On Ilkla Moor again…

Last weekend was our “On Ilkla Moor” medieval weekend.  Ilkla (or Ilkley) moor is a wet and cold place in Yorkshire, about which there is a silly song in a strong Yorkshire dialect.  If you go courting on Ilkla moor without a hat, you’ll no doubt catch a cold and die.  Then we’ll bury thee, the worms will eat you up, the ducks will eat up the worms, then we’ll eat the ducks, then we’ll have etten thee.

This is our annual event in experimental campfire cooking.  We take recipes more than 600 years old, and we try to translate and re-create them.  We get the meat from the farm, as well as the vegetables and herbs.  We have to buy in nuts and spices, but we grind them up ourselves in a mortar and pestle.

Saturday had strong winds which made putting up the tents difficult.  Indeed, we had to take down our ‘purple’ tent with the latin motto because the winds were too high.

But here’s the event setup (thanks Timo for the photos):

Everybody who was not otherwise busy was asked to chop, grind or stir something.

The apple and parsnip fritters in beer batter were very popular.  They were scattered with “poudre douce” or sweet powders, made with cinnamon and nutmeg and anise and raw sugar (maybe some others).

The dish of the night was the peacock stewed in wine and dates and pinenuts.  Delicious.  Allison picked up a young peacock at the last poultry auction for $15, as she figured that was cheaper than chook meat.  We used a recipe for pheasant, as peacocks are just a large type of pheasant, and the result was very acceptable.

The other hit for the night was a savoury ginger custard sauce for the chickens roasted on the spit.  Yum.

Basically all the 12 dishes worked, and there was plenty of contrast.  I admit that we cheated a bit with the camelyne (cinnamon) sauce as we just ran out of time.  There were just 30 people at the feast, but this campfire cooking is really hard work for larger numbers.  Many thanks to wwoofer Rachel for her help in the kitchen tent.

After the feast, we sat around the campfire singing songs.  The wind dropped, and it really was very pleasant out there.  We had Bethan and Annabel and Gui from the Sydney SCA, who did some madrigals as well as some silly songs and a few campfire favourites.

On both days, but especially the Sunday, we did some horse riding.  Here’s wwoofer Luca and our friend Jan on Rocky and Silvester.  Notice Jan’s new outfit, with nifty embroidery on the front panel.

There was a heavy combat tourney on the Saturday and some training (heavy and archery) on the Sunday.  Here’s wwoofer Timo:

Jan’s husband Jim took some photos too, and hopefully they will be up on the Okewaite site in a couple of days.


We’re working with the horses again, when we have reasonable weather.  They have had a long break over winter, and right now they are pretty “green” and have bellies full of rich spring grass.  Which means they don’t really want to leave the grass, and they have plenty of energy to be naughty.

They were pretty good the first day we brought them in, though Rocky was a bit unco-operative.  Jan warned us about the third day back, and sure enough all the horses have been difficult, Rocky better than the rest.  We couldn’t even catch Silvester yesterday.

Paulie was not at all keen yesterday, and played up a bit.  So we just went around and around the paddock slowly until he settled.  Luca had a go with him then, and Paulie played up some more, so we finished up then.  The winds were coming up and a storm was threatening.

We’ve checked Paulie’s health and gear, and can see no reason for his being difficult.  It seems just to be new season irritability.  So we’ll see how he goes in coming days.

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