Just back from the Outlore Festival, the third time we storytellers have performed at the Dumnonni Chronicles' largest live action role play / fantasy re-enactment event of the year, set in the idyllic Dark Age settlement of 'Culhaven', deep in Devon countryside, and held at Beltane.
On the way, we looked up warily at the dark grey skies, took against the chill in the cold north wind, and spoke of warm pubs as the rain spat. Arriving at the site however, the van rode over the mud at the entrance (which can be a complete mudbath) with ease. After greeting Dave and Jon and getting kitted out by Dave, we went up to the causeway - but being very muddy, we entered by the back gate instead. At first few people seemed to be about, except warriors preparing for battle, but we told a few tales and after lunch, the wind dropped, the sun came out, the mud dried up and we told Viking tales for delicious ginger cake, around a fine big cauldron full of apple pie! with a courteous clan from Holland and made a healer and her companions laugh a lot, by the central fire, and in return being plied with very warming spicy ginger wine, and a bowl of strawberries... Highlights of the day included visiting the falconer and - following last year's magical encounter with the huge raven on my arm! this time it was the eagle owl. While it stood on other's forearms, I stared at it and someone remarked it seemed to be staring at me too - it's huge blood-orange coloured eyes hypnotised me. And then it was time for it to stand on my arm. What a privilege to have such a large, rare and magnificent wild creature so close. The falconer urged me to stroke it, but I touched it with immense care and not for long, as I know that feathers are very breakable, being designed for flight and air, not contact. I was also grateful that it just alighted onto my arm without any tricky acrobatic turns. It was like a dream, and when it was taken back by the falconer, I was not at all surprised to see the central meeting place filled with acrid green smoke, thick as dried ice! Magic was in the air.
By dusk, we had told many more tales, including round the fire in the atmospheric gloom of the roundhouse, with its shields and horned stag heads, and as the lights were lit and the settlement transformed by many lanterns and candlelight into a faery realm, we made our way into the longhouse to greet and listen to the very fine Goliards. As ever Tracey's drumming thrilling and Lawrence's bagpipes beautiful. The sunset was another star of the festival, with a huge golden sun behind dark trees in the soft dales and hills, with purple cloud and rays of light, then a plume of fiery gold on mauve before it sank, deepening the landscape into May twilight... And finally it was time to go, smoky, muddy, tired, full of images, music, impressions, kind praise and good food and wine...off over the torchlit causeway, and into the night.
Big thanks to Dave and Jon as always for inviting us and organizing such an amazing event, the Goliards, and all who listened to our tales and shared with us the 'sacred laws of hospitality'. The outdoor show season has begun.