So while this blog was just a twinkle in my eye, I knew that there would be a hefty Hastings related post. It always felt like such a huge occasion for myself, Himself and our friends for lots of different reasons.
Reason 1 – 950th Anniversary
For those who aren’t in the know (or haven’t done the maths) this year marked the 950th anniversary of the battle of Hastings. A nice round number and a ‘I was there’ moment. Lets see if we’re still around in 50 years for the big one. Also lots of excitement as Himself was taking part, which I always think I’ll enjoy, but when it comes to it I start getting very anxious for his welfare.
Reason 2 – Holiday!
I got to stay with and catch up with some lovely people. Its hard having friends who live a fair way away, so its nice to make the most of it. Also our tradition is to have cream tea whenever we see each other, and who doesn’t look forward to cake? It was also lovely to be away from the leaky house, away from work and seeing new places. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest.
Reason 3 – Mammoth crafting opportunity
Oh where to start with the crafting opportunities! I often feel it’s a battle between chores and work Vs the crafting I need/want to get done. I find myself setting aside rewards.. do the washing up and you can sit down for an hour to play with this. I’m not sure it’s a good work ethic. The wonderful thing about this trip was that I had lots of time on the books.. with nothing to do. Nowhere to be, nothing to wash, nothing to feel guilty about. That’s how a proper holiday should be isn’t it? To begin with I had in total 10 hours journey time, a full day and 2 nights, where I had to be polite and have conversations, of course, but my hands were completely free. Beautiful. I began the task or organising the planned presents into what I could travel with, and what I had to concentrate on. I also had to be strict and not take EVERYTHING. That was difficult.
Anyway, I’ve decided that while I cant tell you what projects I’m working on, I can categorise them and call them something else, hopefully making it easier to understand – for my sanity more than anything! So here we are:
A2 –the one that I’ve been chaining (excuse the pun) to get finished.
C4 – Actually a family of presents but we’ll count it as one
D4 – Need to learn a completely new craft for..
Not too much then! Some are nearly complete, some just started, some not even prepared for or decided on. In true me fashion I started planning a month in advance to maximise efficiency. A1 + 2 for the journeys, with C1 + 2 for when I could sit down and concentrate. I also decided to start some Christmas garlands – which I can show you! – for times where I didn’t want to take big heavy things around to cold muddy places. I had a feeling there’d be a lot of that going on.
I slaved for weeks to get aida cut, colours chosen, charts and patterns in order and everything as blocked and joined as possible. And then plans changed. I really hate it when plans change. To top it all off I managed to pick up a hideous cold the weekend before. My first weekend off in months and I wake up with a cold. Great. Soldiering on was required.
Himself also decided that he needed a new kit before he went. Usually with an unstoppable runny nose, no energy and an already full plate he would have been thrown a selection of swear words and shown some fingers, but again I worry, and I wouldn’t want him to be cold, so we set to work.
I always have more trouble than I think I will with these ones. There are no proper patterns. The society gives you some instruction, but it was clearly written by someone who’s never made a garment before. Many tiffs ensued. Himself on the side of the society pattern Vs me with my dressmaking teacher’s words pouring out of my mouth. In the end (and it always happens like this..) I had to pin an old tunic to the fabric and cut around, with directions of ‘this need to be longer’ and ‘this needs to be smaller’. I’m not sure how, but we didn’t explode and actually got a tunic and hood turned out in time. You won’t be able to see, and I’m not one to toot my own horn, but those sleeves are perfection. When I was going to dressmaking classes I used to dread sleeves, I just couldn’t do them. I always ended up with excess fabric or nicks or just being completely misaligned. Something seems to have switched on in my head however. I hope it stays on for next time I want to make a dress!
After putting our start day back to the Friday due to my germs, we set out. Everything finished, everything packed, pets fed and waived goodbye to, all the plugs taken out of their sockets.
We made good time, and I was deposited while Himself went to camp, scrap but mostly get drunk. By all accounts drinking was all that happened. I settled in with my hosts and some stitching. Tasty food was consumed and we put Beauty and the Beast on. Perfect. My copy has gone missing and I’d been having cravings so I was overjoyed. We’d all been struck down with the hideous cold and knew that we had a busy weekend so a sensible early night was decided on. I still had to finish a row and a colour block before bed of course. But much nicer to be crafting than putting washing out to dry!
