All posts by Ian Piddington

Midwinter Coronation

Within the SCA there are a number of Kingdoms, each ruled by a King and Queen. Every 6 months a new King and Queen are appointed by a heavy combat tournament, with the winner becoming the next Monarch along with his or her consort.

Within Lochac these tournaments take place in May and November. The in July and January the new King and Queen are crowned.

This year the Midwinter coronation was held in the Canton of Cluain, at the beautiful Hamilton Gardens.

At the feast on the Saturday evening w played for a display dance. While we have played the tune a number of times before and we know the dancers very well we hadn’t actually planned any of the performance in advance so we had no pre arranged number of repeats or tempo worked out.

Most of the performance was captured and can be seen here.

UK 2016

We finally have booked flights for our trip to to the UK. We depart New Zealand on the 10th June. we are stopping over in LA  and flying onto the UK on the 11th. we should arrive in the UK on the 12th.

We are flying out again on the 24th.

Still planning what we will be doing during the 2 weeks. We are booked to see plays at the Globe on the 16th and 19th.

General Update

Since we went to Gaidhealtachd  at New Years things have been pretty much run of the mill.

We have been doing a number of things with the SCA

  • Mondays we host a music group in which we are learning a number of period dance tunes
  • Tuesdays we have started training with the Rapier group
  • Thursdays we are still dancing with the renaissance group
  • I have been authorised as a Target Archery Marshall
  • Wendy lead a workshop on beginner harp
  • I ran a workshop on arrow making
  • We attended St Sebastians, an archery themed camp
  • Wendy has been involved with an advanced ensemble group to get a better grounding in medieval music theory, as well as getting to play some more challenging bits than the Monday night group is up to.

After running the arrow making workshop and getting out and doing some training shoots I have finally decided to finish making the arrows that I purchased all the bits for 5 years ago. Should keep me busy for a few weeks.

Away from the re-enactment scene things are a still busy. Wendy still has her students. I have been working on some large  migration projects at work that have been keeping me busy.

We have also been planning for our trip to the UK in June. We have the key things worked out, just need to book flights and then fill in a few blanks.


For the last 3 years we have been attending the NZ Gaidhealtachd.

The Gaidhealtachd is a 7 day Celtic culture camp that takes place from the 1st of January each year. Most of the activities are around music and dance, but there are also talks on history and language.

This year was a wet camp. We arrived on the 1st in rain. managed to put up our tent under the marquee, thank the gods we bought a dome tent this year, and once the rain eased up we carried it out and started moving in. By the time we were done we were soaked though. Tuesday we had to head back to Auckland for Wendy’s cousins wedding, this allowed us to throw the wet stuff though the dryer.

The rest of the week was better, it rained on and off but the camp was good fun, we practiced some of our music and attended a couple of workshops.

Each evening there is a Ceilidh each evening and open sessions in the evenings for people to play and dance at.

As with previous years I took lots of photos. Over the week i think i took around 2600. Of these I have chosen about 160 to upload.



So after about a year of planning the next major adventure started on Monday afternoon.

Wendy and I got married.

The ceremony was held at the Bridgewater Country Estate and was officiated by Peta Hardley.

It was a great day and we were really pleased to see so many people able to attend. The weather was glorious, there was just enough cloud cover to allow for the photographs and to stop me getting way too hot.

Wendy was absolutely stunning and I am so proud to have her as my wife.

David, my eldest son, also did a wonderful job as best man, it really meant a huge amount to me that he was there.

We were also fortunate to have the lovely Anna Dunwoodie and Shane Stewart compose and play a processional for us. They also played our first dance for us.

On a musical note our flatmate Nigel wrote a special song for us that went down very well. The evening was rounded off with music from Rory at last minute dj.

As soon as pictures are back from Nina we will share them.

St Johns

Over the weekend of the 10th – 12th July we attended the annual Cluain event of St Johns.

This  is an SCA camp held in the Waikato region. While normally we would take our tent and camp we decided to make use of the bunk rooms available at the site, and it was very fortunate that we did as temperatures over the weekend dropped to around -2. Fortunately both the main hall and bunk rooms were nice and warm once the heaters got started.

St Johns was a nice relaxed event. While there was archery, which both Wendy and I took part in, heavy combat and rapier outside most of the event took place inside the main hall.

Wendy had offered to run a couple of workshops on beginner harp. These went very well and I think we may have some new converts. While this was going on I learnt a bit about pewter casting with Master Edward Braythwayte. The end result being 24 harp shaped belt mounts. Now I just need to make Wendy a new belt.

On the Saturday evening there was a banquet. The food as always was excellent. Afterwards there was music and games. Wendy, along with Nadia, played harp while Chantelle played flute and sang. I played a bar game that was along the lines of a giant version of shove ha’penny. Followed by a couple of games of Irish, an early form of modern backgammon.

UK trip Week 2

Week two has been less hectic.

Thursday started fairly slowly. We decided to go to Brent Cross to look for some random things. While getting some lunch we came to the conclusion that very few places in the UK know how to make a really good cup of coffee. The addition of coffee machines in many places is a good start but the coffee regularly seems to taste burnt or bitter, maybe we are just spoilt with really good coffee everywhere in New Zealand. Wendy spent the night with Sophie and Lucy in Berkhamsted.

