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Sunday, October 01, 2006

ROMANS IN GERMANY

We were invited to attend the 8th Römertage event at this Limes Fort Site near Stuttgart. Some 35 members flew out to be met by a coach at Stuttgart airport, whilst Russell and Terry did sterling work trucking a very slow lorry across half Europe with all the kit.


We were billetted in a Youth Hostel in the woods above the town. Built in 1937, the "Hitler Youth" swastika symbol had been carefully chiselled away from its stone plaque, but one could easily imagine the enthusiastic, lederhosen clad youth assembling and swinging down the woodland road singing appropriate marching songs.

The Guard preferred to mill around then shamble down to the town in odd groups – some staggering back in the early hours suitably uplifted by a more alcoholic stimulus.

The burgomeister of Aalen welcomed us on the first evening and we were presented with a very handsome bronze votive statuette of Eros and a stone head of Aalen’s genius loci.
We set our static camp display up on the site of the Limes cavalry fort, together with other groups and traders. The activity display area was very small and was surrounded with houses on three sides and the display tents on the other. We were thus diffident about shooting our artillery weapons. However the organisers were completely blasé about this. We loaded the onager and ballista with melons and oranges instead of the usual hard stuff, but could not shoot the catapulta with its lethal delivery. A German group’s tent was in the firing line, but when we warned them about this they said they would buy us a drink if we could hit it! (We managed it) Such is the laid back attitude to the same European health and safety laws which we in the UK "gold plate" so stiflingly.

Some 13,000 people watched our displays with repeated and enthusiastic applause. Outside the display ground was a large square which had been turned into a beer and refreshment area for the event. As we marched away at the end of the day, back to our changing area, we passed through this square and the whole crowd of several hundred people rose as one to cheer and applaud us. Such spontaneous appreciation sent a frisson down the spine.

Off duty and in the evenings we sampled the excellent pavement bars and restaurants.

One evening Exeter John did his best to promote international harmony when he became the object of a very friendly young German male in a bar. They had just got to the stage of exchanging tee shirts when he was quickly rescued by other Guard members who, with the benefit of being onlookers to the encounter, realised that the German wanted to take home not just the teeshirt, but John with it! Our last day was free and Juri, the organiser arrived at the Hostel to walk us up to Aalen’s famous thermal baths for free immersions. We asked him how far this walk would be – about two and a half kilometers was the reply – it turned out to be more like 3 miles and halfway up a mountain. For some this was the last straw after a physical weekend and hectic nights and the relaxing baths were sorely needed by the time we got there.


We were very fortunate in having a German girl, Muriel, as our minder. She spoke excellent English, often smoothed our way and gave a very efficient German commentary during our displays. She became very much part of The Guard and we gallantly presented her with a bouquet of red roses on our goodbyes. She subsequently sent an email saying that everyone at Aalen thought the success of the Römertage was largely due to the participation of the Ermine Street Guard and how she was envied by everyone for her job working with us. She thinks that, once fed, we are an amazing group.

By common agreement this must go down as one of the very best events The Guard as ever attended. Perfect weather, good billet, enthusiastic audiences, excellent organisation and relaxing beer gardens and restaurants. Here’s to the next time!

11 comments:

pohanginapete said...

A German group’s tent was in the firing line, but when we warned them about this they said they would buy us a drink if we could hit it! (We managed it) — I loved this :^D

The whole post is fascinating and entertaining, with a great sense of fun mixed with accomplishment. Thanks Avus.

herhimnbryn said...

A. it does sound like you had a great time! Obviously the Guard were much appreciated. Glad you had a good time.

Avus said...

Thanks Pete and HHnB - yes we had a great time

Knowleypowley said...

You'll miss all this when you finish you know. You'll have to become the troop mascot when you retire!!

valonia said...

Sounds like you had a fab time.

I'm having trouble drawing my eyes away from all those bare legs...

Avus said...

Valonia-the bare legs. The guy second from the left (not me, I hasten to add) actually had (a fairly well oiled)young woman on her knees licking them!

Reminds me of Leonard Cohen's "Closing Time"!

valonia said...

Did she, er, take her blouse off then or was there just that much debauchary in your Roman camp?

*decides to become a Roman fangirl*

Avus said...

V - What kind of a group do you think we are? We take Roman re-enactment only as far as the military on duty - I think what Romans got up to off duty would be a little strong even for us! We are, after all, just nice boys away from our mums for a few days.

valonia said...

It's too late to tell me that, my imagination is aleady in overdrive!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful stuff!

Now I know why you know where all the roman roads are in Britian. (Little bird told me!)

Avus said...

Yes, Helen - I am full of useless information like that! I would have been good at route planning about 2000 years ago!