Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “christmas

Elevenses: Two Spurtle Gloves

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! You find us this morning in a state of oaty bliss as we gleefully anticipate The Annual Wizmas Golden Spurtleglove Oatcake Championships (we understand you have something similar in your own dimension?) 

Of course cake is illegal here in Ire but oatcakes (those foul impostors ) are permitted ‘in moderation’ provided salt is used to flavour them and not sugar.

 If you are not sure what spurtle gloves are let us enlighten you – the spurtle glove is an oversized oven mitt used for oatcake flipping and a golden one is made in Lancaster every year and given to the contestant who can faultlessly flip the most oatcakes in six minutes.

 The judging is conducted by three highly trained oat flip observers and presided over by Lord Ashton himself but there are also smaller prizes for the most original oatcake creations and these are voted on by the general public.

 Last year some of the winners in the Innovative Oatcake Recipe section included Chorizoat Cakes, Plum Compoat and Chocoloat pudding.

 The best part by far, though, was the riot which began when the voted winner of the Oatcake Sculpture section (a truly gargantuan oatcake with a smiley face put on with raisins) was declared by Lord Ashton to be “An offensive and infantile attempt at insubordination and mob-rule.” He then proceeded to disqualify the oat face (an irony which will probably only be appreciated by our British friends) and award the prize to a detailed oatcake sculpture of Lord Battenberg, the noted explorer, instead.

 Lord Battenberg’s donations to Ashton’s extensive collection of arthropods is no secret and the furious crowds stormed the stage, seized the judges and began hurling lumps of the hated Battenberg into the River Lune. In the end Ashton had to call his man eating Liver Birds and we all fled for our lives… but it was worth it. All jolly good fun!

 It is frankly difficult to imagine a scenario that would upstage that little fiasco but we are keen to see if Penny is up to the task. In the meantime we wish you a delightfully oat-free elevenses, crammed with illicit sponge and belligerent fancies and we leave you with this little message from our festive parlour companions, the dust cats…

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Morning Cuppa: Steampunk festive cheer

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,  welcome to Max and Collin’s fabulously festive and expertly extravagant  parlour located within the spledidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, some have called it an offensively ostentatious affair, filled with frivolous flamboyancy but we consider that such individuals are tasteless and we would never consider having them for supper.

You find us this morning turning the parlour into a veritable Wizmas Wonderland…

 Apparently the final battle between Wiz and The Goddess took place on the snowy peaks of Siberia. (Having visited Siberia ourselves recently we are, to be candid, a little sceptical of this assertion.) and so it is traditional to cover one’s self and immediate surroundings in as much snow as possible throughout the Wizmas season. The more snow you are seen to sport, the more you likely to convince The Good Folk of your allegiance to our supreme ruler.

 Of course there is always the small problem that snow in The Scattered Isles is not the most common meteorological phenomenon. Still there are ways to fake snow and we have pushed the iceberg out this year on that front!

 We have carpeted the entire floor in sheets of cotton wool batting (We did try white crepe paper initially but it wasn’t nearly as messy, irritating or difficult to remove, this cotton stuff soaks up the water from the cellar floor beautifully too!).

 The strange chains (which hang from the walls and do not invite us to ask our landlord their purpose) we have piled high with a mixture of baking soda, white and blue glitter, a few drops of vanilla and peppermint oil and a tsp or two of water just to get it to hold together. As Freddy is also chained to the wall we have simply wrapped him in tissue paper to keep him out of sight.

 Upon the tea table, we have carefully sculpted a pyramid from ‘snow balls’. These were made by mixing glitter (again) with coconut flour and a little cold water.

 Sadly we no longer have any windows, this being a cellar afterall, otherwise we could have stuck baking parchment over them to make them look ‘frosted.’

 As for our own attire, we have given eachother a fairly good dusting with white glitter and talcum powder and can safely say we look perfectly abominable.

We simply can’t wait to see the look on Montmorency’s face when he sees the effort we have gone to…true it is difficult to read the facial features of a psychotic scarecrow, but we tend to guess that when his head is leaning to the left he is in a better mood than when it is leaning to the right, he looks a little friendlier like that you see.

