Hole park lies in the heart of Kent, where moss lichened church spires rise over sleepy villages, the local yoeman always has a drop of Watney's red barrel on tap, and folk keep olive oil and white wine in the pantry, just next to the shotgun.
Here would be the second invasion Kent event after the success of last year.
I will provide some vignettes of the weekend as I am a bit pressed for time, back Monday evening, busy Tuesday, writing this now and off to Belgium not long after work tomorrow. Got to keep up!
I arrived Sunday mid morning and was happy to go and stand sentry at the bridge between camps, Waterloo bridge to them, Austerlitz bridge to us. Because we had the country house, the traders and most importantly the ice cream van on our side there was a constant flow of British/allied types back and forth.
Whilst we don't usually do saluting much in the 45eme it is good form to acknowledge the other sides officers and colours by presenting arms and I soon came to recognise all the officers and so smooth at presenting arms that my frizzen was just coasting snuggly into my naval each time.
Also I learnt that you don't have to salute an officer who isn't wearing a hat, he has already lowered himself so far by this act you can ignore him.
Speaking of learning we had a new chap in the ranks and he came to take over. It was good to be able to pass on some simple drill and tips, and vocalising orders instead of just responding to them helps them stick in the head.
On the Monday I was near the bridge and a couple of comrades when our very own Napoleon-a-like John came over and we resolved to take it. He was quite deadpan as he told the surprised and wary British sentry where to go. The Emporer and myself on point we awaited the response. Sure enough a squad of redcoats lead by their commander in chief were soon assembled and marching on us so I withdrew at a suitably dignified pace. Still it caused a stir on both sides of the ditch.
The Sunday night tug of war.
Both battles will be remembered, but for very different reasons. Sunday would be the French victory and in typical style the British marched on and were repulsed, ourselves helped by about seven cannons, and once repelled the British withdrew to the far side of the field.
And stayed there.
To encouraged them we fell back nearer the crowd line behind us. Still nothing.
Eventually the drums were heard, causing one of the loudest cheers they'd ever got from the French. They advanced up the long slope, but never reached us. Often in neatly unit-identifiable groups, they fell to the guns until it all ground to a halt as if against the wind and a few survivors wandered off the other way. Right. Okay.
Monday was a great battle, intense and visually impressive. As my ankle was playing up from overdoing it the day before I decided to die early and dramatically to a cannon shot. Soon after some friendly riflemen dragged myself and a dead comrade over to a barricade so we were not in the fire arc of a battery of guns. Propped up I could see the valiant French falling back, making the British pay for every foot. A skein of smoke veiled all, the ground shook from the guns and rockets shrieked overhead. It really was a sight to see as the French turned on an artillery battery then fought to the last behind a second redoubt. Sometimes everything just comes together and that was exactly what happened on the Monday. Quite remarkable.
Let us hope facing the Prussians at Ligny will be as satisfying, hopefully with a few more of them after last year's floods stymied a lot of travel. Our penny packet of soldats will go onwards, with the eagles to Belgium!