Sunday, 31 August 2014

Off to England

So, Violet and I headed off to England for our four month adventure and I thought I'd put up a few of the pictures from our plane trip. We left on August 23 and headed to London first where we wanted to catch a train to Scotland.

As we got ready to land, the clouds broke and we could see a bit of England.


Of course we started off full of energy, but after a restless night on the plane, we had less and less energy. Here is Violet in the subway waiting for the train.  Still looks pretty lively!

Of course our flat keys were not ready yet, so we ended up in a  basement lounge waiting for it to get late enough to catch our train to Scotland.  By this time we were pooped!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A Very Johnny Renaissance Festival, Part 2

The Feast of Fantasy would occur in Bad Manor at the end of the day.

They did a good job on the building (although the interior is a little worse for the wear.)

We arrived a bit early and so we rested and watched the dancers on the green in front of the manor in anticipation of the upcoming feast.  Since we had a little free time, I decided to go off on a photo safari. Here are some of the random images that I snapped.

This must have been a precious conversation!

This woman was a bit on the frenzied side, she had white on her nose and I wondered if she had the plague.

Guess who again?

The king is always accompanied by his guard.

And the Queen by her Ladies in Waiting.

I watched this guy load his pipe, but didn't get the camera out in time, for that.

 There is something so beautiful about the curves of folk harps. (They seem to be matched by the smiles of the harpists too!)

On the green the next dance group had come on. It was so hot and yet the Morris dancers gave it their all.

Meanwhile the lords and ladies began arriving for the feast.

This was one of the singers. For me the band and the singers are the most important part of the occasion although clearly I am in the minority opinion.

Everyone disappeared into the side door and so we waited a bit longer!

 In the meantime, the Morris dancers had moved on to stick dancing.

And then the singers appeared outside the manor and began their serenade to wassail.

And then out came our hosts Lazlo and Jim.

I have to give them credit for trying to come up with a new routine. They did not yet have the kinks worked into it yet. It didn't run smoothly, but at least it wasn't the same thing as last year (which many of the performers seem to do.)

They chose a feastmaster, Bob, who was here with 15 other people and we were off.

The appetizer was a tomato on toast. (I forgot to take pictures of the most interesting dishes - we were both very hungry by that time.) The singers came in and entertained us. Of course they had stuck us way off on the end of the table again, so I couldn't get any good pictures. The room was dark and I was a million miles away from most of the entertainment. Still, the fuzziness of pictures sometimes lends an air of the distant past, so I am posting a few fuzzy shots anyway.

These were singers on the other side of the room. Our singer was very nice, a young man in blue (on the very left of the balcony picture above). He didn't wear a beautiful dress, though, so I was more interested in pictures of the women.

The salad was beautifully herbed  and the pork chop was okay, but nothing to write home about. It was served with roasted potatoes.

Spousal unit D and I always enjoy the dancers. Theor drummers were late and Lazslo and Jim thought they could stand in for them with water jugs, which disappointed me greatly (and I'm sure was very difficult on the dancers. The guys pounded on the jugs but clearly had no sense of middle eastern rhythms.

Here they are doing their best.

This woman in the tribal costume was very good.

Here you can see the fish course served with some kind of beans.

I was happy to see Zilch the Tory Steller and was hoping they had replaced Arthur Greenleaf Homes with him, but alas no such luck. Zilch did his version of Freebird and then left us to  that other poets bad taste.

Of course there was a visit by the King. I do think Henry VIII might have looked a lot like this man in his youth.

He gave a kind toast (rather than the raunchy ones we had up to that time.)

I turly do not understand why everyone loves this guy (below). Say one word considered inappropriate and everyone howls. 

Thank goodness our last entertainer more than made up for the bad poet. Yes, there he is agian, Johnny Phoenix.

He did a nice fire eating routine in our wooden building full of dried herb decorations saying, "What could go wrong?"

We got a lovely mousse dessert on a cookie that was the best food of the evening. I really enjoyed every illicit (to my diet) bite. Then we were released into the evening to hear the final drumming.

The belly dancers had found there way to the lawn and accompanied the drummers.

On the way out, guess whom we saw getting into a car? Yes, it was Johnny Phoenix! We said goodby and watched his car head off into the sunset to be followed shortly by our own! It had been a wonderful day and now it was time to go home.

A Johnny Kind of Renaissance Festival, Part 1

Even though I'm preparing to depart for England in about a week and have a ton to do to get ready, I just had to go to our local Renaissance Festival. I'm not sure I've ever been on opening day before, but as always we had a marvelous time.

We entered from the back (because fracking sand is now being mined in the  Minnesota Renaissance Festival's front parking lot. I'm not going to say another word about fracking sand!! Biting tongue hard!)

