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Phew! I've just completed a mammoth 'sew-a-thon', trying to finish my most ambitious medieval garment to date: this Yorkist azure-and-murrey livery jacket for Hubcap. It took 1 metre of each wool and 1 metre of linen lining, and it's finished with archaeological-replica pewter buttons all bought at the re-enactors' market in October. As Mick wanted it exactly the same design and size as his old, very battered but much beloved jacket, I traced the pattern pieces directly from that, then hand-stitched the whole thing together. This was not good news for Henry Wowler, who couldn't understand why mummy-cat was ignoring him in favour of doing something that involved threads he wasn't allowed to chase (there he is on the left, not helping at all as I lay the garment out to pin the collar on). But despite Henry's interventions, I finished it in the nick of time to enter for Towton Battlefield Society's annual Towton Arrow contest (won by Mick in 2012), which this year had the theme of 'Medieval Crafts'.
Alas, the trophy didn't come home with us again - it was scooped by fellow Frei Compagnie member Alex Harrison, with a most gorgeous embroidered purse. Still, entering it for the competition was a great incentive to actually get it done, and I greatly enjoyed it... it's the first garment I've made for a while, and possibly my best attempt apart from Mick's hose. It was also interesting to discover that even entirely hand-stitched, it only took about 3 full days of work from start to finish - and if I was a better seamstress and had more idea of what I was doing, it would have been made even quicker!
The Doggetts' double-act hit the road again last week: here we are at the Christmas meeting of Thorne Local History Society, delivering a nicely-topical session on the Battle of Wakefield (its 553rd anniversary is on the 30th December). As you can see, we went in costume - and as ever, Mick's section on 'Arming the Archer' went down a storm, with the usual gasps of amazement at the weight of his padded jack!
I was in kit again on Sunday for the annual carol singing at St Mary's, Lead - where for the first time in my life, I sang solo in public, performing the 15th - 16th century sacred song 'Gaudete' ('Rejoice'). It's always been a favourite of mine, but I was too nervous to sing it as well as I'd have liked - still, people seemed to enjoy a period-piece, and joining in with the chorus.
My moment of musical glory followed hard on the heels of a particularly splendid festive outing to the Crooked Billet. We sacrificed our morning archery to rehearse 'The Death of Richard III', the battle vignette which will form the finale to the the Battle of Wakefield commemoration event at Sandal Castle on Sunday 29th (see the Frei Compagnie and Events pages for further details). On the right, Mick has just driven Wayne (King Richard) to his knees with a glancing cut to the back of the head, so that Stu can step in to make a rather clumsy stab at the top of his head (on the day, the assailant delivering this blow will be using a dagger rather than a sword!). We're looking forward to the event and keeping fingers firmly crossed that bad weather doesn't spoil it - if you fancy coming along, check the Sandal Castle Facebook page for any updates or changes to the programme.
After that it was into the pub for a cracking Christmas lunch of turkey with all the trimmings (forcement stuffing, pigs in blankets, Yorkshire pud, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, carrots, baby parsnips and lovely crisp sprouts), followed by Christmas pud in brandy sauce. Just the thing to get me in the mood to pop off a few post-prandial arrows before repairing to St Mary's for the carol singing!
Well, all the cards got written and sent, and the presents wrapped and put under our tiny tree (left). Yes, we had one again this year - our first since Henry Wowler took up residence - because he's now outgrown (in every sense) his tendency to poo in plant-pots, and (luckily) took no interest whatsoever in trying to climb it or play with the ornaments. And now the gifts are all exchanged and unwrapped, the turkey eaten, the chocolates disappearing fast... and after all the excitement, Christmas receding for another 12 months. Hope you had as good a time as we did, including receiving the presents you asked Santa for - in our case, a cordless electric drill for Hubcap and a food processor for me, (ah, the joys of middle age!), while Mr. Wowler got some cat treats and a play-dispenser, a new catnip toy to replace the last one he tore to shreds, and a bag of low-calorie Royal Canin kibbles to try and help him shed a couple of pounds (fortunately he seems very fond of it).
So now I'm looking forward to trying out my new toy, making some medieval dishes for our Battle of Wakefield commemoration at Sandal Castle on Sunday (see Events for more details). Currently, the weather forecast looks set to be fair, if cold and breezy, so we shouldn't have to cancel for snow; and since the event's been getting good coverage in the local press and on the Sandal Castle Facebook page, we may be in for a bumper turnout! I just hope we've laid in enough chocolate coins to pay our 'recruits' in the bill-drill... either way, a report on proceedings will be my first post of January 2014. Meanwhile, in case we don't see you at the Castle on Sunday, let me wish you a very Happy New Year - have a good one!