1812 and Table Top Gaming

So who is ready for Halloween? My self and his Lordship will be setting up the window display ether tonight or tommorw and we are also in a deep deep talks about what this years punkin should look like. With all this spookiness in the air I have been reading some scarey stories.

While he is not a Regency writer one of my faves of the horror tale is H.P. Lovecraft. A master of creeping you right out and the fellow who brought us things like the Necronomicon and the dark one Cthulhu.

I got to thinking what if I ran a table top game that was Cthulhu based but set during the War of 1812.? Personally I think that it could be super cool.

Going on a hunch I am going to guess that many of you have played some sort of table top game that involves story telling, dice and a ton of Mountain Dew. I say this because when I first started going to Regency dance events I was shocked at how many folks in the room had played Dungeons and Dragons. The more I thought about it the more it made sense, here was a group of people who liked to get dressed up and imagine they are back in time. Not a far leap to table top at all.

As part of a table top group it’s going to be my time soon to run the story or “DM” (Dungeon Master). When we have a game going, we tend to meet maybe twice a month have some pizza and play. The last few times have been in a modern setting and using the monsters and mystery of the Lovecraft stories.

My idea is that I am going to per-create some characters for the players to pick from. Normally you would build your own, but I want to make sure that particular types show up during the game play. Players will get to pick from: A British Officer, Young Wealthy Politician or His Wife, a Common Solder, Dressmaker, a Settler, a Minister or Female Missionary.

It would open as all good Regency stories start…with a ball of course! However something would be very very wrong and a handful of the guests would have to work out just what lurks in the dark. I was going to write more but I don’t wish to give to much away. I will however if we run this story, post more should you folks be interested.

So I leave you with some questions – would you be up for a Regency table top game? How would you run something like this? Would it be more war tactics? Or maybe something about snagging a rich husband? Let us know in the comments below.

Oh and Happy Halloween!

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Lady Jen’s Sewing Goals for the Winter of 2013/2014

So the Season is finally over and with it comes the time to reevaluate my Regency closet and see what needs to go, what needs to be replaced, and what is still missing. At the moment I have three dresses, pink cotton print, blue cotton print, and the dark purple cotton voile.

The dark purple cotton voile dress is the one I wore to the Spencerville Ball. It’s one of my favourite dresses but it has a few problems that need to be worked out. The sleeves were a nightmare, something I mostly attribute to a) a flaw in the Sense and Sensibility pattern and b) rushing to get it finished in time. I have very little remnants of the fabric left but I am hoping to redo the sleeves or get rid of them altogether and wear the dress over top of a white muslin or voile dress.

Also at Spencerville I purchased some of the most gorgeous teal cotton that I want to make into a ball gown, but I am wary to use the S&S pattern as it has done nothing but frustrate me since I started using it. I was considered La Mode Bagatelle but I have no heard good and bad things about that pattern as well. So, although I have no pattern decided upon yet I will be using this nice black satin ribbon as the trim. It’s a striking combination and I can’t wait to see it complete!

The one thing I am really really REALLY in need of is a new pair of stays. The Frankenstays have finally bit the dust. I’ve worn them to at least 6 or 7 balls, and two very humid, sticky, reenactments. I’ve replaced the shoulder straps, the sides, added boning, added cording, got rid of the boning, etc. The fact that I was even able to get them to lift anything this past weekend in Chatham is amazing. And they are just plain hideous to look at! So my most current project is constructing a useable pair of stays that I can put on myself at reenactments, in a tent, standing at a 75 degree angle. With all those requirements in mind, I’ve decided to make the Daffodown Dilly wrap stays. Look for a blog post on that process in the coming month or so, as I will be documenting my process step-by-step.

Also this winter I will be making a few more shifts, and a bodiced petticoat! I think I’m going to be super busy this year but hopefully I can get it all done in time for March when the Living history Conference kicks off next season!

