We’ve just spent a great weekend at Harlech castle in North Wales, taking pictures and dressing up as knights!
As I’ve mentioned in the past, D’s family are part of a medieval re-enactment society, who go into castles in Wales and recreate medieval life, with battles and costumes and displays of armour. I joined the group after getting together with D (although I attend most events as the photographer, I can sometimes be persuaded to get into character as a squire.
When SB was born, she became part of the group, and was inducted at three months old with a little ceremony and everything! This week is the celebration of Owain Glyndwr in Wales, and to celebrate, we went to Harlech Castle with the group and put on a display. SB usually dresses as a little lady, in her pink dress, but for warmth and comfort reasons today, we dressed her as a little squire, with a tabard and hood. D and I wore matching tabards – a fully co-ordinated family!
In the past, I’ve struggled to keep SB occupied at these events, but this time – particularly because she is now so mobile; walking and running unaided – the real issue was keeping her still! She loved helping to set up in the morning – I think we’ve discovered that her talent lies in staff fighting, as she looked like a little pro helping to carry the poles across the field (under strict and constant supervision, before the child neglect brigade get on my back).
The castle has recently undergone a series of renovations – a brand new visitor centre, to name one, and the old, rickety wooden step bridge that made the castle completely inaccessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs has been replaced by a long, gently-sloping, wide footbridge. Some people have complained that it looks inauthentic, but I think it’s more important that the castle and the history inside is now accessible to everyone, not just those who can walk into it! SB was in her element, charging around the castle and heading out onto the footbridge in her costume to greet everyone who turned up! She loved charging along, looking down at the moat, and being adored by people – we had a lot of visitors taking pictures of us, which didn’t faze her at all (probably because I’m prone to whipping out the camera every five seconds at home).
Her favourite part of the castle was the new sandpits they’ve created and filled with buckets, spades, watering cans and sand moulds in the shapes of crabs, fish and shells. She had a whale of a time building castles, and is an expert at ‘the magic tap’ on the bucket, to make sure the castle turns out great! She also met a little boy in the sandpits, whose mum told me that they had come to the castle earlier, and he had insisted on going home and changing into his knight costume, to come back and protect the ‘baby knight’. SB’s first knight in shining armour! (Her daddy’s armour is less shining, more slightly-rusted, in his own words!)
The best part of the day for me? Well, SB proved herself to be a little performer. Part of the show is a full, non-choreographed fight using swords, axes, flails and other medieval weapons. The weapons are exactly the same as they would have been during medieval times, and the fighters don’t pull any punches – they’re extremely well-trained (D has been training from a very young age) and the fights are fast, intense and dangerous (he almost lost the top part of his ear to an axe one year, and injuries to fingers and hands are commonplace). D enjoys losing, because he has a signature ‘head flick’ where his helmet comes off, and the audience inevitably gasp, assuming that his head has come off with the helmet (after four years of going to see the shows, I’m used to it and laugh, much to the audience’s surprise).
So, as D flicked his
head helmet off and fell to the floor, the audience gasped and his opponent celebrated his win, what did our little performer do? She toddled over the field in her costume, went straight up to D, who had recovered slightly and was sitting up, and threw her arms around him in a massive cuddle, patting him on the back. Cue the biggest ‘aww’ I have ever heard from the audience – and SB didn’t half play up to it, seeing the audience reaction and throwing her arms around him once more!
She was a little star though, and it was great to see just how well she’s coming along – she understands commands like “Hold mommy’s hand”, and obeys them every time, and as we were walking across the field while D was somewhere else in the castle, she asked “Where daddy?”. I was bursting with pride, it’s the first time she’s managed to string two words together before!
As a general update, I’m still poorly. As I said in a previous update, the ultrasound I had found something near my appendix, and I was supposed to be having a quick CT scan to find out what it is. It’s now been changed to an MRI at the end of September, so I’m a little nervous, but at least once they’ve found out what it is, they can work on treating it. I’m on Tramadol, which is making me very woozy, so I’m a little nervous about being a stay at home mum, but I’m hoping I can downgrade to just paracetamol soon, or cocodamol at the most, so that I can look after SB without any worries. I’ve lost quite a lot of weight the past few weeks – mainly as I just haven’t felt like eating – and I’m almost constantly pale, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to catch up on sleep a little bit at the weekends, and work on getting better!
My negative feelings about being a stay at home mum have all but disappeared, and now I’m so excited to get to spend so much time with my little buddy, watching her grow and helping her develop!