View My Stats

lördag 30 maj 2009

Departing for foreign lands, our first day in camp

We met up with others in the company in Milan, and had an excellent meal, whereafter we slept safe and sound at a crappy hostel. Aaaaaaand let's skip to the cool part!

The camp was slowly forming as we arrived. It is a special view - a medieval camp coming to life. We could enjoy it from a little hill top, just as we arrived. We all helped out making camp, and with relative ease and speed everything was finished. For some reason, the boys and girls in the company always seem to be digging the waste pit and making the wash up-place when we go with other companies. It has almost become kind of a tradition. I guess it depends on that most men in Albrechts Bössor has been in the army, and know the value of good hygiene when camping, especially when there are lots of people around. It was really hard work, using only medieval tools, but soon enough I finished the pit connected to the washing up-place. We had a breather, and sat down inside the new tent.

And then the rain started. And what a rain it was. The raindrops hammered the tent walls and sent tiny drops, nearly mist, inside. We sat a while and realised that the tent passed the test. Water was coming through, but it wasn't dripping. Rather it ran down the tent walls down on the ground, exactly how it's supposed to do. You can't really keep completely dry in a tent. Rather, you don't get soaked.

But at this point, we started to worry a bit. At this pace, water would be floating in the tent very soon, so it was time for more army work. We picked up the shovels and picks, and went out bare chested (skin is water proof :-)) to dig canals around the tents. We worked at a furious pace, whipped by the rain. The canals actually filled up as we were digging them, so we had to make them deeper and wider still. When we were finished the rain stopped. And it didn't rain a drop after that. Rather it was scorching hot. Figures.

That night, we had a lot of beer and Grappa. Padre Mauro, the priest connected to the Morimondo church, ran the pub situated in the monastery. We looked at a film from last year's battle and sang indecent songs together with all our old friends. Göran, one of the new comers in Carnis, brought his hurdy gurdy and played the song "Höstvisa" - Autumn Song. It just so happens that that particular song is somewhat of a national anthem to Albrechts Bössor, and we all bellowed the words in between glasses of wine and beer. I had bought Amarone, a herbal liquor, which resembles of Jägermeister - only better. It was nicked by Ellie from the Company of Chivalry, and never seen again. That girl has a lip, and she's not taller than three apples stacked on each other.

Padre Mauro gave each company two sets of aquarelles portraying different aspects of the newly renovated monastery. Up until now, we have always looked at scaffolding when turning our eyes to the monastery, but now, the renovations are over. The monastery sure is a sight. It is very beautiful and very big. Of course I missed the guided tour. I will have to make it next year, as it is said to be very good.

The English joined us at our camp to drink some more. The night went on, with a lot of laughter and singing. A perfect start of the first event of the year. I can't remember when I went to bed, but I slept as good as I always do in the hay, under the blankets. Waking up was a different story though...

fredag 22 maj 2009

Departing for foreign lands

Alea Iacta Est…
…said Caesar, trying to blend in, because he wasn’t in Rome. He was in fact in Milan, as were I. Mercenaries from across Europe were drawn to the village of Casorate, some distance from the great city. They enrolled either for Visconti or his rivals, as they were preparing to fight each other, in the year of our lord 1356. Caesar wasn’t really there, by the way. He was born and killed much earlier. And to tell you the truth, I wasn’t there either. At least not that particular year, or any year yet. I went to Morimondo, some distance from Casorate, to reenact the battle of Casorate. Don’t ask me why it is taking place in Morimondo. I have no idea why. I’m just happy to be invited.

This, the first event of the season, was preceded by lots and lots of work and preparations. Me and Elisabeth had three main things to fix: One of the new company tents (which you probably already read about), lining for my new helmet and the sleeves for my (much hated) panzar. And how we worked. We were actually finished in time, against all experience and against all odds, and could even relax a couple of hours before packing the stuff and leaving for Kalmar. We were planning to leave Thursday, three days after packing up. Now all we could do was to wait.
The truck picking up people’s equipment left Stockholm Tuesday morning, and apparently got into trouble from the start. They were planning to pack equipment from a storage room in Stockholm about 6 in the morning, but the guy with the keys didn’t show up until hours later. The three heroes in the truck reacted as anyone would, and became a bit cross. When they had packed it all, they realized that it was a lot of gear. In fact, they suspected it was more than they were allowed to load the truck with. A bit of a set back, really, as they still had two pick up points left - Kalmar and Malmö.

They arrived in Kalmar much later than they planned, really stressed, and discovered even more stuff. At this point they phoned Ragnar, who phoned me. He told me that the drivers weren’t exactly happy with the amount of gear that we had left for them. Ragnar explained that the drivers seemed to be most upset about all the stuff the guys of Albrechts Bössor were bringing along. I was a bit puzzled. And annoyed. We usually put an honour into bringing only what we can carry, and this didn’t go well along with the drivers’ accusation. I phoned Sebastian, and I expected him to be really really mad. But he wasn’t.

- Sebbe! Ragnar called me. What’s going on?
- I guess we have about 1000 kilos of over weight, and we hardly left Kalmar. We still have Malmö left. Do you know if there’s anything you guys can leave behind?
I had a think.
- Yeah, I guess, but I’ll call the guys and ask them. I’ll get back to you.
So I called all of the guys going to Italy, and finally came up with a short list of things to leave behind. Then I called Simon, the guy in the company living closest to Malmö. Even if he lives closer than the rest of us, he still faced an hours drive. We really needed him to go and sort things out, and it wasn’t even sure that he was able to. I called.
- Hey Simon. What are you up to?
- Not much. Having a meal. I just came from work.
- Oh well. Eat up. The king needs you.
- Really?
- Really, really.

