Sunday, 31 July 2011

Regency Workbag

Since I have decided to join the world of historical re-enacting, I thought that I should equip myself with items that might come in handy during events. For inspiration I turned to my copy of 'Jane Austen's Sewing Box' which I mentioned in a previous post, was given to me by a friend at my tea party last month. It contains some of the most beautiful sewing projects and there were so many things that I wanted to make, but since my sewing skills are rather limited I decided to stick to making something simple. I settled on a workbag. From attending the Battle Proms I have realised that in Napoleonic Re-enactments, women spend most of the time sitting around (when it is not an event that includes living history displays), and that it is a good idea to bring along some kind of entertainment, such as knitting or crosstich, that doesn't ruin the period look of the encampment. A workbag seemed just the thing in which to store said knitting or crosstich.  The bag pictured in the book is made of white silk with beautiful embroidery work, which sadly is beyond my talent, so I decided to use a patterned material so I didn't have to try my hand at making it look pretty! :)

I went to my material stash and came across an old duvet cover which I had kept as I loved the pattern on it - a beautiful blue and white toile. I seem to love making things out of discarded bed linen (2 dress and now a bag! :) lol ). I had to add a lining as the the toile was too thin, and the drawstring is a white ribbon.

I made it whilst crying my way through 'Bright Star'! Here is the finished project. Very simple but I love it. :)

My workbag

A close-up of the material

Monday, 25 July 2011

Dipping My Toes in the World of Napoleonic Re-enacting

You may remember that last month I went to Apsley House for their Waterloo Anniversary celebrations. There I met a group of Napoleonic re-enactors who are based in London. I was so happy to finally find a re-enactment group that was based in London and I was really keen to join. However when I returned home I couldn't find any information about the group on the internet, which I thought was odd as they claimed to be a member of the Napoleonic Association. I forgot about it for a couple of weeks, but then decided to check the website again, and lo and behold, there was the group's name and website. It turns out that they are a rather new group and have only just joined NA. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I ended up going to one of their events on Saturday. It was at Hatfield House, the childhood home of Elizabeth I, and was a BBC Battle Prom, so a concert of military classical music. I drove down with the guy who runs the group and we met up with some of the other members in the grounds of the house. We then put up modern reproductions of Napoleonic era tents, got changed and waited for the public to arrive. What can I say... the event was wonderful but one of the oddest experiences I have ever had in my life.

Apparently the re-enactors are usually cordoned off from the public by a fence but we were not, which meant people kept coming up to us and taking our photographs, staring, and asking if they could have their photograph taken with us. It felt a bit like we were a cross between animals in a zoo and celebrities. Not sure if I liked the feeling!! I realised that I would not like to be famous. Anyway apart from that and the rather chilly weather, I had a wonderful time. The music was beautiful, the re-enactors were a lovely group of people, and the fireworks, the riding performance and the lone Spitfire that zoomed over our heads looping-the-loop were amazing!!! I would love to go to another re-enacting event.

Here are a few photos of the event:

Putting up the tents

The backs of the soldiers

One of my fellow re-enactors - such a lovely lady - her and her husband were so sweet.

The public walking through the camp

The Spitfire - It was the best photo I could get. The lady who flew it did the most amazing stunts.

The Cavalry 

Another photo of the Cavalry

The tents of the French Camp

I didn't take any photos of myself, but I was wearing my pink gown with flowers, pink and white bonnet and pink and white spencer and a pashmina (for warmth!!). I actually managed to pin my bonnet so it stayed on my head for the entire event - a feat I have never achieved before as the bonnet is on the small side.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Low-Cholesterol Adventure

Recently my father was told by his doctor that he had to lower his cholesterol, so remove cakes and all things nice from his diet. Now you all know I love baking, so am constantly making cakes and cookies for my family and friends. I felt sorry for my father not being able to eat them, so I paid a visit to good old Amazon to see what they had in the way of low-cholesterol baking recipe books. Their solution was 'Cholesterol-Free Cakes and Cookies' by Mabel Cavaiani - an old library book which looks like it was published in the 80's (the date page has been removed so am not certain). I found it odd that there were not more books on offer, but ordered it. Ok so there are no photographs so I have no idea about how the food is meant to look, and the measurements and ingredients are all US so it has taken  a while to work out what certain ingredients are (different names) and how much I need of each, but otherwise it is a great book. Cavaiani gives a little history of each cake, biscuit etc. (which I think is great), and explains all the substitutions she has made to make the recipes cholesterol-free.

