March 2011

3rd March


Gosh - another month off to a standing start! Our week began with a visit to the International Living History Fair on Saturday. If you're in the market for re-enactment goods from any period, this is a great place to go - dozens of high quality traders selling everything from cloth to armour. It was a good venue, too: a vast hangar on the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground at Lutterworth in Leicestershire - very handy from the M1. I was delighted to find myself a perfectly-fitting 15th century archer's sallet - no more borrowing hubcap's! - a new pair of shoes, and cloth for kirtles and head-dresses. Mick also got shoes, and a great pole-arm for the bargain price of £55... then we came over all faint, and had to be taken away before we spent any more money.


Sunday saw us at the Royal Armouries in Leeds for our Frei Compagnie AGM, where we voted in an unprecedented influx of five new probationary members - not bad for a group that doesn't actively recruit! Which left me as Secretary with a lot of writing-up to do on Monday, before I could get on with the business of my working week.

First task was to get on with the press releases for Walk Wakefield - and I've just taken delivery of 100 nice shiny new copies, hot off the press from YPS. So now I can go ahead and tell the world about it - meanwhile getting very excited about launching it at Wakefield Waterstones on the 19th. I'm also looking forward to the 'Sandal Castle in Fact & Fiction' session I'm delivering with Keith Souter the following weekend... and next Friday we're doing a photo-shoot at Sandal Castle to publicise it. So between that, preparations for the TBS Palm Sunday event next month and cracking on with Chapter 11 of the second volume of Lay of Angor, it's all go for Herstory!


8th March


We had a brilliant time at TBS last night: a talk on 'Battlefield Wounds' and medieval medicine by wise woman Jayne Milner - there she is on the right with her assistant Tony from House of Freyja, showing her implements (ooh er, missus) to Frei Compagnie medics Neil and Ellen. Hats off to Jayne for giving us a great show despite being stricken by 'flu (naturally, we couldn't resist the 'physician, heal thyself' gags) - and we're looking forward to seeing her and House of Freyja again at Towton next month.


It wasn't a bad night for Herstory, either - I did a 'pre-launch launch' of Walk Wakefield, and sold a dozen copies! Publicity for the launch is going well, too - it's just been featured on a splendid website called Yorkshire Visitors Guide, which (as the name suggests!) is dedicated to all matters Yorkshire and helping visitors make the most of the county. So news of a guide to the Battle of Wakefield fitted in well - you can read the press release by clicking here and reviews of Walk Wakefield 1460 and Wakefield Revisited should be appearing on the site soon.

me n keith

12th March


Well, it's been another busy week for writing and media-tarting about! Yesterday Keith Souter and I (there we are on the left) went to Sandal Castle to pose with the Friends group for Wakefield Express - a piece on our 'Fact & Fiction' session will come out in next Friday's edition. And Hubcap's got his mugshot in another glossy magazine, as the iconic 'Towton Archer'... one of Roger Keech's marvellous photos has been used to introduce an article called 'A Call to Arms' in the latest issue of Living North - full page, full colour, no less! It always give me a buzz to see my special little soldier in the papers... just a pity it doesn't mention his name (and that he doesn't get modelling fees!!).


Meanwhile things are gearing up for the Walk Wakefield launch - and for the impending hard copy appearance of Gondarlan. I'm in the throes of re-editing the e-book into a paperback version... hoping it'll be ready to hit the shelves sometime this spring. I also have to knuckle down this weekend and get a couple of new head-dresses made for a schools session I'm doing on Thursday - and try to finish a new pair of hose for Mick in time for Palm Sunday. Phew - I often wish we had 26 hours in a day, and 3-day-long weekends!

20th March


This must be one of the busiest and most diverse weeks Herstory has ever had! It kicked off with a day for TBS - working on the programme and re-enactor 'warning orders' for Palm Sunday, then going to Committee in the evening. Tuesday I spent working with Mick... Spring is a madly busy time for him, now everything's growing, the grass needs its first cut of the year, and all the winter jobs have to be finished. So I went to give him a hand, hoeing the moss off a long sweeping drive. It was hard work, but strangely satisfying - bit like shaving the beard off a great big green cheek! Wednesday saw me writing my lesson plan and packing my gear for a schools session with Mick Weaver on Thursday... that was hard work too,

with a class of 25 ten-year-olds to entertain! But (as ever, with schoolchildren) it was marvellous fun - they were so curious and interested in everything we had to show them that our two hours really flew by... they didn't even seem keen to leave when the home-time bell rang, which was nice. And for us, another graphic illustration of the power of objects and costume to engross an audience, whatever their age.


Which brought me to Friday - and lots of good news as I prepared to launch Walk Wakefield! YPS have received bulk orders from Waterstones and the Jorvik Viking Centre shop in York, and it's due to go out live on Amazon tomorrow. It's also received a lovely review on the newly-created 'History Book Corner' on Les Hutton's Yorkshire Visitors Guide website (and if you'd like to view or buy beautiful images of Yorkshire, visit Les's personal site, Hilltop Photo Gallery). And I was hitting the media, too... a great feature and photo with Keith Souter and the Friends of Sandal Castle in Wakefield Express, advertising our 'Fact & Fiction' event on the 26th... and a couple of my articles on Towton have just come out in Yorkshire Ridings Magazine and the Battlefields Trust magazine... all of which put me in a jolly good mood as I mixed up a batch of gingerbread to dress my table at Waterstones!


And the launch went pretty well, too. Accompanied by my faithful archer/bodyguard, we set up our stall (quite appropriately, some might say) in front of the 'Horror' and 'Dark Fantasy' shelves in Waterstones. I didn't count exactly how many books went, but we sold a goodly number of both titles... including 'Walk Wakefield' to a couple of longer-distance visitors, a Richard III Society member from Beverley, and a TBS member who'd come all the way from Preston - I felt very honoured they'd been willing to travel so far! So there we go... Herstory's second history book well and truly launched.

Wakefield 19-3-11 friends group

Photo copyright Wakefield Express, 25/3/2011

27th March


Wowee - what a start for the Friends of Sandal Castle! It certainly exceeded all our expectations... including the Friends who initially set out 27 chairs, hoping it wouldn't be an embarrassing over-provision. Far from it... by the time I strolled in at 2.40, expecting to find a handful of people milling about, they'd all been filled - and more. And more, and more... until we'd used up every chair (and every inch of space) in the Visitor Centre - some poor folk even had to stand at the back! I guess it was largely due to Wakefield Express kindly publicising the event 2 weeks running that we ended up with an audience of over 60 people - we were quite overwhelmed.


Keith kicked off proceedings by talking about his two medieval who-dunnits set around Sandal Castle and Wakefield - I enjoyed the extracts he read so much that I need to get copies now! And it made a good lead-in to my session on the historical facts and fictions surrounding Sandal Castle and the Battle of Wakefield, and the difficulties in trying to tell the difference between them. It all seemed to go down well - but best of all, the event drew attention to this important new Friends group, drew in some new members and raised a good deal of cash for future ventures. Great result all round.

So it was lots of fun, and a privilege to take part... I hope Keith and I might be able to join forces for a similar double-act again at some point! Meanwhile, it's back to work and lots more interesting things coming up... including a talk by author George Goodwin at Wakefield's Drury Lane Library on Wednesday evening, together with a signing session for his excellent new book on Towton, Fatal Colours. Looking forward to that - and I'll try and get a review of Fatal Colours posted on the Review page by the end of April. But for now I'm off to stitch my husband's gusset (of the new pair of hose I'm making him, I hasten to add!).