Medieval riding day

Last Sunday we were planning to have an SCA event for our local Goulburn Okewaite group.  Alas, the SCA didn’t get its equestrian insurance together in time, so it ended up as a private riding practice at my place.

In some SCA kingdoms, they do fabulous equestrian stuff.  In Australia, there is almost nothing happening.  So we’re making it up as we go along.  We have done horseback javelins, archery and flag-twirling.  Thankfully we have very accommodating horses.

Fortunately we found the woderful Jan, who has been giving us lessons on technique and safety.  BTW, we use helmets when training, but took them off for some of the photo shots.

Paulie (the horse in my photo, above) is my horse — a really lovely beast.  The other horses are Jan’s.

Here’s some more photos (click to expand any of them):

The photos are from our wonderful Finnish wwoofer, Joonas, except the one of Allison (Lady Alys), which is by Merrewenne.

The ute is out

* The weekend’s events were great.  I’ll do a separate post on these when I get the photos. *

Visitors to Cockatrice Farm, and past wwoofers, will remember that we have a farm “ute” (utility vehicle, what Americans would call a small pickup truck).

The ute was old and cheap when we bought it, and it has done sterling service carting our rubbish to the tip, picking up feed for the animals, and we’ve allowed many wwoofers to drive it into town.

It has also been a useful backup vehicle when our main car, the Camry, has been serviced.  And when Allison works from home, she can go into town at the end of the day, before I get home.

Alas, the Camry died suddenly on 25 April, and none of the garages and auto-electricians in Goulburn have yet been able to fix it.  Something about an unexplained electrical fault burning out the coils in the motor, but we’re not mechanics so it might as well be a mugwumpeter impeller failure for all we know.

So for the last month the ute has been the major means of transport.  It’s pretty cludgey, and not fun driving into Canberra and back.  It only has two seats, which presents difficult logistics problems when my son Owen is staying with us, and when we are doing medieval events, like last weekend.

This morning, I drove to Canberra in heavy rain.  I discovered that the ute leaks, and sends a continuous trickle of freezing water into your accelerator foot.  I had to pull over, take off my shoe, wring out my sock, and drive in bare feet.  For an hour.

So the ute is officially sacked.  It will live out its life watering trees and collecting firewood around the property.

I would quite like to get a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, with at least 4 seats and the capacity to tow a horse float if needed.  There are plenty of second-hand ones about, at about $10,000 each, which is more than I wanted to spend in a year where we will be travelling overseas.

Hopefully something closer to $5000 will turn up soon.

Upcoming Okewaite events

This coming weekend is our “Taste of the Middle Ages” feast, preceded by a tournament and a medieval crafts exhibition.  This event is aimed at newcomers to the SCA.

The Sunday was to have been our first “Destrier” equestrian event (a destrier was a medieval warhorse).  Unfortunately, the SCA is still organising equestrian insurance, so this will now be an unofficial training session.

Next year, we’ll likely run a 2-day Destrier event instead.  Our Okewaite event calendar is now getting quite full.

At present, we have no regular events from January to April, so I’m proposing that we do a viking-theme event in February.  We have been invited to use the Danelaw site, which is not far from us and belongs to a metal-weapons group.

Perhaps we could also hold a winter arts collegium next year – I suggest at the Goulburn Club, which has space and a bar and warm wood fires.

The entire SCA populace of the Southern Highlands (Hi Sorle!) has petitioned to join Okewaite.  This means we should hold at least one feast there a year, if we can find someone to run it (Hi Sorle!).

Our “Ilkla Moor” campfire cooking event is a bit earlier this year, September rather than November, and we’ll have a war muster and archery with it.  And an equestrian display, as we need a second horse event each year to sustain interest.

In spring, we’ll be running weekly fighting demonstrations in town, so I think we need a formal feast at the end of the year.  I have proposed that we run a feast in the time of the young Henry VIII, the foremost renaissance prince in Europe.  I have sounded out Sir Torg from Rowany (Sydney) about running the kitchen as one of his famed “More Meat” feasts.  Again, this could easily become an annual event.

