We left home at 9pm on Thursday night. All the kids were sleeping and transfered into the car without stirring, which was great. We drove through the night & met up with the rest of the group half way down the M4 at 11pm, leaving there at midnight, and arriving at Stanstead at about 3am. The long stay parking is MILES away from the airport, so we woke the kids up and waiting in the cold for the bus to take us across to the main airport. It was pretty cold, espeially as the kids were just in Pyjama's:-( Once there & checked in, we settld down to a big breakfast - I'd packed loads of food, and Aggie tried to grab an hour's sleep. Unfortunately, within five minutes the fire alarm went off & continued for nearly half an hour, so no sleep then.
By the time fire alarms and breakfast were finished it was time to move off to the gate, and then fly out. RyanAir is, without doubt, the worst airline I have every flown with - and I've taken package holidays on charter planes and flown Aeroflot in the 90's when they happily booked on "standing room only" passengers! RyanAir have packed on so many seats that they have even had to invent a new brace position, as there is not enough room even for Mstr A to put his head between his knees! The seats also didn't recline even the tiniest bit, so no-one except the kids (who could curl up on the chair) managed any sleep during the 2 hour flight to Milan:-( We arrived at 9.30am and were whisked off by coach to the campsite.
By the time we got ourselves & our stuff unpacked at the campsite, it was just about midday, so like proper English people, we proceeded to start to set up camp in the midday sun:-) Aggie got the tent up while I fed the kids more packed lunch, then I sorted out the inside while he grabbed some food. By mid-afternoon, we were pretty knackered! Everyone else crashed out, but we have kids, and they'd all slept through the night & wanted to play, so we were denied the luxuary of sleep, and spent the afternoon playing, chatting & watching the more sensible Europeans set up camp after their siesta.
It was interesting seeing the groups from different countries. I'd say we had more authentic clothing and skills, but they had some fantastic furniture. And lots of groovy weapons:-) It was very strange not being able to talk to the public - i usually spend most of my days talking & explaining stuff, but it did mean we got loads done - I managed to sew a new shirt for Mstr A, a Linen dress for myself, and to fix up the girls linen dresses. Aggie made a load of leather goods, and did some archery practise. he even fought in the battles (the first evening we had a night fight at 10pm, then daytime bttles on Sat & Sun). LMD thought he was absolutely hilrious dressed up in battle gear & giggled every time she saw him:-)
The site was open to the public 24 hours a day, and they came at all hours too, which was wierd. We were the only group with proper minstrels, and you really started to understand why bards were so highly prized in mediaeval times when they provided nearly all the entertainment! I seem to have volunteered to be a musician/story teller for future events which will make anyone who knows me fall over themselves laughing as it is well known that i can not sing a note!
We were actually really lucky with the weather - it was beautifully warm, but not too hot, and slightly overcast. Mstr A got a little bit sunburned on his neck (I did keep putting his hat on, but he kept "forgetting" it!), but the rest of us were fine. It was slightly marred by the fact that me & Aggie had a throat infection all weekend, but we survived on lots of paracetemol & determination:-)
Mstr A tried out his new longbow & took really well to archery. Even managing the self discipline when it went wrong! The girsl were oo'ed and ahh'ed over constantly - the Italians love children. Poor LMD was poked & stroked & prodded and picked up wherever she went! Although I know virtually no Italian, it soon became pretty obvious what "Bella Bambina" meant. I think her photo will appear in many 1000's of albums over the next few days;-)
Like all these events, the children stayed awake throughout the daylight hours, so it was early mornings and late nights for us while we were there, then the return trip was slightly worse than the one out there, causing another sleepless night for us. We decided not to even try & drive back home in that state, and instead nipped down the M11 to my mothers house for some kip. She was happy to see us, & I stole some warmer clothes for me & the girls from my sister, which was good, as I hadn't packed any, and it as freezing cold, raining & foggy when we landed:-( Bring back summer!
We've just made it home, and I've loads of catching up to do. I'll post some more photo's and info asap.