I like cannons *grins*
So, I did my first re-enactment show this weekend: History Alive! It's basically a multitude of eras rolled into one show (seriously, we had Ancient history mixed in with WW2 and Vietnam War re-enactors). We were 19th Century British sailors (down to the shirts with floofy arms and unflattering nappy pants! I <3 the floofy arms!)
It went over two days: Saturday and Sunday of the Queens Birthday weekend.
My Saturday started out pretty early (6am. Blah!) as we had to get to the venue at Fort Lytton. We got there okay and I was kinda excited as I'd never been to Fort Lytton before (It's kinda cool! With old buildings and a fort with a 'disappearing gun'. Honking great big cannon hidden in the hill that would be winched up and then the recoil would slam it back down. There were also lots of tunnels and stuff like that).
Our first order of business when we got there was to find our camp site, as we were going to camp there for the weekend. We were down near the river surrounded by guys in kilts and dead birds on their heads (More about the feathered helmets later) and the Napoleonic French one row over.
The first adventure was getting that bloody tent up. Big canvas thingy. Of course my experiences with camping are back when I was younger...and every time I went the bloody thing would fall down on my side, so I was a little wary of sleeping in a tent. We got it up no problems and then we all had to change into costume:
One sailors shirt (with floofy arms! I kept flapping my arms about when I got out of the tent just to make the shirt arms go whoosh)
One pair of slops (Canvas shorts with a really baggy arse, designed like that so you could climb in the rigging with ease.... it looked like you were wearing a nappy).
One pair of knee high white socks (they were a bitch to try and find).
One pair of Sailors Slippers (basically a strip of leather with a bit of canvas sewn on top. Not very comfortable, but they looked cool and made my feet appear tiny!)
One felt top hat thingy (which, surprisingly, stayed on during the Napoleonic battles)
I wore my glasses for the weekend. I had been told by the group leader to take them off but I put my foot down. I'm rather blind without them and I don't care how non-period they are, if there's tent pegs and ropes around I am not wandering around without glasses on (that and I actually wanted to be able to see what was going on around me at all times. Hard to do when all you see are fuzzy moving blobs).
Our role was that of a ships on-shore mess. We basically got to laze about all day drinking rum (my ceramic bottle was actually filled with cordial or water....until the public went away and I then filled it with home brewed mead... 20% Alcohol level. That stuff was deadly! but oh so good!)
Around Midday we were to take part as backup to the British army in a battle to re-take the fort which the French had captured....
.... this was a live black-powder event. These guys weren't miming firing their muskets/guns/whatever, they were actually firing with black powder in them. The cannons were also being fired.
Can I just say that muskets are loud, but cannons are louder!. The 6 pounder cannon we were standing next too may have been the smallest one on the field, but it was also the loudest. And did you know that they have a concussion wave that goes out afterwards? The first time it went off I actually shrieked and nearly got knocked off my feet from the concussion wave.
So, that battle was fun, but we didn't get to do much except stand behind the people firing muskets and look menacing. I had a honking great big stick (I called it my Wacky Stick) that I carried around. That was my weapon.
So, back to the comment I made earlier about the people wearing dead birds on their heads. There were people there who had big, black ostrich feathers on their helmets... It kinda looked like they had dead birds on their head. I'd been told at the start that, as sailors, we were to be a little irreverent and back sass a little... So, when we were being told what we had to do for the upcoming battle I piped up with:
Me:"So, basically, you want us to follow the guy with a dead bird on his head"
Soldier:...."They're Ostrich feathers"
Me:"Looks like a dead bird to me"
Em piped up at this point with this lovely little addition:
Em:Is the ostrich a bird?
Em:And was it dead when the feathers were taken from it?
Em: Then it's a good call. You're wearing a dead bird
Soldier: *pained look*
(He came up to me later in the day at the Afternoon High Tea, where I was dressed as a market girl, smirked, and said it flew away)
Battle itself was loud, noisy, and I slowly learnt to adore that cannon.
The rest of the day was pretty un-eventful. We lazed around the camp (I lay down for a nap 'cause I was tired. My bed...not very comfortable. I was pretty much just sleeping on the hard ground).
