Colchester’s Medieval Fair and Oyster Festival opened its arms to the UK Federations’ own particular brand of medieval combat. We were met with a truly sterling crowd and with welcoming arms from other tradesmen and participants. It was fantastic to meet new faces and spread the word about our wonderful sport. At one point I could hear distinguishable cheering from across the lists only to recognise our Canadian friends whom we met at St Georges back for more action. It is a thrilling and humbling feeling to know you have such support in the crowd.
I hate to be predictably English by discussing the weather with you but By Jove it was glorious. A stunning clear sky and upwards of 22 degrees made for a purely gorgeous weekend to peruse the beautiful wares of the medieval market, watch the mighty birds of prey or try your hand at archery.
However, 2 minutes into tying the strings on my fitted gambeson padding, I could feel the sweat trickling down my back. I closed my steel plate grieves around my calves tucking the drawstrings inside the leg. By now the crowd was starting the gather as we are arming ourselves in the open air by the arena. Though the heat was not ideal, putting the armour on outside starts off a general buzz of anticipation from civilians. Some look confused as they observe two women, Rexie and I, hoisting a weight cincture onto our hips. One foot up on the trunk as we steadied our clanging cuisses against our thighs in unison. Since I first wore armour 8 months ago, I have developed a sense of what feels just right. Initially it could take one or two fellow knights over an hour of pushing, pulling and squeezing me into borrowed armour. Now I can armour up in slick 30 mins providing I haven’t forgotten put my box on before tightening the final clasp on my brigantine.
For protecting my arms I thread my hand through the pauldron straps, rearbrace, couter and vambrace. Tightening the straps with space for movement around the elbow. Around now I’ll usually do a quick jig, squat down, throw some lunges to check nothing is restricting movement. Finally, with a helping hand I hoist on my titanium brigantine and I am almost ready to fight.
Steph and I fight first. It makes sense to let the women show the crowd how it’s done. I raise my klappvisor helmet above my head and pull it down down with my hands on the straps. Gauntlets, sheild, falcion, and now we’re talking. Did that feel long to you? It did to me. Now we take our separate corners in the lists.
The marshal doth bellow:
“Rexie. Are you ready?”
“Silk. Are you ready?”
We drum our weapons against our shields.
“Audience are you ready?”
I left the lists after my first fight panting, and with a heavy tightness across my chest. Despite snatching a victory I already felt beaten. The initial adrenaline and shock ebbed away and my body yearned for more. The heat of day made for testing conditions for all combatants. Every event I’ve been to with UK Federation has shown me there are never half efforts. The fighters go out and give 110% every round. A wicked combination of ferocity, courage and camaraderie makes for a rousing affray.
And here I shall bid thee fair well
~ Love Silk ~