Tuesday 15 December 2015

Middle Earth Weekend 2015

I've been horribly absent from Blogger again, and I'm really grateful to still have my faithful friends following me. 2015 has been another crazy busy year - and based on the number of notes scribbled in my diary for next year already... 2016 won't be any different! There's a few important images from this year I'd like to post though, I'm going to try to make at least one more post before the end of the year too because I don't have them all yet.

I have been meaning to post these since September though so without further ado, here is some of the fun I had working at Sarehole Mill during Middle Earth Weekend!

My face is super goofy here, but never mind! We were encouraged to dress-up and get into the spirit of the event... Well, I think what really happened is, me and Stephenie told out boss 'We are going to be elves' and he didn't seem to mind.... So this was my outfit for serving tea and running around like a mad thing for two days.

Posting this picture too because this is me and Jo - who is works with us sometimes when we are super busy and need a hand. Funny thing is, we are both cemetery researchers called Josephine. She used to work at my university too - and people got really confused about it when I started my PhD because she'd recently left, so we never actually met until this year. She's super lovely and has helped me so much with my research - thank you Jo!

Outfit breakdown:
It's almost the exact outfit I wore here, minus some of the jewellery and belt, I added my elf hoody too and a leaf brooch I found in a charity shop during August for £2.99.

I spent about two weeks beforehand in a panic making elf and hobbit cloaks, crowns, wizard hats and even feet for the kids dressing up. We put a donation box above the costume rack and suggested 50p towards the upkeep of the building (because it's a free event), we made about £15, so the costumes have pretty much paid for themselves, and I've already patched them up for next year (and hopefully the year after). It was a lot of fun, but very tiring. Sometimes I wish museums had some kind of budget for events... Here are some detail shots.

Gandalf and Radagast hats - of course for copyright reasons I labelled them 'brown wizard hat' and
'grey wizard hat'

A wood elf style cloak and crown of leaves.

A high elf style cloak with a wire crown. That took me so long to make. It's literally two strips of jewellery wire I made into wavy shapes, then tied together using silver thread wound all the way round and round. I then carefully glued a tiny blue star sequin over every joint. It held together really well! It did get very very bent a couple of times though - so I'll have to redesign for next year!

This is the 'brooch' I made for the hobbit cloaks. They are felt, stiffened with card and embroidered with silver thread. They attached on either side of the collar with press-studs, so there were no pins!

The Hobbit feet! I made them using adult sandals, covered in fabric and faux fur so that they would be big enough for the kids to slip their feet into with shoes on. I made the toes from felt (with embroidered toenails) and filled them with cushion stuffing. I thought they were funny but my uncle said 'hobbit feet are hairy, not furry!' and maybe he's right, however the children had fun so I don't mind =]

All the staff got into the spirit!

Stephanie made this amazing Gate to Moria design to cover one of the walls in the mill.

My boss created a full Orc camp in the woodlands next to the millpond - complete with recently abandoned fire, strewn weapons, and body parts. We were very lucky to have two real Orcs come to join in the fun and bring it to life! I kept telling small children to go see the camp, thinking it was empty. They mostly came back in tears... The Orcs stayed in character ALL WEEKEND! I offered one of them a cup of tea and he growled 'MANFLESH!' at me and left!

I'd been waiting to cut my hair for donation again, for the whole summer so that I could look more elfin! I feel this was somewhat above and beyond the call of duty! I've had long hair my whole life (with the exception of my last donation cut), but it got to a length that started to annoy even me! I should have had a trim to get rid of the split ends at least!

This is what it looked like just before Ash's sister cut it for me.

The bottom three inches were trash, so we trimmed them off. Then the next 12 inches of hair were cut off for donation, just like last time. I was really happy to be able to donate more hair this time! Last cut was only 8.5 inches =]

This is how it looked after the cut:

Sorry for the lack of makeup and sunburned face!

The last couple of months have been my own personal torture - in my enthusiasm for donating a whole foot of hair I cut my hair shorter than last time. So short in fact that I couldn't even plait it! Completely drove me up the wall until I worked out ways of getting it out of my face - especially during fieldwork. I'm rocking tiny messy 90's buns A LOT at the moment. I should really learn to do hair at some point - when it was long I could get away with just plaiting it everyday! I probably won't learn to do my hair for the foreseeable future though... I am 25 and I just finally got a 3 step skincare regime, THREE days ago. I'm just really busy all the time with my PhD and working 2 jobs, soon to be 3, possibly 4, plus teaching and more volunteering... Therefore I am not the best at looking after myself. That's also why I don't update here very often anymore - if I manage to wear one outfit that isn't jeans and a jumper in a month I'm doing well! I spent the entirety of the rest of September and October preparing for Halloween - I'll post pictures when my dad sends them to me...

How do you guys keep up self-care when you are busy?


  1. The Middle Earth weekend sounds fun! Ha ha, Orcs are scary!

    1. It was great- it's an annual event held near the mill and it seems to be getting bigger and better!

      Agreed! They were really scary- and super committed to their roles!!

  2. That sounds awesome! I too cut off about 12 inches of my hair and donated.

    1. Yay! Go team hair donation! It was a really great feeling, but the aftermath is hard for me!

  3. You really went all out for Middle Earth Weekend! I'm blown away by your craftsmanship.

    1. Aww thank you!
      We all got really carried away and involved because we are huge Tolkien nerds!
      Honestly though my crafts look better in photos =P
      The wood elf crown is garden wire, wrapped in strips of brown charity shop bed sheet and gold thread with paper leaves!!
      The kids don't seem to mind though =P

  4. middle earth weekend sounds like so much fun O_O° <3

    1. It's an amazing event - I couldn't believe how big it was this year. It's organised and run externally to the museum, but it's always lovely to meet the Tolkien fans. Some travel such a long way!
      My favourite visitors this year were an American guy that even came a day early for a tour, and a Canadian lady in a wheelchair (she had a backpack with a dragon on it!) and I got to chat to her a lot, because I needed to check her wheelchair would fit through the door (we have a spare one which does fit that we keep for people who are able to transfer chairs). Luckily her chair fit with about an inch to spare =]

      I'm really lucky to work in the real Shire. Tolkien lived in the village of Sarehole as a child =]

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