The World According To Fred #2 – Camping

So, HJ loves camping. She will find any excuse to grab her gear and go to live in a field for a few days. HJ is a member of Scout Network, which, over here in England is a group for young people aged 18-25, male, female or otherwise who still want to continue scouting, without having to become a young leader unless they really want to. It’s basically Scouts for adults. HJ also, as you all know, is a reenactor, which she has only started recently. She will have a modern sleeping bag, and a modern pillow/blanket, but other than that, she lives as if she is from the year 1815, as a camp follower/sutler. As I’m modern (teddy bears like myself didn’t appear until Roosevelt) I don’t get to see HJ at work. But she has shown me photos of life on camp that she took for this blog, so I do get the general gist of what it’s all about.

But the subject of this week’s blog post is about the joys of actually camping. I’m a creature who likes my creature comforts. I like being in a nice warm house, with tea that boils right away when I want it to, with television and radio, not to mention the internet. I like the Xbox, and I like going to the wine cupboard with the other toys for a drink, especially with Hatch and Derpy. So when I see HJ bring out the camp bag and the sleeping bag, my heart sinks. It means a long journey, usually stuffed in a bag for ever and a day, and then, on arrival, being dumped into a tent whilst HJ runs off to either make herself useful or to find something to eat. And then I have to sit in a cold tent for ages, bored out of my wits. Usually HJ will turn off her Kindle and mobile phone to save battery power for the journey home, and I can’t stand her reading material. Gah! Then, night will draw in, and HJ will return to the tent, yawning as she fumbles with the wind up torch to light the inside of the tent. Then she will change into her pyjamas, and toss me aside whilst she wriggles for ages to get into her sleeping bag.

I hate sleeping bags. Seriously, you get squished, and you either fall out of the sleeping bag because you were not put in properly, or you end up slipping all the way to the foot of the sleeping bag, thus being trodden on and being practically suffocated. Then it all happens again the next night, right up until you finally pack up and go home.

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Back to the Present!

I’ve been back home from Chalke Valley for a day now, and am attempting to adjust back to civilian life away from camp.

Friday was great, as I was able to get to camp with my tent fully pitched up and ready to move in to. I met some of the gentlemen who I would be spending the weekend with, before grabbing a bite to eat and a pint of cider, before turning in for the night.

Saturday involved me getting into costume for the first day of camp. The kettle was on the fire when I got out of the tent, and some of the other members of the regiment began to arrive, with the food for the weekend. We cooked bacon over the fire, prepared the tea, and got ready for the day ahead. I hadn’t expected for the weather to be so hot and sunny, to be honest, so I hadn’t packed suncream or after sun, so I was rather horrified at the sight of my rather red arms as the day progressed. I helped cook, clean and keep camp organised.

Then Ian Hislock and a camera crew from BBC Two showed up, and asked if they could film us sat around the fire whilst Ian did a piece to camera. Ten or so attempts later, whilst the fire blazed like mad, and the sun beamed down stronger, didn’t make things comfortable for us. But after the guys got back from drill, it was over. Apparently I will get an email to let me know when the documentary they were making will go on air, so I will let you all know about that. Ian even gave us a regimental autograph to thank us for helping the production out.

There was a skirmish between the British and French troops on Saturday, but it wasn’t as great as we would of liked, although the clear skys made for clear views of the event at hand.

I popped to the market that was selling all sorts of wonderful things, and I managed, with the little money I had left, to purchase a reticle, which is basically a little handbag on a string to hold basic little items, in my case, antibacterial gel and my debit card. Which was great when two of us went off to get some money out for spending. That was a story in itself, when the search for a cash machine nearly became an almighty adventure.

After a delicious three course meal, we popped over to the beer tent for a pint of ale, before turning in with a borrowed reindeer fur (it was rather odd to be sleeping on Rudolph!) for the night.

The next day involved a lot more shopping! I picked up a sponge suitable for the Barber Surgon’s handling table for work, as well as some naturally dyed wool and bone knitting needles. I sampled and purchased some horse and beef jerky, and found some herbal cream good for sun burn that is light enough to put onto your face. I then bought a canvas satchel for my reenactment kit ready for other events.

After a wonderful shopping spree, I bought some lemonade, and made my way back to camp ready for the reenactment of the Battle of Victoria 1813. It was wonderful to watch, all the smoke from the shot guns, the bangs from the firing Brown Bess muskets. Drums and flutes played as men went down on both sides, with commentary from historians peppering the action without distracting too much from the battle at hand.

After that, the camps closed to the public, so we could get on with breaking camp. I rang Josh to ask him about arrangements for after I got back into Portsmouth, and then discovered that we were off to a barbecue straight away. We left at around six o clock, and got home around quarter to eight. It sure felt odd to be back home, and I already began missing everyone in the regiment. Although I was looking forward to the nice shower and warm bed…

My next event is Kelmarsh, the biggest Living History Festival in the UK, run by English Heritage. Apparently it is the best event for shopping for reenactment equipment, and is also great for finding out more about historical reenactment! Also I will know more of what to look out for and what to pack!

Now I have a shopping list for next camp! But, for the meantime, here are some photos I took whilst in camp!

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Dinner being cooked

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The walkway from camp

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MY TENT!

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Fred enjoying a quiet weekend

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Inside my Tent (more spacious than a one person modern tent)

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My reticle

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The guys at work!

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Battle

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Ian Hislock and production team

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Camp being packed away

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The after math…

I’m Off to Camp!

I have mentioned briefly about the Chalke Valley History Festival that I am being invited to by the Coldstream Guards Regiment 1815, to be a fellow reenactor for the weekend! And I leave tomorrow!

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(Property of cvhf.co.uk)

It will be a whole weekend of living as I would of done as an apprentice sutler on camp alongside the Coldstone Foot Regiment during the Napoleonic Wars. I had to look that role up online, and apparently the sutler was somone who would sell non military goods to the soldiers of the regiment. I will eat food cooked in the 1815 way, sleep in a tent that they would of slept in, although I will have a modern sleeping bag and camp bed, as well as Fred (just packed him, is not impressed). I will wear clothes from the period and partake in the activities that I would of done in the day.

I’ve packed my main bag, and am about to pack my backpack. When my housemate gets back from college today, we will pop out to get me some stuff for a packed tea. I’ve booked the weekend off of work, but will have to book myself in for tomorrow during the day, as my lift isn’t going to get to me until 6.30pm.

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The whole thing is very, very exciting. I remember seeing the festival being advertised in the paper left on the table in the staffroom at the museum. As a History Nerd, I was rather keen to go, but didn’t think I would be able to get up there, or to stay for even a couple of days. I thought nothing more about it until the group got in touch with me to invite me to go with them.

Of course I said yes!

So, tonight will be the final night in 2013 for this weekend, because tomorrow, I shall go to bed in a period tent, in 1815. On Saturday I will wake up there, and won’t leave until Sunday evening.

Just need to find Pride and Prejudice to get me in the mood!

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Oh, found it!