July 26th, 2010

ARVN Ranger

Time-travelling militaristic weekend

Thursday: first night fencing in a long time. Ouch. I'm sure even back in Poly days when I didn't fence over the Summer, first night back wasn't so hard. OK, so I won my bouts but by God, did it hurt. Not so easy to convince myself I'm not old, just older...

Friday: I'd booked the day off and headed down to the War and Peace Show at Beltring. Funny feeling going in as a day punter again. Also funny how familiar the layout of the stalls is: Avis and Soldier of Fortune on Row A, Johnson's of Leeds on Row F etc. Slightly scary that some of the dealers like Pascal recognised me. Then again, in his case, I guess maybe there aren't too many Orientals in ARVN uniform who hunt him down looking for more repro ARVN gear!

Alas, failed in my main shopping objective - an A&K Vietnam M60. Opinion amongst the airsoft retailers seemed to vary from any day now to never (due to Chinese government action). Mian highlights on the tat front: a Black Panther ARVN Ranger helmet from Pascal though, some OG107s from an Italian dealer (so I finally managed to get rid of the Euros I had left over from last trip to Dublin!) and a new set of jungle boots. Oh, and a bolt of olive drab green fabric.

Next: down to see the guys in the 'Nam. Yet again, Graham exhorting me camp with them next year but also trying to persuade me to forget the English Civil War muster and stay over as an ex-ARVN officer was coming to visit the next day. That was sooooo tempting...

Also saw the MACV-SOG guys and got talking about Detling. Since there isn't an ECWS muster on, there is now a distinct possibility I might be going to Detling with them.

Definitely hard tearing myself away to drive on to Suffolk. The campsite was a bit of a shock - huge amounts of space, a real change from the usual pack cheek-by-jowl sites!

Saturday's battle was distinctly crap though. Royalists seemed content to just sit at the foot of the hill and, I'm no Fairfax or Gustav Adolphus, but I'm sure that when firing, we should have been facing the enemy, not some 30 degrees off (maybe it was to discourage them from infiltring through the car park).

Fortunately, Sunday was much better, following much mutterings and threats of mutiny. Managed to burn through most of my powder - always a good sign.

And... we spotted a 2nd hand flintlock at one of the stalls. After some discussion and getting of opinions from Kate and Simon... yep, it is now mine. Temporarily with Simon at present but I really do need to sort the steel cabinet now.

So, overall, proved to be a good weekend despite Saturday. One thing I wondered about though - this was a multi-period event in support of Help For Heroes and so had a significant Army and British Legion presence. I did wonder what those guys must make of us playing at toy soldiers.

Speaking of which, I know ECWS and Sealed Knot are by far and away the largest re-enactment socities in the UK but, even so, some of the groups there seemed, well, a little low on numbers; the smallest being the 95th Rifles guys. Both of them. Really. Maybe I can go next year as the UK ARVN Re-enactment group ;-)

So, staggered home last night knackered, sweaty and reeking of gunpowder but happy.