Travel to site without the Vitus household and Vitus-wagon made for a very long day.
Up early, cab to Casa de Vitus in extreme S London (enjoying a lecture on African cultures and the evils of colonialism from the cabbie), unloading cab and setting up for loading man-and-van.
Man-and-van arrives bang on time: load up with our stuff, the best of the Vitus encampment kit (firebowl, futon and seating), and TRHs encampment and set off.
Long trip, getting stuck in London traffic. Happily our man knew his way round the Borders so we deked to cross into Wales via Chepstow, dodging the worst of the M4 westbound traffic. Practiced yoga breathing to stay calm watching other crap drivers on the road.
Arrive, unload the van, say goodbye to our man (who returns bang on time again the next Monday).
Set up pavilion, bed and bed canopy.
The rain had started midafternoon, on and off. We found a slightly bedraggled set of Thamesreach lads, 3 of them sharing travel and neighbourly accommodation, sheltering under the bridge with potnoodles and one-pot burners, so we invited them inside the pavilion to shelter in more comfort.
Had a cold dinner, a beer and fell into bed.
Saturday (long lie-in) and Sunday were spent continuing to set up, distribute assorted kit brought in the van, and reacquaint ourselves with Raglan.
Robert and nusbacher cooked daily for the first few days, with our main meal at about 1pm, and a light supper in the evening. It was very relaxed and low-key.
Over the weekend we sat and ate with Dame Marguerite and Lord Yannick, Lochac natives living in England til December, who we'd met at Coronation. They proved excellent easy company to sit with at length, and we were sorry to see them go after just a weekend.
Their beautiful daughters were entranced with nusbacher's hound Gracie; a young man from Ireland was in turn entranced with them. Gracie received a great deal of doting care from many hands as a result.
I did a bit of shooting, and managed more in a couple of days than I'd done all of last year, which was satisfying. I sat in on Barun Pol's slightly-past-beginners class, to find out what he would teach.
I got an excellent explanation and demonstration of both facewalking and string walking, which are barebow skills almost unknown in my circle of archers - they're against the rules where I grew up, so to speak - not allowed in Olympic archery at all.
I'd brought my dad's lovely extremely long longbow, and once more rejoiced in its beautiful smooth draw. I was even spared the annual arrow tribute of the field, finding all that was lost before the event was over.
At this Raglan their highnesses set a challenge to the populace; as they are new to the region and this was their first raglan fair, we were asked to convey to them the spirit of Raglan.
nusbacher and I as we hunted for arrows behind the butt, mused over the archers' dance, which was clearly a bassadance, with changing tempos as you sweep for arrows with your feet and shuffle through the grass, stopping just so, then reverence as you stop to pick up your arrow.
This musing turned into a short interpretive dance at court, called 'archers' where Robert choreographed and provided the tune from BBC's 'The Archers' on an onion flute (a 16th c instrument that sounds exactly like a kazoo). It was extremely silly but anyone who has ever hunted for arrows recognised its essence.
I did get to fence more than before: I chipped in my few bouts to Lady Juliette's free scholar challenge, and then milady Marlene's later in the week, as well as nz_bookwyrm and Catlin's provost challenge.
One evening during fencing pickups, I watched two dons and one Dragon' Steel consistently misjudge their distance while fighting Lady Catlin, and come away laughing, saying, yes, her arms really are that long.
She handed them their butts in a way I hadn't seen before in a single session! It was great fun to watch.
Seeing Don Domin and Baroness Celestina again was a delight; I can't believe they've been gone 3 years already. Their youngest marked his 1st year at Raglan, and their eldest is like a new girl I hadn't met before, she's changed and grown so much. Everyone looks well, happy, healthy.
I got to fight C&T with Domin and Duarte goncalves, which was great fun and assured me that I'm *not* out to lunch in my calibration; will have to take it up with other C&T folk when I have the chance.
I did my bit in marshalling: keeping the round robin tourney going, taking a turn in the academy challenges.
Unexpectedly I found myself teaching fencing to a complete newcomer who was the spitting image of Ysabella-Maria, and a friend of hers from the convention and SF/fantasy world. It was like talking to a darker version of Y-M!
Lord Alexandro had taken up rapier and Y-M had assured her friend he could find instruction at Raglan; so he spent a busy 4 days with me, goncalves, Duncan Chaucer and other marshals sucking up as much knowledge as possible, with the end result of authorising in effectively 4 days.
I was impressed all to heck; must be some kind of record.
With weather threatening, the fencers combined storming the castle with the princess' champions tourney escorting the princess through the castle. As is his wont, Don Antonio authorised her highness Eleanor with a rubber band gun, allowing her to defend herself should peril threaten.