And our furry pals the Dustcats seem to have got into the mood as well!

dustcats2ndlight

 Anyway, now that we have enough snow to infuriate our landlord we can sit back with a nice cup of tea and begin writing our Wizmas cards. Fortunately, our fabulous friends over at Hopeless Maine have brought out several sets of ‘alternative festive cards’ this year to bring a massive helping of Steampunk Splendidness to the season! ‘Steamed Pudding’ , ‘He Hears His Master’s Holiday Message’ and ‘A Hopeless Holiday’ are available from the Hopeless Maine etsy shop (click the image to go straight there) and can be bought as separate designs or as a multi-pack! So if Robins and Penguins and fat men in red suits are putting you off reminding your loved ones that you still exist and would appreciate cash or brandy this year rather than socks or arrest warrants , no more excuses eh? … 

Now all that is needed is some suitably seasonal audios to usher in the afternoon so let us tune in our Tesla Radio and ….

 

 Marvellous! We wish you all a very splendidly snow filled afternoon, and we invite you back to join us soon for more festive fabulousness. So, until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself

 


Elevenses: Alternative Advent

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Well, it seems the Dustcats of Hopeless Maine are taking over our little parlour for the festive season in some strange steampunk parody of your earthly tradition of ‘Advent’ . Having put them sternly to bed on the mantle piece again last night we found them this morning in a state of spoons… with yet another odd note…

dustcats2


Morning Cuppa: Wizmas is here again!

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s Wonderfully Wizard parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a house of ill manners, ill repute and illicit tiffin, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning in something of a panic-fuelled frenzy.

Wiz being the usual, run of the mill egomaniacal dictator that he he is, has decreed that for  at least six weeks of the year every New World citizen must drop what they are doing and spend every waking moment celebrating his rise to power and general magnificence.

And of course being the paranoid loon that he is, the date that this ‘Wizmas’ is to be celebrated changes every year, nobody knows when it will strike or who exactly decides on the date but Wizmas cards and wrapping paper will suddenly appear in shops over night and then the mad rush to buy presents and arrange parties will begin because if The Good Folk or The Watchers catch anyone displaying a ‘Lack Of Wizmas Cheer’ …well…

So, as we’re both rather fond of our necks, we will, over the next few weeks, be celebrating Wizmas with all the flamboyant flare that only an octopus and his Very Quiet Gentleman Friend can muster. So, if the Turkeys and Nativity Plays, the Tinsel and the Wassailing of your own world is driving you insane, you can rest assured that The Parlour will remain, throughout December, a veritable haven of sanity.

Hm? Oh, Max says ‘There is a phrase that is not likely to be heard again.’

Here you will find only witch hunting, spoon duelling, spurtle wielding, soup reading and other New World shenanigans as we attempt to push subversion, parody and insubordination to the limit…without being arrested and hanged.

But before we begin rampaging about wrapping eachother in foil and wotnot, we must take a moment to introduce you all to a couple of pests…er…I mean PETS who have appeared in the parlour yesterday afternoon. They are Dust Cats, usually residents of our favourite gothical island Hopeless Maine and we are at quite a loss to know exactly how they got here, however we put them quietly to bed on the mantle piece last night and in the morning we woke to find they had created absolute havoc with the tea and left us a rather sinister note…

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Hm, we are going to be keeping an eye on these little chaps over the festive season and any further shenanigans will be posted here!

And Now we really ought to start this holiday thing in ernest and that means a cup of tea (if we have any left!) and a fabulous list of splendid Steampunk books to keep you glued to the chaise throughout December…

Selkie Cove – Kara Jorgensen

The Illusioneer – Karen J Carlisle

A Study In Temperence – Ichabod Temperence

Gifts – Margaret McGaffey Fisk

The Dandelion Farmer – Mathew McCall

Legacy  – Michelle Lowe

Legacy The Reunion – Michelle Lowe

Heart Of Brass – Felicity Banks

Silver And Stone – Felicity Banks

The Antics Of Evangeline Vol 1 – Madeleine D’Este

The Tale Of Raw Head And Bloody Bones – Jack Wolf

The Befuddlement Of Flash Mahogony – Tim and Kathy Hunt 

Strax And The Widow – Victoria L Szulc

Red Dog Conspiracy – Patricia Loofbourrow

And our tea this morning is something rather special and splendid – gunpowder and ginger from We Are Tea

