My six-year-old and I arrive at Good Knight’s wooden fortress gates with our two roller suitcases. I half expect horns to sound and foot soldiers to appear on the turrets, taunting us like the mischievous French knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Instead, we’re greeted by affable Sir Daniel, who shows us to our accommodation for the night: a brand new, custom-built Romani-inspired vardo. It looks exactly like a wagon for travelling minstrels. As with the tents, the vardo has power, a latrine, a sink, ample storage space and a queen-size mattress draped in colourful blankets. We’re ushered to the costume shed and select our style: royalty, warrior, or peasant. Furnished in leather and cloth, we meet the weekend townsfolk, which includes a group of young teachers from Edmonton, a family from Calgary, and a combined stag/stagette party.
“We seem to book more and more of those,” explains Sir Daniel. Mind you, these are not clubbing-dancing-fall-down-drunk stags. Good Knights attracts gentle folks who have more than enough fun dressing up in elaborate outfits, sharing tales around a campfire, and playing obscure games like Pegs and Jokers in the Grand Hall. There’s still plenty of ale to go around.
“The guests are the best part,” confirms Lady Linda, joining us for coffee the next morning after singlehandedly preparing a fantastic breakfast from her kitchen. This is even more remarkable given the fact that Linda is confined to a wheelchair with polio (the encampment is proudly accessible for others with mobility issues). Later, my son and I will walk up the hill to catch a marvellous prairie view, after which we hopscotch on hay bales, practice axe tossing (not real axes), archery, and sword fighting skills with Sir Daniel (some real swords). Trying on Sir Daniel’s authentic and incredibly heavy chain mail, I’m surprised knights didn’t keel over from exhaustion just walking about.