Yuletide at Castle Marsh by Jemima Pett
Day 2 Advent 2017
Jemima Pett offers Solveig’s readers a glimpse into the society of her Princelings of the East series this Advent. The books feature two princelings who leave their home castle, Castle Marsh, to have many mysterious adventures, mostly involving time travel, pirates, and new inventions.
All seven books in the series are on sale during the December-January period, leading up to the publication of book 8 on 30th January. For details see the series on the Princelings website.
The first piece (2nd December) is by Queen Kira, who plays a major part in books 2 and 3 of the series. George and Fred are the original Princelings of the East. Fred is now King, and George is an engineer, flying ace, and inventor of new machines.
The second piece (10th December) is by Sir Pogo, who lives in a very different castle, Castle Vexstein. Their main industry is brewing the drink Vex, which has a monopoly in brewed drinks throughout the country. It’s a complete contrast from Castle Marsh, the focus of the Princelings series, and increasingly the source of most of the troubles that are brewing.
Yuletide at Castle Marsh
by Queen Kira
Here we are in the lead-up to Yuletide again. It’s such a busy time, but very enjoyable, and although he would never admit it, it’s a time Fred finds very stressful these days.
There are a lot of duties on the King of Marsh, and he’s already despatched three of them, starting with the Solstice Speech, which traditionally reminds us of the passage of the sun round the sky and the Circle of Life. This is not exactly what Fred’s Philosophical Thoughts say, as he has it on good authority that our world travels round the sun.
This year, with the help of one of the people that came to the summer study last year, he set up a complicated sculpture in our newly extended Library. People can set it in motion and watch the balls that represent the earth, sun and moon, and other planets too, all whirring round each other. It’s fascinating, but I’m supposed to be telling you about Yule. So Fred has adapted his speech, which still focuses on the passage of time and renewal, but the older people complained and muttered about “progress for it’s own sake”.
Next day we have a large party for all the children in the Castle. For some reason there are a large number of birthdays during Yuletide, so we decided to have one large party so that nobody misses out. George set up a number of puzzles for them to solve at various locations in the castle. They solved each puzzle to find out where the next one was. I think everyone enjoyed it hugely. Fred does the start and finish and gives out prizes and extra gifts so everyone gets something. George wasn’t actually here for it. He went off in his flying machine on an errand of mercy, somewhere up north. He got back yesterday though, and told us all about it over dinner.
Then comes our fourth Narrathon. We do not have our own Narrator yet; last year we invited Willoughby, who couldn’t make it at short notice, but promised to come stay for Yuletide this year. I believe he’s at Castle Humber at present, coming south. Apart from telling us stories, I think a few young people are looking forward to coaching from him in how to present their stories best, practising voices and speed and suchlike. I used to love Narrathons at Dimerie, so I’m delighted we have one here now.
We have an arts and crafts fair for the next two days. Everyone can display their handiwork, and give instruction to others on how it’s done. It’s been a great success in the past. Two families moved in during the summer, skilled in stone-carving and in glass-making; they will be demonstrating their skills to us. They’ve already attracted an apprentice to their workshop, which for safety’s sake we helped them set up nearer the forest. George and his team will also be giving flying lessons if the weather is good, but I’m afraid at present it is very windy and that might mean he has to cancel them. He had a very bumpy landing this morning and had to drag his flying machine out of the reeds.
On Green Willow’s Eve we have our Games day. The first two games are the race round the courtyard and the run round the walls. Fred tried that when he was young and fell off. Apparently nobody has done it for many, many years, but they do it in other castles, so we thought we’d try again as a formal event. Then there will be a cross-country race George calls orienteering, which he brought back from one of his foreign trips. The competitors will go out into the marsh, with a map, to follow a route to certain checkpoints, and they have to do them in the right order. They start at one minute intervals to prevent following. There’ll be prizes for different age groups. We’ll be able to get a bird’s eye view from the castle walls. It should be fun!
Then on Green Willow Day we walk all the way round the castle on the outside, all the inhabitants, and when we get back we gather round the fire, Fred makes another speech, and we sing our Marsh Folk anthem together. Then in the evening there’s a party and we welcome the new year.
And New Year’s Day is our fifth wedding anniversary! Time flies, doesn’t it?