Celebrating the Yuletide Season at Castle Vexstein by Jemima Pett – Day 10 Advent 2017, 2nd Sunday of Advent

Celebrating the Yuletide Season at Castle Vexstein by Jemima Pett

Day 10 Advent 2017, 2nd Sunday of Advent

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.

Celebrating the Yuletide Season at Castle Vexstein,by Sir Pogo

Castle Vexstein.jpegThe Yuletide season is one of relaxation and happiness for all who belong to Vexstein, from the lowliest to the highest, currently my uncle, Baron Smallweed, who succeeded a few years ago following the death of my other uncle, the late Baron Darcy.

The relaxation stems in part to the fact that we close down production at the brewery for the ten day holiday.  This allows everyone to have a good break and for all the equipment to be thoroughly cleaned and overhauled.   So Solstice really starts with the end of the last shift, and to mark that, we have a firework display over the brewery, and a street market with vendors selling hot drinks and snacks, playing music and dancing, on the streets outside the castle walls.

The next morning we have our formal ceremony to mark Solstice, with the elders of the family processing in their correct order through the streets of the second level to the Great Hall.  We invite our best workers to the event and also, to be democratic about it, hold a lottery for the rest of the tickets among the castle inhabitants.  I have heard that these tickets are sold to others wanting to attend, but we encourage free enterprise so do nothing to spoil our citizens’ enjoyment.  It’s good to know that people are willing to pay to attend, but I dissuaded Lord Smallweed from making it a pay-to-attend event some years back.

We have a formal dinner in the evening of Solstice with Family and any visiting dignitaries, together with the Marshals of the Castle.  Marshals are the order of people who deal with the day to day running of the castle, under Lord Smallweed’s direction, of course.  It is our main way of thanking the Marshals for their hard work during the year.

Over the next few days we have a number of family get-togethers, usually involving food and wine, and some entertainments, often encouraging talent from our citizens to show their skills.  We also have a narrating competition that is held somewhere in the first or second level for the citizens who wish to attend.  I gather it’s quite popular. Actually, it is very popular, or at least it was when I slipped away from my family duties to watch it when I was much younger.  But I don’t know that officially, you understand.

When the cleaning of the brewery is finished, we inspect it and congratulate the workers with a special party for them and an extra pack of Vex to take home to their families.  Oh, I forgot to mention the children’s party we arrange for the families of all the citizens on one of the days between Solstice and Green Willow Day.

Finally we get to Green Willow Day.  We walk the circuit of every level of the castle accompanied by all those who live on it, and those above, until we have the entire castle population walking round the lowest level. Well, not the slums outside the castle but inside the walls, obviously. I’d like to clear those out and get everyone decent accommodation, but my uncle says it’s a waste of time. The walk around the castle levels is fun, though. We finish with an open air fire and hot drinks and some food, and speeches to remind people of their duty in the new year, and everyone renews their oath to serve the Baron.  Then we go back upstairs for our formal meal and a ball, and I believe the citizens have a party too.  Then we start up production at 6 am on new year’s day and get back to normal.

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Yuletide at Castle Marsh by Jemima Pett – Day 2 Advent Calendar 2017

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.

Jemima's picture

PrincelingsoftheEastBooks1-3.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

Yuletide at Castle Marsh

by Queen Kira

Castle in the Marsh v2 cropped.jpeg

 

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?