It was becoming an increasingly guilty secret that Chris and I had never visited the Royal Armouries. As the UK’s national collection of arms and armour, it is the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of a sword-based research trip. Not only that, but many of the museum’s contents have directly inspired our creations.
So when our dear friend Dan Smith at Swordpunk offered to put us in touch with the curators, we were all too glad to rectify our past negligence and start planning a trip to Leeds.
Needless to say, we were not disappointed. Not only were we treated to an exceptional level of hospitality, with Assistant Curator of European Edged Weapons Iason Tzouriadis taking time out of his schedule to show us around. We were also able to delve into the fabled Store 3, where the non-display edged weapons are kept.
Each November, we pack our bags full of swords, smile sheepishly as the friendly folk at Gatwick Airport put them through the X-Ray, and board a plane to Malta. Malta is the improbable rock in the middle of the Mediterranean that changed military history – and home to the unforgettable Malta Historical Fencing Association International Event.
∴ Home Away From Home ∴
This prestigious event is one we attend every year, rain or shine – or in this year’s case, in the middle of an unprecedented sea storm. Held on the majestic Fort St Angelo in Birgu, a key defence in the siege of 1565, it never fails to make us feel like we’re in the middle of a fantasy film.
From running up and down limestone steps with swords swinging at our sides, to duelling on the top tower with the Three Cities and Valletta spread out around us like a snapshot from a time long past, this is the stuff of dreams.
For us, after five (in my case) and seven (in Chris’s) years of attending, the first glimpse of the fort across the water as our taxi raced across the Valletta waterfront was no less breathtaking than the first time – yet this year it was countered with a swell of fond familiarity – a homecoming of sorts.
This feeling was only increased when we met our hosts and fellow attendees, many of whom have been attending as long as we have, if not longer. Reuniting with familiar faces from around the globe over a pint of Cisk and slipping straight back into conversation is a huge part of this event’s enduring appeal – as is bringing new wide-eyed enthusiasts into the fold.
May marks the beginning of festival and tournament season for many an intrepid fencer. For us, the summer arrives in the shape of Swordpunk, a breathtaking boutique festival where weapons experts and circus performers come together to share skills and soak up the sun in the stunning private estate of Newnham Paddox.
We’ve been involved with this community extravaganza since before lockdown, and its unique combination of relaxation and serious wow factor keeps us coming back for more. After all, where else can you learn staff fighting, axe throwing, sharp cutting, fire spinning and belly dancing all in the same place?
It feels like only months ago I was writing our last New Year’s update in the middle of lockdown, and wondering what 2021 would hold. While it’s undoubtedly been a year of ups and downs across the board, we have been fortunate to have the faith and support of our customers and community throughout.
In many ways, 2021 was a tentative step into a wider world, after the restrictions of early Covid. We were delighted to attend not one but two combat arts events – the madcap Swordpunk and the renowned Malta Historical Fencing Association International Event. Each gave us a well-needed shot of perspective, reminding us why we love the work we do.
We also settled back into regular training with our own fencing group here in Sussex, experimenting with new fencing forms, which in turn informed Chris’s craft and research. From heated pub debates to the heat of the forge, our inspiration relies heavily on our friends and comrades.
Perhaps the year’s greatest blessing – and testament to our hard work – was a steady stream of creative and challenging commissions. From close museum replicas to original fantasy concepts, we have been continually increasing our skills and knowledge to keep up with our clients’ visions.
We believe that a good fencing sword should last you a lifetime or longer, forming a part of your legend and winning you plenty of fun along the way.
In practice, however, there are a number of small issues that can lead to larger problems and shorten the lifespan of your weapon. From red rust to notches along the edge of the blade, if you don’t see to the small things regularly, the damage can add up over time.
That’s why we’ve created a new deluxe swordcare kit, to help you take protect your sword as well as it protects you. The most comprehensive kit currently on the market, it contains everything you need to combat tarnishing, rust, burrs and notches – as well as a 20 page guide to solving common swordcare problems.
Our care kits are available for £25 plus postage. Scroll down to order yours now.