Monday, February 15, 2010

6-and-a-bit weeks to go...

Yup, Oltramar (minus Dad, who has too much sense ) is heading south in six-and-a-bit weeks to Armidale to partake in the NEMAS Easter Gathering. This involves a lot of planning and creating, so that everything goes smoothly on the weekend.

There's a large number of things to take into account: How are we getting down there? No problem - the ute, a couple of cars (and hopefully another ute heading north from Tassie with our southern members :-) ) What are we living in once we get there? We have a tent (4.8m x 3.2m) which will house 4 of us, and have to make another (3m x 3m) for the other two; the Tassie folk are making a Viking tent (3m x 4m-ish) and will be bringing that.

How will the tents be furnished? As they're white canvas it's necessary to line the walls with hangings to prevent the dreaded 'puppet-show' - the legend goes that one re-enactment event, long ago, a couple headed into their tent to consummate their fleshy desires, and neglected to blow out the candle, thus giving the entire company ... a puppet show. Of course, hanging also keep out the cold, and make the tent look pretty :-) So we have to come up with 28m of period-looking wall hangings...

Carpets make living in a tent more pleasant (and warmer); period-looking rugs are not hard to come by, especially the small ones (which are a tripping hazard); one can go overboard, though - I spent my Rudd-money one two $399 ones from Ikea... but they almost cover the entire tent floor.

What is everyone sleeping in (keeping in mind that it's bloody cold at night)? I have The Medieval Rope Bed (complete with flock and feather mattresses, mink coverlet and a couple of blankets), but the others have opted for The Pallet - traditionally a sack stuffed with straw, but in our case blow-up mattresses with a heavy cotton cover. On top of these will be blankets, sleeping bags covered with more blankets, and a couple of large flokati rugs (pretty much the same thing as the traditional 'rya' rugs that were woven as coverlets in the time, but with a higher percentage of goat hair). Pillows will need to have 'period' slips if they are likely to be seen...

What are we wearing? Well, a generic version of 'Early Medieval' - tunics, gowns, shirtes, chemises, pants for the guys, woolen cloaks... This is the sticking point - we have enough costumes for doing a show, but not to last us for four days (even though none of them will be fighting and getting hot and stinky). So, my sewing room is a veritable production line at the moment, which ends in the living room where all the handsewing and embroidery is done to the dulcet tones of Stargate, M*A*S*H, and The Simpsons... SOOO much sewing!!!

As well as all this, there are stools, a trestle table, olive oil lamps, musical instruments, spinning equipment and a host of other incidentals that all have to be checked, repaired, cleaned, and made ready.

What are we eating? Well, for breakfast (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) there will be a choice of bread, butter, eggs, bacon, or porridge; lunch (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) will be an assortment of bread, cheeses, ham, salami, apples, dolmades, olives... Dinner (Friday and Saturday, as NEMAS is feasting us on the Sunday night) will be a stew and a roast. 3 full days' meals for 9 people... Most of it (veges, bread, dried foods) can travel down in a sack; the rest, believe it or not, will pack into 2 medium-sized eskis and will be frozen solid before we leave (including the cartons of milk and the apple juice concentrate); that way we need to get minimal ice over the weekend as the nearest service station is a good 15 minutes drive away.

And what are we cooking it with? Pots, cauldrons, pans, fire irons, wrought iron tripod, wooden spoons, pottery bowls, chopping boards, cooking knives, and so on and so forth... The entire kitchen has to be 'medievalised' and the squeezed into the back of the ute with all the other 'essential' stuff. Then we have to make sure everyone has eating gear - a plate, bowl, cup, spoon and knife each - most of which can be picked up at op-shops, some (like the knives) can be made.

In the end, it's a lot of work and preparation to make sure everything runs smoothly once we get down there. It's a five-hour drive from home and way to far to go back if we've forgotten something (which always happens - one year I remembered my bow and forgot to bring arrows D'oh!); so lengthy lists are made, checked off, compared with what we took last time, patitioned into 'have' and 'make'... and I'm going to be spending the next 6 weeks sewing!

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