Friday morning there was an eclipse, but it was too cloudy to see much aside from it getting dark and a little cold. As we had tickets to go to the Making of Harry Potter at the Warner Brothers Studio for 5pm we decided to have a larger than usual lunch with Denise at the Harvester at the Green Man. We headed to Leavesden around 4 and spent the next 5 and a half hours walking round the tour looking at sets, props, costumes and behind the scenes pieces on the 8 Harry Potter movies. We could probably have spent longer but the tour closed at 10. Stupidly we only had our phones to take photos with and many are blurry, so we will have to go back again on another trip and take decent cameras with us.

Saturday we had planned to have dinner with Cole, Adam and Denise. Given we had all day with little planned we decided to head into London for the day. First stop was the Early Music Shop in Denmark Street. Wendy was missing having a harp to play and we had wanted to take a look at some music. They very kindly let Wendy play one of their Camac Harps while Ian looked through the sheet music, books and also at the recorders and other instruments. While we didn’t buy another harp, despite Wendy saying she needed one in the UK, we did pick up some music and a new renaissance descant recorder. From there we made our way to Hamleys to try and get an Evenstar for Wendy’s outfit. We also caught up briefly with Cole. In the evening we joined Adam and Cole at a very nice Italian restaurant in East Finchley for dinner and a catch up before the wedding.

Sunday we had arranged to meet Sophie and Ant for lunch. The weather was good so we went for a walk around Berkhamsted Castle and then along the canal, stopping for a late lunch in The Boot alongside the canal. After a great time with them we headed back to Denise’s along the back roads so we could see some of the countryside.

Last time we were in the UK Wendy wanted to go to Hampton Court Palace, on that trip we ran out of time so on Monday we decided to spend the day there. We spent the day looking round the Henry VIII exhibits. Hampton Court now has 4 actors that help play out some of the story of Henry and Anne Boleyn. Each hour for around 15 mins there was a short piece so between sketches we looked round the palace. Aside from the Henry VIII areas there is also the William III apartments, the Georgian exhibit and the Cumberland Gallery which we completely failed to look at. We did manage to walk through ‘The Wilderness’ and do the maze but there was so much more to see in the formal gardens. I think we could easily have spent 2 days at the palace to fully explore it.

Tuesday we had arranged to spend with David. He came over just after midday and we went out for lunch at Harvester.

Wednesday we packed the car up for the next road trip. We headed up the A1M and then through Baldock and Royston, stopping for lunch there. Then we worked our way cross country to Haverhill where we stopped and had a look round for a bit and found coffee, which was surprisingly good. Then it was on to find David and Danielle. Wendy was going to a harp recital that Danielle was giving in the evening while Ian spent the evening talking with David about all sorts of things.

Week 1 of the holiday

So we are 1 week in and it has been a busy one.

Arrived around lunch time on Thursday, headed to Denise’s house to drop bags etc. Then into Edgware to pickup UK SIM cards and a car. By 7:30pm Ian was asleep.

Woke up Friday around 9am and started sorting out what we would need for the first road trip; TORM, West Dean and Southampton.

Drove to Ryton on Dunsmore to attend The Original Re-enactors Market (TORM). Had a good look round all the stalls and picked up a couple of bits. Then off to the hotel to catch up with various people. Stayed up until around 1am talking to people. Saturday started with breakfast at 9am and then off to the market again.

Continued looking round the stalls and picked up a couple of things that we had seen the day before but wanted to think on. Found someone that can make Ian’s outfit for our wedding so he got measured. Just need to confirm styles and colours.

Saturday evening was spent back at the hotel for dinner with various traders and re-enactors. After the previous late night we opted for an early night.

Sunday started with packing and breakfast. The plan for the day was to drive to West Dean sightseeing on the way. After leaving Coventry we decided to stop in on Coombe Abbey. While this is now a hotel we had a good walk round the gardens, despite the cold. From there we headed to Cirencester for lunch and then on to Avebury. We spent a couple of hours walking around the town looking at Europe’s largest stone circle.

From there we drove to some of the outlying bits of the Avebury circle and then on to Marlborough for a late afternoon tea.

Then it was onto West Dean to catch up with Jennie and Mike, as well as Lucy. After dinner and a bit of chat we headed to bed.

Monday started out as a bit of a lazy start. After breakfast we went into Salisbury to have some lunch and then look at the cathedral. As well as having a good look round we got to look at one of the 4 remaining original copies of the Magna Carta. Then it was back to West Dean for dinner. Ian fell asleep on the couch for a bit, it has been a bit of a theme of the first week.

Tuesday we had a look at the 14th century chantry, all that is left of the first church in West Dean. From there we went to Romsey to look at the Abbey, then onto Southampton to visit Ben and Meri.

As they had been renovating Tuesday evening was spent helping unload a storage trailer before ordering chinese. Ian again fell asleep on the couch.

Wednesday was an early start to get back to London. Stopping off at Ian’s mums to drop bags before heading to Cole and Adams ‘Stag’ do. They had decided to do some archery and then go to a friends place for a BBQ. An enjoyable afternoon and evening was spent catching up and talking about random things. Then back to Denise’s to sleep.