We went to North Yorkshire for the weekend, heading out early-ish but not insanely early Friday morning for Stuttgart airport (which took longer to get to than I remembered in comparison with Frankfurt; I thought they were more similar in travel time. Must remember this for future planning), and then my first flight with Gwen since she's been required to have her own seat. She doesn't really appreciate having to sit with her seatbelt on and the tray table up, and it's hard keeping her there since she's known for ages now how to undo the seatbelt (a new trick from this trip is getting the coordinate right to put it back together). But I pointed to the sign above and explained to her that only when the sign turned off could she take her seatbelt off, and that left a pretty strong impression with her.
The plan was that we'd make our way to Cambridge and then drive the rest of the way to Bolton Castle
with Rashid, for ID's coronet tourney that zmiya_san
was entering in (and had a good chance of winning!). This plan was nearly cramped by finding out there was a tube strike in London that day, but then restored by finding a fast bus connection, and then nearly blitzed again by almost not making the connection. But we did, even with time to grab some lunch to eat on the way.
Alas, as enthusiastically as the food went down, after about an hour and a half of rather lurchy bus-driving, it all rather unenthusiastically came back up. After this weekend, we're now pretty sure that Gwen simply gets carsick -- not surprising in part because of how little we're ever actually in a car or a coach (regular busses don't seem to bother her. But even Joel and I were not feeling the greatest on this trip). Before you become a parent, you cannot fathom what would get you into a position where you would voluntarily catch vomit in your hands. After you become a parent, you realize that the reason you do this is because the alternative is so much worse. Thankfully, she had her bib on, which caught most of it, and both the person in the seat across from her and me, and the person sitting next to Joel in the seat of ahead of us, gave us plastic bags, so we mostly got everything cleaned up. (I decided the better part of valour was to throw the bib away...no way was I going to get it clean enough to store it for a weekend before getting it home to wash it!). And I took Gwen out of her carseat and she rather unhappily slumped against me and fell asleep. Ever since she passed 2 months or so, her falling asleep in my arms has always been such a very rare occurrence, that I always cherish it. Even if the ride was long (more than an hour than it should've been due to traffic), and it took us nearly 20 minutes to traverse the last block
to the bus stop. But Rashid picked us up and we stopped by his place so he could finish packing, we could clean up some, have some tea, and generally put ourselves back to sorts. We got on the road again a little after 17:00, and I tempted fate by deciding to try to skip supper with Gwen, and that turned out to be a good idea; she was asleep about an hour later and slept the rest of the way.
We made good time to the site, getting in around 8:30. I said hello to folks but didn't spend too much time socializing Friday night since I wanted to get Gwen back to bed. We were borrowing blankets and an air mattress from Rashid, and an inflatable kid's air mattress with built in blanket from Kit for Gwen, and we were lucky enough to be tucked up away in the nursery, just the three of us along with Estevana and Emily. It was great -- a huge amount of room for only five people, and the room was, unlikely much of the rest of the castle, relatively windproof and waterproof. We even had a very tiny space-heater. Nevertheless, North Yorkshire winters, even when it's not below freezing, are perhaps not the best time to be spending in an unheated castle. Gwen wasn't settling into her little bed, and I was worried that she'd be cold and wouldn't sleep well, so I eventually pulled her onto the big air mattress and crawled in next to her. She soon fell asleep, and slept mostly OK all night, while I discovered my ordinary socks were nowhere near warm enough, and I was cold all night long.
Saturday was a day where I was forcably reminded of two things: First, as much fun as re-creating the Middle Ages is, actually living in the Middle Ages would've been No Fun in winter. Even if the castle had had fires running in every room, better sealed windows and doors, and tapestries and carpets, it still would've been chilly. Thankfully the great hall had a large fire roaring continuously, and there was always plenty of hot beverages. Second, the insulative properties of wood are amazing. I had my Icelandic wool socks and my wooden clogs, and my feet were not cold
. They just weren't. It was amazing. Normally they're the first to go, and that can just ruin my day. I hate having cold feet, it makes me grumpy. But the clogs kept me from out of direct contact with the stone, and wood isn't really a strong conductor, so exchange of temperature went very slowly.
I hung outside with Gwen and watched some of the tourney, but I tried to keep her indoors when I could, because despite all the layers and bundling, she simply would not keep her mittens on, and her hands were chilly ice cubes the entire weekend. I did feel a few twinges of Mom-guilt: She's had a cough for nearly a week now, and Thursday when I picked her up from daycare she had a low fever. It was gone by bedtime without medicine, and was still gone Friday morning, but still -- a good
mom would not have taken a sick toddler to an unheated castle for a windy rainy weekend in February. Luckily, while she still has the cough, she doesn't appear to have gotten any sicker.
I didn't watch most of the tournament, but I did manage to get out for the final, featuring zmiya_san
's consort, so it was terribly exciting, even if he didn't win. The rest of the day was spent swapping children-watching duties with Estevana (it's so
nice when there's another parent of young children around, this way one of us was always getting a bit of a break; and during court she was kind enough to watch both while Joel sat and enjoyed himself and I heralded), doing court-prep and some last minute calligraphy, and...I'm not really sure what else. For some reason, when I'm cold, I don't form memories as strongly.
