I don't think it's any secret that I do a lot of organizing of reenacting events. A WHOLE lot. I don't really mind; I think that if you want something you have to work for it, so I'm more than willing to put in my fair share of work. Organizing things seems to be a talent of mine anyway. However, it's been a very full year and I found myself a little tired. Needing a break - or better, needing a shot of adrenaline.
That's when I got invited to the Twelfth Night Ball.
Our local chapter of the Victorian Society holds a giant Twelfth Night ball every winter, complete with dancing, games, a dinner, fortune telling, and general reveling. I usually work. However, my good friend Kit decided this year he wanted a break, and wanted to re-energize after planning so many events in a row, and he asked me if I'd like to come along.
What started out as simply going to the ball turned into a huge day of funtivities. Kit kept the preparations a total secret, only telling me the barest of details so that I wouldn't have an anxiety attack (I discovered in all this that I do not really enjoy secrets and surprises, or rather, I dislike the anticipation of secrets and surprises). I got dressed up in my gray wool - it seems like I hardly wear anything else these days but I guess since it's wintertime that's not such an oddity - and the bonnet and got prepared for anything.
Kit picked me up at my house and we met a couple friends at a nice restaurant. We had a four-course lunch. During the lunch, the other lady in the group and I received posies - mine was full of beautiful yellow, blue and red flowers. Kit chose them using the language of flowers, but I'm too ladylike to divulge the meanings!
After stuffing ourselves, we went to the Como Conservatory to enjoy the warmth inside the greenhouses and take some pictures. People were extremely interested in what we were doing there (I really can't blame them) and I'm not ashamed to admit that I pretended to be in the Crystal Palace or the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Next we went to the Saint Paul Hotel. We got a table near the fire and enjoyed a cheese tray with the yummiest brie I've ever had, plus some lovely herbal tea. We finished off with a glass of champagne and toasted an incredibly enjoyable afternoon together
After that, we finally made our way to the ball. I must say, it was my first experience ever simply showing up for a ball. I usually help with set-up in some form, and I'm not complaining (see above "must work for fun time" philosophy) but it was really very refreshing to simply show up and make myself pretty. Because Kit is an awesome friend, he made me a sash with an Order of the Garter decoration on it, and brought a crown. We went as the Earl and Countess of Devonshire.Now, I'm not a high-maintenance girl. I'm not much into jewelry. I don't even want to wear a tiara at my own wedding. But there was something about seeing myself all dressed up as a pretty princess that gave me the giggles.
We talked, we laughed, we danced, we ate more food which I wouldn't have thought possible). We got to sit at the head table for dinner, and I had my fortune told. In the end, the last dance was waltzed, we said goodnight, went out for a nightcap at WA Frost, and then went home.
It was truly the most magical evening I have ever spent anywhere. It's been a while since I got that afterglow feeling after an event, wondering if it had all been a dream, laughing to myself remembering the special moments, calling up all my friends to gush about what an amazing time I had. It was exactly what we had intended - a shot of adrenaline, a breath of fresh air.
However, it is definitely a long, hard fall from Countess of Devonshire to Betsy. It took a full day at work for me to get back in the swing of things. Having experienced The Countess, I'm keeping her in reserve for when students need a supercilious look, or when I need to feel extra graceful.