It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to write one of these. Whether it be due to life getting in the way, or generally leaving me in need of recovery time, a lot hasn’t gone to plan. That costume diary I was going to do, for starters.

I have a lot of catching up to do, so bear with me as I dive in…

So, I hear it gets chilly in Anvil…

As I mentioned before, Emiliana (or Em) lives in the warmest part of the Empire. So, understandably, she was a touch concerned on hearing how cold it got on their first summit in particular, and got to work on something to keep her warm during the Winter Solstice.

Afghan Nomad Dress
Folkwear’s Afghan Nomad Dress

My pattern of choice this time was the Afghan Nomad Dress, another by Folkwear. I’m finding their patterns to be a pleasure to work with.

Folkwear like to keep their patterns as authentic as possible, which makes them fairly easy to use. This one, however, became my most complicated, lengthy project so far.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. I was feeling ambitious, and decided to hand-sew as much as possible. This ended up being everything but the skirt lining.
  2. This dress is traditionally a kind of patchwork affair. In fact Folkwear says that “this is a good time to use up your scraps of material”.

Have I mentioned that I’m a glutton for punishment? Well, I have now.

As you can probably imagine, this took a long time. In between coursework, I found a new form of therapy to keep me going over the bleak winter months.

AfghanWIP
This dress is a hodge-podge of different materials – the bright blue linen is only for the lining

Part of the reason it took so long is because I’d cut out the wrong size bodice, which I only realised after attaching the sleeves >_< Good thing I only hand-sewed it, should be easier to unpick, right?

Um…

Put it this way; I must really be getting the hang of this hand-sewing thing if it’s as difficult to unpick as a machine job!

Much, much sewing later, this is the finished product:

AfghanDress
The finished dress, all set for being dragged through the mud

Orcs are coffee-flavoured?

Once the first event began to creep up on us, I realised that I’d better start making some sweets at some point. I was so exhausted from everything, I hadn’t done any kind of preparation for the event after that dress was finished.

So, thinking back to my coffee experiment, I made some more Uncle Roys purchases and came up with these:

CoconutsWinterOrcs
Imperial Orc and Wintermark editions: coffee and mint, respectively

There was a slight problem, however – I’d been using a hand mixer with dough hooks to make the mixing easier, and one of them broke while making the mint ones. On top of that, as shown in the picture, I made extra to account for the bank holiday, and tried to be clever by making the base layer in one mix, then the top (coloured) layer in another. This resulted in some of them falling apart, as the layers didn’t stick together properly.

I didn’t use coffee for colour this time; after angrily disposing of my “red” Tesco food colouring, I tried a different direction and bought some gel colouring. One of the major plus points is the sheer variety of colour these come in – brown being only one of them.

Advertising these wares on the nation’s Facebook group brought unexpected hilarity as I explained the flavours. It quickly descended into licking orcs to see if they’re coffee-flavoured.. and I’ll just leave it there XD

Despite the Freeborn seeming very keen to try the coffee, when it came to the actual event, it didn’t sell as well as the mint. I’ll have to try a different flavour to match the brown next time.

Still, there was another reason they might not have sold so well – turnout was quite poor this event, due to unforeseen circumstances.

There’s been a change of plan

Profound Decisions (PD) have been really unlucky in their bid to secure a permanent site for their events. Last year, there was a last minute withdrawal due to reasons it’s best not to bring up again – let’s just say it got quite messy for a while.

This time, after they’d hoped to secure a bid, the landowners pulled out at very short notice – only a few weeks before the event was due to start. PD were left frantically looking for another site to host the event, and – amazingly – they managed to find one in about a week.

However, this made a number of players very anxious. For those who had pre-booked travel, PD very generously offered to contribute towards part/all their expenses. For those planning to drive down or maybe get a taxi, they were left with little time to re-plan – and for those people who struggle with physical or mental issues, that was a big spanner to throw in the works.

An even bigger one was vehicle restrictions. The site is a campsite and grazing ground for sheep, and the owners wanted to minimise the damage done to the ground. Understandable, but this ended up causing some big problems, which was another reason some players pulled out.