She commented later that she'd 'brought a gun to a sword fight', and chose Duncan Chaucer as champion.
As the week progressed more people turned up, and the schedule filled. jpgsawyer and edith_hedingham brought a trailer this year, and set up not just their usual splendid kitchen but a supplies tent as well. This small Saxon tent survived all but the very harshest weather on the last Sunday, when we caught the tail end of hurricane Bertha.
The under-bridge space got busy, full of food and wine (especially wine! holy mackerel) but we struggled through the hurly burly to keep enjoying jpgsawyer and edith_hedingham's menus, complete with fresh baked bread and pies done in the clay oven.
You can camp on bread and cheese, but by god, you don't when they're around.
Thomas and Edith sent leftovers to the Thamesreach lads (things like goat stew and commodores) which were more inhaled than eaten.
The newest members of Thamesreach made themselves known this year: not just by rowdiness but by awesome helpfulness, being attentive and considerate, and by an amazing job of small-melee fighting in the Oxford roll.
Facing a formidable melee team from Flintheath with twice their numbers and far more than 2x their bodyweight, they followed Robert and HRH Nasr's instructions to the letter, forming a 3 man shield wall, with 1 shield to protect Sir Nasr'. They held off a much larger force and allowed Nasr' to pick off their opponents with a spear, like knocking so many apples off a tree.
Even better was hearing the prince commend them on their work; they'd done just what was asked and shown the power of good leadership over a much stronger and more experienced force. It was a sweet engagement to watch and even sweeter to hear the followup and advice. You could practically see them glowing as they came off the field, and rightly so.
People from outside Thamesreach remarked on these nice young men who were so helpful and polite, as if I had had anything to do with them; but it was warming to know they were 'ours'.
In the 'new skills' department the dyeing class was smaller than hoped, but still a success, with 2 shades of onion-skin yellow achieved on the brazier, really entirely driven by jahanarabanu.
I'd not thought it through but fixing the dye with alum would have required a lot more water and then left us with an alum-laden dyebath to dispose of on site: duh.
So we took home our two shades of golden yellow and I hope to fix the colour with an alum bath and try further dyeing w/ onion skins at home. jahanarabanu says she'll try a couple more dyes on the yarn she has at home, and bring the results to Yule Ball.
I also, after years of planning Round Tuits, started to learn to spin, with Cat Weaver's help. We fixed my long-held pewter spindle whorl, bought at Pennsic about 15 years ago, onto a lovely turned stick by Eldgrimmr, and Cat sat and advised me about starting to draft.
She kept saying I was doing well but I couldn't help but compare it to her own beautifully fine work! Now I just have to retrieve my started work from the camping kit still at Vitus and Isabel's.
The surprise elements of the event at court went smoothly; the event featured no less than 5 voice heralds.
Edith gave me grief after court. I'd told her to make sure she turned up because Lyonet was getting something nice; I'd told Lyonet to attend in her smart clothes because Edith was getting something nice at court. Neither was a word of a lie, and yet somehow noone will trust me again...
Seeing the joy and goodwill at Baron Pol's call to vigil was very satisfying. I love helping good things happen for others; I love seeing awards well received. It felt that Leif and Morrigan's decision for Pol was timely and joyous, and Pol's vigil went well.
I'd arranged for a new white tunic for him, Mssrs Ariel and Raphe arranged food, we collectively brought in furnishings so he could meet friends in comfort.
My and HE Ursula's attempt at an open discussion during his vigil had mixed results; we had lots of old-crusty attendees, but fewer newcomers than I'd hoped. nusbacher did sterling service, drawing people into the discussion and asking the tough questions so those who did take part said it was brilliant.
However, I think we can address this imbalance with more leadup time and priming people to think about the 'deep questions', and hold such a discussion whether there is a peerage to take place or not. Raglan is a great time to do it, with several long evenings to fill with company.
My sweetie was in good humour; he was tired from setup but had wit to spare, and we had a succession of evenings round the campfire with friends in stitches from his commentary.
Don Domin, watching Robert marshal and direct the torchlight tourney, commented to me that 'he's so good at this'; setting the tone of the tourney, providing the sense of occasion with a start, middle and finish. I sometimes forget just how good he is in that regard, and that not all kingdoms have a Master Robert.
Last Sunday saw the end of a hurricane with lots of rain and very high winds, so many people decided to start packing earlier rather than later including us. Our man-and-van arrived early and we packed out to reach S London early afternoon through slashing rain on the roads, and C London by midafternoon.
We staggered in our own door to joyous feline greetings by 4ish on Monday and treated ourselves to dinner at the kebab shop. With goncalves visiting for a course we paid £10.50 to feed 3 people with fresh juice for everyone. Awesome.