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Medieval Medicines and Modern Spiders

We are home at last from our grand medieval adventures at the fabulous Abbey Medieval Festival.

Bear is aching all over from having a marvelous time engaged in medieval combat with Vikings, Templars, Varangians, and assorted knights, and I’m aching all over thanks to a venomous spider bite that made me keel over, sick as a dog, and had me hustled off to the hospital by ambulance. Ugh. I’ve heard about Australian spider bites and how painful they are, but I’ve never been bitten before, and I will be heartily glad to never get bitten again. It will take some time for the venom to get out of my system and the symptoms to dissipate, so in the meantime I’m drinking heaps of water and resting.

Thankfully the bite didn’t happen until Saturday night, so I got two and a half days of jolly times before the miseries set in.

We had such a great time catching up with dear old friends, hugging each other tight and nattering away as if no time had passed between visits.

We chatted around campfires, over shared bottles of beer and cups of spiced wine, and in leisurely conversations over scrumptious meals seasoned with smoke.

We also met new friends, great people from around Australia with fascinating stories to share.

And we worked, boy, did we work hard setting up medieval tents and cooking accouterments, making beds, organizing tables, chairs, dishes, and food, starting fires, hauling water, and getting our demonstration areas arranged and spiffed up. We fell into bed exhausted but happy each night, sleeping like logs after all that physical labor. But it was pure fun, seeing our little medieval world come to life.

I got my medieval medicine and wood-burning area set up first thing. I always start early because all those fiddly bits take time to sort and get into place. Medicines and spices, dried herbs and fresh, baskets of wood-burned rolling pins, stacks of wood-burned cutting boards, and a pile of pristine copies of my book: “herb & spice: a little book of medieval remedies.

Even though I’ve set this up so many times, it’s always exciting to see it come together: bottles of medieval anesthetic, pots of medieval salves, balms, and ointments, and innumerable jars and boxes of spices and herbs from poppy seeds, mace, and rose hips to licorice root, fenugreek seeds, and raw honey in the comb.

I like simmering a pot of rosemary leaves and pine needles (the vapors are great for clearing sinuses) and arranging the adorable quail eggs in their bowl (the egg whites make an excellent bandage if you cut yourself and happen to have an egg but no bandaids). I smile as I set out the bone implements hand-carved for me by my friend Stacey, and happily sniff the heady scent of nutmeg paste (so good for helping blemished skin to heal).

When everything is ready I relax, brew myself a cup of tea or coffee, and settle into my sheepskin-lined chair to read more about medieval medicine. It doesn’t matter how much I learn, there’s always so much more to discover.

Soon the gates of Abbey open and I take my place behind my booth, ready to spend an entire day talking about the medieval things I love most: medicine, food, and daily life.

Now it’s time to get my aching self off to bed and dream of happy medieval things.

What is your favorite moment from your weekend? xo

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liz @ Strayed Table - Looks like you had a great weekend. So many happy faces and I love a good reason to dress up. Sorry to hear about the spider bite, I have been bitten so many times camping by huntsmans that I now always take lavender and tea tree oil with me everywhere.

Kim - Liv Life - I just love your medieval stories!!! Again, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that around here, but I think it would be fascinating. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of your even! So sorry about that spider. #eek

Karen (Back Road Journal) - I’m sorry to learn of your spider bite…what a terrible experience that must have been. I’m happy that you got to spend at least a little time enjoying the festival.

Joanne (eats well with others) - Oh no about the spider bite!! Glad to hear you’re feeling a bit better. At least you got some fun times in before it happened!

Tandy Sinclair - I am so sorry to hear you were bitten by a spider! I always travel with tea tree or lavender essential oil in case I get bitten by something, but spider bites are a whole new level of illness! Hope you feel better soon 🙂

Hotly Spiced - I’m glad it was a great time away but I’m so sorry to hear about the spider’s bite – that must have been very painful. It sure must take a lot of time to set up your apothecary display – you have so much going on! Sitting around the fire sipping wine and eating food flavoured with smoke sounds fantastic xx

Tracy A. - What happy faces!

Nancy - OMG a spider bite!! How Australian is that?! I hope you are feeling back to normal quickly because you looked like you were having loads of fun.

Coffee and Crumpets - Oooh, you poor thing! Those things can turn nasty, I hope you’re doing well. Get better soon. Your medieval table and the whole weekend sounds like so much fun! Totally up my alley and my husband’s! We love stuff like this.
Love all the photos of you. You sure look happy and content xx

Maureen - What sort of spider bit you? That’s nasty and I hope you can get over all the bad bits very quickly. Your festival sounds like so much fun!

mlleparadis - yes sorry about that bite! those sneaky little critters! you do look absolutely in your element – i.e., radiant. hope you’re 100% better real soon.


bellini - oooh the spider bite sounds nasty Krista. I hope you get better soon. As for the festival it sounds like an incredible experience to be a part of. We had a medieval group here, I wonder if they are still active. I remembering borrowing an outfit for my daughter for a medieval banquet they put on in high school for the parents.

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