Do we expect to much?

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Tod
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Do we expect to much?

Postby Tod » Fri May 26, 2006 12:46 pm

Following on from another thread.
Most of us that do 18th century do a pretty good job IMO. I can only take as reference Lace Wars and NFOE. But it often comes to mind that when new members join we expect too much. 18th century re-enactment isn't easy. You can't just buy kit off the peg as you can for say 15th or 17th century, and as both the above groupos are LH groups there is alot to learn.
Thoughts on this?



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Postby Andy R » Fri May 26, 2006 1:02 pm

Hi Tod,

Unfortunately it is a fact with post 1700 re-enactment that folks wanting to join a regular military unit will have to buy uniform kit.

The problem with C18th military is that the period is not as well catered for as the Napoleonic period for example.

When we first got involved it was a shock to see the prices you had to pay to get kitted up when we were used to c17th prices.

In 1995 a fully completed hand sewn Pulteneys coat was £300 from Civil Wardrobe. And that was the 1995 standard - they have gotten better since then which probably means more expensive

And unlike Civil War and earlier, you have to have pretty much the full kit to start (musket, leatherwork, hat, coat, breaches, gaiters and waistcoat) none of which is particularly cheep.

On the other hand, look at what the Foot Guards (SK) have achieved in the last couple of years - that's all down to compromises and good project management as far as sourcing kit.

Witht he 250th anniversary of the 7YW coming up, it's a shame there isn;t more done in the period in this country.

BR
Andy


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Postby Phil the Grips » Fri May 26, 2006 2:00 pm

I'm interested in c18th (which is why I poke my nose in here- Hi andy ;)) since I do and teach weapon arts from the period (and have a highwayman fixation) but the other limited factor is bangsticks and messy legislation which are an integral part of any military display (unless you need a Mcbane style fencing master/pimp...?)

Kit costs I can afford if I want to enough as food is a variable cost(assuming there are kit suppliers since I don't make my own clobber anymore) but licences and so on are right out for me while living in a city in rented accomodation who don't appreciate gun cabinets, as well as fairly regular moves with the hassle of address changes. Tudor is the latest I can do without bits of legal paper as the swords, bows and crossbows are still valid for the stuff I do and (currently) legally available.

Of course this may all change now I'm heading to the countryside and joining a gun club up the road...


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Postby steve stanley » Fri May 26, 2006 3:33 pm

Two weeks on Holiday & our beloved Chairman shows doubts on the Chosen Path......Thing is,look at aforesaid periods where kit is readily available,How much of it is of good quality?....re-phrase that ,how much of it is authentic?(think of the Great Start-up debate),,,Would be nice to buy basic things in the UK off the shelf....but the demand isn't there,however reasonably priced stuff is available from the US, if you're careful....
Steve(heavily jet-lagged & wishing he was still in Williamsburg...)


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Snowshoes and axe and gun
Send me up in Grand River
Steering by star and sun".
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Postby Andy R » Fri May 26, 2006 3:40 pm

You have to be carefull with the US.

Some stuff is cheeper than the UK.

Some stuff is more expensive.

Some stuff is out and out tat.

It's still very dificult (without inside knowledge) to buy decent French leatherwork for example. I have yet to see a comercially availible gibearn, or a gargousier that I really like.

For some reason hats seem to be of exceptional value in the US.

Of course British re-enacters have it easy, but don't thay always :D


Young men have often been ruined through owning horses, or through backing them, but never through riding them: unless of course they break their necks, which, taken at a gallop, is a very good death to die



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Postby steve stanley » Fri May 26, 2006 4:57 pm

That's what I mean...I think..there is reasonable stuff available,but it's good to have other people's input on suppliers they have used..
Steve


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Send me up in Grand River

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Postby Tod » Fri May 26, 2006 5:31 pm

