The Knights of Royal England - splendid fellows. All of them.
And so, the end was near and so we faced, our final curtain... The last regular weekend of the jousting summer was suddenly upon us before I had even realised it was coming. The Friday and Saturday was to be back for the final two days at Hever Castle. Hever has been magnificent this year, even when the mud in the arena was so thick you could have re-coated the M25 with it - the crowds have turned up en masse for our shows. We were without William of Antioch for the final two shows at Hever, but everyone else was there and, as ever, much fun was had by all. It was also to be our final two shows with Michelle Coda in tow as she would not be coming to Hedingham for the shows there. But we were without Vix who was off appearing in her drama society production of "Annie". Michelle had been to see one of the performances earlier in the week and declared that the production was very "provincial" - damning! But Vix was enjoying herself so that was alright.
I had promised James a wage packet for his hard work over the summer with the jousting team, and he was mostly pre-occupied with what he wanted to spend it on. One of his ideas is he wants a fishing rod as he is hell bent on the idea of going fishing. Those of you who know James will be aware that he has the attention span of a amphetamine addicted gnat and a very low boredom threshold, so perhaps fishing is not the best idea for a new hobby. But he is still going on about it. So watch this space, I shall let you know what is finally purchased. To be honest, it could be anything.
The last two shows at Hever passed in what can only be described as a blur. But they were well attended like all the other shows there this summer and a great reaction from the crowd. So with barely time to lean against a side board and gasp for breath we were off, up to Essex for a Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday at Hedingham Castle near Halstead. I had never worked at Hedingham before, I had visited in the past as a regular punter, but was delighted by what I saw. The castle is a typical Norman keep atop a steep hill. It is very reminiscent of Rochester Castle in Kent or the central keep at the Tower of London. The actual tilting arena was tiny in comparison with Hever and Leeds Castle, but it was a lovely setting. Whereas the jousters were at the foot of the hill changing in their horse box, James and I, and the Tudor Roses, were in a large marquee that a wedding reception had been held in, behind the main house of the owners of Hedingham Castle. It was two shows a day at Hedingham with plenty of other distractions for the punters - archery, side stalls, a jester, various food outlets etc. It was a truly magnificent sight. James had a go at the archery on the Monday morning and managed to score a bulls eye with only his second arrow. That's my boy!
The four shows were great fun, lots of laughs from us and the audience, and with the much smaller arena you got a great reaction from the punters when something exciting happened. Whenever a lance was smashed on a shield the gasp from the audience was very audible - great stuff. Sir William of Antioch also showed off shamelessly, particularly on the Monday when he pretended to get the huff and stomped off into the audience, sitting with people, trying to steal lunches and even posing beautifully with a child's tiny clear plastic umbrella.
The only drawback for me over the weekend was being stopped by the Police on my way to Hedingham the first day - it turned out the MOT on my car had expired four weeks ago. Oops! It cost me a £60 fine but will make me more aware of checking the expiry dates on my MOT's in future.
We got filmed by a US TV cable network called Reels (or something!) who shot the show and also interviews with various members of the cast (myself included), so if you're in the States and you know a channel called Reels, or Reel then keep a look out for me! I also got to meet the owner of Hedingham at the end of the second show and he seemed keen on getting the King back in the future. That would suit me!
And so it was over for another year. We posed for the picture above before the second show on the Monday - I intend to print it out in large format and laminate it so James can put it up in his bedroom as a nice memento of a very memorable summer for him. He can look at it when he gets back from fishing....
The photo was taken by Shelley Hughes - she is beautiful! Just thought the world needed to know!