Time Travelling on the weekends

This year I have been very lucky to get away for the weekend more then normal. I have always been someone that love to travel but more often then not they are much larger trips that require careful planing and coin in the bank. Something has changed this year and I find I am on smaller trip more and more.

Myself and His Lordship like to get in the car and take trips. As I write this we have just gotten back from an over night at a friends cottage. We drove up late and when we stepped out of the car both of us stopped to look at the stars. The day was spent swimming and reading by the lake. Lunch was a large communal affair with everyone pitching in. (well almost I was told to move a little out of the way, though to be fair you don’t want to eat my cooking…but I helped clear up after) and we sat down together. Sure we had a modern touches, but as for the motions themselves? It’s easy to think of the settlers in a free moment going for a dip. A city Lady up for the air reading her book, and all of them looking at the stars one clear night. As for lunch I think that’s an easy one to imagine folks doing. Something sort of wild to be able to drive out of the city and step into the past even if it is just the view.

As we drove home its was very easy to look back and see how full this summer has been! I have to say that Red Coats A Regency Wonderland, has been a great deal of help. Take a look, (they are on our blog roll) they offer info on all sorts of historic events. I hope they keep up the good work. They make time travel easy.

If you have been following us you may have read the re-caps of some of the fun Spencerville and Crysler’s Farm have both been blogged about. However I go back and read them and it always feels like I have left so much out. Maybe we just know how to really pack a full trip. Sooooo many full trips this year.

I would like to put a question out to folks reading this:

Did you go away and tap in with the past?

It could be something big like reenactment or something small like reading an old book. Post below and let us know if you time traveled this summer.

I have an 1812 problem

So as I have said in an earlier post sometimes my work life and my GTRG life sort of come together. I work in history and one of the ways things over lap is the War of 1812.

As I was cleaning my desk yesterday at work I found a very very full file folder in a bin. At first I was unsure what this was. Looking down I saw that the folder was in my 1812 bin. It was the a folder that had grown so large, so thick and so heavy that I had moved it over to a bin. In my hands was what I had thought would be a slim file when it all started.

So what was in the file/bin? Glad you asked. It currently holds almost every single news paper clipping about about 1812 that has come out in the past year, both history biased and event reviews. A photo copy of all the local men who took part in The Battle of York (will be writing more on that soon) and a very large very poorly photo copy of a surgeons journal. Oh and about a pound of random pages on different topics.

Some of it is highlighted, some of it I have no idea where or why I had collected it, and most of it has some sort of sticky note jammed on the front, with notes that mostly say “neat” and “you liked this” on them. A few of the clippings have my father’s writing near the header with his all caps letters reading “1812 FUN” or “MORE FOR YOU TO READ”.

So I put this out to you fellow GTRG’s, what do you think should be done with all of this? Sort? Scan? Keep and write up something? What would you do with a big old pile of info?

The 200th Anniversary for the Battle of Crysler’s Farm

So I’ve been trying to figure out how I wanted to approach my review of my weekend at Crysler’s Farm and my experience as a camp follower. Let me give you some background – I grew up in Eastern Ontario, I have been to Upper Canada Village more times than I can even count. In fact when I was 12 I wanted to LIVE at Upper Canada Village. So when emails started coming up about the 200th anniversary reenactment, I was intrigued if for no other reason then I would be able to walk around Upper Canada Village in period attire. In case you haven’t figured out already, I’m a little bit of a history nerd.

With the decision made to attend Crysler’s Farm, I spent the next couple of weeks scrambling to finish some outfits, including my shortgown (which I never ended up wearing because it was dark purple and by Friday afternoon I wanted nothing to do with anything that attracted the sun) and my stays.