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This smokey, spicy blend reminds us of our recent adventures in The Temple of Heaven and how lucky we are to have survived all that and be safe and snug here in our lovely cozy parlour…hm? …. oh, sorry, Max says ‘Don’t go too far old man’ … was I going too far? Well…

As I am apparently being censored this morning, there seems nothing left to do except consult our oracular cephalopterois (who has been notably quiet these last few weeks – probably the move has unsettled it) and see if it has any Wizmas cheer for us this morning…

 

Thankyou Mr Colin Furze. Ah, how enlightening! So that is how you do this ‘Christmas Dinner’ thing in your dimension? Well it puts our hum drum Wizmas Salmon to shame indeed.

And on that slightly warped note, we had better pour a nerve-settling brew, kick our tentacles up on the table and not lift a finger to clean up the dust in case we upset our dear little guests.

We wish you an utterly splendid morning, filled with tranquillity and calm, only dust if you absolutely must! And we invite you back to join us tomorrow for elevenses so, until then,

please be always, Utterly Yourself

 


Elevenses: Steampunking the tree

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s treemendously treerific parlour filled with only the most tantalising treets.

True some have called it a pithy place inhabited by a branch of the family tree which is barking mad and ought to have been severed years ago, but those people are Max’s parents and so we pay them no heed whatsoever.

You find us this morning still ferociously celebrating Wizmas and filled to the brim with maniacal cheer as we construct our Wizmas tree in the centre of the parlour.

We hear that in your dimension you have a similar tradition during the winter months, well, let me take a moment to tell you how the Wizmas tree came about…

Long before Wiz defeated the Goddess, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter.

People believed that evergreens were the favoured plants of snow pixies, who brought gifts and granted wishes around the time of the Winter Solstice to cheer people up at the midpoint of the cold, dark season. They would bring an evergreen Tea Tree into the home and hang teacups and treats from its branches.

Gaul is credited with starting the modern Wizmas tree tradition. In the 16th century, devout students from the collegiums of Munster brought nuts, bolts, wire and cogs into their dormitories and shaped them into pyramids resembling trees in an attempt to symbolise the evergreens of Siberia where Wiz is said to have defeated the Goddess.

Tina Thrumler, wife of the 16th-century reformer Nathaniel Thrumler, first added lighted candles to a wizmas tree. Walking toward her home one winter evening, she was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst the pit heads of the local treacle mines. To recapture the scene for her family, he erected a tree from pistons and cogs in the main room and added candles to the tiers.

To the Mor Ire Puritans Wizmas was sacred and this new custom of the Wizmas Tree seemed too much like the Tea Trees of old; Wizmas was a time for snow and sobriety, not prancing around the parlour. 

Bradley Williford, of the House Of Tea Time Lords, wrote that he “tried hard to stamp out this pagan mockery of the observance of Wiz’s victory, penalizing any frivolity, carol warbling, spoon jousting, feasting and spurtling most severely.”

But the public persisted and in 1846, even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated Lichfield News standing with their extended family around a Wizmas tree, spoons in one hand and oat cakes in the other.

Hm? No I am not giving a history lesson, Max, I am simply…. oh alright then… Max says I should ‘put a cork in it’ and show you some Wizmas trees (you know, for a Very Quiet Gentleman, Max can be extremely dictatorial at times) Well you can see some splendid examples of the sort of thing we’re talking about here…

Autumn Steam

Vintage With Lace

Laurart

 

Moving swiftly on then to some seasonal music to usher in the afternoon…

 

and because we can’t really ever get enough of this ‘Doctor’ of yours…

We wish you a treemendously splendid afternoon and we will see you on Thursday when we will be All Punked Up With Now Place To Go so until then please be always

Utterly Yourself

 


Pipe And Slippers:The Gospel Of Betty Martin

Good evening my dears and welcome to Perilous Wight’s Lovely Library (which we are keeping safe for him until he returns from his ‘business trip.’) I am Mrs Baker (otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle) and Peril has kindly allowed me and my little street urchins to shelter down here from the flesh eating Liver Birds and Wizmas Witch Hunters until he returns.

