The Owl and the Pussycat

One of the side-effects of getting an SCA award has been to spur me on to try to improve both my calligraphy and my illumination. This has mainly been due to the fact that the scroll presented to me is a work of art that makes the stuff I generally do look, well, primitive.

Mainly, but not entirely. One of the other things with which I returned from Raglan was a large number of sheets of pergamenta, a gift from T, the signet clerk. I’d not used pergamenta before, but had rather used standard calligraphy paper because I could get it out here. After much pondering I decided that I’d not only have a go with the pergamenta but would also try using a dip pen instead of my normal Lamy Safari. The Lamy has a 1.5mm nib, but this seems to be a bit on the wide side compared to the work of the other scribes. I’ve tried the 1.1mm version as well, but even that is too wide, so I broke out a size 4 dip nib instead and started on a test piece.

Hmm… the dip nib has reminded me how much I appreciate the smooth, regular ink flow of the modern fountain pen. 🙂 Nevertheless, I eventually managed to get the ink running without too much overflow, and I do like how the ink seems to sit more solidly on the pergamenta’s surface than it does on paper. T said that once I’d tried pergamenta that I’d never want to go back to paper, and I think that she might be right.

The illuminations are based on the owl and one of the cats from the Aberdeen Bestiary. I’m quite pleased at how they came out, given that I am not one of the world’s great artists. What I have realised is that I need an exceedingly fine drawing nib to do the details on the illuminations in appropriate colours of ink rather than using the fine black pen I’d generally use. Fortunately I have quite a decent range of the Windsor and Newton coloured inks that I’ll be able to use in future. Still, the piece isn’t too bad for a first attempt.

Raglan 2009
In spite of my travel hassles – and the fact that I’m certainly going to avoid using Gatwick in future if at all possible – I finally made it to Raglan castle for Ffair Rhaglen late on Friday afternoon. Gatwick not only has a generally miserable ambience, but its car hire concessions are a long walk from the terminal, difficult to find and understaffed. Oh yes, and then there’s the matter of having to crawl along the M25 in order to reach the M4…

But I got there in the end, and threw myself into the weekend’s activities starting with G’s provost prize playing. Sadly I wasn’t fencing this weekend, but I did marshal for it instead. This was followed by the first of many courts scattered across the weekend, thus giving him a bit of a breather between the initial bouts and the half-hour free-for-all later on. Oh yes, and I sat with with the Queen and the rest of her ladies deciding who should win the torchlit pas de armes. We eventually decided that although broad shoulders and pert behinds both had their charms, chivalrous behaviour in dedicating victories to his lady was definitely a winning strategy.

I’d been on the go since 04:00, so by the time I got to bed at D&C;’s place at almost 01:00 I was certainly ready to sleep… but not for long enough, as we needed to be up at 06:00 in order to make sure that we got back onto site in plenty of time for court at 09:00. Except, of course, court didn’t start at 09:00, did it? 🙂 There had been a lot of discussion the previous evening about whether there would be any peerages bestowed this year, and had got it down to two possible candidates with one clear favourite. Sure enough, M was called up to sit vigil to consider joining the Order of the Pelican, into which she will be inducted at Twelfth Night Coronation. All the more reason to attend, I think! A very well-deserved award, it was agreed.

This was followed by the main event of the day, the final viceregal tournament. I had the honour of being fought for by E, who looked absolutely stunning in his fantastic Japanese armour. In keeping with this theme I too wore Japanese formal garb, and we were ‘attended’

More photos are also online in this album. Unfortunately I wasn’t sufficiently inspiring for him to win but I thought that he acquitted himself honourably and, more importantly, looked superb whilst doing so. Once the tournament was over I wandered over to help out handing out tokens for the nine lives tournament at troll and ended up sitting there nattering to C for a while. We’d decided to go off back to the Beaufort Arms for dinner that evening and clearly news of that had spread, as HM Gerhardt came over to inform C that she really ought to attend court as T would be receiving an award. Fair enough, we wandered over to the fountain courtyard to see him being inducted into the Order of the Dragon’s Steel, Drachenwald’s most prestigious fencing award. Hurrah! Another ‘about time too’ award.

It was at that point that I was ‘got’ and received a Grant of Arms. I wasn’t expecting that, particularly as GoAs are not often awarded in Drachenwald. The scroll is gorgeous, and will be appearing on my wall shortly. You know you’re a scribe when you get an award scroll and your first thought is oh, that’s how you get the shading to work!.

Needless to say, T and I were both feeling quite pleased with ourselves over dinner. 🙂

Later I wandered back to site, but made it back to bed before midnight, thus allowing myself a sensible amount of sleep before the next morning’s start.

Sunday was quieter, and started off with a marvellous class on making girdle books. It was so nice to do another A&S; class, as over the last few years I’ve spent rather more time fencing and marshalling at events rather than taking classes. This was great fun, and I’ve now got all sorts of ideas for bookbinding. I’m also quite tempted to offer a similar class myself, possibly at Alfadans, because it’s such a simple but fun thing to make. I’ve been pondering giving bookbinding a try for some time now, so it was perfect timing from my point of view.

After this there was much sitting and chatting with G and M. I might be a little more involved in helping out running of things next year. By this time people were beginning to strike camp, as although the site wasn’t due to close until Monday lunchtime, many folks had to get back home ready for work next day (including me). As things were getting busy I volunteered to run HM Gerhardt back to the airport (which we found even though the satnav insisted that the fastest route was along all of the back roads behind the caravan convoys).

Then it was back to site for a final round of goodbyes and the drive back to London. There’d been an accident on the M4 which closed the motorway, forcing me to divert along the A34 and the M3. This did, at least, cut out most of the M25, although it did mean that I was later arriving at my hotel than I’d originally planned. Ah well, at least I got a decent night’s sleep before the flight and drive north the following day.

Overall I had a very good weekend. It was nice to be able to relax, chat to people and do a bit of A&S; again. Even if the stresses of the day before travel meant that I forgot all sorts of stuff I’d meant to bring with me. And I don’t mind not being Vicereine. After all, there will be more tournaments in future, and I’m sure that E will eventually make me Infanta instead…