GCN Calendar

Monday, 18 July 2011

Festival of History, Kelmarsh Hall.

Sunday 17th July saw me head off to North Northamptonshire to Kelmarsh Hall for the 'Festival of History' organised by English Heritage.

The Festival of History is a large two day event, unfortunately due to my 30th wedding anniversary being on the same weekend, I was not able to get for the entire weekend, so I had to settle to attending on the Sunday.

The GCN council was invited to attend and bring along the GCN stand by one of our member clubs, Pheonix Gaming Club from Rushden in Northamptonshire who have themselves been invited to run participation war games by the event organisers for the last four years. It should be noted that PGC are the only club that the organisers invite to attend and run games.

I was up with the lark at 5.00am, a couple of cups of coffee to wake me up, I set to packing the car, fortunately I did not need to take that much with me, the GCN screen, a pvc banner to drape over the table, a pile of Hammerhead show brochures, (the show brochure has all the GCN clubs listed so is proving very useful to hand out to people), a pile of my business cards, and a copy of White Dwarf and Wargames Illustrated withe the GCN community pages, not forgetting the bag with my large flask of coffee and my lunch. After letting my two Greyhounds out for a quick run round the garden I set off to pick up one of my fellow COGS club mates, Jason South who was coming with me for the day.

I had to nip over the other side of Chesterfield to pick Jason up, but at that time in the morning their is no traffic and Jason was duly picked up for just after 6.00am and off we headed for the M1. According to the route planner I needed to allow about one and a half hours, as it turned out it only took an hour and a 1/4, I had aimed to arrive for between 7.45am and 8.00am, so we arrived a little earlier than planned at just after 7.15am, pity it was not the same for the return trip home, but that's the M1 for you. Parking was fairly easy and we only had a5 minute walk from the field where we needed to park to the war gaming marquee, and although the weather looked pretty bad the rain held off.

We were greeted by Darrell and Carl from PGC, and Dave Wilkin form Bedford Gladiators, who is himself a GCN area rep, were then introduced to the rest of the PGC members who were there, I have to say that we were made very welcome. A table was provided for us and within 10 minutes the GCN stand was set up and ready for business, all we had to do was wait an hour and a 1/2 for the public to come in! A chance then to go and wander around at a slowly awakening camp site, I found the food stalls very easily, I just followed the smell of the cooking bacon and had a bacon cob and a nice mug of coffee, and set off to have a little look around.

I am interested in WW2 armoured vehicles, (heh, you would never have guessed from my Flames of War blogs would you), and found some really nice examples of various vehicles, but what had I forgotten, I left my camera on the table at home, what a plonker!

So back to the war gaming tent as it was starting to rain a little and go and have a chat to the nice guys from Warlord Games who had a trade stand. The war games tent was very close to the main entrance, so when the public was allowed in it got very busy very quickly, it got even busier at just after 10.00am when the heavens opened, which meant that the tent was packed with people either wanting to try out the games or were just interested in have a look as to what was going on. I found to my surprise that I got quite busy very early on in the proceedings with
inquiries about the GCN or people wanting to locate a gaming club in their area, as it turned out the morning flew past.

However I did get the chance to wander around and have a look at some of the games on offer, which were like the festival itself pretty diverse. Pheonix had put on six participation games, pretty much all historical, not surprisingly, apart from Dave Wikin's modern day game using the new 'Force on Force' rules set.

As mentioned there was the 'Force on Force' modern warfare game, IIRC in 20mm scale, a 25/28mm WW2 skirmish level game, a nice little WW2 September 1940 Battle of Britain game using 1/285th scale fighters and bombers, a 28mm Zulu wars game, a 28mm Crusaders game using the new Warlaord Games 'Hail Caesar' rule book and a Roman v Celts/Barbarians game, again in 28mm, again using 'Hail Caesar'. All in all a nice selection of games, unfortunately I did not get to play any of them during the day, well I did get to try out the Battle of Britain game towards the end of the day, which I have to say I really enjoyed.

Jason was keen to try out the 'Hail Caeser' games as I had been telling him about the book, which I had purchased at the Triples show in Sheffield a couple of months earlier, and so off he went while I either dealt with inquiries about the GCN or just generally chatted to people expressing an interest. Jason returned a little while later with his wallet a little lighter, temptation was just too much and he had purchased the 'Hail Caesar' book.

Around 12.00 ish the sun came out and the war game tent went rather quite, so that was an ideal opportunity to go and have a wander around. So Jason and myself spent about 1/2 an hour wandering around all the exhibits and looking at a few of the displays, mind you it started to rain again by 12.30pm so we made our way back the war games tent, but I have to say what I saw was very very impressive, and I regretted not being able to have been there on there Saturday.

The rain brought a large crowd into the tent again and off we went for another couple of hours being really busy, Jason tried out a couple of the other games, however by about 2.15pm the sun had come out again and the tent had gone quite. We were given one of the event time tables and spotted the 15th century jousting that was due to take place in 15 minutes, so being as it was about empty in our tent we made our way past a few gladiators knocking seven bells out of each other, and past a fairly large group of AWI re-enactors going through their drill. We got to the parade ground just as the 'knights' squires were setting some cabbages on poles for the knights to charge past and clobber with their war axes. And onto the main event, five rounds of jousting, really enjoyable and very entertaining, great stuff.

Back to the war games tent, and only just in time, we had been back in the tent less than two minutes when it poured down again, the heavens literally opened, which meant it was going to be busy again, and while not quite as busy as at the previous two sessions I was kept occupied with visitors for the next hour and a half, but as with all show's the time goes too quickly and the attendees either found something else to do/watch or went off home, however I did get to try out the Battle of Britain game at that point, although we did have a surprise, we had just started the play round one when we had to dash outside to see a quite spectacular sight, a dog fight between a ME109 and Spitfire, gripping stuff and not to be missed.

And that was pretty much that, 5.30pm had come round in a flash, the forces of the RAF, (Darrell and myself), had fought yet another attack from the Luftwaffe, (Jason and Chesney form Warlord), time to pack up and go home, although we did have to wait about 3/4 of an hour before we were able to go to the cars to get off of the parking field. Then home as it started to pour down again, as I mentioned earlier on, the trip home took a bit longer than the trip down, over two hours due to an accident near J21 on the M1, but that was the only problem.

Did Jason and myself enjoy the day, yes very much so, and I am looking forward to being able to go back again if we are invited. Granted we only saw a fraction of what was actually on offer, but what we did see was very entertaining or spectacular, and I for one found the day not only to be of interest and entertaining but also very useful for the GCN, there will be a few GCN clubs throughout the UK being contacted by potential new members all being well.

I was very impressed by the level of organization too, it all went extremely efficiently and although compared to previous years the attendance was expected to be down slightly is was still very very busy, and well worth the effort to go along.

I would like to express my thanks to Darrell Lee and Carl King from Pheonix Gaming club, for the invitation and all their assistance, and the rest of the PGC members for making both Jason and myself very welcome.


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