The May bank holiday on sunday 25th 2014 certainly went off with a bang as the Napoleonic Association of re-enactors http://www.napoleonicassociation.org blitzed the Painshill Park near Cobham in Surrey http://www.painshill.co.uk with the thunder of hooves and the crack of muskets and cannon fire. An incredibly authentic experience of the “age of elegance”,they delve deep into all aspects of the period delivering an enthralling battlefield skirmish and other camp and entertainment experiences along the way. You have to blink twice to remind yourself that we are in fact still in the 21st century and cannot help but feel that these were in fact more elegant times. This group clearly eat,sleep and live this colourful period in history and provide a great insight to onlookers who ever wondered what it would have been like to live in these times. I can still smell those camp fires! Now where did I put that musket!
Surge domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua ~ “Rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face”
An inscription carved on the back of a twisted metal crucifix possibly cleaved off a slain Saxon warriors battle shield.If ever the past reached across the centuries to speak to us about life in 7th century saxon Britain then this was it.
Wandering through the British Museum in London is a fantastic experience on any day but a recent visit left me reeling with wonder.
An announcement on the notice board near the main entrance caught my attention while visiting recently.
See the Staffordshire Hoard in room 36-7.
“It will redefine the dark ages ” say the experts.
The Hoard was discovered in a field in July 2009 by metal detectorist Terry Herbert and composed of 1500 individual items of silver and gold mostly consisting of what appear to be battle trophies,there were 84 Pommel Caps,71 Sword hilt collars and gold crucifix formations looking like shield fittings that were cleaved off along with helmet cheek pieces and personal items.
The Items date from around the 7th Century,a period when Britain was a maelstrom of tribal rivalry and religious revolution as the country went from pagan to christian beliefs.
Having seen the news and press announcing the find I was filled with anticipation as I clambered up the stairs and into the room containing a selection of the find in several glass cases just around the corner from another amazing artifact room that of the Sutton Hoo finds.
I was gobsmacked! It was stunning!!! absolutely amazing to see!!You almost have to pinch yourself to remind yourself that what you are looking at is simply the real thing from all those centuries ago inches from your nose and not some prop from a Hollywood movie.
I fully understand how Terry Herbert the metal detectorist who found it said he was dreaming for days about what he would find next.
It has been valued at 3.285 million pounds and the British museum has launched its hoard appeal to pay for it.
If you are in London grab the chance while its on show,it will enrich your sense of history and the ancient world.
The official Website is here:http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk/about/
Pictures courtesy of the Staffordshire Hoard Website and Dave Rowan and Daniel Buxton.
“Howdy partner!” The gunslinger announced as we turned up unannounced in a wild west tumbleweed town strangely somehow familiar after traveling hundreds of miles across the sun scorched desert.There had just been a torrential downpour and the ground steamed as we disembarked from our metal horse with rubber hooves and examined our surroundings.” This Sure isn’t Kansas anymore toto”,I muttered as my boots hit the sand,”then again it isnt quite America either,more Almeria Spain,mmm! I think I fancy a pepsi and some tapas might be a good idea!!!”
We had just arrived in Almeria Spain,surprising to some this was the real wild west that is portrayed in the classic movies from the 70s starring such famous stars as Clint Eastwood,Yul Brynner and many others.
Clint apparently even bought his famous Poncho locally in the area.
It was the location of such Spaghetti Western classics by Sergio Leone as “a fistfull of Dollars”,”for a few dollars more”,and “The Good,the Bad and the Ugly” and also for other films such as Conan the Barbarian and Michelangelo Antonioni film “the Passenger” starring Jack Nicholson.
My interest had been drawn to the area after seeing an hilarious Spanish black comedy film by Director Alex de la Iglesia called “800 Balas” meaning “800 Bullets”(2002),starring comedy actor Sancho Gracia,Angel de Andres Lopez and Carmen Maura.Its an hilarious film about a Stuntman and his colleagues who make a living at a Wild West town in Almeria Spain.They are making a living entertaining small groups of tourists that are deposited in their Wild west movie set town.The stuntmans son, also a stuntman, was killed in a filming accident back in the towns golden age somewhere far back in the decadent past when westerns were popular.His child grows up fascinated in the life his deceased father lived.So begins an hilarious quest as the son runs away seeking out the wild west town to learn more about his fathers percieved heroic past.When the childs powerful theme park executive mother finds out the son has run away she pursues them angrily trying to close down the park with hysterical results.