It seems to me that other than the cost, which as much as some other periods the problem is getting the stuff. One of RaT has just recieved an item he ordered from the USA about 2 months ago and it wasn't cheap. Kit can be made (I know as I have rather nice stuff made by Warwear and Wina MacPod) but its not cheap. Unless you are good at cutting and sewing you can waste an awful lot of cloth. Plus some kit is really bad in particular costume made after the Pirates of the carribean.
We (I) have some loan kit and I know Fraser's do as well. I think most people know my standards (I even took off the beard and now generally only have stubble) but then I've been at this for some time.
What really bugs me is that a new member comes along. They make a good effort and then I hear commnets such as "yes they look OK, but if only..............." I'm glad to say that is not from any one here, or above. New members look to the rest of the group to see the standard, but I firmly believe that we should encourage rather than be critical. On the other hand bad kit is bad kit and it is right to point out this in a polite way, I just get fed up with hearing new people getting slatted.
Maybe on the LW site we should work more towards listing recommmended suppliers. RaT have a list they send to all newbies so I shall see if if I get that extended.



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Postby Karen Larsdatter » Fri May 26, 2006 7:38 pm

(Hey Steve, glad you enjoyed your visit to Virginia!) :)

One of the useful introductory online resources for U.S. c18th is 18cNewEnglandLife.org; I like the I'm Short On and I'm Long On articles, especially.

I think most of the volunteers at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm (the site that I work with as a volunteer) purchase clothing from a seamstress who sells both custom and off-the-peg at Market Fairs. (Here's some pictures from the most recent Market Fair, by the way.) But then and again, this is a more civilian-oriented 18th century group (the site's main focus is a portrayal of life on a tenant farm in 1771), so kit standards for participants don't include military uniforms.

Much agreed with Andy on the general assessment of U.S. goods for c18th, though. There are some really lovely goods produced here -- and some ... er ... interesting interpretations. :wink:

I don't think the seamstress who sells clothing at the Market Fairs is online (though I'd highly recommend her work, if I could point out how one could acquire it). Have also seen and/or heard good things about Julia Smith Historic Pottery Reproductions, The Silly Sisters, Fugawee Shoes, Burnley & Trowbridge, Najecki Reproductions, Carolina Calicoes, and Dirty Billy's Hats, among others. (I just bought my new shoes from Jas. Townsend & Son and they seem to be working out well, so far.)

By the way -- if you're visiting the east coast of the U.S. this autumn, you might be interested in the Costume Symposium at Gadsby's Tavern, September 29 through October 1.



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Postby steve stanley » Fri May 26, 2006 8:57 pm

As a matter of interest...Went into Dirty Billy's Hats in Gettysburg..beautiful but costly...Karen,it was GOOD..but now at the stage where I think Cornwallis won at Petersburg against the French...or something like that!....A lot of history in a smallish area that we did in a shortish time...But I have years to bore Lace Wars with it.....
Steve


"Give me a tent and a kettle

Snowshoes and axe and gun

Send me up in Grand River

Steering by star and sun".

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Postby Nigel » Tue May 30, 2006 1:01 pm

Hi Steve,

Wish i ahd known you were going to DB's I could ahve asked you to kick them re a hat I ahve on order

You missed a top event at Newport hope you enjoyed the wedding

Nige


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Postby steve stanley » Tue May 30, 2006 5:31 pm

Wedding is now alchoholic haze...merging into the NFOE event we did on the way home...now have plenty of Confederate T-shirts to irritate you with! & feel like I deserve an Army of Northern Virginia campaign medal..every damn place seems to have had a skirmish..
Steve


"Give me a tent and a kettle

Snowshoes and axe and gun

Send me up in Grand River

Steering by star and sun".

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Postby Hraefn » Thu Jun 01, 2006 5:52 pm

I think the reason the 18thC 'nactors look as good/accurate as they do is because there isn't the 'off the peg' option so the groups have to do the research, make stuff themselves and liase with each other.
As a long time medievalist I've noticed a decline in the 'look' over the last 10yrs, there is a definate 'nactor fashion' and this is fuelled by off the peg range. Yes buy ready made but then get it fitted.
Methinks it's time for me to do some time travelling and change centuries.......'sides mens clothes look far better in the 18thC than any of the preceding.

