The trip to Spetchley Park took but a moment, but after arrival, we were inevitably delayed by Mr F- and his tedious gaiters. I have no idea why they cause him such trouble, it is merely twenty metal buttons through thick wool and leather. After an interminable length of time, he finally proclaimed himself to be ready, and we slowly traversed the fields in search of our proud regiment. Following the smell of fried pig products, we eventually located it, next to our good friends the Russo-Prussian Artillery. In the opposite rank of tents were the fine individuals of the three battalions of the 95th Rifles, an excellent arrangement.
After depositing our goods, we made ourselves useful. Mr F- chopped some wood for the fire, while I employed a shovel to clear the ground beside it of excrement and other cattle-related detritus. Mrs B- was leading on the provision of food for the duration of the weekend, with excellent support from the baps of Mrs T-. Poor Mrs Sm- was there, valiantly attempting to restrain Mr Sm- from his worst excesses. That lady has a constitution of iron, and I suspect a will to match. How I admire her character, if not her judgement!
The regiment was preparing to undertake some drill, as they had been informed that they would need to ‘go Frog’ in the skirmish that afternoon. This is a fairly common state of affairs, the French regiments are usually vastly outnumbered by our stout Allied forces, and the Prussian Landwehr can easily turn their coats to the French colours.
Taking the opportunity of this distraction of Mr F-, I sped to the traders’ area. I had hoped that the excellent Farthingale Historical Hats would be in attendance, and I was not disappointed. I have long been considering the purchase of a fine Shako style hat, and what should greet my eyes on entering, but one in a colour of perfect compliment to my riding habit! Mrs Sc-, who had accompanied me on my expedition, was determined that I should purchase the hat upon the instant, and would broke no argument. I was powerless to prevent it! Having placed it on my head, I could not bear to remove it, so permitted the proprietor to simply remove the price tag and out I went.
I had scarcely left the hat tent when I was approached by a very respectable lady, who enquired as to my availability for a fashion show that very afternoon! I was greatly honoured to be thus singled out as a very image of modern fashion. It entirely justified the financial outlay on the shako, and the exhausting discussion about it with Mr F- upon my return to the camp. How very singular his mind is, ever focused on the trivial and entirely failing to grasp the wider benefits of a situation. I eventually abandoned him to his weeping, and instead enjoyed some robust horseplay with the rest of the regiment, using my new riding crop.
When Mr F- had recovered sufficiently, I led him back to the traders area, as I needed to purchase some boots. As you know, I have been struggling with the appropriateness of my footwear from the ‘Look of New’, and had spied boots of a suitable design at the Civil War Sutler’s. Thankfully, their stock was extensive and contained pairs in an appropriate size. Now shod and topped with new purchases, I was finally able to meet the gaze of the general public without shame!
We returned to camp once more for lunch, an excellent repast provided by Mrs B-. Mrs T- was flouring her baps by this stage, how the men all salivated at the thought of them as a reward for their endeavours in the afternoon skirmish!
Over the course of the weekend, Mrs B-, Mrs T-, poor Mrs Sm, Mrs Sc- and myself enjoyed many diverting and enlightening discussions while the men were fiddling with their weapons. I am so very grateful to these fine women for their kind support and knowledgeable opinions on the endless parade of frippery which I present to their for their thoughts. They are what Mr F- refers to as my ‘enablers’, which I do not understand, but presume to refer to their ‘enabling’ of my magnificent appearance. Over lunch, we enjoyed many discussions about the relative merits of lace over silk veils, the potential for leather to be utilised as a diadem, and the best places to purchase Berlin Iron jewellery.