July 2012

July 10th


After a week of truly Biblical rains, we looked forward to the Kirkby Wharfe Village Gala on Saturday 7th with some trepidation. Would it be cancelled? Would the field be too waterlogged to set up the Frei Compagnie camp? Fortunately, the answer to both questions was 'No' - we arrived in misty coolness to find the nearby River Wharfe still safe behind its banks, and only one bog on the field - which Alex and I (see left) simply had to paddle in! Then, to everyone's great relief, the mist burned off, the sun came out and we all had a fantastic day. 'Newbie' Pete Lawton brought along his splendid stripy pavilion to house the weapon displays - his own impressive kit, plus Dave Moss's fantastic array of crossbows - though (thanks to a lost rivet and sadly drooping pauldron), minus Stuart (Lord Clifford's) full armour. We also had a yummy food display and goodly show of textile crafts, courtesy of Alex and Dawn; the Towton Battlefield Society pavilion; and a fine squad of archers and infantry to put on our firepower shows, give have-a-go archery lessons and lead the kiddies' bill-drill. And just before the obligatory downpour put a brief damper on our packing-up proceedings, we managed to end the day with a little silliness - as you'll see below!

DSCN1315 DSCN1323 DSCN1319 DSCN1326

                      Master Weaver drills his troops                                          Fun in the sun - the 2012 Kirkby Wharfe squad                                            Our lads cry, 'Thrang!'


                     Below: a fine Frei Compagnie army musters....                                                                                                  ...to lay siege to Kirkby Wharfe Castle!

DSCN1328 DSCN1330 DSCN1332

15th July


Yesterday, I rounded off a week of better weather than we've had for months with a real treat: conducting a group from the Hull branch of the Richard III Society (left) around some Battle of Towton sites. We started off with the condensed battlefield tour: a short walk from Dacre's Cross to Bloody Meadow, for people to see the best overview of the battlefield, and the ground where the battle came to its gruesome climax. The we repaired to the Crooked Billet for a 'comfort break' (and to wait out a passing shower) before going on to St Mary's  chapel across the road - after which they kindly obliged me by standing on that sheep-poo-strewn pavement for a group photo! A great group and a truly delightful afternoon - I picked up all sorts of interesting snippets about Hull, Beverley and their links to the Wars of the Roses, and hope that I'll be able to go over and speak to them there/take in some sights in the process (and persuade Towton Battlefield Society to organise an 'away-day' to Beverley next year).

Then it was back to Wakefield, where The Lay of Angor is going great guns! The penultimate chapter has been written at (for me) breakneck speed - a good first draft completed since Tuesday - and it had Hubcap laughing out loud when I read it to him. (It was quite a hot one, too - Lay of Angor living up to its name!). So I'm all geared up for the next - then sorting out a frontispiece and cover - and then Breath of Gaia will be ready to prepare (alongside Gondarlan) for e-book release. I'm also hoping Breath will be out in paperback by New Year 2013, to please the small body of fans awaiting its appearance in hard copy - so altogether, it's exciting times for Herstory.


22nd July


This week started with a real surprise: a call from TV company Definition Media, inviting me to take part in a programme about Towton! They're making a series of six documentaries on the history of warfare, which of course wouldn't be complete without a look at Britain's biggest and bloodiest battle... so on Wednesday I was back at Dacre's Cross to meet director/camera-man James Fowler, sound engineer Brian and presenter Karl Ude-Martinez (there they are from left to right in the pic, checking the link they'd just filmed).


Thanks to previous work with Roger Keech (not to mention all the other media interviews, posing sessions and general public yakking that come with the TBS/Frei Compagnie turf), I'm not exactly

camera-shy... and this turned out to be a fascinating morning. With a microphone stuck to my chest under my TBS t-shirt, I really enjoyed chatting with Karl about the battle as we walked up and down the lane; doing different takes from different angles; and going through it all again, making expressive gestures, for the voice-over bits and what they called the 'noddy' shots (Karl listening to me and nodding wisely!). Once again, it made me appreciate how much goes into even a simple piece of filming, including time - I was staggered to look at my watch and find we'd been working for nearly three hours to record just a couple of scenes (which will end up as a few minutes of the finished programme). Another unexpected bonus was that they had permission to film down in Bloody Meadow... so for the first time, I actually clambered down that precipitous slope I've so often looked at and told walkers about:

DSCN1341 DSCN1339

I think everyone was amazed by its steepness - it was hard enough to keep our footing even in the lush conditions you see in the pictures above (with James on the right, hoofing back up after filming the view running down!), let alone as it would have been in the snowy, icy conditions that prevailed at the time of the battle. A salutary experience - and as a middle-aged woman with a wonky hip, I could only be grateful that they let me off scrambling all the way down to Cock Beck. Setting foot on that once blood-saturated hillside certainly gave me food for thought as I was driving home afterwards... and I'm looking forward to seeing how the morning's work turns out in the finished product - watch this space for news on the screening (which will probably be in 2013).