The journey down was okay - plane, train - until I got to the taxi rank in Brighton. The B'n'B's in walking distance, but not with the torpedo, so I wanted a taxi. Torpedo wouldn't fit. So I set off along the road, and got stuck in the Mall From Hell, where I couldn't find my way out for ten minutes. So after twenty minutes of dragging the torpedo around town, I arrived, somewhat exhausted, at the B'n'B.
Our room was on the top floor. Up six flights of narrow stairs.
Of course it was.
Collapsed in the room, met siggav and M., grabbed stuff, and left for British Fed business meeting. Got there with about twenty minutes to spare, but then we didn't start on time anyway.
Overall, it went pretty well. Took three hours (and three pints), but was suitably organised and restrained and unstressed. Phew.
We all decamped to another pub where a back room had been booked for all to meet, and that was pleasant too. Rejoined siggav and M there, who were getting on okay with the other groups, so that was good.
Up way too early to ensure we all got a chance at the shower and for breakfast, before the taxi's arrived. Siggav, it seems, is not a morning person. :-)
Taxi arrived at 9am to ferry us over. Confusion reigned, but we got to the venue, did the opening, and then moved into the Sabre workshop. Lotsafun - a well-presented class, with precise instructions and corrections, all given in a humorous tone.
Spent some time getting some singlestick in, including a bout with the same guy who gave me so much trouble at the meeting a year ago. It's weird: he continues to be a nice, friendly, agreeable person who just wants to hit people really hard. Sigh. Also had a few bouts with other guys from Aberdeen and Oxford (although some of that might have been Sunday). Generally, all entertaining.
Lunch was in the local cafe, and we'd been asked to patronise it, please, since we'd assured them we'd consume sufficient to make it worth opening. Ha: we hit the place like a swarm of locusts, and cleaned it out in about ten minutes. Had a nice chat with some people I'd met at my first meeting - they were now married, so that was good.
Bartitsu workshop, next: martial arts for stiff, upright Victorian gentlemen who do no exercise whatsoever. Excellent stuff, and excellent presentation. First time I'd seen this particular instructor instructing or demonstrating, and he's very good. I'm quite pleased about that, because I really like the guy.
Now the rapier tournament. Huge turn-out: 32 people (after two volunteered to drop out so that we could have a power-of-two). Lots of Italians and Spaniards, from the FISAS meeting in April earlier in the year, so it was just like being back in Italy. I went out in the first round, as expected, but managed to survive for a few minutes so I'm quite pleased. And I also got an honourable mention for not pressing the advantage when my opponent fell over. Better yet, I think he was the guy who went on to win, so he's a good person to lose to. :-)
Particular mention of Francesco, from Italy, who got a spontaneous round of applause for a beautiful countertime thrust to win his bout. And also of another guy, whose name and school I never found out, but who was the most, well, dramatic fencer there. It was like watching a scene from The Musketeer. And just after I'd thought that, he landed a touch by a reverse-spinning hand-parry and cut; I think the entire room went what the fuck was that? at once. It didn't help him, either, because he received a touch just before the flashy technique started...
We had to cut it short because the evening meal was on a fixed time-table, so the tourney would continue tomorrow. All into the taxis, and back to the B'n'B. Aggravation from the driver who misinformed us about where he was going when we got in, and then claimed he'd said something else when we said we wanted to go somewhere else. But we got to the B'n'B, wound our way up the crooked stairs (nothing in this place was level; I put a bottle of water on the bedside table, and it slid right off...). Rapid showering, and then on with the kilts.
The meal was good, and fun. We each had place-name cards with - a nice touch - the individual schools' logos, according the name on the card. Good speeches, too, as the leadership of the Fed was transferred yet again.
Up at the same time, and even more rushed, because we had to pack everything too. I'm sure it all fitted into the torpedo more easily on Thursday. Into the taxi and then off to the venue. I took a card from the taxi guy, because there was a suggestion that us and another group share a taxi to the airport today, to avoid train issues, and with all of us plus gear, there was probably justification for two. After calling at random times through the day, I eventually contacted the guy and booked us all for 5pm.
I wasn't bothered about the workshops or demos in the morning, so I spent most of the time getting some freeplay in. I must have had about eight rapier bouts, confusing everyone with the different style. I even won a few points.
Had a talk with the new Fed secretary about some constitution-related work I've agreed to do, then had a one-on-one introduction to Saviolo with Chris Chatfield, and that was very enjoyable. Big, beefy weapons they use, and it very much affects the style.
Gave Lyle a brief intro our backsword style, since he was one of the people who'd booked a session with my absent instructor, then had lunch (soup, since the locusts had been past again, and that's what was left).
The rapier tournament restarted and was finished off. Francesco came in third, getting another round of applause for winning his bout with a passatto sotto, which is a very rare technique in live tournament conditions: it means that as your opponent thrusts at you, you drop down sideways onto your spare hand, under the thrust, and counter-thrust to your opponent. Damn impressive. I've only ever seen two others, and both were done by my instructor.
Next, a Saviolo class, which replaced the backsword class my instructor was supposed to be giving. If I'd know this class was happening, I probably wouldn't have booked the one-to-one session, and that would have been my loss, as they covered different things. Very enjoyable workshop.
And then onto the Glorianna Cup. A very hectic tournament, this, because the majority of people with any singlestick experience were all leaving in taxis for the airport an hour after the tournament started. It was also the first tournament of any kind that siggav and M. had taken part in, so I really didn't want us to have to leave part-way through.
Due to numbers, siggav got a bye (or is it buy? I've never know), and M. and I both got through our first rounds (I was convinced I'd lose mine, but didn't), then we all went out in the next round. It was first-hit-wins, regardless of the hit (very minor cuts count), and it's relying on the receiver to declare them. Lots of honourable "I got hit" declarations there, and we stormed through (incidentally, I got knocked out by the guy I'd been giving a lesson to, two hours earlier. The irony...)
The entire tournament took forty-five minutes, then there was a hectic leave-taking, final salute, goodbyes, and stuffing of stuff into the torpedo. Which definitely weighed more that it did on arrival, since it now contained an extra singlestick, two bracers, and a smallsword...
Off to the airport, still in the clothes we'd been fencing in all day, and onto the plane.
An excellent weekend all-round, with the only damper being our instructor's absence. Looking forward to the next one, now.