For my first adventure into the world of cholesterol-free baking I decided to make a Burnt Sugar cake. It is a cake I have never heard of before but my father loves caramel so I though I would give it a try. Here is the result:

Birds-eye view of cake

Another photo of cake!

The cake once tasted. The actual cake is rather plain but with the icing I have to admit it is rather delicious. :)

Friday, 15 July 2011

Dressing the Stars

The Fashion Museum in Bath is currently showing, what looks like a fabulous exhibition called 'Dressing the Stars'. It is a display of historical costume from a variety of period dramas, such as Sense and Sensibility 95, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Duchess, and many more.  Its is on until 29th August - not very long as it only opened on 12th July!!. I really hope I am able to go and see it.

Wedding clothes from 'The Duchess'

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Prime of Miss Jane Austen

The wonderful historian Prof. Amanda Vickery has just finished filming a programme about Jane Austen and her fans that is set to air on BBC2 in November or December this year. It is to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility. I loved Vickery's programme 'At Home in Georgian England', and am really excited about this new one. :)

Amanda Vickery

Ships and Ranting

I apologise in advance as there will be ranting...

Ok so most of you know that my interests rather centre around history especially eighteenth and nineteenth century. But do any of you have an interest or a hobby that is completely different from all your other interests?  I do and mine is a weird obsession with ships and the Navy. The Navy has a long and illustrious history but it is the modern Navy and modern ships that for some reason grabs my attention, an interest which seems so odd when you line it up next to all my others (Jane Austen, period dramas, historical costume and architecture, P. G. Wodehouse, crosstich etc.) I suppose it is in my blood - my family does have quite a strong connection. A great grandfather, a grandmother and grandfather, and a great aunt and uncle were all in the Navy, my father was in it for 12 years, and my brother is currently serving. I suppose the interest started when my brother joined and all my father could talk about was 'the good old days in the Navy'. The Navy was the main topic in the house for months, so a learnt loads!! This interest in all things nautical meant that when I stumbled across the Australian tv drama 'Sea Patrol', I was so excited and I lapped up the first series. It is a drama series about a group of Royal Australian Navy sailors who serve on board a patrol ship. I really enjoyed the five seasons that it ran for - apart from odd times when there was just a bit too much violence for my liking, and when main characters didn't feature in the next season and there was no explanation as to their disappearance. But overall I thought the series was pretty good. That was until today when I watched the final ever episode (it has been cancelled due to high costs - the company rents a ship from the navy to film it!!). All I can say is that is was quite awful, and really annoying. I sat in front of my computer for about 5 minutes after it ended saying 'what on earth???' over and over again. It could have been soo much better. I am thoroughly disappointed :(. But feel much better now that I have ranted to my hearts content. :)

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Regency Ball

Last Friday I went to the Young Georgians Summer Ball (As mentioned in previous posts, I am a member of a Georgian society called the Georgian Group and the Young Georgians is the under 30s part of it). It is usually just a drinks party but this year they decided to make it a ball. The theme was Regency and since I wore my Regency ball gown to their ball before last, I am ashamed to admit that I was suffering from 'I can't wear the same gown, everyone will recognise it!'. So I decided to buy another one as my sewing skills are not up to making a ball gown. Sadly the lady who makes the style of gown that I really wanted, didn't have the time to make it so instead I had an overjacket made to wear over my ivory gown.

A close up of the overjacket. I haven't got a photo of the back but it has a fantail.

A full length photo of mine and a friend's gowns.

Like the last two balls that they held, it wasn't fabulous - there wasn't enough food for everyone, not enough chivalrous men to ask ladies to dance (there were loads of men) and not really that much room to dance (it was a bit like regency bumper cars but without the cars and whilst dancing!!).

The food for around 60 people - there might have been just enough but people were going up for seconds before others had even had firsts!!

It wasn't all bad though, a great more people dressed up this time (I had great fun looking at some of the beautiful costumes :)), and as it was lovely weather the beginning of the ball was held outside in their version of the Vauxhall Gardens. The Ball was held in the Georgian Group headquarters which is a town house in a lovely Georgian square in London. In the middle of the square their is a lovely garden which became the "Vauxhall Gardens" for the evening. But most of all it was lovely to spend time with friends and to dress up in Regency clothes :).

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Jane Austen Puzzles

Pocket Posh have brought out a fabulous puzzle-book on all things Austen. I heard about it from reading someone's blog  (Once again I can't remember who's!!). Of course I had to buy it :). I am so glad that I did as not only is it pretty, but the perfect size to fit in your handbag, and the most important thing - it contains puzzles about Austen and her novels. I am addicted! :) I definitely recommend it for any Austen Fan.