On our way in,  we were greeted by fire eater and escape artist Johnny Phoenix standing on the battlements of the entry. I have a soft spot for Johnny. We both hail from Florida and I enjoy his humor about Minnesota weather. He is a kind, kind person, with a wicked sense of humor and I am always pleased to see him and enjoy his shows (Even though I wish they and the Festival in general were a little less heterosexual male oriented. Yes, I know it is a RENAISSANCE festival, but don't forget there was an amazing Queen running the show for many, many years back then (after her maritally challenged father died.)

Anyway, we chatted with Johnny on the way in little knowing that he would be the dominating theme of our visit this year.

We were thirsty, so we headed for the best food booth at the fair - the tea shop and bought big satisfying cups of iced tea. At the shop we encountered this woman with her lovely head covering. She had sewn the ruffles herself. I think this is the favorite picture I got at the fair.

There were two shows that we definitely wanted to see, so we headed over to see the Danger Committee after getting a turkey leg to enjoy with our tea. Here is "other guy", whom I really get a good shot of, because he is often dressed up like a Ninja or else hidden behind a tall person in the audience when I want to take a picture.

They had lost their lighter and so they were lighting their flaming torches (and knives!!!) with a stun gun!

I very much enjoy just taking pictures of the people on the Fairgrounds. Here was a wandering minstrel playing his mandolin. (I'm not too sure about those small square plaques by his feet, but otherwise he seemed all renaissanced up!

I'd love to know what that conversation was about!

These women were moving along art a rapid pace not far from Marla's shop which we visited on the way to the show.

I was a bit curious about this knight with the giant pink lollipop too!

Of course when it is hot there is lots of bare skin, which also means the possibility of observing interesting body art.

A few years back they had added a mermaid grotto. The lines had been horrendous, so this year I decided we should check it out. The tank for swimming was amazingly tiny and although there was a mermaid in it, she was not swimming. If this had been a zoo the exhibit would have been closed down for insufficient habitat for the wild creatures. Two other mermaids sunned themselves on the rocks. I overheard that the Minnesota woman that makes the mermaid costumes sells them all over for a thousands of dollars. (Of course I can not vouch for the accuracy of what I heard.)

And speaking of costumes (and for me Renaissance Festivals are all about the costumes!!) Check out this peacock feather stole in front of the fan shop.

Pretty soon we were ready for our other show. Guess who the other must see for the day was?
Yup, Johnny Phoenix!

He is the master of hamming it up for the audience

and he has a way of getting people to do the most amazing (and embarrassing) things on stage.

His fans come in all sizes and ages.

We walked around a bit more and took in the sights, watched interesting characters and shopped.

Isn't this a gorgeous "war horse"? The mane and tale were beautifully plaited.

 We stopped by Twig the Fairy's place, but Twig was not there. One of her minions was nurturing a 2 week old Kitten who had lost its mom.

We stopped by to listen to Snot and Puke briefly as they performed a little sword play.

And checked out the gorgeous costumes in the shops. If I had an extra 650-750 $ in my pocket, I would so buy one all complete and ready to wear!

This is another of my favorite shots of the day. Seems like so kind of disturbing gossip must have been exchanging ears while the seamstress worked on the ladies' dress!

We wandered past the garden court (where they perform weddings and the court tends to hang out.)  I saw this couple quite a bit and not once were they smiling!)

This year they had set up a viking camp too.  This was not a royal court, but a camp of the regular people. It was refreshing but quite austere in comparison to the fancy costumes around them.

It did make a lovely scene though to see the mother with her child and the others sitting by.

I don't know what this gentleman was selling but he was indicating there was no line for his wares.

This is what that sea of yellow at his feet is.


Next we stopped off to visit Marla and of course we bought a couple of shirts from her. She has a really cool new design with  seams down the back that is hugely flattering! They are about to change the name of their store To Ferrara's Leathers, so  look for them under a new name next year. 

We were getting a bit tired so we took a seat in the back row of Johnny Phoenix's fire show. I actually enjoyed this one more than the first show we saw (probably because we hadn't seen it as frequently.

Of course we also got to see barbecue Barbie during this performance. I've never seen an adult man who enjoyed playing with his dolls so much.

Here is the walk across fire.

Unfortunately I never get a good shot of this dragon, who is immensely graceful and quirky in its movements. (I'm sure that some will say that it is because like the Loch Ness Monster, it does not exist.)

While walking around we happened upon another of our favorite entertainers - Tuey. His stage is amidst the trees and with the dappling and backlight, it is almost impossible to get a decent photo of him doing his incredible feats.

I quite enjoyed catching this pirate indulging in that vicious weed from the Americas

We took another rest in front of Bad Manor and enjoyed watching some Scottish dancers at play.