Things I had learnt from Woolaton. Take booze (I actually wasn't sure what the view on drinking was, I was soon put right). Take food that can be cooked on a fire. Take notes. The later because people say things like 'Bob Smith makes those for about ten pounds', and you don't know who Bob Smith is and/or can't remember his name to look up later, same with companies. I have a little black leather book and pencil for this although it still mainly contains little sketches of camp life.
Hunton court, near Maidstone. Blessed with a lift up I arrived about five minutes before a parade of both armies in honour of the family whose land the event was on and a pretty good display it made too (must check my shirt is tucked in..). Soon after there was drill. I remembered things from last time and am sure that if any of you bump into me and say 'Fix!' my shoulders will straighten and my head will snap forward. First casualty of the weekend was the person next to me feinting, it was a turning out to be a hot day!
The battle that afternoon was a sizeable affair even having localised skirmishes within it, a redoubt was assailed on the right whilst we advanced and drove off some Belgiums, one of whom got a musket butt in the head from me. Close combat is fun and rather polite, people signalling by gestures 'Go on then smash me in the face!' We then over ran a gun position at the end.
After the dust had settled I had to go an guard the powder wagon, and enjoyed watching some Brunswickers trying to break a fallen tree up using only their bare hands, there was some falling off involved.
Then a lovely regimental dinner, two tables, good food, great company, an abundance of wine. This is the fantastic social side of it, the battle is perhaps an hour and a half but a summer evening is four or five hours of merriment. Athough only my second outing the unit was taking on the feel of a family, and I am not generally a family person but here are people you actually have things in common with, of all different ages, including Mouton the dog, and you eat together, camp together, drill together, fight together.
I went to gather firewood afterwards with an axe and ended up chopping a fallen tree in half with the help of a redcoat, John of the East Essex, just like those encounters between piquets where enemies become friends. We carried the wood back and he joined us for a drink.
Next day ran quite like the first, without the parade, and making sure everyone had enough water, and this time I got it from a Belgium, seemed only fair. Sergeant Willie got promoted beforehand and the cry of Vive Willie! ran out along with 'Willie, willie, willie - OI OI OI!' Even L'Emporeur found it funny.
After the battle the French flag was lowered and people started moving off, I find it a bit strange when people disppear into a tent and re-appear in jeans and a T-shirt. Who is this? are it's you. Au revoir!