A Day Out?

Lady M and I met up with the ex-Lady M, the Charleesi, and J today to visit the Richmond Gin and Food Festival – a last minute decision taken yesterday after the Charleesi spotted an advert.

Being a total extravert, I was champing at the bit to see some life, while Lady M was concerned about being out among people. Despite the nerves though we got to Richmond by bus and had our first real gathering of the clan in the open air setting of the Old Deer Park.

For me, the biggest excitement was that for the first time in over a decade I was able to afford to do more than just window shop. The reason for this is that my first wage from the new job came through this week. Between working full time and a significant uplift in pay grade it is a lot more than I’m used to seeing in my account.

So, rather than batting my eyelashes at Lady M, there was a lot more parity and confidence in being able to indulge in trying and buying the various wares on display. Money has been a major cause of worry over the years, so the knowledge that I had a budget that would give me room to breath was… unusual. As a result there was a lack of underlying tension to the day, at least as far as my brain and gut feelings were concerned.

And oh my, the food and drink were amazing. We have bought a number of new gins for the shelves, and I discovered that I love a good moonshine, or at least the wheat-based ones on sale today as opposed to the usual corn base. All in all, a really good haul, some nice memories, and I was well fed into the bargain.

Unexpected Sale

I sold my first original yesterday – I was on a Discord server chatting to people and posted a recent sketch I’d done to illustrate to the channel the sort of things I do. This led to an enquiry about sales, so I linked to my RedBubble site, assuming they might find something they liked up there. Instead I got a direct message asking to buy the original sketch.

This was an absolute first. I’ve sold tshirts and some artboard prints through the shop, but a physical artifact? I had to make sure they understood that this was in an ordinary notebook, and posted a picture with my fingers and the rest of the page for scale. This was deemed acceptable, and a price was agreed.

Me, worried?

So I bought a card on the way home to protect the piece of paper, and this morning sent my first physical sale off to its new home by recorded delivery.

I’m somewhat blown away. It’s one thing to hear people admire the things I scribble, but for someone to put their hand in their pocket for something I’ve made – well that’s kicked my imposter syndrome between the legs and no mistake.

I may even have included a free mini addition on the card, mostly because getting me to stop drawing is the hard part…

The Great Cosplay Punch-Up

One of the things I am taking encouragement from is that large numbers of my fellow geeks and cosplayers aren’t letting the lockdown get in the way of community, support, or even common sense. There are increasing numbers of videos doing the rounds of showing people’s makeup, or cosplays, and even stuntwork – and so we decided to pick up on it and combine all three. Its by no means a unique challenge – as of the time of writing I know of at least one other group who have released on – but with 46 different cosplayers presenting 51 different costumes, we think this is the biggest one so far. The original facebook post by TJC Cosplays can be found here, but I’ve uploaded a high definition copy here too:

Hope you enjoy, if only for the sight of me getting punched in the face to start it all off.

The full list of cosplayers and their instagram pages is at the end of the video – and here’s a copy to save you scrolling through – go have fun looking these people up as they’re an amazing bunch of people and I’m very proud to have been able to join in on all this together with them:

We’re also planning a follow up with new characters and extra faces, and I’ll post updates and results here as that takes off

Christmas Eve

“They read your site you know” I was warned – albeit a couple of days ago – of a vicar joining us for a family Christmas Eve meal at a favourite restaurant. I never know quite what to make of comments like that. The site is here to be read: it’s kind of the point of it really.

Today’s grand meal at The Italian Orchard has been a set piece of gathering together to enjoy fine food, good wine, and good company. Even with my mother deciding to stay home as a winter cold triggered her asthma there were eight of us around the table and we all enjoyed the little bubble of relative luxury and pampering that such a setting allows.

Writing and drawing? That’ll be me then.

The warning – such as it was – came of the other family joining us, the vicar of the parish that my parents are part of and her husband and son. Quite what this warning was meant to highlight is something if which I’m unsure: I’m told that my writing was found enjoyable, even if the route by which my blog was directed to her attention is as yet unclear.

“I love your drawings” I was told – and so we went from there. As the afternoon drew on my fingers began twitching for paper, so Lady M provided a notebook and I doodled away to let the daemons out – but quite why a warning was required in the first place I’m still not entirely sure. Perhaps there was a concern that I would be taken aback by someone knowing something of me – and of all the many things I talk about here it was nice to have it just be about my need to draw and illustrate.

My biggest frustrations come from having to throttle my creative impulses, so talking about my process, both conscious and unconscious, was relatively relaxing and eased us then into our respective small huddles if conversation as we indulged in the food and atmosphere before us.

All in all, talking about my artwork rather than my stories, or my relationships was probably the least contentious approach for all concerned. Perhaps the warning was more one to me of keeping the conversation to safer waters than delving into polyamory, mental health, or any other aspects of life around the dinner table.

Who knows – it was an odd injunction but a lovely meal and set of conversations where grand nonsense flowed and a great time was had.

And now for a quiet chill out and companionable silence as Lady M and I nurse our cuppas and collapse a while.

Community Event

One of the libraries I manage is right in the heart of its community’s high street, and so when an opportunity arises to be part of a wider event we’re very pleased to be able to help however we can. Last night was a Christmas Fair, and following the success of an impromptu involvement this year, staff volunteered to be more engaged and make a bigger contribution.

To that end we agreed to host Santa’s Grotto in the children’s library, and had a number of characters available for people to take photos with. We ran a crafts table, ran a lucky dip, had computers available for STEM software activities, and also just kept the library systems up and running for anyone who just fancied using the library.

