Steampunk and Christmas trees

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I know, I know, this quote WOULD have been perfect for my October post- but I found it now, and November is when we spotted this gigantic leaf on the path outside our flat so I’m using it anyway. And besides, even in February, I really am glad to live in a world where there are Octobers 🙂

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As we headed fully into fall and November, there were a few local outings planned.  First, a day trip to Camden Market with my new friend R.  We had signed up for a game called Shadow Over Southwark, hosted by Fire Hazard Games.  The website noted that “appropriate dress is encouraged, but not mandatory. Think ‘vintage adventurer’, perhaps with a dash of Steampunk.”  And so, we were on a mission!  Camden market is awesome because it has a combination of new and vintage items, and it’s the home of punk music, so if you want something eclectic, it’s the first and best place to go. 

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Camden Market is in what used to be a large network of stables.  Stall doors and carvings add character and a sense of history throughout

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A gorgeous living wall on one of the new buildings across from Camden Market. The vibe in this whole area is just awesome and so different from downtown London.

We hunted around for a while and I ended up finding a white silk blouse with short collar and ruffled button up front, a pocket watch, and a long wool tartan skirt in need of some repair. I failed to take before pictures, but below are the afters: I repaired several holes, sewed the hem and re-pleated the skirt.  Unfortunately for us, we had finally committed to purchasing a few items, and only minutes later around a couple of corners we found a store that sells steam-punk inspired corset tops and incredible skirts at a really reasonable price.  But we decided it was more fun to create our own looks (or at least that’s how we consoled ourselves. lol).  Paired with my hiking boots (we were going to be in a park at night, clambering around, and I’m nothing if not practical), my Grammer’s black shawl, and my favourite cloche hat, I was set.

The game itself was a blast and R and I made the perfect pair. With my sense of direction and her riddle genius, we managed to come in 4th of 10 teams, despite it being only the two of us up against some bigger and more experienced teams.  Clues led us throughout the park, where we’d find coded words burned into small rounds of wood. We had to decode them using our codex, and enter them into an app/website tied to the live game so it could track our success. Here we are at the end of the evening with our fabulous hosts!  Their acting was so great; their commitment really brought the evening together. 

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Photo courtesy of Fire Hazard Games

And while we both wanted to do well, I don’t think either of us cared or even noticed how the other teams were doing because we were too busy having fun.  Or, in my case, terrified. There were 3 monsters in the game. Each had different qualities and weaknesses and they could eat your soul if they got too close (aka take points from your team). While R was stealthy and knew what to do for each monster- duck to the side, run away, freeze- that was NOT the case for me.  Intellectually, I had the same facts as she did about what to do when you encountered a monster. But first: in the dark I found two of them hard to tell apart; second (and most importantly, I think), I discovered that I am absolutely terrified of monsters coming after me.  I give no cares what I’m “supposed” to do and so every single time we saw one, I ran.  And screamed.  And kept running.  Luckily R was a great sport even when I was completely freaking out like an idiot!  Ha!  I’m even laughing as I write this because I was just so ridiculous.  If you ever want something fun and different to do in London- I totally recommend it!

The early month also included our first British Guy Fawkes day experience.  Neighbours told us tales of making an effigy as children and taking it around saying “Penny for the guy” and collecting money, though they said it’s not often done anymore, and North American Halloween traditions are starting to infiltrate.   The best part was that there were fireworks to mark the day! We were able to book free tickets to watch them from the nearby Southwark Park.  Unlike Vancouver, the event is ticketed (even though they’re free) and in a controlled and fenced space, so that not only was it safe and family-friendly, but it wasn’t overcrowded!  My cousin M and I had been chatting for weeks and weeks on Facebook but hadn’t yet met in person, so she and her sweetie came down from York to spend the night.

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Millie: my cousin, fellow lover of cooking and adventure ❤

On the whole, the event was well-organized.  There was a small ferris wheel,  some carnival rides, and we had great food from a variety of the food trucks.  The fireworks themselves were beyond impressive.  More than once we thought it must be wrapping up only to be surprised by a unique smily-face firework, or another burst of colour.  For a community event of its size, we were blown away.  Our only wishes would have been for WAY more food trucks as some of the lines were brutal. Specifically, the churro line was so long that we actually watched the fireworks from the lineup! The whole line turned backward to watch them, and we all slowly shuffled backward as the line got shorter. It was quite entertaining.  We also learned a valuable lesson for next year: dress VERY warmly!  Standing mostly still for the better part of 2 hours gets chilly very fast.  When the fireworks were over, we walked through the woodlands behind us and up Stave Ecological Hill to enjoy the view as it was a clear night.  It was the perfect night to be up there as there’s a 360 view and we could see fireworks displays in the distance all around us. Then it was home for a quiet evening, some conversation, bed, and breakfast together before M&D were off.

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No words. Just a great smile that I feel compelled to share ❤

The following weekend, I got to see Millie again when T and I went up to Lincolnshire to stay with family and attend a family celebration, but that gets a post of its own so stay tuned for next week’s post.

Here are photos of a few other moments from November… I went to see the Queen’s House in Greenwich, which has recently re-opened after extensive restoration efforts.  All of the rooms have been painted to their original colours, there are beautiful ceiling murals and the architecture is stunning.  They have turned the house into an art gallery which is not my preference as I love furniture and imagining how people would have lived there- but there was some very interesting textile work and the paintings of Captain and Mrs. Pierrepont (John Russel, 1801) caught my eye.

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To finish the month- we picked out our Christmas tree! It wasn’t planned. We were out at Tesco picking up some groceries for the evening and lo and behold, there was a fir tree calling to us.  It wanted to come home with us; how could we say no?  We bought a tiny foldable saw, brought the tree home on the bus, and that was that 🙂

As I write this, it’s February and I can’t hardly believe how long we’ve been in England for.  At times, I am so frustrated with myself for letting my blog fall so behind.. but moments like this, I am grateful to be looking back and remember the beautiful moments we’ve had here.  Thanks for being on the journey with me. xo

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2 thoughts on “Steampunk and Christmas trees

  1. What a leaf! I can’t even imagine the size of the tree. Wonderful you and R have connected; she seems to be a dazzling dose of adventurous and fun friendship! 🙂 Shadow Over Southwark reminds me of an amped up scavenger hunt and locked room game, and it’s a nice touch to have the participants wear costumes (you and R’s costumes were fantastic!). Hilarious and somewhat surprising to hear about your reaction to the monsters. Due to your level-headedness, practicality, and directional sense I’d always wanted you by my side during a zombie apocalypse…now I’m not so sure. 😉 You’re always beaming with glee when you’re with family and that’s readily apparent in the pic with Millie. As an aside, I LOVE her blouse. I can’t believe I’ve never eaten from a food truck. The closest I’ve come is the smokie vendor at a Jay’s game lol. I think I have an aversion to eating standing up, but still would like to try a food truck one day. I like the “before” pic of the tree. Looking forward to enjoying the post with the “after” pics!

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  2. Pingback: Brunch, Bubbles and Beads! | Freckled and Fancy Free

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