So our Okewaite events calendar should look something like:

  • February, viking event at Danelaw
  • (March and April – Rowany Festival takes up this period)
  • May – Destrier equestrian event
  • June – an arts & sciences collegium
  • July – “Medieval Christmas in July” run for the Goulburn Club
  • August – a Scottish (?) theme event in the Southern Highlands – perhaps Hogmonay?
  • September – the Ilkla Moor War
  • (October – we go off to Spring War in Mordenvale/Newcastle)
  • November – a “More Meat” feast with a renaissance theme
  • December – let’s not.

Actually it’s not my decision which events we run.  That’s up to Allison (as Seneschal) as advised by our local group meeting, the Leet Court.  So I’m really lobbying here.

That’s a pretty ambitious program for a little group.  But it would be a well-balanced calendar with broad appeal over the year.  It’s hard to say where we could drop an event without losing momentum or diminishing an aspect of the group.

Three more SCA couples have now bought houses in Goulburn, and Sorle is nearby too, so we should have the capacity to sustain this list.

Would love some comments on this events list!

Made by a monster

This was the weekend of May Crown, when the SCA chooses the next king and queen by Right of Arms.

This will be long remembered because it was the Mother’s Day weekend, and Edmund of Shotley (from Queensland) won the tournament, fighting for his mother.  They will be crowned King and Queen in New Zealand in July.

Each kingdom event has an arts and sciences competition with it.  This time there were some great entries.  Allison made some headgear based on some paintings, and our friend Jochen entered some fine gauntlets (hand armour) that he had made.

In the blacksmithing section, we entered the ‘field kitchen’ that we had made for Rowany Festival.  You’ll see it in the pictures from the Pumpkin Festival last weekend.

This gear was made by a fellow at my work, whose name is Daryl but who likes to be called ‘Monster’.  He’s a tall and imposing military person, but quite charming in person.

Our field kitchen was based on one by House Abbotsford, the really period encampment in the SCA.  There are some great photos of their setup here, and it’s well worth following that link.

So the interesting thing about this competition was that the Abbotsford field kitchen was entered too, as well as some interesting smaller pieces like a blacksmith’s bellows and a drilling auger.

Monster’s gear won the competition, so now we have the most fabulous field kitchen in the kingdom!  And Monster is going to add some pieces before its next outing in September.

We’re now getting quite good at campfire cooking.  It’s quite tricky getting the heat right all the way through a dish.

Some of our pots, and a frying skillet, are made from pottery.  They need to be soaked in a bucket of water before each event.  I like to use these very gently, and do half the cooking by steaming rather than boiling.

Our big potjie pot is fabulous unless you overheat it, and we’re hoping to get another soon.

The old-fashioned camp ovens are great for bread, and I might try some pies next time.  You have to remember to put coals on top about halfway through, to give you a nicely browned lid.

I’m putting together a recipe book for campfire cooking, as a resource for Rowany Festival and our Ilkla Moor event.  If you go to the very earliest cookbooks, from the 1300s, much of their cooking was done on the campfire, so they are a great source.

At the Pumpkin Festival

Sunday was the Collector Pumpkin Festival, and our local SCA group Okewaite had a demonstration there.

We put up our two most medieval tents, the new round tent with the Latin inscription on it, and the 2-pole tent with the ivy on the roof.  And we set up a campfire with all our flash ironwork.

People generally arrived in groups, to be met by Allison brandishing an enormous purple carrot.  Carrots, of course, should be purple or white or yellow, not these dangerous new orange carrots.

Allison had a fourteenth-century kitchen set up on a table, and she took people through the thing we were cooking: a beef stew, a cherry pottage, and bread baked in a camp oven.  She was just like Jamie Oliver, after a sex change and a transposition to the Middle Ages.

After that, we dragged people off to our Arts and Sciences display tent, where Gretchen, Tig and Sarah demonstrated several crafts and talked about many more.

The kids went off to try on our armour.  I’m speaking broadly there, as half the kids were men in their early twenties.  Will and Jochen and Joonas were kept busy with this.  The real youngsters then went to Pinkerbelle (Amanda) who had them designing and colouring shields using our vinyl heraldic templates.

There were a lot of people interested in our activities, and some of them got to sample our food.  Which, it was generally agreed, was very tasty.  Though the purple carrots had managed to dye the stew a deep indigo colour.  Which was still the case the next day on the way out …