Those of us who still went encountered another problem…

Katie comes out to play

The first event of the year is always the worst weather-wise. The very first year, it reportedly snowed with temperatures dropping to minus five degrees C. The second year (my very first event), it was wet, and the ground became known as “Lake Anvil”, with some tents being flooded out. The third year (at a different site), it was wet, and the ground became like a quagmire – the mud liked to cling to your feet as you walked. It was like quicksand.

This year, at yet another new site, saying it was wet and windy is something of an understatement.

Caught in the storm - Beth Dooner
This poor player got caught in the worst of the rain – but not the worst of the weather

We didn’t hear about Hurricane Katie paying us a visit until we were on-site. The rain was bad enough – but winds of up to fifty miles per hour? And storms? Plural??

The Del’Toro tent stayed up mainly because we were holding onto the poles inside for dear life, while one of them went round the outside to re-secure the canvas. My OC tent lived up to its claim of being one of the most weather-proof on the market (so I can forgive its other, misleading claim of being four man when it was closer to two or three).

Others weren’t so lucky. We watched one army tent get flipped over as it wasn’t well secured. The player tent next to mine was half-collapsed. Others lost theirs completely – and in one or two cases, lost their hard-earned in-game resources with it. The tent designated as “Hall of Worlds”, which hosts the Conclave, became a refugee centre for players who had nowhere to sleep.

Understandably, a lot of people had packed up by either the next day, or the day after before the second storm hit. With restrictions on car access, PD came up with an ingenious solution:

All aboard the fun bus

Lightweight vehicles known as “mules” made their debut this event to aid players with their baggage, as the entrance was a long way from the main camp. Alongside them were the so-called “fun buses” for ferrying multiple passengers.

All aboard the fun bus - Paul Wilder
The so-named “fun bus” taking players off-site

Anvil Mud - Paul Wilder
The aftermath – many players abandoned ship this event

While the weather put a real dampener on the event – in more ways than one – it wasn’t all bad. We came for a reason, after all.

Fishy business

New Egregore 'taunting the weather' - Oliver Facey
Our new Freeborn Egregore opens the portal for battle on Sunday

Some of the plot (and other plans) that was scheduled didn’t happen, but there was still gameplay to be had. There were still battles, for instance.

Em had been at camp for all of five minutes after time in, before being approached by our resident Merrow senator asking for a contract. There was something else he wanted, but he disappeared. Sounds familiar, as I remarked to one of my IC cousins:

“He asks me for services, then he disappears. He’s almost as bad as Ferrero.”

We eyed each other for a moment.

“Almost.”

I did eventually manage to find out – through various means – what wording was needed, and got it signed. For what little calligraphy I’d manaegd to practice, being left-handed and working with fountain pens meant this new skill came in suprisingly handy – it’s the only way I can write with such pens, and it has the bonus of looking much more presentable than my own handwriting.

I later heard that said family fish had started referring to Em as Ferrero’s “scrivener” in conversation. Including the quotes. No idea why he’d imply such things… oh, wait.

“Weekend of Feels”

While there wasn’t plot to get my teeth into, as such, a lot of gameplay happened through being at certain places – like the senate – at the right time. Or being at camp when Ferrero just happened to be around, or was visiting our camp on business – at which points, I honed the skill of eavesdropping. Through this means, I was able to be proactive for a change, whether that be pulling him aside for a quiet chat, or getting people together to fix a badly worded motion that involved our family. Or, in so doing, “stopping Ferrero going completely bonkers”, as so put by our family priest.

A lot of hugs were exchanged this event, but that wasn’t the only emotional aspect. During the course of the weekend, there was reassurance coming from a few places that I was not only appreciated, but also loved. After the disaster of last year, it was a real tonic.

To some players, this may be a fun outing, or a holiday. To people like me, it’s therapy. It’s why I make sure I’m at every event, no matter the weather.

Photo credits: Paul Wilder, Beth Dooner, Oliver Facey.