H



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Postby steve stanley » Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:59 pm

And you don't get so rusty......
Steve


"Give me a tent and a kettle

Snowshoes and axe and gun

Send me up in Grand River

Steering by star and sun".

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Postby Mark P. » Thu Jun 01, 2006 8:45 pm

I think I'm firmly on both sides of the fence on this one.

It's unrealistic to expect new members to get full kit before the even step out on the field, with that kind of hurdle I doubt anyone would be able to join. The solution is obviously to provide good quality 'slops' for new recruits.

But some things just don't work for slops, shoes are expensive and need to be the right size so you might need 5 or 6 pairs just to make sure you have the right size for a new recruit.

Three cornered hats are not so expensive but still need to be the right size and they dont travel well especially if you flatten them with the car boot lid.

If you fully kit out new recruits in reasonably good quality kit whats they're incentive to get themselves kitted out at their own expense?

If you send them on the field in modern shoes and no hat what will the fully paid up members with full kit think, why did they bother investing all that time and money if standards are now being lowered?

So new recruits can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Need to give them every encouragement so that they feel they are actually welcome rather than a burden and give them time to learn the ropes.

Your grognards need to be re-assured that standards aren't slipping and you need to make sure they don't scare off your newbies by telling them how bad there kit is.

The public and sponsers, maybe they won't know who in the society is new and who has just joined and they may not know enough to notice any of the compromises you have made for new recruits or they may leave telling everyone that actually you're not that good and they even saw one person wearing some **@@??.

Only question no answers I'm afraid, next!


p.s. If you are thinking of taking up C18th re-enactment please don't let Tod convince you that it's in anyway big or clever for a man to run around wearing a checked skirt.


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Postby Tod » Fri Jun 02, 2006 8:05 am

"p.s. If you are thinking of taking up C18th re-enactment please don't let Tod convince you that it's in anyway big or clever for a man to run around wearing a checked skirt. "

And don't be brain washed into thinking red was the only colour you could get a coat in. :wink:



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Postby Nigel » Fri Jun 02, 2006 9:23 am

Look kids the 18th century types are scrapping

Mark a simple solution we use

We provide good quality slops although the 3 blokes with size 12+ feet did cause us a problem last year.

We guarentee these slops for a year during that year of provisional membership we expect a recruit to get their kit together, starting with their shoes probabaly easier for us early medieval types than you.

WAe also ahve a few more of the basic things that are expensive to buy but woithout which a person cannot fight, gambesons and helmets etc.

We do not expect them to buy nice swords etc just get their clothes sorted.

It works and means we are growing at an average rate of 5 or 6 newbies a year.

Cheers

Nige


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Postby mary la reine » Fri Jun 02, 2006 10:52 am

The borg solved many of the problems disscussed above by making everything possible our selves. The only items we had to buy in were shoes and guns. Because everyone was in the boat boat we learnt together. I had no idea about how to make kit when I started but I worked it out damn quick. We had weekends out of season when we got together and learnt as a group.
My hubbie is now a fab leather worker and made all our french leather goods (having now moved on to medieval shoes etc) So why not make your own, it's really not that hard when you get down to it and because the uniform coats were all made by the same people they had a uniform look.
We even made made those wonderful tents we had.
There is a wealth of knowledge and experience within re enactment which we don't tap into enough. Why give the money to someone else when we could do it ourselves, by communicating between groups and sharing resources.
I have to say we were aided in our struggle to get new members by having the major bits of kit in group owership, that way if people don't stay around there is always stuff for newbies.. I still have aloft full of La reine coats and leather work. One day it may come out of moths balls - your never know!!!!