Tonight I will be reading to the orphans from The Child Gospels, which we discovered on our expedition to Siberia. The chronicles were chiselled onto ice tablets and had been preserved inside a lead lined soupophagus for centuries before we smashed it apart and salvaged them for all humanity to enjoy.

Sadly, our return journey took us through the heat of the Jentacular Jungle and so, as the ice tablets began to melt (and even though it was three o’ clock in the morning and nobody had any tea)  our quick thinking octopus, Collin, speedily copied their contents down onto banana leaves with his own ink, using only his tentacles for a pen.

This desperate act of heroism, he claims, should excuse the rampant spelling mistakes, technical inaccuracies and absence of all  artistic merit which glare out from the manuscript like the foul raisins  in that cookie you thought was chocolate chip.

Peril has of course preserved the banana leaves as only a pedantic book-fetishy ghost can, but Collin asks  that we all bear in mind the manner of their construction and the great suffering he endured and risks to his life and mental well being and so forth and send him extra packs of medicinal biscuits whenever he indulges in…I mean suffers from, a bout of psd over the whole affair. Poor Collin.

So, are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I shall begin…

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Tea @Three: All Punked Up With No Place To Go?

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s frantically festive and perfectly punktastic parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a cheerless crater blighting the landscape of an otherwise splendid panorama , but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us, as is usual for a Thursday afternoon, All Punked UP With No Place To Go so without further ado, let us kick our tentacles up on the table and peruse the society papers and see where we ought to be heading to this weekend…

Well we have the fabulous Professor Elemental Steampunk Pirate Ball this Saturday

Or if you’re about in Nottingham there’s the very first ever Nottingham Steampunk Christmas market which is rather exciting and you could finish up by swinging The Pit and The Pendulum where their regular ‘Bitten By Fangs’ set should give you a seasonal chill!

If you are the sort who finds themselves aimlessly wandering the weekday streets wondering where you are and what your name is or if you may have fallen through a worm hole and landed on the wrong patch ethereal of turf (we know that feeling well, you are not alone) you could do worse than pop along to The Yellow Book  in Brighton, where they have Games Night, Laudanum and Lavender Open Mic, Pub Quiz and lots of lovely friendly staff with fabulous Steampunk Stories to tell you.

Or, looking further ahead, there’s the Walking in a steampunk wonderland on  17th dec in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

So there is absolutely no excuse to be skulking around your parlour with so much festive fun to be had.

We are in extreme haste this afternoon, being eager to don our hats and goggles and be off at once to watch the witches being pelted with hot plum pudding… not that we condone that sort of thing of course, nor will we derive any pleasure from it at all, but we must be seen to be fitting in with the festivities … you understand?… splendid, we knew you would!

We wish you a very principled afternoon where not one of your morals are compromised or called into question and we invite you back to join us in the parlour on Monday when we will be showing you 101 ways to deck your halls with fish… or something like that… so, until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself

 


Soup of the day: Where’s the witch?

Good morning! Albert Baker here, did you want some soup? You did? Well that’s fortunate isn’t it as this is a soup kitchen and… hic… sorry? You’re looking for my wife? A witch? Well how very dare you!

Shhh! It is me Mrs Baker!  I have cunningly disguised myself as my husband Albert in an attempt to hide from the good folk until these witch hunts are over.

witch

I do apologise for his drinking habits I’m afraid he is a little too fond of the brandy. Albert will be keeping the soup kitchen running throughout the Wizmas season but do not fear my dears, if you are brave enough to venture down to the Lovely Library on Friday evenings, Peril has kindly said that the orphans and I can shelter there until he returns from his ‘business trip’ and I will be reading some delightful little bedtime tales for the children so I do hope you will join us! Now, do please excuse me my dears, I must pop my disguise back in place and Albert must return to dishing up this soup from The Reluctant Entertainer, if you’d like the recipe simply click on the picture…

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Blessings on your brew my dears…er….I mean, Thankyou come again…. hic….