I arrived Thursday afternoon, as I was riding up with Dave (who owns Coughlin and Upton. You should check out the website, it is pretty awesome.) There were several other people from our group already their so we went to work setting up our tents in the encampment. Surprisingly, wedge tents are not that hard to assemble, especially when the ground is so soft that you can basically push the pegs into the ground with your bare feet. Last week we got some pretty torrential rains and unfortunately CF was not spared. The ground was soaked, in fact at some points I was standing in the grass with an inch of water over my feet (thankfully my tent was not in this puddle), but it dried up as the weekend went by and it all added to the charm. In fact walking in wet grass was actually really nice when I was sweltering in my dress!

Thursday night was a challenge. I’m not going to lie. It was damp and cold and I spent most of the night tossing and turning on my cot, with my sleeping bag, my cloak and all four of my gowns on top of me. Needless to say by 4:30am I was wide awake and currently rethinking the entire endeavour. Since no one was awake, I headed over to the port-a-pottys and then went on a walk up to the monument.

I sat on the stone wall and watched the sunrise and it was one of the most pleasant experiences. It was so quiet and still, and it made me think of the original battle 200 years ago, and of all the villages and buildings that had been flooded when they expanded the St. Lawrence river. So there I was, going on only a few hours of sleep, cold, damp and crying over flooded buildings. This was really not going well at all, but I was determined not to let it get to me.

Friday proved to be a lot of fun, I went to the village with Steve and Lenore, and we had a great time touring the buildings! I also experienced being constantly photographed by tourists. At first it was very odd and slightly off putting, especially for someone who doesn’t really like to have their picture taken, but as the weekend progressed I got more and more used to it.

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After the your we went back to camp where more people had begun to arrive! Our camp was looking pretty great by Friday night! Which brings me to Port NIght. This is apparently an IMUC tradition and it was a lot of fun to be a part of. I got to try some really great Port, including a homemade chocolate port. I’m pretty sure I was in heaven when I tried that. It was so delicious! I was however still freezing on Friday night, but it was not as bad as Thursday night.

Saturday there was so much to see and do, and don’t forget the heat! I spent time perusing the wares of Sutlers Row, and found some lovely items including a very light weight wool shawl, a walking stick (for the most fashionable of ladies), cotton stockings, and a new ink well and pen.

In the afternoon I met up with my fellow GTRG Devon and we watched the afternoon battle. It was great (especially because we were in the shade), and it was very thrilling to see everyone in action though I know it was very hot for the people out on the field!

Saturday evening the group I was with, the Glengarry Light Infantry, had a potluck dinner – including roast beef cooked on an open spit and in a reflector oven! The food was absolutely delicious and the company even better!

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After dinner we walked over to the Village, where there was an ‘impromptu’ pistol duel followed by the night time battle. Playing an adulterous wife and having a duel fought over you is hard work, so I gave up my Regency ball ticket to someone else as I was just too exhausted by Saturday night, and Devon’s got an excellent review of the ball just below this one. I did however have enough energy to go back to camp and play a thoroughly enjoyable game of bid euchre where Andrew and I kicked ass! The score was 44-11, but apparently that’s debatable considering the game only goes to 42…

Sunday was much quieter and relaxed in the morning, we took our time going for breakfast and Kate and I spent a good deal of time sitting on the edge of the fountain cooling off our legs. In hindsight we should have started doing that on Friday!

Sunday was also the day of the actual re-creation for the Battle of Crysler’s Farm. Kate and I found a shady spot on the hill overlooking the battle and stayed until about the end, then headed back towards camp before the crowd dispersed.

The rest of the day was spent packing up, taking down tents, packing cars and then finally the long journey back home.

All in all I couldn’t have asked for anything better when it came to my first true reenactment – it was an amazing experience and I am definitely looking forward to the next one! (And next time I promise to take more pictures – the pictures in this post were taken by Steve Ball, to who I am very grateful!)

Crysler’s Farm

So last weekend me and the family headed out to Crysler’s farm area to take in the sites and the battles. That’s right this GTRG packed up her parents and the Hubby for a weekend of history. So here you have it folks my write up on one of the biggest 1812 – 1813 events of the season.

