A pandemic obsession of mine has been the castle of Guédelon.

Look, how frigging up my alley is this? There is a castle in France that is being built right now, using only methods available in the 1200s. They have a good-enough media team so they produce good videos and photos, AND you can go volunteer there.

I made the kids watch all four hours of a BBC special on it called Secrets of the Castle (which is silly in places but super interesting throughout). I watched their short web series called Les Feux de Guédelon.

This is the sort of thing that’s either self-recommending to you or not. Do you want to learn about medieval stone masonry? How they lifted really heavy stuff to build castles? Woodworking? Blacksmithing? Food? Weapons?

The incredible part really is that people are doing this NOW. It’s one thing to read about how this worked on a plaque in a museum. It’s another to see people who are taking years to develop skills and create a microeconomy of everything you need to build a castle.

Yes, I get that there’s a real dorky historical-reenactor thing happening here, but they’re not just camping out in old clothes. They’re making stuff! I ate these videos up, and if there weren’t a pandemic on I would be seriously looking at booking flights to go visit. My consolation is that they will probably still be doing this for ten more years, so I’ll have a chance.