Blimey - can you believe it - this was us, four years ago! Yup, another wedding anniversary has just passed... how time flies when you're having fun. The unseasonably warm weather we had at the end of September reminded me a lot of our 'wedding weekend' back in 2007, when I was sweating in half a stone of wool gown in that gloriously unexpected Indian summer...
But coming back to the present, would you like to help Towton Battlefield Society win £3500+ in the NatWest Community Force Programme? It's a project to recognise and support the work of local charities, and TBS has made it through to the final round... so please vote, and help us win it! All you have to do is log on to this link at NatWest which should take you straight to a map of Britain. Enter Towton in the box; this raises a symbol on the map; click on it, and it'll take you to the Towton file. Click on that, and then on 'Read More'; then click on 'Register' at the top of the screen and follow the instructions. You will receive a confirmation email containing a link that allows you to vote.
It may be a tad long-winded... but if you could spare a little of your time to work through it and cast a vote for TBS, you could help the Society win valuable funds to help develop our new display space at the Rockingham Arms!
If you're interested in military history, the Royal Armouries in Leeds is the place to go for a day out. The collections - including Henry VIII's famous jousting helmet, used as the Leeds Armouries logo - are mind-boggling... not that we got much chance to see them on Sunday! We were kept pretty busy all day by a steady stream of visitors to the TBS stall and displays we'd set up outside the hall where the KDF sword seminar was being held (there's Alex on the right, weaving on her box loom at our table, and a pair of Micks on the left with their weaponry).
KDF stands for Kunst des Fechtens or 'The Art of Fighting', and is based on combat manuals which have survived since the 15th century. Our star Frei Co swordsmen Dean and Stuart both train with KDF and the European Historical Combat Guild, and classes are held every week at the Armouries - so if you'd like to try your hand at medieval combat, click here for more information!
And here you can see what a class looks like... some delegates practicing with the sword and buckler, a weapon combination commonly used during the Wars of the Roses. That's not their only fighting technique - although KDF and EHCG place a lot of emphasis on the longsword, members also train with daggers and pole-arms, as well as learning unarmed combat. So it's a comprehensive martial art - and unlike historical re-enactment, you don't have to get into costume to do it!
All a bit too up-close-and-personal for me, though. I prefer being an archer, lobbing missiles at a nice safe distance from the enemy - then legging it if anyone comes anywhere near me with a sharp pointy bit of metal!
After another week spent very 'appley', Mick and I feel like a pair of smug squirrels as we survey our stock of goodies put away for winter and beyond (see right!). Thanks to Mick's clients and numerous wild trees in the area, we have a huge supply of apples, both cookers and eaters. So I've been boiling them up into jam, feeding us on bramble n' apple crumble, and on Sunday we got the fruit press out and squished another 20-odd pounds down into 4.5 litres of juice. We debated about pasteurising it to increase its shelf-life - but opted instead to stick it straight in the freezer, along with the soft fruits, green and broad beans, and fresh tomato soup we've accumulated over the summer. Meanwhile the cider Hubcap made last month has cleared beautifully, although it won't be drinkable until next autumn... but that big rumtopf full of plums in rum syrup will be ready for Christmas!
Apart from the pleasure and satisfaction of our home brewing and preserving, the added bonus is that while we pay for the sugar, liquors and electricity, all the bulk raw materials have been completely FREE - homegrown, gleaned from the wild, or happily given by folk whose fruit trees produce more than they can use. So it still works out cheaper... supermarkets charge c. £1 for a small punnet of blackberries, which you can pick for yourself in great profusion from any old bramble patch. You might pay more than £1 for a jar of
L - R: sloe gin, frozen apple juice and rumtopf of plums, with jars of spiced apple cheese and pear n' ginger jam in front
'special', high-fruit jam, whereas I can get 3 jars for less than the price of a kilo bag of sugar; and while a litre of pure fresh fruit juice will set you back around £1.50 in the shops, ours cost us zip, apart from a bit of pleasant shared labour. And of course there are no hidden nasties - no artificial flavours or colours, no saccharine, no E-numbers - just fresh fruits, sugar and spices. So everything's chock-full of vitamins, tastes wonderful - and it's all there for the taking. Yes, countless tons of perfectly usable fruit (apart from what the birds, bugs and beasties eat) simply rots every year in this country... for instance, from the countless fruit trees planted for ornament by gardeners or local councils which are seldom if ever harvested. And considering our population now tops 66 million, of whom many are feeling the pinch in the present economic climate, this seems to me like a criminal waste - not to mention cruel to the poor productive trees, which frequently break or lose branches under their massive burdens of unpicked bounty. But it won't be there for much longer - winter draws on - so get out there, and get picking!