Challenged to find a picture of my favourite holiday destination for this Al Fresco Holidays blog competition, I couldn’t resist the chance to wax lyrical about Kentwell Hall and reenactment once again.
It’s an odd choice of holiday. It’s hard work for one, but I suppose it’s the change is as good as a rest philosophy. I’m certainly not all over social media – no wifi, no electricity! means very little in the way of blogging or tweeting. And the clothes – you aren’t getting a tan when you’re tudoring
But the community. Everyone working together – if the dairy and bakhouse aren’t working there’s no bread and butter. Sotlers at various stations around the manor cook the midday meal – pottage mainly, with bread and perhaps a side dish of something involving beans. (Breakfast and dinner are included too, though they’re more modern. And I rarely make it to breakfast, it’s a long walk from the campsite with two small children at that time in the morning.)
My part over the last couple of years has been in the barnschool, somewhat of a busman’s holiday for a home educator, finding yourself in a classroom of sorts with a range of other people’s children. But barnschool is a good place for a woman with small children at her apron strings – a blanket on the straw provides a place to nap, the barnsward is out front with places to play and explore within sight, and a long piece of linen means I can carry a tired Tigerboy when his little legs have had enough of walking.
People ask how you manage feeding and sleeping through the day – a wrap is a lifesaver. Tudor clothes are actually well set up for breastfeeding (unsurprising when you consider the alternatives available at that point. No plastic bottles for starters!) so as long as you’re happy feeding wherever you are, feeding on demand is straightforward. I have found that the demand increases while I’m there, I suppose it’s a reaction to the different environment and probably the higher levels of activity too.
We sleep in a tent while we’re re-enacting. I love camping anyway – I love waking up and crawling out of the tent into the day. It’s easier to be outside when there’s no walls between you and it. I’m not fond of rain but a good pair of wellies helps – rain during the day has to be waited out.
It’s a different pace of life when you’re living in the past. No clocks chasing you around, tasks are just as essential (like arranging food, drink and changing small children!) but the timetable is more forgiving, as are the people around you. And everyone mucks in to lend a hand – toddlers are watched by all adults, bigger children tend smaller ones, women work together to mind each other’s children and get everything done between them. It’s a necessity – there’s no other way to get through the day, but it’s also a pleasure. I’ve found connections in these visits to the past that I would never have expected before I started.
So, when I think of my perfect holiday? It’s at Kentwell, wandering through the past, being someone else. The ultimate break.