Training never stops when you live the buhurt fighter life. Holidays turn into ‘HMB Holidays’, but I had a family road trip invite which was too good to miss. So after months of working, saving and some imagination I finally had some training dates in the works… in New Zealand!
In the past year and a bit since Swords of Cygnus was created we have travelled far and wide. Having toured most of Europe with my sisters in arms, making strong connections with the Germans, Italians and especially the Dutch; I decided to make the most of visiting my sister half way across the world and get to know HMB New Zealand.
Photo Credit: R. B Photographie
Captain a.k.a ‘The Duchess’ having a giggle last year with White Company’s Rosy and Italian Martina, the cutest mercenary I’ve ever known.
I set off for London Gatwick the day after our eliminations, bursting with excitement. I might add that I had also qualified to represent the U.K. in Women’s Longsword category in the Historical Medieval Battle World Championships in Italy this May. For me this is a massive achievement, considering that only a year and a half ago I underwent major surgery which left me barely able to walk. Even after a year out of the sport to recover, anything is possible.
Photo Credit: Dom Worrall
Rexie and I fighting to compete in the World Championships longsword category at the UK eliminations in Sheffield. After a draw in points we had to push on for a third round of 30 seconds, our skills are that closely matched. It was an extremely enjoyable fight as always but this time I came out victorious!
After two days of sleep, security checks, and dancing through airports to the sombre tones of Johnny Cash to amuse myself; I arrived in Christchurch New Zealand! It was 21 degrees when I stepped off the plane, absolute heaven! Although my first thought was ‘this could make training interesting’. Being cooped up in various planes above the clouds made me desperate to get back to training. I woke up bright and early at 3am, decided it was a tad too early to go for a run, attempted to sleep again. 6am arrived and I sprung out of bed to go for a little jog through the botanical gardens to work on my cardio and rid myself of jet lag. As with most things, it did not go to plan…
What I am about to divulge is top secret information. I have a weakness. Yes, I courageously travel the world to beat the living daylights out of armoured knights. However, I fear the dark… This meant a little jog ‘through’ the unlit botanical gardens at 6am in the pitch black, was out of the question. I cunningly decided to go ‘around it’. Turns out the botanical gardens in Christchurch are rather big! What was meant to be some light cardio turned into a test of stamina and endurance. All-important drills when preparing for the Championships!
Lesson No #1 in Trouble’s Travels: don’t just glance at the map.
Next on the Agenda was Blenheim. Blenheim. Famous for its vineyards and wine, Blenheim is a beautiful, slow and easy-going city. Here I reunited with my sister after 5 months of separation. The idea of a relaxed break in Blenheim was immediately thwarted by my wonderful younger sisters scheduled gym regime.
Sure I swing 1.5kg sword around for minutes without tiring but it turns out my sister (a vegan no less) is stronger than me! (Ironically she also work a kebab shop, whatever is takes to fund her next adventure to Asia.)
There’s nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry. I was determined to beat my competition. All I can say is, thank the gods for steam rooms and jacuzzis!
Believe it or not I hate the gym because I find it incredibly dull. These are my three motivators to step onto the gym floor:
- Ensuring I have a fun gym buddy! My sister comes highly recommended, but you would need my permission.
- Get some good tunes going and have a little boogey. This really gets me in the mood and warmed up.
- Feeling comfortable. Which brings me onto the little project I set myself whilst exploring the top of the South Island around Nelson. (Hint see leggings in photo abvove)
Needless to say, by the time we were ready to start our road trip around the top of the South Island my legs were jelly.
Over the next few days we visited botanical gardens, the hidden bush tracks along the Abel Tasman coastline, and the Rotoiti lake in the Nelson Lakes National Park.
A pair of beautiful black swans on the Rotoiti lake, perfect inspiration for SoC shield designs, iconic relations of the white swan depicted in the heraldry of Swords of Cygnus.
Well hiking a minimum of 8-10 km every day around lakes and the like has guaranteed they stay in a jelly-like state.
These things must be done in order to get the most out of travelling so far and maintain peak fitness for the Championships; because of course this is a HMB holiday and everything is orientated around training for the Championships!
At this point it had been nearly a week since I last saw a suit of medieval armour. This is far too long for a buhurt fighter to cope. So, on our last day in Nelson fate intervened. A suit of armour randomly appeared in Glen James Jewellers, the only high street jewellery shop I walked into! Coincidence? I think not – the gods at work again.
I may have mentioned Historical Medieval Battle (as you do in conversation at the jewellery shop) the lovely Glen, owner of the shop, proceeded to retrieve a matching longsword from the back. It was etched with medieval knights and gorgeous decoration.
The perfect way to end our trip to the outreaches of Nelson, with a sword in my hands.
Watch this space to keep updated on my training shenanigans abroad!
Train hard, fight easy!