Waterloo part 1 – Camp life

Greetings everyone!

After I wrote last time things with the blog have not worked out quite like I planned. We were traveling for 5 weeks with no internet at all and when we came back the internet at our home had been shut off until Christmas sometime, because of them re-doing the whole system. Also my plans of using Instagram more hasn’t so far worked very well either, it for some reason refuses to work on my phone despite all the things I’ve done to try to get it working. But I haven’t completely given up on it yet.

But never mind all that, what I really wanted to talk about this time was the amazing and incredibly EPIC Waterloo 200 event!
I don’t know if any one reading this had the chance to go there but for those who didn’t I’d like to give an account of how it was.

Andrew and I arrived a few days before the “offical” start of the event, and I’m glad we did because there were of course already lots and lots of people there and things happening! And it also gave us a chance to just enjoy setting up and getting into the atmosphere and catching up with friends and all that before the public were allowed in.

With this being the 200 year anniversary the event was of course much bigger than it ever had been before, indeed bigger than ANY Napoleonic reenactment has EVER been before! I heard varying accounts of home many people were taking part, ranging from anywhere between 5-7000. In any case, there was a lot of people!

The event was organized so that there was one big camp for all the allies, and 3 smaller ones for the French. Me and Andrew were both in the Allied camp obviously, he with the 33rd Regiment of Foot and I with the Nordic Battalion (it was very important for Andrew to be in a red coat for this specific event). Our camp was right smack in the middle of the old battlefield, which was quite special.

So what did people do all day? Well for anyone who was a soldier there was A LOT of marching around doing drill practice! Because people came from litteraly ALL over the world (specially impressed with people who came all the way from Australia and the Canadians who chartered two whole planes to come over!) this meant that though most were very good at drill to start off with no one had ever really done it on this scale before, with this amount of people. But I have to say that it all looked very impressive and spectacualr! All day the field was full of various regiments out practicing, and there was never ending music being played. Fifes, drums and bagpipes. My camp was very close to the Highland Regiment, which meant that we got to hear a lot of bagpipes, from early morning till night time. But I loved it!

Drill practice

More practice – with the monument hill the “Butte de Lion” in the background

The 33rd Regiment of Foot – Andrew is second from the right

So for the soldiers when they were not out practicing and marching they were either cleaning kit, or eating, or just collapsing completely exhausted. Hard leather shoes with wood soles are not the easiest on modern day feet, neither is all wool clothes or heavy packs and muskets that must be carried around at all times when on duty. So whenever they had a little time off most people just relaxed.

The Swedish camp with tired soldiers

Muskets being stored while not in use

As for the rest of us, who were not soldiers but camp follwers, our job was to take care of the camps and make sure that dinner was ready for when the hungry soldiers returned from the field. The Noridc Battalion consisted of quite a lot of people, from mainly Sweden and Finland, so there was a much cooking to be done. And of course dishes and tending fires and such like. But it was fun! It’s amazing how much more entertaining any such task becomes when it is done in historic clothes! And when you do it together with other people. And any time we had free we would just relax, sew, sing, go watch the pracice or (in my case) run off to have a chat and a little tea party with my very good friend Isabel. I was so happy that she was there, I hadn’t seen her in ages so we had a lot of catching up to do, and she is honestly one of the best people to spend time with!

Lisa making tea

Another view of the Swedish camp

Another thing we did in my camp was arrange a Swedish Midsummer celebration. Midsummer is one of the most important holidays of the year in Sweden (in a country where it is very cold and dark for 6 months of the year our summer is very important to us!) and we celebbrate it by making a Midsummer Pole that we decorate with leaves and flowers that we then dance around singing songs with rather silly moves. And of course we have a big dinner too, one that must contain fresh potatoes, herring (unless like me you are a vegetarian), strawberries and in most cases, lots to drink.

Since Midsummer was going to take place while we were in Waterloo we had our own celebration in our camp. Some fantasitc people had brought with them a pole and leaves all the way from Sweden, and with those and some elderflower flowers (they were the only flowers we found in the area) we made and decorated a lovely pole. And then we invited whoever wanted to come to join in.

We had a lot of people coming, Brits, Australians, Maltese, Russians, apart from of course Swedes and Finns. And teaching them all our silly dances was great fun! The sight of all those soldiers hopping around pretending to be frogs in our most famous dance “The Little Frogs” was a sight well worth seeing I can tell you!

Me and Lisa decorating the hoops for the Midsummer Pole

Raising the pole requires several strong people

Dancing, we were fortunate enough to get some musicians to join in with some music as well! 

So that is pretty much what we did all days. Cooked, marched, cleaned, ate, sang, danced, talked, drank tea and had a great time!

It was my first ever proper reenactment, before I’ve done many balls and festivals, but never any reenactments. But I loved it! And I can’t wait for the next one! Since this was my first one I had to do a bit of guessing as to what I would need in terms of clothes and things to bring, now I have a clearer idea so I can make necessary additions until next time. But what I had served me well enough this time.

I’m going to post a buch of more photos here now, because I want to show you more of what it was like.

Our tents were some of the closest ones to Hougoumont farm, which played a vitally important part in the battle

Hougoumont

There were MANY tents, I love the dried herbs hanging 

The camp where Andrew was staying, the 33rd’s. Wonderfully friendly and nice people!

I just love camp photos..

THIS is my dream tent! I mean look at that bed!!! This is what I must aspire towards now..! 

One of the few photos I have of me. Here having tea with Isabel. 

The Duke of Wellington (in blue)! 

I’ve got another post all planned, where I will tell you all about the battles as well as the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball that we attended. So as soon as I have a good connection and can do so I will post that. 🙂

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6 Responses to Waterloo part 1 – Camp life

  1. Sarah W says:

    Nice to read your account! I had several friends there (Nordic Battalion), so even if I couldn’t go myself, I’ve been following the preparations at a distance over the last year.

  2. Naomi Bennet says:

    I’m so jealous, girl. The end. 🙂

    (And to think I live ten minutes from there. This is pathetic!)
    😛

    Can’t wait for pictures of the ball! Someone I know went there, so I’m looking forward to see if I can spot him.

    ~ Naomi

  3. Lily says:

    Love the recap! Thanks so much! 🙂 Your midsummer celebration looks like such fun- it’s so neat you were able to take the time to do it. Those funny little dances sound like a blast! 😉

  4. Lally Brown says:

    Wonderful blog with super atmospheric pics, really enjoyed reading about your time at Waterloo – thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Annika says:

    This looks all so amazing!
    Realized too late that it would be this year and didn´t attend, so it is even more amazing to read your blog about it 🙂

  6. Priscilla .W says:

    Looks like you had an amazing trip and I can imagine how interesting it must have been to be among so many people from different countries. Thanks for sharing!

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