Nottingham gets rather chilly in fall and not in a way similar to the Pacific Northwest. The clouds hang low in the sky, giving the landscape an almost constant light fog. During the instances of clarity, it either mists, rains, or blows. The wind is particularly biting most days, penetrating beneath layers of clothing to chill you to your bones. Despite this seemingly dreary weather, there is a certain liveliness in the air. The trees have finally changed into their autumn coats of red and yellow and the leaves float and twirl in the air as the wind blusters through the branches. Birds fly overhead, chirp in the trees, or squawk, in the case of geese, as they waddle across the lawns. Students and professors stride up and down the paths of the University, bundled up in scarves and wool coats. It may seem dreary to some, but I think I might just be in love.
This past weekend I had the joy of going to the Robin Hood Pageant, a medieval festival held on the grounds of Nottingham Castle. I, along with three friends, spent a day wandering the paths of the Castle. Physicians, knights, musicians, and monks lined the pavement with tents of boiled leather. King Richard the Lion Heart sat with his queen listening to commoners and collecting taxes. On the end of one path, past a magician’s performance, was an archery range where kids could learn to use a bow for three pounds. The most wonderful thing, in my opinion, was the falconer. For just three pounds each, Alanna Stanton and I got to try our hand at a little falconry. The falconer gave me a thick leather glove, put a piece of meat on my hand and had Tobias (an eight month old Harris Falcon) fly to a post about twenty feet away from me. A few moments later, Tobias was silently soaring through the air towards me to land on my wrist and snatch up the meaty little morsel. As of yet, it is one of the most awesome (as in awe-inspiring) moments of my trip.
After the try at falconry, the four of us wandered up towards the grandstand at the top of the hill, right next to the castle. There we wandered through some merchant stalls, bought a nice cup of tea, and watched Robin Hood go head to head with the Sheriff of Nottingham in a tournament. It started off with a fight with flails (the thing that looks like a mace with a chain), then moved on to a duel of swordsmen (both on and off horse back and of various sizes). For the finale, Robin Hood and two of his Merry Men jousted against the Sheriff and Guy of Gisbourne. It was cheesy, hilarious, and spectacular – one of the best weekends I’ve had yet.