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On Saturday we were able to take part in something new and completely different. A re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings.

All I could remember from year 10 history lessons is that the Battle of Hastings took place in the year 1066. After our attendance at the re-enactment I'm now much more knowledgeable on the subject. The Battle of Hastings happened on October 14th in 1066. Duke William and his Norman army were trying to invade England. King Harold and his army were trying to stop them. (That's a very concise version of events; go forth and learn at Wikipedia.)

After the battle, the victorious William ordered that an abbey be built to commemorate the victory. It was named Battle Abbey. The ruins are still there today and the surrounding village is called Battle after the Abbey. The re-enactment on the weekend was staged on the site of the original battle, the ruins of the Abbey as a backdrop.

I was actually surprised at how much fun we had at the re-enactment. Highlights of the day:
  • Battle of Hastings as re-enacted by under 10s - The morning started with a children's version of the Battle of Hastings. It was hilarious! Groups of kiddies sprinting across a field and then clumsily thwaping each other with foam swords.

  • Falconry display - a demonstration by historical falconers. They showed us the types of birds the nobility would use for sport in the 11th Century. We saw a Eurasian Eagle Owl, the largest species of owl, which can weigh up to 4kg and a Peregrine Falcon, a bird only the richest of noble could afford. During the display the Peregrine Falcon dived and swooped over the heads of the audience. It was quite disconcerting. The Peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on earth when it dives. It reaches speeds of over 300km/h.

  • Knight's training - a display of training exercises the Norman cavalry would drill. These included spearing a man made of straw, throwing a spear at a shielded serf, sword strike at a cabbage and chasing a serf. All on horseback of course.

  • Medieval fair - there were a number of stalls selling 'medieval' wares... cloaks, bows and arrows, wooden chests, etc. The people involved in the re-enactment had camped nearby and wandering through the camp was like travelling back in time. People dressed in 11th Century clothing were mending garments, cooking on open fires and repairing shields and armour.

The major event of the day was the Battle of Hastings re-enactment at 3pm. This time it was grown men running across a field and then thwapping each other with swords. Although, there was the added excitement of bows and arrows and cavalry. It was interesting enough but slightly tedious and a bit repetitive. I'm sure it's more exciting when you're in the thick of things.

In 1066, the Normans (the French) were the victors on the day. Legend tells that King Harold died after being shot in the eye with an arrow. Duke William the victor, became the King of England and is now known as William the Conqueror.

Later that evening, back in the present, there was another re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings, albeit a less accurate re-enactment. France vs England in the Rugby World Cup at Saint-Denis stadium in France. Unfortunately, the English won this time.

More photos on Flickr...
Duke William Knights in Training
Charge!


jess - 17th Oct 2007, 11:11 tags: travel london quirky explore_london hastings


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And now it's gone really quiet around here. The reason why? I have managed to secure a job. Yay! ( maybe.)

Andrew, being the very talented and gifted person that he is, was employed almost as soon as he stepped in the country. We arrived in London on a Wednesday, he had an interview on the Thursday and he was offered the job on the Friday. He's been working very hard now for a few weeks.

On the other hand, I had decided that I wasn't going to look too actively for a new job. I didn't have much success with either of my previous two contracts in London. I was going to enjoy the time off (well the continued time off. We'd already been on holidays for 2 months). I was going to go shopping at the veggie markets on Portobello Rd, run in Hyde Park in the afternoons, and just generally slack off.

In the typical way of things, when you aren't looking for something, it tends to fnd you. I was actively pursued by a recruiter. I interviewed for a role and was offered the contract. I couldn't really turn it down to be an unemployed bum. The role looks promising, but I'm taking it one day at a time.

The bad news (well for me) is that I'm working for a big MNC with a strict Internet policy. I have no fushmush mail, no hotmail, no gmail, no MSN, no Facebook. I've been too scared to try too many of my other time-wasting sites. This is my first role since 1998 where I've actually had nothing better to do than work.

The good news is it's a pretty cool place to work. There is a gym and a library. It's a cashless workplace so all I need is my ID to buy my lunch or a snack. They have follow me printing. I print from a PC, walk to any printer in the office, swipe my ID and my jobs will print there. My desk is in the atrium, under natural light and next to a tree. His name is Gary.