Court was awesome, because the royals lined up on either side of the great fire, and then Angelica and I, as heralds, got to stand right next to the fire. By the end of court, I was *gasp* almost too warm
. It was also awesome because yet again Tamara was cheerfully chatting away with her row mates when her name was called, and I got to see the tears and surprise as she sat before TRM, and because Constanza was equally surprised when she was called forward and made a member of the Panache.
But best of all was when I called Baroness Margaret forward, and their majesties barely got the words "polling" and "Pelican" out before the entire room burst into such cheers that whatever else they had to say was drowned out. I had the joy of being able to close court, "There being no further business that could possibly top this, this court is now closed!" And then later on during feast have the giddy realization that I'll get to herald the ceremony, since it'll be at Crown in April.
Unfortunately, after court I was busy with Gwen and things, and Joel was doing yet more trips to the woodpile for the fire, and next thing I noticed everyone had set up for feast and there were no spaces for us amongst our friends. :( So we were at another table, with some gaps on either side of us, for feast, but that was mostly OK; Gwen went to bed before feast started, and I think both of us just needed some quiet down-time for a bit. The food was excellent, there was beer, and I felt my spirits restoring. Towards the end of feast, we went back over to where everyone else was, and I had the honor of presenting Constanza with the first (and so far only successful) merit star that I've cast:
I was quite astonished a few months ago to discover that "A mullet ermine" was a gap in the OandA, so it's currently in submission. I intend to cast a bunch of these (you can't quite see that there's an ermine spot on the one in the photo; I still need to improve the mold a bit), and give them to my minions as well as to others whom I think have done something exceptional. Constanza got the first one because of how quickly she's adapted to writing onomastic articles.
Then there was hanging out by the fire with friends, and it was lovely and relaxing and good, and then Estevana found me because Gwen had woken up, and utterly bizarrely unlike herself was in a semi-hysteric state of crying. I figured the easiest thing to do was simply crawl in bed next to her. Amazingly, that night, what with simply keeping on my wool outer dress, plus the fleece pants which hadn't come off since Friday night, and the wool socks, I wasn't terribly cold, so I slept pretty well.
The trip back Sunday was not especially stellar, we made a detour to go to one of the bases near Harrogate so Rashid could get cheaper fuel there, only to find that they don't have diesel, and Gwen's cough combined with presumed carsickness resulted in lots, lots, lots more vomit than any of us really wanted to deal with. By the time we made it to the airport, she was down to a long-sleeved onesie and even that was somewhat soiled. Amazingly enough, it does not appear to be possible to buy children's clothes at Heathrow Terminal 5. But in the airport it wasn't terribly cold, nor on the plane, so her bare legs were no problem, and for the trip home I had a mostly clean blanket to wrap around her, so we made it back with no long term damage but, ugh, I'm going to find out what the German equivalent of dramamine is, and make sure to get some before we drive somewhere next.
I still feel like we're in a bit of a valley in terms of ease-of-traveling. Yet, I can see glimmers of improvement in the distance. In another 3 months or so, I think things will get significantly easier again, and trips won't be quite such ordeals. Nevertheless, I'm really glad we went.
ETA: Oooh, I forgot an enjoyable aspect of feast I wanted to report on. nusbacher
had issued a poetry challenge back in Dec., with any style, any authorship, any language being acceptable, and the prize being a ring from her own finger. While I may have begun my SCA career as "Aryanhwy Prytydes
merch Catmael Caermyrdin", it was only a few years into university when I gracefully accepted the fact that poet I am not. But then, at the DMLBS conference in Oxford in Dec., one of the speakers had a Latin verse lamenting the death of Prince Rhys in his handout, along with an English translation (I'm not sure of the source of the latter -- perhaps the speaker himself, since I didn't find any other attribution). I read it, and it was so pathetic -- in the "pathos" sense of the term -- and it really spoke to me, in part because I am a loyal and patriotic Welshwoman at heart. :) I decided I'd read that poem for the competition. And then, Friday morning, I realized that I'd left the handout sitting on my desk at the office. I was pretty bummed about that, especially as I couldn't remember enough of the words to be able to find the translation via google (which is another reason why I suspect it was done by the speaker, and wasn't a published translation). Then it occurred to me...silme
wasn't going to be reaching site until Saturday, and she most likely had a printer, so I Mark, whom I figured would likely have his copy of the handout or even the electronic version of it, to see if he could email a copy to her to print out and bring, and, hurrah for the InterNetz, it worked! I was able to read my poem, and it was quite thrilling to do so, actually. I haven't declaimed in front of an audience in...10 years maybe? And it was long enough and affecting enough that I quieted the room by the end. I enjoyed reading it, and I enjoyed doing something I don't normally do. It's neat to have been in the SCA for so long, and still be discovering the joys of new things.