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Postby Alan_F » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:07 am

Nigel wrote:Look kids the 18th century types are scrapping



Nigel, it's not a real fight until there's either a schiltron or a decent shield wall. :twisted:


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Postby Tod » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:30 am

After a week of reflection and doing a cracking event last week end, I've come all the way back to my principle that its better to have few good men (or women) than a hoard of half kit, half attitude re-enactors.

Just going from the postings here it would seem that most are of the opinion that spare kit is the way to go. I know LW offers this, or at least 3 regts. do.
This does lead onto another problem, that being finding suppliers who will actually deliver when they say they will. Costume seems to be the worst. I know of several LW members who having been waiting for any thing up to a year for kit, and that is after they supplied the cloth. Although I agree with Mary about making stuff, some people just aren't good at it. I can make just about any thing out of leather, wood, or metal, but I am rubbish at sewing cloth. This also leads to the next problem where those that make kit (not traders) seem to think (in some but not all cases) that they are suddenly experts and can criticise every one else. I think maybe where I'm getting to with this is that we have to maintain the enthusiasm and feel good factor whilst parrying off the cuff comments.

Other than the cost, being a Redcoat is easy (kit). Its either right or wrong. Pulteney's have spare loan kit (I even borrowed it once but it made me come up in a rash) that meets their standards, not that its easy for them to get their uniforms made.
For Rose and Thistle we have spare kit as well that meets our standards, again its not easy to get some else to make.

"If you send them on the field in modern shoes and no hat what will the fully paid up members with full kit think, why did they bother investing all that time and money if standards are now being lowered? "

I think Mark has a point and perhaps that is that those who've been in the group for some time don't realise that it's not standards that are being lowered but being flexible to accommodate new and more importantly fresh recruits.

I've been told that one of the reasons its difficult to recruit in the 18th century re-enactment is because the kit is difficult to get. However after reading all this and knowing that there is plenty of loan kit and help out there this clearly is not the case.



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Postby Andy R » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:55 am

mary la reine wrote:I still have aloft full of La reine coats and leather work. One day it may come out of moths balls - your never know!!!!


Well, Bath is quite soon :D

And they were asking about you (as a collective) on the NFOE forum.


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Postby Tod » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:35 am

Mary, so is Kedleston hall near Derby (17/18 June) if you wanted to come. This is a Lace Wars event organised by RaT.
Drop me a PM if any of the Borg show an interest.



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Postby Jenn » Mon Jun 05, 2006 7:06 pm

Tod - I don't think any of us can make Bath - but obviously Mary might know different. Our information sharing circuits are a little slower now
I think if we were to get everything out of storage it should be all of us or as near that as we could manage (and we do still exist we're just a 15th cent collective now)
I would like to back up what Mary said re- making most of it really isn't that hard so long - start with a chemise/shirt/shift and work your way up
Last edited by Jenn on Mon Jun 05, 2006 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Postby steve stanley » Mon Jun 05, 2006 7:11 pm

Well,there's always Powder Mills in september..Lace Wars & NFOE (plus Revwar) in an 18thcent extravaganza!!(how many quick changes to do all the skirmishes?)
Steve


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Snowshoes and axe and gun

Send me up in Grand River

Steering by star and sun".

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Postby Steve of RaT » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:17 pm

steve stanley wrote:(how many quick changes to do all the skirmishes?)


More inportant is how big a cartridge bag for enough powder? 1 barrel or 2

Don't forget if the barrel is starting to glow :twisted: , STOP!!


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do we expect too much?

Postby jfdiow » Wed Jun 07, 2006 5:45 pm

I'm with Mark and Tod, It's always a balance between how we would like everyone to look/behave/talk/act and the differences in experience, knowledge, wealth and opportunities to develop what we do/wear/have.