To start with I would like to be honest with you all I don’t camp. That isn’t to say I have never tried it. I have and it just didn’t stick. So we all booked in at a hotel and made a family mini vacay out of it. I have to give big big BIGGGGGG props to Lady Jen who toughed it out in a wedge tent. I point this all out because my weekend will seem vastly different to her recap.

So on the Friday night after work me and the Hubby tossed the duffel bag of stuff into the car. I should note that this time I was not just packing a costume for myself but also for Hubby. He has a vest from when he deiced he wanted to dress like the guys in madmen, was opposed to the short pants, and I had found a jacket that would do at a Goodwill. The only thing missing was a cravat. With the left over linen from my shift. “Great” I thought “I will tidy it up with a hem will be wonderful”. Well I sew by hand and manged to get just enough done to need to do the whole thing. Alright…I can do this in the car….and it was going alright until it got dark. After the ump-tenth time jabbing my finger Hubby suggested I put it down and talk him though the dances.

Lap sewing on a night time car ride...don't do it

Lap sewing on a night time car ride…don’t do it

The next morning after breakfast we made the short drive to Upper Canada Village. The place was packed! There was a ton of families which is great as it means that a whole new generation of Canadians are getting an intro into history.

After pulling in I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to find Lady Jen. After all the place was packed. No sooner then I had said this then I spotted a bonnet I knew all to well. I called across and after the pleasantry’s were exchanged we made our way over to the battle field to get a shady spot. Lady Jen joined us and seemed very happy to be in a cool spot. My Mother was very excited to get a good look at her reticule and they chatted for a while about it. (Side note to Lady Jen you really should get a pic of it up as it is very cute) Then with a BAM of canon fire the battle started.

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It was a good one but I have to say as someone who has worked in costume in bad heat I was really feeling for those Redcoats.

After we walked back to camp with Lady Jen and chatted with friends both old and new. Then we tok a walk around the folks selling there wares. Again me and my Mother looking at all the reticule’s. Keep an eye out for a post soon about me and my Mother making them…I can feel this coming.

Then we cheated and we went back to the hotel for dinner and to change. Coming back we headed into the Village in time to see both the dueling demo, (this time Lady Jen got to play the part of wife!) and the evening battle. Then it was time for the ball.

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You can see the dress I had been working on and as for the Hubby? At some point he stopped just being that and started really being his “Lordship”. From that point on he did not want to take the jacket off even with the heat. Not sure when he came up with a persona but told me if he was asked he had deiced he was a well to do lawyer, have a feeling this has to do with our love of Downton Abby. I know it’s the wrong era but hey he was getting into being dressed up and going to a ball. We both also got a big kick in a tourist asking to take a picture of us and then saying “Pesky battles getting in the way of you towns folks having a night out”

As for the ball, it was wonderful. The dances seemed to flow one into the next and the band was great. Me and his Lordship did cause a bit of a scandal as we danced every dance together! I know shocking right? Well that is why I am a Good Time Regency Girl and not a well behaved one. Also not sure if anyone knows but what would be the ruling on that for folks who are married?

We came back and let my Mother take a few more pictures of us before going back to our room. Apparently she had spent the night on her iPhone looking up pictures of reticule’s. In the morning and with the last bars of the Duke of Kent’s waltz in my head we came back home.

I want to end this post with a thank you to all involved. The troops the camp followers everyone
who put on a good showing. To those who organized and worked behind the scenes, I hope this blog finds you and you know just how much my family enjoyed the weekend.

Spencerville Heritage Fair – Recap!

So as Devon mentioned in our last post, we had an absolutely great time at the Spencerville Heritage Fair!

We spent Friday morning getting ready for the day, and also Devon and I had a chance to stroll through Kathy’s garden/yard and pretend we were in a BBC drama. The best part is that this picture was candid, I really was making that ridiculous face.

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Here are the Good Time Regency Girls’ Pictorial Top Ten from the Spencerville Heritage Fair:

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