Wednesday 2 October 2013

Cook Me Up a Song (Known World Bardic Congress and Cooks Symposium II, Oct 11-14)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart
A call had gone out across the Knowne World, calling all who smithed words and were skilled in the culinary arts to travel to the Barony of Ramshaven, where The Kingdom of Ealdormere was planning a collegium. As is usual for any event I have been to in Ramshaven, it rained on us as we traveled the back roads in our wagon, though in truth the weather was mild. The sprinkling stopped as we arrived at the camp where the bards and cooks were to meet. Many had arrived the night previous and had slept in bunks usually occupied by young scouts in training. When we first arrived Dame Tsivia bas Tamara v’Amberview was leaning out of her middle bunk, which had a high ledge to ensure young scouts did not fall out. She was wondering out loud how her old bones were going to manage to get over the ledge and down to the ground. Luckily, many younger bards were nearby to help her to the ground.
Lady Ivanna the Oblivious came over to our side as we were signing in at the gate and took us down to the craft room, where Master Hector of the Black Height was to teach a class on storytelling. However, she did not arrive in time to save me from a tongue licking from an over active (and apparently stuffed) golden retriever.
Once seated, Cera of Caer Draeth sat opposite us and said simply, “Convince me.” We actually hadn’t thought we would be approached on this issue at such an event, but it would be the first of many questions poised us that day. We asked her if she had any specific questions or concerns and we talked of moots and possible new cantons.
Hector was late for the class as he was talking to his ‘granddaughter’ in the hallway and did not realize that his class had already begun. In usual Hector style he held the classes rapt attention and made them laugh and at times held them spellbound and silent. In truth, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know (I have taken storytelling classes mundanely before) but just to see the man in action is a treat).
When the class was over we went for a short walk about the grounds and were lucky enough to see a few blue jays flying through the trees. When we passed the gate we saw Corwyn and Domhnaill Galbraith signing in so wandered over to warn them that they would likely get asked questions about their own Baronial platform. The four of us ended up discussing the Barony and our vision of its future for over an hour, while Ivanna and Master Garraed Galbraith joined us at times. Ivanna asked what our first act as Baron and Baroness would be. Both couples said we would immediately banish the other. Much silly talk such as that was had, much serious talk was also had. Garraed said it was wonderful to see people in competition for the same position being so friendly with each other. I think that’s the only way to be. We finally moved downstairs to the dining room and listened to some of the bards as they recited poems for challenges issued earlier that day.
Once the competitions were done, we sat at a bench for Hector’s bardic toolbox class. He had a bag full of books from which he pulled examples of books he felt all bards should have. I was rather pleased to find that Thorfinna and I already owned many of those same books. As a group we then wrote a fatras, which is an obscure form of medieval poem. Since so little was known of it or its structure the discussion was lively and many went away yearning to learn more.
Once Hector was finished, he was replaced by a bard from the Principality of Northshield named Eliane. She taught a class on the building of a bardic book, where to find source material, how to do library searches and the issues of copyright.
Morgana came next, and she conducted a spirited debate on what it meant to be a bard and how the bardic arts had evolved over the years. It was a very informative and enjoyable talk, but it ended and we finally left the dining room to attend Corwyn and Domhnaill’s brewing class in the kitchen. After sitting in a drafty dining hall for four hours it was pleasant to be in the kitchen surrounded by heat and the smell of THL Aenaes Oakhammer’s cooking. The class was small, and we got to sample some mead while the Galbraiths demonstrated how to rack. At one point I heard someone behind me say, “How you doin’?” and I knew that Count Aaron Worgansson had arrived. I turned to find Their Royal Majesties Roak and Arlette standing behind me and I quickly got up and offered them the bench I had been sitting on. At first Roak did not want to take my seat but I insisted. I then sat in a chair exactly under a small leak that occasional dropped a drip or three of water on my tunic.
When the class ended it was time for court, and we found a seat on a bench. Thankfully, court was short as my behind was already sore from so much sitting on hard wooden benches built with young scouts in mind. Ambassadors of the east Kingdom sent best wishes to Their Lupine Majesties for Ealdormere’s past hospitality to eh East’s populace, especially their bards. Likewise, an ambassador from the Middle brought best wishes from Their Draconian Majesties, along with gifts of cookbooks and recordings of music. Invitations were also extended to attend bardic events within the Middle Kingdom.
Three awards were then handed out. Branwen of der Welfengau was awarded a Maiden’s Heart, and was the tireless Lady Ivanna, for her great efforts for the Canton of Greenhithe, and in matters regarding the young of our kingdom. Also, Lady Kestra the Drummer was inducted into the Order of the Orion for her bardic talents.

After court we once again talked to Corwyn and Domhnaill as we watched various gentles play at ‘Viking Bocce,’ which consisted of throwing sticks at other sticks. I very much wanted to stay and try my hand at the game but family concerns drew us home. This sample of but one day of a three-day long event made me yearn for more, and perhaps next year I will be able to spend more time at this wonderful event.

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