We have a penguin called Pebble as our mascot

It went incredibly well, and I’ve been making sure to let the managers of the various staff involved know just how valued and valuable the volunteers’ time and efforts were.

It was a late evening, and everyone is back to work again this morning with various degrees of tired shellshocked impressions in their faces, but also with a huge morale boost for just being able to do something fun as part of the wider local community.

It was a good night

On a Boomerang

We had a lovely time at my cousin’s wedding on Saturday at a grand gathering of family. Readings were delivered by actors, music by string quartets, and the food was stunning. After the wedding, the day was spent celebrating at Hoghton Tower – and it was one of the grandest celebrations it has been my pleasure to attend.

It was also the Charleesi’s chance to introduce everyone to her boyfriend, Sir B and, you know what? He did well. They survived being plied with many many drinks without going over their limits, and given they’d had very little sleep due to train disruption that had got them in to Preston at about 1am, they were reasonably clued up and alert.

Being full time students in their third year, I’d expect nothing less.

It was good to see them properly as a couple too, rather than the hurried crossing of paths we’d had back in May at Comiccon. They’re good together, they’ve my nod of approval. It’s so easy to see how much they care for each other and are comfortable with themselves and each other at the same time. A true delight to observe.

Sunday we drove back home, dropping the kids back at university on the way, and today we just chilled until a few hours ago when we headed down to catch up with lady s.

We’re making good use of our holiday.

Meeting The Family

This weekend was a celebration in my family of my parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary – fifty years together and still teasing each other every day. The venue was a hotel near Box Hill in Surrey that we’ve used for various celebrations over the years.

The twist was that Lady S was also invited along, marking her introduction to my wider family in a somewhat wider scope than I’d ever anticipated.

I’d pushed for an invitation when they were first planning the event, partly to make the point that both Ladies M and S are important parts of my family and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice them. Given how my relatives are spread out around the place it made for an easier way to demonstrate that despite our unconventional relationship, no one involved in it had three heads.

I’m pleased to say that we had a wonderful evening celebrating my parents and catching up with each other. My family is generally one that gets more talkative and garrulous as the drink flows,and it’s safe to say that Lady S got a good look at where my storytelling comes from. We didn’t get to talk with everyone, but Lady S was happily welcomed right from the start, and our collective nerves rapidly settled.

Lovely food, good company, and a very late night as we opted to drive there and back rather than stay over – partly because of our nerves before hand in case things didn’t go well. And now… relax…

St Alban’s Comiccon

I had a very long day on Sunday, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns and guested with Squad UK at St Alban’s Arena. We had a table to display props, so I grabbed as many as I could and loaded up the car. Lady M has unfortunately got the summer cold thing that flattened me last week, so I left her sleeping and pootled around the M25, not entirely sure what I was going to do for parking – but determined to wing it.

Once I’d parked in the Maltings and ferried boxes and cases to the venue I eventually managed to find the others in the pre-opening set up confusions and we set about sorting out the table.

Now, I enjoyed the event immensely, but there were issues with the venue. It’s a theatre, not exactly designed for bustling stalls and tables. There was no air conditioning, though we were lucky enough to grab a window location so could get a breeze or two. Far worse though was that the venue was totally unsuited for people with mobility issues. Access routes were narrow, we were on the first floor with no lift access, and I only saw one disabled toilet in the building.

The staff were friendly, even if some of the organisation was a bit…vague… but most importantly we had a good turnout, and I rarely stopped talking all day with families about our props – and how simple techniques and tools could make outstanding items.

We had masks and headdresses, bodices and pieces of Halo-style armour. Cigars and cigarettes, wands and guns, hearts and sunglasses – and people were amazed at how light but sturdy most of these items are. All day long we talked about layering fabrics or working with foam and card – and encouraged people to take photos of friends (or selfies) with the props.

By the time we packed up and hit the pub afterwards my voice was croaky, but it has resparked my enjoyment of cosplay and events far more than I thought it would.

And I have a new challenge. I’ve agreed to make a new gender-bent cosplay: Poison Ivy. Watch this space…

Musings on a weekend

It’s been a busy couple of days. Work on Saturday was steady, with few problems bar some ongoing issues with the building that prompted me to leave irritated emails for Property Services to find when they got back after the weekend. We were short on staff, but kept our spirits up, managed to get a Pride display sorted, and generally had a good day.

Layered mask over rubber wolfsface mask

Sunday saw me travelling down to Portsmouth to attend a masquerade event with Lady S. As I was meeting her from her work to head straight there, this meant that I walked the sunny streets of Cosham and Drayton suited and booted with a walking cane and wolfshead brooch on my lapel.

Compared to the people half-falling in arguments out of pubs, newsagents, and off-licences I was therefore a little overdressed and conspicuous. It led to some bemused frowns of concentration on some faces. If they could have seen inside my bag, with its masks, paddles, and assorted elements, those frowns would no doubt have been even more confused.

The event itself, on its second anniversary of running, was a lovely celebration of humour, friendships and general debauchery as you might expect, and we were both glad we’d pushed through nerves and tiredness to attend. It was a late night, all in all, but I knew I could catnap on the way home.

The one thing I hadn’t planned in was the torrential rain that hit while I was on the train home. It’s my own dumb fault for not reading weather warnings. All I can say is that walking from the station in a suit was a refreshing experience..!

And so back to work – a short but eventful day, and a body that I’m not sure if it’s aching from being in the rain, or from exertions!