Lord Karl writes:
Here's what I saw.
The Elder Daughter of DOOOM and I arrived on site on Friday afternoon with a car full of stuff. Fortunately I'd set up our tents the Saturday before, so it wasn't a hardship to get set up with all cars already off site. But big thanks to the couple from Bordescros(?) who let me borrow their car trailer to carry things over the hill to our campsite, since the wheelbarrows from last year were nowhere to be seen. And thanks too to all the people who helped us push the trailer there and back.
The first and most obvious thing was the dust: as has been said, it was hideous. My tent was airtight and sealed for the week and its contents were still lightly dusted when I unzipped it. The air was beige, all weekend. Granted there was more greenery on the site than any time I've seen it before, but it was still ridiculously dusty.
I brought my songbooks and ran Bardic Circles at the fire pit on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Friday night it went until midnight; Saturday night until 1am; Sunday until 2am. By Sunday, people were walking past and saying "Oh, that's right, Bardic Circle. I'll be back" -- and they were. They were taking it for granted, which is precisely what I was hoping they would do! Bardic Circles should be a normal part of every night of every Festival, godsdammit! Scrounging for wood was a challenge -- thanks to Groo and House Accipiter for the "loan" of some wood, and to Brice and other pyrosophers for turning it into a roaring fire. Next year we need to arrange wood properly beforehand, though, because it was a daily worry.
We went home on Saturday night and came back on Sunday arvo, and the Beloved and the BatPup joined us on Monday morning. The Elder Daughter joined in the Children's Battle and had great fun (and the BatPup hurled a few tennis balls herself, just to show willing). It was definitely the highlight for all of us. Yolande, I have a song about it! I'll do some sheet music and post it somewhere.
I sold every songbook, and will have more available for May Crown, so for me personally it was quite a successful event.
The things I didn't like: the dust; the portaloos, some of which were set on an alarming tilt; the large number of people walking around at night with electric torches; the effort required to scrounge for wood for the bardic fire; the fact that I couldn't pack everything into the car on Monday night and will have to go back tomorrow after work, although at least it's only a 40 minute drive so it's not too arduous.
Appalling sight of the Festival: the young lady in "an attempt at pre-17th century garb" being: stylish black jeans, black suede boots; an unhemmed t-tunic made of what looked like unironed crushed-satin polyester in a sort of opalescent blue-pink-white colour. She made it very clear how our standards have improved, because I'm sure there would have been peers wearing that sort of thing 15 years ago when I joined, but now it just looked wrong.
Peerages I know of: three Laurels: someone in Aneala (Liduina?); Marcus Waffenscmidt, aka Mark the Armourer, aka Ming; and Iarnulfr from Innilgard/Politarchopolis/NZ (in reverse order). I avoided court, except that the final part of the closing court. Alfar's schtick about the whole Draco-vs-Alfar thing was utterly brilliant. Giles almost stole the show, but really Alfie-babes is a spectacular showman. Bravo!
Summary: I agree with the comments I've been hearing, that the Crossroads site is appalling for Festival, purely because of the dust and the hiking. Bring on the new site! But it'll be a shame if it has to disappear completely, because with a bit of hard work and some drought-hardened ground cover and paving, it could be a splendid venue for SCA events.
: Bat :