With the distaff side things are a little easier in clothing, much of our clothing is relatively easy to make, very adjustable for different sizes and the expensive/difficult things are shoes and stays. Shoes are less noticeable on a women-men tend to be looking at other things:-) and even stays can be fudged with corrugated cardboard for one weekend at a time. So a 'basic, 18thcentury woman' can be turned out without too much hassle BUT that doesn't mean that standards have to drop, we are all works in progress adding to our living history impression and trying to be the best we can not just in how we look but in how we behave, what we do and how we do it etc.

There has to be some allowance for beginners but I think it should be made obvious that it is *making an allowance*-I know some kit lists and guidance notes have time suggestions for some items-i.e. it is expected that correct shoes would be purchased for the second season...etc..
There is also some allowance in fabrics used, patterns and styles etc. i.e. if a newcomer only has a cotton shortgown from JPRyan basic women's wardrobe then isn't it better to allow that to be worn for one season - than to turn the newcomer away saying 'your kit isn't any good' [Note however I would be less lenient with someone wearing a French or English bodice and (if in my unit) would lend them a jacket pronto! and perhaps that is my sticking point with some 18th century groups] For women there is a very good book 'Whatever shall I wear?' which has a very good overview of the basic items of 18th century women's kit- including basic differences for Scots, PA German, and Canadienne impressions.

Good standards beget good living historians, people may want to join us because we look good but also because we like doing what we do and enthusiam helps a lot in encouraging others.

Another problem I have come across ( but not so much in MM/LW) with the distaff and children's side is that some women join because their SO wants to be a member rather than an interest for their own sake. Spending effort, time and money on improving their kit then becomes a burden because it isn't their primary hobby, and they don't go on the field so why bother...but since LW is a living history organization what we do off the field is just as important as on the field.

Another thing to think about with womens/civilians kit is the impression we give, do we want to investigate and portray a particular person (with all the foibles of place, age, religion, background, parents, class etc.) or give a generic overview of what might have been seen.
Also Re-enactor fashion does exist and whereas the originator may have researched the original colour/style/object very carefully to match her/his persona it may not be the right look for everyone. Many newcomers like to have the unusual things whereas I do think that for everyone to have a basic, generic outfit is the best way to start.

I also think that loaning kit is very worth while, but not everyone is willing to lend their best , so newcomers tend to be lower class which in many ways is more difficult living history.

When loaning kit it is also important to think of the non-clothes aspect, does the newcomer have to eat in the tent from plastic plates because that's all they have, or is there a set of plate, mug/tankard, knife, spoon etc. that could be theirs for the event. Do they have something to occupy them as living history- there is nothing worse for the public than seeing lots of people sitting around outside white tents doing what hundreds of other people do outside white tents-sitting!

I also think that there are other things that encourage newcomers- do they know before the event what they are expected to do before the event/ during and after. Do they know or have some idea of what happens in the evening. Have they been assigned someone to whom they can go for advice on the little things (where's the loo?, is it alright to use the fire to cook my breakfast? What do I do with my rubbish? How do I tie this cap on?)

There are also different types of newbies- those who are just changing period, experienced re-enactors who may not be aware of higher or different standards-and those starting from a non re-enactor background- they need different advice and different encouragement.

And lastly there is the question of what to do with newcomers who do not take advice on changing/improving their kit, who have 'made do' for several events, have wierd ideas on possible living history scenarios and use 'Braveheart' as a primary resource before *and after* talking to the society they wish to join or have joined...

Not sure if I have added anything to this discussion, it's a thorny question but I shall continue to try and set a good example and encourage others to do the same (and I have lots of kit for loaning)- I love most bits of 18th century living history and really enjoy learning more both by practical archeology and research and [like a real nerd] then enjoy talking to others about it:-)

Best wishes,

Judith


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Postby Grymm » Thu Jun 08, 2006 1:36 am

Yay Judith! You managed to post that one only the once fer a change :P

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Postby mary la reine » Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:16 am

fudging stays with cardboard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! oh my god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sorry this may sound really harsh but definately!!!!!!!!!!!

