Sunday, 8 February 2009

A day out up north

Yesterday we were intending to go the Foreign Fields, LARP Fayre in Bristol but unfortunately it was canceled at the last minute by the venue's Health and Safety people. With all the snow and ice, they decided it was too dangerous for the event to go ahead and pulled the plug. This caused quite a bit of disappointment in our household, especially since it's Dave's birthday today and the trip was part of his birthday plans.

After a bit of head scratching, Richard suggested we go to the Royal Armouries in Leeds, which Dave has been angling to visit for a while. I briefly weighed it up against a Butterfly Farm and a Sealife Centre, but lots of swords, guns and armour won out. So yesterday, we headed off to Leeds along with Richard and Nat - after carefully scrutinising the weather forecast, which promised the day would be cold but fine (it was) with no expected snow (they were right this time, thank goodness).

The building didn't look like much from the outside but once we reached the stair case and looked up... All I can say is wow, I have never seen so many guns, swords, bayonets, knives, maces, armour and miscellaneous weaponry in one place, let alone hung from the wall as it was.

So started a day of looking at more and more weapons and absorbing information about the history of warfare. It was a long, bloody history and the european section made me feel rather sad as it does seem we've spent a long, long, long time working out the best way to kill one another. Thought provoking, sobering and very interesting stuff.

After lunch we headed into the Oriental section (the birthday boy's choice and a good one) which was more of a feast for the old eyes. Impressive diorama's had been set up like these...

And can you imagine this War Elephant charging towards you?

I was particularly intrigued by the craftsmanship that had gone into making the items on display. Faded and worn they might be, but each piece of armour was as much for ceremonial purposes as anything and were works of art in their own right. Each piece was carefully decorated while the armour was covered in heavily embroidered and beaded fabric, so that what you had was clothing which happened to contain armour.

I'd have liked to have seen more costume on display, but that could just be my costumer's eye needing to be satisfied. I did take lots of pictures, but the lighting and position of the cases meant that if you took one photo, you also got reflections of everything else nearby.

It was good nonetheless, although by the end of the afternoon I was exhausted, not just from all the walking around but from information overload.

To sum up, the museum is definitely worth a visit and don't expect to see everything in one day. Pick which exhibits you'd like to see and plan accordingly. If you like history and have an interest in events which shaped the world we live into today, I think there'd be something here for you.

When we were done, we headed back to Richards before going out for a bite to eat. I think we may have bored poor Richard when we unexpectedly started frothing about our time in the Cam. While the bureaucracy may have sucked the life out of it for me in the end, there were definitely good parts about the game before it all went sour and last night, the good memories flowed. It hasn't been mentioned in our house for years, so I've no idea where all the enthusiasm came from but gosh did we froth. Sorry Richard!

The journey home was very quiet and I do mean very quiet. The M1 at 11pm on a Saturday evening is not usually busy, but last night there were sections of the journey when we were the only car on the road. When other traffic did pass us (I'm a slow driver who observes the speed limit) it was one or two cars and that was it. Wierd. Perhaps the snow had scared all the other drivers into staying at home!


  1. No wasn't bored by Cam, just not part of it, so listened to your interesting stories.

    Good day I'm sure sea life and butterfly farm would have been fine too.