The evening was when the real fun began. There were three bands lined up and our group had been asked to run around behind the piper (bagpipes) and get people to make their way to the tavern for free beer and softdrinks. That was fun! We got to run around screaming our heads off trying to encourage people to come to the Tavern.
Justin... he was prancing about like a fairy (drunk as a skunk on mead) to the music. I think he lost most of the mead in his cup by the time we got to our destination.
Once we got everyone to the Tavern (and endured a few Pied Piper of Hamlin comments) we sat around waiting for the first band to start. They were taking their sweet time, so us sailors started singing sea shanties at the top of our lungs. I heard a couple of Christ! The Sailors are at it again! comments (apparently my group did this last year as well).
The band was kinda... painful, so we left after about three songs and congregated around one of our neighbours campfires for the evening singing, drinking, chattering, and just enjoying ourselves.
..... then the first streaker came tearing through the camp screaming something about rabbits.
... I still haven't figured out that one. I did, however, recognise the voice...which was disturbing on so many levels 'cause I saw way more of him than I ever really wanted to!
It brings new meaning to the words "Full Moon".
There was dead silence for a full minute while everyone processed what had just happened.
I reached for the proverbial brain bleach and tried to put the incident out of my mind (I was amused though. It was freezing outside and a few comments were passed about... stuff that shall not be mentioned *evil grin*
About half an hour later two streakers came tearing through the camp screaming Two more streakers from NVG! Evening folks!
Aparently this sort of thing is normal. A couple of the male re-enactors lamented the lack of female streakers to which the girls glared at them.
Not long after that I went to bed. 0.5L of Mead (20% Alcohol) was starting to go to my head.
My wake up call Sunday morning was a cannon.
I shit you not, they fired off a couple of rounds of the cannon to wake everyone up (I thought that was decidedly evil considering 2/3rds of the camp, at least, was severely hung over).
Most of the day went the same as before, only there were a few changes.
1. My housemates and I rolled dice to see what order people would shower when we got home (I won, so I got first shower)
2. They changed the battle up a bit.
On Saturday we, the sailors, hadn't done much during the battle. Just stood around and looked pretty. Sunday, we were to back up the cannon and help defend it when the French came to take it.
This is were my newfound love of the cannon came from. Following that thing around during the battle.
The first time it went off I happened to be looking at a motorboat on the river. I got to watch a lady just about fall over the side clutching her hand to her chest. *grins* Cannon gave her a bit of a fright.
Em and myself were in charge of lugging the box around containing all the black powder for the cannon. It was bloody heavy!
We weren't exactly sure when we were going to loose the cannon (the French were supposed to take it at some point) and when they actually did come to steal it away we were taken completely by surprised. Next thing I know I'm defending myself, waving my Wacky Stick around to block sword shots, pretending to bash French soldiers over the head, screaming as we charged, and then turning tail and running for my life, leaping over fallen bodies until I'm safely behind British lines.
Justin got 'killed' and was laying out in the middle of the field. Em decided that the minute she was close enough to him she was going to steal his shoes...and she did. The crowd thought it was hilarious.
Then I took off and stole his sword ^___^
Then we were charging, screaming and waving swords and sticks and fighting to take back the cannon, which we did (but not before I got smacked on the knuckles by a French sword. Ow).
The battle continued on like this for some time before our General finally got captured and we couldn't rescue him.
Then the French general shot his prisoners (He told us later that he'd warned the organisers that if they changed the battle in mid-fight he was going to shoot his hostages).
I was exhausted by the end of that. I'd had a ball though!
About an hour later the French general grabbed us as we were going for ice-cream. His group was getting some shots done by the professional photographers that were wandering around. He'd come looking for us 'cause he thought our group would appreciate some good photos etc. We grabbed our weapons and ran for the fort. We got some pictures with us around the French general (pretending we'd caught him. We had to look fierce) and then some of just our group. French general's gonna send us our group photos once they're done.
And that was what I got up to this weekend. I was so glad to get home, shower, and get into clothes that I hadn't been wearing for 48 hours *shudder*
One thing I've decided I don't want to do, ever, is play with black powder muskets. One of the re-enactors guns didn't fire. He held it up, gun pointing in the air to check it. Just as he was lowering it, it fired, scorching his lovely white jacket with powder burn.
He's very lucky it didn't explode on him...or do that while his face was near the barrel.