t I? I went from Friday morning to Monday night without a shower, we had to carry in all our water and we couldn’t park our car next to the tent site so everything had to be carried about 100m in along a bush path. Which is fine until you get to the tent, tent poles and 2 full 20L water containers. Plus, because I was sick and functioning on Codral, I couldn’t do any of the heavy lifting (every time I tried the world would start spinning) so Adam had to carry it all himself. Adam also did the vast majority of packing for the trip, including supervising the kids packing. Caitlin did fine, she had everything she needed. David didn’t pack any underwear. Tom packed a bouncy ball. Yep, JUST a ball, nothing else. It’s a bloody good thing we packed the viking clothes separately and I, on a whim chucked in an extra pair of long pants for Tom. As it was, after a bit of toilet mis-timing on the first day Tom was stuck with going commando for the rest of the weekend. All of which explains why I didn’t hold high hopes of enjoying myself.
Then there was the weather. Friday night the forecast was for thunderstorms. In the end we didn’t get thunder but there was plenty of wind which we could hear in the tops of the trees (the pine forest was surprisingly sheltered and the wind didn’t reach us) and enough rain to have us huddling under our half-pitched awning to have dinner. It was raining fairly steadily well into the morning on Saturday, I think the folks running the camp were beginning to get a bit worried about how they were going to manage, but it started clearing on the afternoon so all was well.
We had light rain off and on until mid-afternoon on Sunday when the sun decided to come out, rain again overnight, clear on Monday morning and then just as we finished packing the car at lunchtime on Monday huge black clouds rolled in again. Packing the car was interesting. I was still not up to much physically and Adam was a bit worse for wear too. Thankfully we were able to borrow a trolley from one of the other families to get the heavy stuff back to the car – there were a few people with either wheel barrows or trolleys, we’ll certainly be taking one when we go next year.
Various workshops were run throughout the weekend. I attended one on ladies’ headdresses on Saturday morning, who knew there were so many different ways to wrap a piece of cloth around your head? I skipped the candle making and soapstone carving, had a quick go at the archery range and then did the tablet weaving workshop late on Saturday afternoon. Adam wowed everyone with his shot to Harold’s eye at the archery range and then spent most of Saturday afternoon at the forge.
First up was turning a long thin bit of metal into a longer thinner bit of metal. This took quite some time. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with it after that which is why we ended up with the hook. The knife didn’t seem to take quite as long, I think he was getting the hang of it. He spent most of the evening fishing for sympathy because his forearms were really sore.
On Sunday I didn’t do much, just wandered around chatting to people and taking it easy. Adam decided to join in the mock fighting. This turned out to be not such a great idea as he ended up on the receiving end of a shield charge, was sent flying and got himself a suspected cracked rib for his troubles. He took it a bit easier in the afternoon and stuck to the tablet weaving class.
One of the best things about the camp was that it was catered on Saturday and Sunday night and I didn’t even have to provide for the other meals – the other Huscarls (or to be precise, one Huscarl and one honorary Huscarl on loan from Uppsala) undertook to bring food for us all. We had porridge with fruit, cinnamon and honey for breakfast (cooked in a proper cast iron cauldron, but we cheated and used our gas stove instead of an open fire), cheeses, bread, dates, nuts, apples, pears, grapes, chorizo and smoked salmon for lunches.
We brought some snack food for the kids and beer. Gotta have beer! The feasts that were provided by the Ancient Arts Fellowship were very impressive – 4 courses each night and so much food we didn’t make it to dessert either night. It was all authentic-ish food too (though I do believe there were potatoes in the stew) including lamb stew, roast beef and pork, chicken and bacon pastries, honey roasted veggies, pears poached in red wine, there was more but I was full and I can’t remember the stuff I didn’t eat.
So that was last weekend. I spent most of the week trying to recover and get up the energy for yesterday’s exploits.
Caitlin’s birthday party. At Luna Park. We only took 3 of her friends and my mum came along, so it wasn’t that big a deal. All the girls were very well behaved and they all seemed to have a good time. I decided not to try and pack a picnic even though I knew the food there would be both over-priced and not very nice (I was was right). The one good thing about the place is that there’s no entry charge and as neither Adam or I have the smallest desire to do any rides I was only paying for the kids, mind you it’s still pretty pricey, we won’t be going back in a hurry that’s for sure. The fun part of the day was the way Tom kept vanishing on us. One moment he’d be standing just there, the next he’d be no-where to be seen, ’twas a little stressful. Caitlin’s friends arrived at our place at 9:30am and we got back at 3:15pm, we had a bit of rest and then went out for dinner at our local chinese restaurant, Lee Central Park with my mum and my aunt (mum’s twin sister) and uncle. As always the food was great, the staff good humoured and we came home stuffed to the gills and ready for some serious sleeping.
Today I went to my grandma’s unit that she moved out of recently (at 97 she finally had to shift to a nursing home), I was meeting up with various other family members to go through all the stuff she wasn’t able to take with her, pick out some bits and pieces to keep as memorabilia and help with getting the place cleared out so it can be sold. My mum, dad, both mum’s sister’s and their husbands, my brother and his family and my sister and her family were there. I decided not to add another 4 bodies to the mix and went by myself. My brother’s wife took their kids to our place after they’d been at Grandma’s a short time and then, once we’d finished at the unit, Martin and I bought lunch supplies and we spent the afternoon sitting on our front deck while the cousins played.
I hadn’t planned to take much from the unit but ended up coming home with a box full of stuff and a small coffee table – we did kind of need one of those, now I can toss the kid’s table from Ikea that we’ve been using up till now.
My favourite thing, that I just had to have, is a quite large (maybe 1.5L?) metal cannister which has the label “DRIPPING” stamped on it. Just looking at it quite boggles my mind, the sheer quantity of the stuff it was intended to store! Mum tells stories of snacks of bread and dripping so I know Grandma definitely used to use it. I also grabbed a letter opener that I have vivid memories of being forbidden to touch as it lay on the desk in my Grandparent’s dining room in Epping. Caitlin unpacked the box, picked up the letter opener and said “Wow, even though Great Grandma is really old she has some really cool stuff” and I said “Yeah, put that down, it’s kind of sharp.” Guess that’s why I wasn’t allowed to touch!
And now, I’m off to bed, back to school and work tomorrow.