If you encourage people to get it right from the start then it's always right. If you let people just fudge it for the first season, then very often there's an excuse for fudging it the next season and the next.

it doesn't have to be harsh and unfriendly to be acurate, encourage and inspire and then they want to get it right.

why bother doing it all if your not going to do it right. Half the fun is the research and construction!!!!!!!!!!



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Do we expect too much?

Postby jfdiow » Thu Jun 15, 2006 5:25 pm

I hope I take this in the way you meant it.

Fudging stays with cardboard, i.e. making up the pattern in corrugated card, works really well as a one off- helps someone get used to the idea of 18th century undepinnings, gives the right silhouette under a borrowed jacket and over a borrowed shift and allows a newcomer to 'fit in' and look reasonable first time out/guesting. -This is suggested as a way to outfit a newcomer quickly and relatively cheaply. The cardboard can also be used as the pattern for the real thing, much better than making up a fabric toile that has to be boned before it can be fitted properly.

Stays are expensive if made by someone else to order or time-consuming if made oneself BUT are essential to distaff kit.

Cardboard stays are NOT to be recommended for anything else than once-off but are decidedly better than a stayless woman, or worse, someone wearing 21st century bra with borrowed 18th century kit, doesn't fit, doesn't look right and will make the newbie uncomfortable.
They are not a way of fudging it for the first season, more the first event.

For many newbies they don't understand the 'don't do it at all unless you do it right' attitude and neither do I for first eventers, particularly those who come from a non-re-enacting background. If we can help them fit in and enjoy their first event, show them how good they could look, encourage and inspire them by example, etc. then they will stay to be a credit to the whole group.

Personally I haven't got it 'right' yet, research changes, I change, my skills change, my persona becomes more developed..what I thought was 'right' four years ago I would now consider to be 'almost right'/a good start. I couldn't do it right then, because I didn't know what was 'right' -and I still don't know- as you say half the fun is the research and the construction, but we are all works in progress.

There are three kinds of reenactors, and they always break down this way:
Farbs - Those who cut more corners than we do.
Authentics - What we do.
Damned Stitch-Counting Fanatics - Those that cut less corners than we do.

(not my original quote!)

best wishes,

Judith


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mary la reine
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 2:26 am

Postby mary la reine » Thu Jun 15, 2006 6:58 pm

my apologies if I sounded harsh.. I stand by my get it right first time opinion, but thats all it is my opinon. We have very srtict dress codes and don't alllow the fudge it for the first time method. Our group has and has always had a very strange stand point on things like that . A new member is encouraged to make full kit from the start, and invited for a weekend to make the kit with us and is helped through the whole process including the cost of fabric construction etc. However to be fair to others for whom this may not work, new members were invited to join and we didnot have a come one come all system of recruitment. This may make us stuck up in the eyes of some, but we very rarely suffered the issues of personality clashes and people tend to stay because we invite people of the same mind set as us. This makes it a close knit group who play and stay together.
Our stand point has always been ( snobbish if you feel that way) was that if people were not prepared to go the whole hog right from the start then we didn't want to play with them.
I know that makes us sound very stand offish - sorry but that how we work and it works for us even if it doesn't for everyone else. I don't expect everyone to play the same way and again my apologies if i have offended anyone but thats who we are - take or not - we don't mind and will love you all any way!!!!!!!



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Jenn
Posts: 216
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:54 pm
Location: Scotland

Postby Jenn » Fri Jun 16, 2006 5:56 pm

I agree with Mary - well I would wouldn't I? It's never occured to me that you would turn out for a group in less than full kit or as near as you can- shoes/uniform borrowed/children's kit borrowed etc. You're not going to have jackets, four different hats, six aprons and so on first time either
Obviously there are compromises - you can't expect everyone to have authentic tents/guns etc first off (or indeed for ages) but I think you can help people to have the basic minimum kit for their first time. If those people have come to making/training weekends then they will know if they're going to get on - groups could consider subsiding fabric/ cost of making weekends/or even uniform for the guys which makes it easier for everyone




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