Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

Today was a bit of an epic as it turns out. Despite being a Sunday, it wasn't a day of rest. In our world of home schooling learning never stops, whether it's learning how not to kill each other or learning about more traditional subjects, we seize any opportunity! 

The Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is the largest of its kind in Europe. Its something I would never have dreamed of taking Jenson to if we weren't home schooling. I guess my view would have been that he would have learned about all this history stuff in the classroom. I have no doubt that we would have instead spent a very lazy Sunday helping Jenson prepare for another exhausting week at school.

Turns out it was a very good day, despite the searing heat and crowds of people. We arrived bang on opening time at 11am and six hours later hauled our tired, sweaty bodies back into the car. Even Jenson exclaimed how pooped he felt! 

On arrival, both children showed far more interest in the actor's dogs than the festival itself. Wren in particular has got into a lovely habit of stroking every dog she sees within a 50m radius. I'm often talking to her only to look over my shoulder to find her walking off in the opposite direction with another family and their dog. It makes for a lively if not exhausting day. 

It was the quilling that captured Jenson's imagination. Having done a bit of this himself at home, it was good for him to see it in 'real life'. I hope it gave him a better understanding of this ancient skill. 

There were plenty of peasant folk giving demonstrations on various medieval crafts. From making bows and arrows...

...to weaving wool from which shoe laces and dress fronts could be fastened together. 

There were stilt walkers dressed up as trees, friendly dragons and this man - a spirit of the forest.

Jenson couldn't resist poking his head through this cut out knight figure! 

We headed over to the children's tent and watched a super puppet show that lasted for nearly an hour, and credit to Jenson, he managed to sit through it without (too much) complaining! The dragon kept Jenson's attention, Wren meanwhile hid behind me every time it made an appearance!

There was also the opportunity to make shields, which Jenson and Wren both enjoyed. It was also a good excuse to get out of the sun. 

Also in the children's area was the opportunity to try out some circus skills. 

We had a break for lunch and just about managed to find some shade. As we walked back through the medieval village there was a jester show due to start. Jenson was pretty grumpy at having to wait a mighty ten minutes for the actors to come out and with the sun beating down on us, he got very hot and bothered. The show was good fun though and I think Jenson did enjoy it. 

As we walked over to the battlefield to watch the grand finale we passed a have a go archery stand. Jenson was dead keen to fire some arrows and for just £3 a go I thought it would be a good experiance for him. 

The battle reenactment was what most people had come for judging by the crowds. I can't say I understood half of what was going on but it was great for Jenson to see 'real life' knights and hear the jangling of the armour we have read about in history books. 

The children and I found a spot on the grass with James, Ally and Arabella, another family we have met through home ed, and they will testify the battle I had on my hands with Jenson and Wren. It made the battle that was due to start on the field in front of us look tame. When it did finally start, the canons were so loud that Jenson basically got up and left. I followed leaving Wren exploring James' beard. 

Once away from the noise, Jenson calmed down and had a go at some iron forging. He began by choosing a symbol, which in his case, was a symbol of a tree. 

He then got to work punching out the design. Having drawn it out with a pencil first he was able to trace the line out with tool and hammer. 

He was then shown how to buff it up using wire wool.

Finally, the lady punched a hole in it and threaded it up for Jenson to wear around his neck.

The battle eventually came to an end and we watched all the knights parade past us. As they threw off their armour and sank a cold beer, I couldn't help but think how true to life that would have been in medieval times.  

There was one particular knight who looked very gallant and brave and was posing for photos with passers by. I asked Jenson if he'd like a photo with him and he said no. He instead pointed to another knight, who was slumped on the floor downing a pint. Good for Jenson I thought.