Saturday morning had to wake up at 5am so we could pack up the car and leave early enough to get to Preston before the battle started. The journey only took just over 4 hours including a 10 minute stop, which we were pretty pleased with. Net result was we were on the campsite in time for powder issue, but just a bit too late for drill. Got the tent up and settled down for a good old SK bout of waiting and chatting.
Saturday's battle (which started at 3.15pm for us after a good bit of waiting around) was pretty poor. Some marching forwards and backwards, lots of firing (15 shots, and my gun actually fired every one of them surprisingly) and about 3 little scuffles of poor hand-to-hand. We nearly walked off the field halfway through out of sheer boredom.
Saturday evening was the stag party / hen night. The lads got tarted up for a night of curry and booze in Preston, meanwhile the ladies let them get on with it and started drinking earlier. Once they'd left us we squeezed into corsets and poncy kit and sat in a circle drinking and chatting - we'd laid out the agenda for the evening - we'd talk about knitting patterns, children, clothes, shopping, sewing and bog box powders. Well, that's what the men thought. I don't remember what we actually talked about but I did get a chance to chat with a lot of the ladies I don't normally talk with. Fil went round the circle applying glitter to faces and cleavages, which was a lot of fun. I'm not normally a glitter person but somehow it seemed appropriate. Lucy was forced to wear the customary 'L' plates and net curtain... I mean veil! And of course had to drink a depth charge. She was worse than the LG though, taking small sips instead of downing it. Jo said she counted 69 in order to down the lot, although that seems far too convenient to me! After that we set her on fire. Well, we actually didn't mean to!! We had sconces set in the ground but it seems one of them wasn't hammered in fully, and started to lean alarmingly. Fortunately we warned her just in time, but it did set fire to the grass and whilst the drunken women looked on to this fire with some alarm, a heroic male (one of the few left behind) smothered it with his buff coat. So hero of the day award has to go to Sam.
Soon we all wandered to the beer tent with our own booze and danced like loonies to covers of Meatloaf and other cheesy rock. The lead singer was wandering around the "dance floor" (i.e. space in front of the makeshift stage) trying to chat people up. When he found our Hen Party he must have thought he was in heaven, he wouldn't leave us alone! First he was chatting up Jo then I decided to "save" her and he started on me. Eventually I had to escape by going to get food but unfortuantely I left Fil there in his clutches and I don't think she's forgiven me yet!
A group of us were sat with food outside one of the traders and although we'd meant to be quick I think we spent well over an hour just sitting chatting (i.e. gossipping) which was fun. I was decidely wasted by then (I'd had two and a half bottles of white wine and sips of Port and some other goodies passed round the circle). We found out the men folk had returned and thought we'd get back to camp. After helping each other out of the damn corsets we tried to track down our males (mostly to laugh at them) and I found mine had been unconcious in bed for ages. I thought this was a damn good idea and retired.
Sunday dawned and there were surprisingly few hangovers. I woke up with a headache, but after drinking loads of water and staggering to the portaloo whilst trying not to be seen by anyone since I didn't know what state I was in, I felt a bit better. Phil woke up feeling OK-ish and found he got worse throughout the course of the morning. Gerry seemed to be in some pain, as was Fudge but that was more due to his sprained ankle. The girlies all seemed OK, although as I said Fil wasn't happy about being left with the band's lead singer for the rest of the evening. It was very intersting to see how many men had glitter on their faces, although we didn't want to ask which women the glitter had come from!
Sunday's battle was much better - less firing and more good hand-to-hand with the Scots and Newcastles (I think?). I sustained a few bruises, and once again got hit in the face (this time by a pike held by a pikeman on my side - why is it always my allies that hit me in the face?!) and once again I haven't got a bruise or black eye to show for it - most disappointing. My gun also fired for all of this battle which was a bloody miracle considering the amount I'd fired on Saturday and the fact that I hadn't cleaned it after that battle.
At the end of the battle we were all supposed to line up and comb the field for rubbish since we were putting the battle on as a whole society and there was no one group responsible for tidying up. I didn't mind doing this too much, it needed to be done, but I think it didn't leave an impressive lasting image on the mind of the audience.
As always Phil and I were already packed and ready to go, so we set off almost as soon as we all got back to camp, only to be told we weren't allowed to leave for another hour because they wanted to let the audience out first. Well fine. We've all got 4 or 5 hour journeys in front of us, they're all locals, but I'm sure it makes sense to let them all out. It also seemed a bit dumb since Sunday's battle was an hour earlier than Saturday's so we could all get home sooner, but now they we telling us we couldn't leave until 5pm. Well, we decided to hang around near the car and it paid off since they decided to let some people go after two ambulances that had been on the battlefield. Don't think they will have managed to restrict it to only a few people though!
Journey home was a nightmare, the M6 was covered in slow moving roadworks and I didn't get above 50 mph on the entire stretch of the M1. All my muscles acheed the following day since I was keeping them all so tense on the way home so I wouldn't fall asleep - driving on a Sunday after a hard weekend like that is not the easiest thing.