The Great Sausage Swindle

My son Owen had his 13th birthday on Saturday.  To mark it, he had three good friends over for a camping weekend.

The boys used our medieval tent — which could probably sleep 20 boys or more.

My work colleague Rick lent me his trebuchets (siege weapons).  He made them for his own kids’ parties, and they allow two teams of kids to lob fruit at each other.  Here’s a clip of his kids doing this.

Rick recommends buying a box of identical apples, to allow maximum calibration — but then he’s a scientist.  Allison got a box of miscellaneous over-date fruit, which meant that they sometimes flew erratically, but some of the over-ripe pears did indeed land on the intended boys.  By the end, the kids could pretty consistently hit the opposing trebuchet.

I’ve mentioned Pat, one of our first wwoofers who recently came by for another visit.  He and Allison came up with a treasure hunt around the farm.  Each clue led to the next, requiring powers of inference and some decoding of clues. One site had marshmallows, another a firelighter, others drinks or lollies and the like.  Some had a hint of danger, like the clue hidden under a chicken sitting on eggs, and the clue hidden amongst the “bulls” (long-horned Highland cows).

The kids headed off bravely, and criss-crossed the farm with Ginger the kelpie-cross in tow.  What fun for her! Unfortunately they started a bit late and didn’t get the quest finished by dark.

They did in the end need some help to get their fire going, and they cooked up their sausages and potatoes.  As the sausages were cooked, they were transferred to a plate … but nobody noticed that the stack never seemed to increase.  Ginger the dog was stealthily helping herself!

In the end, I think Ginger got about 80% of the sausages.  I found her snoring deeply and contentedly next to the campfire.  The boys had plenty of chips and other junk food, so they didn’t starve.

They did try some fishing the next morning, but I think they made too much noise.  Then a McDonalds lunch, and I took the visitors back to Canberra.

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Rowany Festival

We went to the Rowany Festival over Easter.  This is the biggest medieval event in the country, and a great chance to catch up with old friends.

Our local SCA group, Okewaite, was not so well represented this year.  We’ve not been particularly active in recent months, and various personal circumstances intervened.  So we didn’t need a separate kitchen tent, just used one end of our huge group marquee.

Last year, Allison ran a full-on food fund, where we catered for the whole campsite with really medieval food, all cooked over the campfire.  Fabulous, but it took a lot of time for both of us with help from Jan too.

This year, it was rather less formal.  We did do a fancy feast on the Friday night, with a goose and some ducks from our farm cooked over the spit — worked really well.  Also some boiled salted beef, which was good, and various vegies.  I did the early cheesecake as made last year, but it didn’t work quite as well — needed a little longer.

The other days we still cooked over the fire, but we didn’t have as many dishes and things were a little simpler.  The work required dropped dramatically.

Some of our friends didn’t come this year.  The critical decision period was during that month of continuous rain (after a wet summer) and people probably thought the event would be washed out.  I thought so too.  In fact, once that month of rain stopped it was pretty dry right up to Festival.

Rowany Festival is held at Glenworth Valley near Gosford, in humid mangrove swamps north of Sydney.  It was still quite boggy in places, but the roads held up well.

The weather was sunny for most of Festival.  It’s too hot for me in the middle of the day, and for some reason the King and Queen liked to schedule courts then.  They of course get to sit under a sunshade, and the populace cooks out in the hot sun.  So I just didn’t go to courts then, and the K&Q were puzzled why lots of people failed to show up to receive awards.

We had a couple of showers, mostly negligible but one night we got a reasonable soaking which kept the dust down.  The weather was as good as you could reasonably hope for.  The Sunday was war day and fortunately it was a bit cooler — I actually wished I’d brought some armour along.

Our neighbour Lois is a great brewer of fruit wines, and sent along a few bottles for us to enjoy.  I particularly enjoyed the pear wine, a smooth and relaxing drop with just a little spritz.  Very convivial to enjoy with friends, then the 20% alcohol sneaks up on you and knocks you over.  I didn’t ever disgrace myself, but my lateral stability became a bit impaired, a couple of days running.  And after that I stuck to cider.

Allison went to a number of the craft classes, as did our friend Jan.  New ideas, and new techniques.  Jan’s embroidery and tailoring got many favourable comments from the costume laurels.

Festival is always good for renewing your enthusiasm for the SCA.  Lots more wayfaring to other groups this year — and fortunately many of this year’s main events are within driving distance of home.