A lazy morning, a wander round Reading and scones were the agenda for the day, so we decided to catch up on Bake Off. I don’t watch Bake off usually (Don’t be too shocked, we watch very little live telly), but every time I catch it I wonder why, because I always enjoy it. Especially this one – the pies episode. Love a pie (having pie for tea tonight in fact!). It also gave us the bright idea to go to Sweeney & Todd to pick some up for later.
We headed in to town with time to spare before our reservation for tea and I was ushered towards some mystery shops that my hosts thought I would like. On the way we went to get pie supplies, and round the way we encountered this pub..
.. Now feel free to call me a child, but this made me giggle so much I had to take a picture of it. It’s the little things eh? Anyway on to the mystery shops. We rounded a corner on to a little side street to find a fabric shop (didn’t catch the name) filled to the brim, and better still, a wool shop (again the name escapes me) right next door. They know me well.. very well it seems. Conscious not to bore my generous hosts by spending hours in each, I scanned everything sharpish. As you may be aware, funds are tight so I didn’t want to get anything unless it was absolutely essential. Absolutely essential of course is a relative term. I’ve been on the lookout for the new Stylecraft sock yarn Head Over Heels, but alas nothing there. I did find this King Cole which was beautiful. Just imagine what those socks would look like. I also found this James C. Brett Fairground DK which I feel in love with. My biggest regret of the weekend was not buying anything. I wanted to be good and sensible and not spend any money. Maybe it’s a sign of my generation but I assumed I could buy it online. But no! I’m continuing the search but if anyone finds it please let me know. It’ll only end up in the list of my projects to do, but I’d like it there all the same.
On to tea! I didn’t realise how lucky we were in Cardiff to have so many wonderful independent tea shops. I was disappointed by the pick in Windsor and Reading, but we eventually landed on Pattisserie Valerie in Reading. Heres the money shot.
Overall rating : 7 out of 10
Which isn’t bad really, given the calibre of the other teas we’ve had. Reasonable price and lots there. Scones were a bit small and we could have done with more cream. They also did a lovely chicken, tomato and pesto sandwich which was a lovely change. I don’t drink tea or coffee so usually have a hot chocolate. This is always hit and miss. It seems frustrating that you’d get unlimited tea but not other hot drinks. I also decided to pay the extra 65p for cream, but ended up with only half a cup of hot chocolate and the rest froth and cream! A swizz if you ask me. In fairness they did give us tea for 4 for the price of 3, so all’s well in the end. Stuffed and satisfied we took a jaunt around reading town, a long queue in Primark, then back for delicious pies. Another early night (after extra bedtime crafting) ready for the bulky day to follow.
We set off at 7.15 (not so) bright and (very) early and worried about the rain that had appeared overnight. We’d prepared with wellies, macs, camping chairs and lots of layers, but no one likes the prospect of a soggy day. I feel that I should apologise for those in the back with me as despite being squished together I still managed (insisted) to have A2 on my lap. Oh the joy when we got there when we could stretch our legs and have our pre-prepared bacon sandwiches. And the rain had stopped! We ventured into Battle town (as the original battle didn’t actually happen at Hastings!) to collect tickets and see what was going on. What a lovely little place. We’ll have to go back when it’s not full of reenactors trying to sneakily buy painkillers.
On to the battlefield!
You could feel the excitement as we entered the main event site – and not just because of the mead samples that were in every English Heritage shop. First things first, shopping. We had a quick check on the food concessions so we could all plan our lunches then on to the re-enactment stalls to see what was about. What a range! Of course there was some things that were alien to me, but I was pleased with myself that I knew what most of it was. Then to the big sit. I was advised that it was important to get a good position at the side of the arena, park the camping chair and then hold the space at all costs. Hold them we did. We took turns to use the (surprisingly good) facilities and wait in the queue for grub. Luckily there was a falconry display while I was queuing for my rabbit burger. I don’t mind queuing if I’m kept entertained.
And then time for the battle itself! This was about the time that I started to get worried that Himself would lose a finger, or an arm. Or maybe an arrow in the eye. You never know, it could happen. I took a lot of videos during the event but not many pictures annoyingly, so I’ve had to borrow some. I’ll leave this enormous post with some pictures of the goings on. Himself will be in there somewhere. You’re looking for a guy in a helmet with a beard.