This film rekindled my interest in the Spaghetti westerns and I was totally stunned to find that the town portrayed in the film was in fact very Real and that it did indeed have a contingent of Actors making a living out of the old Wild West movies.
Its called Texas Hollywood in the area known as Tabernas Almeria.
So hi ho silva and away and here we are!!!
It was a hilarious afternoon walking around the exact same set as 800 Balas almost pinching ourselves as to how we had stumbled across the attraction.
Throughout the day they put on shows for the public and provide excursions and carriage rides around the area giving a tour and insights into its movie past.
There are pictures from its film set days and you can see quite a few famous faces portrayed treading the dusty streets in which you now find yourself.
Theres also an Indian village and a few Buffalos, by the way,dont miss the Camels apparently related to those in Lawrence of Arabia which was partially shot in the area!!
Most recently a Pepsi advert was shot here starring David Beckham and his pals and the area is frequently used by car commercials needing that authentic Wild West touch.
All in all it was quite a surreal and amusing afternoon as well as quite informative from a movie history point of view. I’ve been watching the old spaghetti westerns lately just trying to catch a glimpse of parts of the landscape.
After some refreshments at the saloon we saddled up,put in some more petrol,set up the Sat Nav and headed south across the pass and into other areas of movie interest.
The area was also the location of the film Conan The Barbarian by John Milius starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman and the nearby Las Salinas mountains featured in scenes portraying Conan in Hyboria which were in fact locations better known as the land of the spaghetti western.
Almerimar was the scene of the Wizard/Stone Fortress encounters along with La Ciudad Encantada,El Condor,Cuevas de Roque and Penon De Bernal the famous Mount Doom in the film.This was the location we headed for next in our whistle stop tour of the region.
Penon De Bernal was the mountain upon which a spectacular Temple of Doom was built and Arnold Schwarzenegger Aka Conan The Barbarian confronted his nemesis ultimately burning down the temple film set in the movie.
It is located near the town of Almeria itself.you can find more locations from the film here:
I found the Conan Completist Web site very useful in finding these locations and it is packed with great information on the area.
I am sure local tour groups provide tours of this movie history rich area and a little research would provide a great trip if you are interested in the area.
After a long day passing thorough several periods in movie history we turned our wagons back north and headed back into the sunset.
Contemplate this on the tree of woe!!”
Blog Pictures:Copyright Kerry Davies.
“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of War!” or maybe ” Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries!” Quotes from Shakespeare and Monty Python.
Two thoughts that entered my mind as my 4 wheeled time machine touched down in Battle near Hastings circa 14th October 1066 in a muddy field at the back of Battle Abbey.
As the mists of time cleared there was the thunder of hoofs and the clash of steel as armoured knights battled it out across the hillsides of East Sussex England.
“Oy! dont throw that spear at me! oh watch where you fire those arrows!!!!! ouch!”
Actually it was a rather excellent day trip to the ancient Battle field of Hastings on Sunday the 11th of October where celebrations were underway for the actual nation changing battle all those years ago.
In the rear area of the Abbey built just after the battle circa 1079 (as a sorry for killing so many of the locals gesture by William the Conqueror) ,a reenactment society had created a medieval village for the yearly event run by English Heritage.
It was a feast for the eyes for anyone with the slightest interest in things medieval a the event filled the air with smells of cooking meat on wood fires and the sight of leather workers and artisans at work.
There were metal workers and woodworkers offering their wears along with trinkets and other gifts to take home and celebrate ones ancient ancestry and kids battled it out locked into their imaginary world slaying dragons in the abbey ruins.
Medieval musicians and Bards told tales of deeds long past among the cloisters and young warriors were showing off demonstrating how to duck oncoming arrows!!!!
Wandering the battlefield I took along with me a Nikon D200 equipped with a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 and a Nikkor 24mm f2.8 traveling very light.
It was a great way of meeting the locals as they would have been in times past!! Read more »