Elevenses: Wizmas Witch Hunt Wagonettes

 

Wizmas! Hurrah! The jolliest, snowiest, most expensive and pointless day of the year is just around the corner: The day all citizen MUST (that is, LOVE TO) celebrate the victory of the awesome ruler of the universe, Wiz, over the inferior, primitive powers of the green goddess and all her ridiculous minions. (Are we doing well? We think we are doing well)

 

This morning you find us sketching plans for our Wizmas Witch hunt Wagonette. Every Wizmas, up and down the country, locals band together in fantastical contraptions and chase down any suspected witches, capture them in cages or sacks and lock them in the stocks where they are pelted with hot plum pudding until they confess. They are then transported to The Witch Holes in Slakeland.

 

So, poor Mrs Baker, we’re no sure what she is going to do – hopefully not try to disguise herself as Albert again, that caused untold difficulties last time…

 

But enough of the worries of others, we have our own necks to consider! So, on with the show…

 

Our Witch Hunting Wagonette Design…

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As for the engine it is a simple four stroke powered by gunpowder tea which we saved from our recent visit to the Temple Of Heaven on the Jentacular Landmass.

But of course we wanted something that looked and sounded beautifully complicated and fabulous so we opted at first for the Daimler 1889 V12 design …. but then we got carried away and modded it up a bit to look a little more like the 1914  V8 because well, being an octopus eight seemed more natural…

But before we hoist on our goggles and roll up our shirt sleeves…sorry? Well how very dare you, of course an octopus may have shirt sleeves!… we simply must have a little music to tap our tentacles to as we tuck in to the delighful treats that our lovely werewolf butler Klapka has nosed out for us this morning… Oh my goodness! Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake made by Ashley at Baker by Nature click on the picture to go to her recipe…

salted-chocolate-caramel-cake

 

 

 

 Wish us luck! We wish you all a very exhilarating morning and hope everything you catch brings you good fortune and plenty of cake. We invite you back to join us for Tea @ Three on Thursday so until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself


Tea @ Three: All punked up with no place to go?

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s perfectly punktastic parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a rotting refuge filled with remorseless rogues, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us, as is usual for a Thursday afternoon, All Punked UP With No Place To Go so without further ado, let us kick our tentacles up on the table and peruse the society papers and see where we ought to be heading to this weekend…

 

surgical-spirit

Steampunk Surgical Spirit is taking place at Thackray Medical Museum, Beckett Street, Leeds this saturday and sunday. Full can be found on the website. leedssteampunkmarket.co.uk/

And looking further ahead – always wise where tickets have to be booked – The Victorian Steampunk Society are organising a very special New Year event, visit their event website for full details: http://www.asylumsteampunk.co.uk/steampunk-new-year-2016/

Ah but we have not forgotten that it is the very first of the month and so we must open our sacred book of tea and perform our tea ritual for December…

“December was gifted to us by The Powers That Tea, so that we might have a month in which it is perfectly acceptable to combine alcohol and tea. In December we stoke our inner flame with the warming spices of masala chai and remember that our actions in the world can bring this warmth and comfort to others.

The Sacred Tea for December is Masala Chai.

Optional Ceremonial Garb: The Festive Tea Socks

The Scared Ritual for the first of December is as follows:

The Chant:

 

Oh tree of tea, oh tree of tea

How sacred art thy leaves to me

Oh tree of tea, oh tree of tea

Thy blessed blossoms should be free

 

Yes free to all, not hoarded up

To fill some greedy guzzler’s cup

Oh tree of tea, oh tree of tea

Divine gift to humanity.

 

 

The Oath:

           

I solemnly swear to accept the gift of the month of December as a month for spreading comfort, warmth and sustenance to those around me. I will honour the Powers That Tea by drinking Masala Chai with respect and acknowledging that these delicious spices are a divine gift to all, not to be hoarded or monopolized by one group of greedy guzzlers. As a mark of this vow I will wear my Festive Tea Socks every day during the month of December. I solemnly swear that I am up to a lot of good… although it may not seem like it at the time.”

 

We wish you a delightfully fun filled weekend wherever your tentacles take you and hope you will join us back in the parlour on monday for some more wizmas madness. So, until then, please be always,

Utterly yourself