Posted by: internationalroutier | April 6, 2010

Life lessons from reenactment…

There a lot of things I have learned during my time with the Routiers.
1) Don’t take the availability of water (hot or otherwise) for granted.
2) Nine pints of ginger beer will have your belly rumbling for days.
3) Mobile phones don’t take kindly to dips in the ocean (see point #2).
4) Most regular adults have nowhere near enough silliness in their lives.
5) Life goes on quite happily without mobile phones, microwaves and flat screen tv’s.
6) Dancing the Newcastle is fun after 3 pints, tricky after 4 and dangerous to life and limb after 5.
7) Routiers do eat vegetables (shhh, don’t tell everyone).
8) Bacon is the king of foods (actually I knew this one already, but it does bear repeating).
9) Sewing is tricksy but rewarding. Drafting a pattern does my head in.
10) Always have a fun fire to play with and a cooking fire to actually get stuff cooked on.

ETA 11) When you type 8 and follow it with a ) symbol wordpress thinks you are being all cool with the smiley faces. What. Evah. Lol.

What has reenactment taught you??? What have you discovered since joining the Routiers??? Secrets of life! Cautionary tales! Words of wisdom! All welcome. Discuss.



  1. By way of discussion, here’s my list:

    1. You can never have too many hammers, files or sharp things in the tool chest. Repeated lacerations or blunt trauma with the aforementioned tools does not assist in the learning process.

    2. Terminally mispronounced Latin will be accepted as “Late-Medieval Ecclesiastical” by other re-enactors if you sound sufficiently authoritative when passing it off. The same applies when talking absolute bollocks.

    3. It’s perfectly acceptable to have the preserved remains of seven dead animals stored in the corner just in case you want to make something.

    4. No leather off-cut is too small to be useful for something. The same applies to pieces of copper alloy. One day, I’ll find out what that use is.

    5. The pike is the only fit weapon for a gentleman. The liberal application of shiny armour and feathers will assist in keeping it so. A back-sword, longbow and pair of bucket-top boots are the only acceptable accessories.

    6. Old age and treachery will beat youth and inexperience, although gout does level the playing field somewhat.

    7. All blade-making projects will demand a blood-sacrifice at some point in the manufacturing process. The sharper the blade, the quicker it will heal. Therefore try to arrange to have the bleeding closer to the finish than the start.

    8. Our antecedents weren’t stupid. The trick is to work out not only what they did, but why.

    9. When melting brass, do not inhale anywhere near the crucible. Using bronze is not only more accurate for most periods; it won’t give you Zinc-flu (

    10. Having more books than the local library is normal. Having more history books than the State Library is a laudable aim.

    11. Watching Ken Branagh’s Henry V ( always induces a state of wanting to rain feathery death on passing French persons.

    12. When considering medieval medicine for home use, prefer Harvey over Galen and willow-bark over white lead or mercury, work at balancing your humours and don’t worry too much about the laudable pus.

  2. Don’t marry a reenactor?

  3. What has reenactment taught me?

    With enough people, anything is possible, if not always advisable.

    Contrary to what seems to be societies expectations, men can cook, sew and look after children, women can use tools, march and make decisions and children can be happy without constant stimulation.

    There are people who appreciate what some might consider OCD regarding research or handmaking bits and pieces.

    We can take our hobby seriously, but ourselves not seriously at all ™

    People will go back for second helpings of turnips if you add enough butter.

    It’s best not to try to match beer for beer with people twice your weight.

    And personally, I have learned that even though I can’t draw a straight line, I am able to draft patterns and make wearable art. Cool, eh?

    • Very cool! I like your point about the kids not needing continual stimulus (and I would add organised activities), they do very well with sticks and dirt and canvas and rocks don’t they?

      • There was one Taminick where they invented taxation from first principles within hours of arriving and went on to derive a form of Keynesian economics by lunch on the second day. I think when applied to re-enactment kids the collective form of ‘child’ is ‘swarm’.

  4. A piece of cheese is a very good substitute for mothballs (or indeed any balls) if kept in your snapsack for a few years. I discovered one in there recently – left over from The Gunpowder Plot (TM) – and all my kit had its wonderful, rolled in the dust of the road, spewed on, never washed after years of sweat, smoke infested (it was a Dutch cheese) black-powder-ish smell, despite having been inactive for so long. One only wonders what would have lurked in there if I’d left a nice bit of sausage as well. What have I learned? Never wash your kit!

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