Let's hope it all works out. I have my fingers crossed.

jess - 10th Oct 2007, 11:11 tags: london


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Another two items have been checked off my London to-do list. Last week we saw a play at the Globe Theatre and on Monday I finally managed to see a musical on the West End.

We saw The Merchant of Venice at the Globe. The Globe Theatre is a replica of the original Globe Theatre which existed in Elizabethan times. We wussed out and bought tickets for the stalls, rather than tickets for the yard. The tickets for the yard are only 5 pounds but you have to stand up for the entire play. I'm not sure my old bones would cope with standing for 3 hours straight.

Even in the seated areas I had a little trouble coping. It was freezing! You can hire blankets for the evening, but unfortunately we turned up a little late and they had run out by the time we arrived. Although I had brought a jacket and a scarf, I was still frozen by the end of the evening. You can also hire cushions, as the seats are only wooden benches and a little bit hard on the rear end. Wish I'd hired a cushion too as my bum was numb by the end of the play. (Yes! I am a very big wuss.)

The play was quite entertaining but it was definitely Shakespeare for the masses. There was too much gyrating and hip thrusting from the actors for my tastes. Often, the puns in the script were lost behind the laughter from a hip thrust. Disappointing.

Some trivia about the Globe:
  • It is the first thatched building permitted in London since the Great Fire of London in 1666.

  • The theatre can house 1300 people during a show. The original Globe could entertain an estimated 3000 people.

Jess and Andrew at the globeThe Globe

On Monday evening I snapped up a spare ticket offered by Tash to see Les Miserable at the Queen's theatre. The tickets were only 15 pounds so it was a bargain. Although, for only 15 pounds we did wonder what kind of seats we would secure. We weren't surprised to find that our seats were in the very back row with a view obstructed by the dress circle.

Still, I wasn't disappointed! Les Mis is my favourite musical and any viewing of it is worthwhile. Even an obstructed view from the very back row. Also, at intermission I relocated myself further down the front and got an clear view of the second half. Thanks for letting me tag along Tash, Matt and Ann. You've inspired me to get my butt into gear and see a few more musicals while in London.

jess - 4th Oct 2007, 11:11 tags: explore_london london theatre


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It's going to be a little quiet around here for a while. We've just moved into our new flat and we have limited internet.

Yes! We've finally a found a place to live. Finding a place to live was a lot of work. Over the course of a week, we looked at 30 flats and put in 4 offers. The rental market is so busy in London. To get a place you have to partake in a bidding war. We found several places that we would have been happy to live in and one perfect place that would have been ideal. Unfortunately, we lost the bidding war or were deemed unsuitable for these places.

Eventually, we managed to secure a one bedroom flat in Ladbroke Grove. The place is a bit smaller than our SheBu flat but I think it has a better layout. Of course at the moment, it looks like a bomb site. Photos will come when the place is a little tidier.

The area is pretty good too. Natalie lives a couple of blocks up the road so we are practically neighbours. We're in the Notting Hill area which has fantastic restaurants and great cafes. Finally we'll have a place to have brunch on the weekend. A block away is Portobello Road Markets. Fresh fruit and veg everyday! To combat all that healthy food we have the Hummingbird Bakery only a 5 minute walk away. They make the best cupcakes ever. I will definitely have to limit my visits there.

jess - 1st Oct 2007, 11:11 tags: london


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Saturday evening we headed out to celebrate Liz's 30th birthday. It was also a party to farewell Liz and Phil, who are off to live in Canada for a few years. Liz and Phil had hired a room in a bar in Soho. We spent the first few hours socialising and chatting. Later on, we hit the dance floor (not really a dance floor; just the middle of the tiny room) and danced up a storm. We had a fantastic time.

We had such a great night that we stayed out after the last tube and had to catch the night bus home. First time ever! We kinda had to wing it as we hadn't researched our trip home. Luckily we found a bus from Piccadilly that dropped us right outside our flat.

There are lots of funny photos from the evening. I've put some of them below and the rest are on Facebook.

Happy Birthday Liz! Remember 30 is the new 20. Happy Travels Liz and Phil!

Jess and Andrew Phil and Liz
Shaun and Jess Steve, Hildy and Monica


jess - 27th Sep 2007, 11:11 tags: ultimate london social birthdays


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