Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Living Histrionics

This weekend brought the return of the Living History fair at Mannington Hall, which was more or less where this blog began nearly a year ago.

Queenie attended on a return visit. I had to wrangle with the Keeper of the Ticket Office single handedly. I was attempting to go in through a door marked 'entrance', and clearly, I had misunderstood the due process. I should instead know to walk approximately five steps to my right and enter through a gate which bore the words No Right of Way. I then compounded matters by five minutes later trying to leave the grounds through an open door labelled Exit rather than through the same gate as before, which by this time had been bolted shut in two places.

As I was alone at Mannington, I was getting changed on site (in a disabled loo, as always) and dependent on finding a passing Viking/Puritan/Saxon/Victorian who would be able and willing to lace me up. Imagine my delight, then, when I happened upon my friend and erstwhile castle colleague, Sian. Sian was promoting Swaffham museum by being a 19th century Fenland Wise Woman for the day. She was sharing a tent with Howard Carter, the famed Egyptologist, and his very large sarcophagus.

One could tell she was a Wise Woman because was wearing wellies. Very sensible. Anyhow I extracted a promise of lacing up from her and went on my way to complete my toilette in the toilet.

But Quelle Horreur!!!! I'd got almost all the seven layers of Queenie's garb on before I realised I had FORGOTTEN MY KIRTLE. The kirtle is the skirt, the uppermost , biggest and most obvious bit of the costume. In my case, it's made from about 4 metres of crimson silk. How did I manage to forget it? Forward planning. I've always known it was a bad idea.

In an unprecedented bout of early preparation I had taken the kirtle out of the suitcase and hung it up to let some creases fall out overnight. And of course, I had neglected to return it to the case the next morning.

After a moment of panic in which I rapidly went through the options of going home and coming back again, or just going home and staying there, I remembered that next door to Sian's tent was A FABRIC SELLER.

Most unseemly in my farthingale, I dashed across to this stall where I spotted a remnant which would do. Bless the stall holder for letting me have it cheap (well, I AM the Queen). Then I dashed back to the toilet to find my money, then back again to pay. On my final run, a nearby hurdy gurdy player started up with a comical 'panto chase' melody, which didn't go unnoticed.

Sian then pinned the remnant into kirtlish shape. A million thanks to her for her patience, kindness and yes, spilt blood.

Obviously re-enactment is a serious business to some. A true re-enactor would never see the funny side of this- authenticity had been violated. I should be sent to the Tower. But I had a lovely day, and lots of people were entertained by taking photos of me having a cheese puff for lunch.

Next Stop : Hingham Craft Fair!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A (nearly) historic day for Peg Dolls online

Culloo cullay oh frabjous day and so on and so forth. I spent yesterday getting my new peg dolls website up and running. It's not finished yet but it's looking good. I must get some decent photos done of the dolls, because the ones I have are just not good enough. I'll put a link on here when its properly ready.

I am also expanding into Queen Victoria (that explains her weight gain in her latter years). She will be known as Queen Pegtoria and she will most definitely not be amused.

My requested order for Wars of the Roses dolls (Rosiepegs) is coming on apace too, with designs completed. My customer doesn't need them till after Christmas, so that's a project for the holidays.

Note to self: must read more books about Queen Victoria. Also: must remember I am supposed to be studying for a degree too. Busy busy busy!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


I need help!

Dear readers (all two of you), please have a think about a possible name for my Peg Doll Company. It can't be Dolly Peg as someone's nabbed that already. Other suggestions have been Peggy Sew, QueeniePegs and The Historic Peg Doll Company (although if you Google the latter one you get a blog about historic dolls).

Answers on a postcard to rachelduffield@live.co.uk....

How much is that Dolly in the window?

I have just realised that over a month has elapsed since my last posting. I have been awfully busy with Lizziepegs and with being ill and with doing madly successful concerts- oh yes, and with going to work, talking Barn Owls with my son's class and, occasionally, remembering to eat.

I will be selling the historic peg doll kits at Mannington Hall History Fair, Dragon Hall's Medieval Christmas Fair, at the Hingham Christmas Fair and at assorted other venues yet to be decided. There has been much ado about how much to charge (one doesn't want to under or over-charge) so I'm going for £4 at the first venue and I'll see what happens. Most people have looked at them and said I should charge a fiver but I'm just not sure...

I have a cottage industry going, assembling all the bits. Obviously my printer will run out of ink at some inconvenient moment. I have also been comissioned for one for an American cousin of a cousin (I've gone global!) and ten for a re-enactors' fair. Said re-enactor also wants bespoke 15th Century doll kits made - I'm happy to oblige! And I must get on with the Queen Pegtorias too. If only there were more hours in a day.

I have also been reading up on how to use Twitter. I keep trying with it but I just don't get it. My book says this is entirely normal and I must persevere. So that's what I'll do.