And that excellent piece of friend just did it. He jumped in his car and went to help the drivers. I really don’t believe we were big sinners in the packing business, but nevertheless he might have saved some face for the company.

Thursday. We left Växjö in the morning. Isolde’s grandmother came to pick her up, and we waved to the at the train platform as they went. And then we stepped aboard, bound for Copenhagen airport. We met up with Simon and had a sushi in Malmö at the place I used to work. It was good to see my old colleagues again, and the sushi tasted better than ever.
We arrived in Copenhagen and checked in to the flight. Then we had a tedious wait before boarding and taking off. Two hours later we stepped on Italian soil.

tisdag 12 maj 2009

Fighting in the land of parmesan cheese

The day after tomorrow a bunch of the guys from Albrechts Bössor are leaving a warm, sunny and beautiful spring for rain, clouds and a temperature about the same as in Sweden - even though we are leaving for Italy. In many ways the event in Morimondo (close to Milan in northern Italy) is one of the finest I have been to. The food and the hospitality is top notch, as is the wine and the comradeship. It is also really nice to get out of Sweden, where we have burrowed for long, dark winter months. It is exceptionally well organized in a beautiful small village with an old monastery.

But there are some things I would change if I could. Different groups have very different opinions on how to interpret safety rules at the field. Most groups from eastern Europe seems to have a completely different view on safe fighting than do most groups from western Europe. We get along well with Germans, Brits and Danes, but we sometimes experience a bit of unpleasantries from Poles, Czechs and Russians. They gear up in full plate with closed visors (then they consider themselves secure), and then they wade into the melee, aiming for the head. We on the other hand, often portray more "simple" soldiers, which means we don't gear up as much, for the sake of authenticity.

We come from a fighting culture where most people respect this, and go easy on fighters in light armour. We also acknowledge hits, even if we are well armoured; it is not always easy to recognize a light hit when you are clad in plate, but if you pay attention to what is happening, and don't go into some kind of frenzy, you can usually register the hits you take. And we don't go for head shots, if it is not explicitly agreed between two separate fighters. The guys from eastern Europe don't seem to share that culture.

Time and time again I have been taking loads of hard hits, even when I was not in fact a combattant (gunners don't count as combattants, as we carry gunpowder, and as we don't have much armour. If we want to fight hand-to-hand, it becomes clear, as we leave our gunnery equipment behind and arm ourselves with weapons for close combat). Our gunnery position has been stormed, and gunners knocked to the ground, with gunpowder twirling all over the place. Friends of mine have been struck in the face - hits which could easily have made him both blind and without teeth.

And it doesn't seem to matter how many times you hit them - they don't fall. And this leads to that you have to hit them harder - as they don't seem to register being hit. And this leads to injuries and maddened tempers - when they do feel the hits, the hits are so hard it REALLY hurts, and they wonder why we hit them so hard... Last year, many fighters in our ranks - Italians, Germans, Swedes and more - put down their weapons and raised their hands to the sky, declaring that we didn't want to fight the Poles.

Don't get me wrong - I like a good fight, but you must adapt your force and fighting style to your opponent. It is not (believe it or not) a fight to the death. It is not a competition - in fact, the outcome of the battle is often decided before hand. It is just supposed to be a good show for the audience and good fun for the fighters. It is a pity we are having a kind of cultural clash (in more than one sense ;-)). We should just sit down with a couple of drinks and have a talk about it. I am sure we can get along just fine if we just discussed the issue.

Otherwise I will eat a lot of Italian food. I will drink loads of wine and Grappa, have ice cream, heavenly Italian desserts and share romantic moments with my bonnie lass - my parents-in-law are good enough to eat, as they have agreed to baby sit Isolde for us! My wife and I, alone in the land of milk and honey! I shall eat myself into a stupor, have more than one drink with my friends and have lots of quality time with Elisabeth. And I have saved hundreds of Euros that I have dedicated to food and drink in Italy. I am going to love this sooo much!

Anyway. Me and Elisabeth have been working like mad finishing stuff. I haven't been in the position for a while (the position where you work your fingers until they bleed, finishing 6 in the morning the day you are going to leave for the event), but this time I had to finish my panzar. I just had to. I have been working on that piece of junk for 4 years, and every moment has been solid pain. I hate that panzar. But now it's finished, even though I am not exactly happy with it. It is about 60% of what I would like it to be. Never the less - it's finished, and I will declare a "panzarium pandemonium" - a tradition amongst members of the group, that says that as soon as you have finished your hand stitched panzar, you shall have a sort of party, where you buy drinks for everyone that show up with a hand stitched panzar, that they have made themselves. I will post pictures as soon as my crappy panzar has seen its first action.

We finished packing up our stuff yesterday, and took a 1,5 hour drive to Kalmar, where we left our pack for the lorry drivers. They will be arriving to pack it all up some hours from now, and then they will begin their long trip through Europe, over the Alps and into Italy. The rest of us will fly, and meet them there. They really are heroes, and I salute them for taking a harsh responsibility.

I will give a full report as soon as I come back, but until then you will most probably have to wait, as I need to get back on track with stuff like laundry, cleaning and other everyday stuff that I have neglected during my stitching frenzy the last week.

fredag 1 maj 2009

Woodworker, Episode 2b

I revised my schematics with approximate measurements, some construction details and a sketch of how the lid and the floor are supposed to be constructed. The floorboards are not joined together - they will be put into a groove cut along the nether part of the chest walls, and will be supported by underlying beams slotted into the leg boards.