The Parasol Duelling Figures

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 0 comments

An Elegant Display

Here is a magnificent display of the formal Parasol Duelling figures.

They are being demonstrated by the accomplished and beautiful Raven Hawthorne, who competed in the World Championships this year held in Calgary Alberta.

Here she is in fine, and colourful, competition form!

Raven Hawthorne at the World Championship
Photo by Penny Young

The following photos were done to assist the judges in evaluating the formal positions during the Compulsory Figures portion of a full Parasol Duelling competition. I have also included Madame Saffron Hemlock's comments on the significance of each figure in the social life of a Lady.

Here then are the formal figures which all Duels are composed of.

First up we have the PLANT

 Note the upright posture and the vertical position of the parasol shaft in this photo.

Modern Duelling Parasols tend to be short so it is not necessary to actually "Plant" the point on the ground.

The plant is a sturdy position from which to move to other figures and one that can be completed very quickly if needed to counter a snub.

Madame Saffron Hemlock says of the Plant:

"Every lady must at some time take a stand, either in defence of her person or her principles. The Plant says, “This far and no further.” Or, alternately, as if she is Gandalf upon the Bridge, telling the Balrog, “You Shall Not Pass.” But gracefully. And without raising her voice."

Next we have the TWIRL

Something to note in this photo of a proper Twirl is that the shaft of the parasol does not rest on the shoulder but is held slightly above.

The Twirl is an elegant swirl of colour over a Lady's shoulder and makes a great display piece.

The Twirl should be used with care because it takes some time to complete but if started when an opponent has committed to a plant can be successful.

To be considered complete the parasol must complete at least one 360 degree rotation.

Care must be taken to not have the open parasol touch the hat or some judges may subtract points during the compulsory figures.

Madame Saffron Hemlock says of the Twirl:

"A lady in a tete-a-tete with a friend creates a personal space behind her, into which nobody can stick their long nose or their over-eager ears without looking ridiculous. A well-place Twirl not only frames the lady’s face becomingly from the front and enhances the intimacy of her invitation to a tete-a-tete, it protects her rearward space from busy-bodies and the over-familiar hands of passing cads."

Finally we have the SNUB

The Snub is the most active of the figures.  Note especially the directness of the position, it is important to "aim" directly at the opponent.  The snub must start closed and is then opened to be considered complete.

The Snub is the one figure for which technology has an important role to play. Modern metal shafted and catchless parasols excel in the speed at which they can be opened and closed. This makes the Snub an excellant figure to be used for quick changes if needed to take advantage of an opponent's twirl.

Madame's comments are succinct:

"Self-evidently, a Snub enforces a forward personal space against riff-raff, upstarts, former friends, arch-enemies, and other undesirable persons."

Street Duel figures are similar, with the exception of the Twirl which is usually done to the side given the shortness of the Street Duel Parasol's shaft. 

Thanks again to Raven Hawthorne for her great pictures!

To find out more about this great sport go to:
Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies

For background on the history and development of Parasol Duelling 
or click the Parasol Duelling tag.

The Rules for Parasol Duelling

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Parasol Duelling Down Under!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 0 comments

Wonderful Competition.

Just received this report of a Parasol Duelling competition held recently in Australia!
A fascinating variation on the standard rules.

Looks like a lot of fun was had under the hot bright summer Sun in Australia.

Well done Ladies and Gentlemen, looking forward to hearing about your next competition!

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Parasol Duelling
Goulburn Steampunk & Victoriana Fair
Hosted by
The Steampunk Crew of the Airship Sirius
Dec 2014

TheCrew of the Airship Sirius proudly hosted their first ever Parasol Duelling contest at the Goulburn Steampunk and Victoriana Fair last weekend, Sunday the 7th of December 2014. The Fair was a fun-filled event hosted by the Goulburn Waterworks Museum, consisting of Victorian dancing, steampunk market stalls, tea duelling, tours of the 1880s steam powered waterworks, and of course parasol duelling. The event was small but well attended and enjoyed by all. 

The Parasol duelling on the day was hosted by The Crew of the Airship Sirius steampunk group and sponsored by Skav’s Steampunk Workshop. The Crew’s very own Dr John Yardley, ship’s surgeon, was the overseer or referee for the event. The days’ event consisted of; an introduction to parasol duelling and its history; a morning demonstration duel; another demonstration in the afternoon followed by the contest itself. The demonstrations were performed by Inventor aboard the Sirius, Beibhinn O’Donnell, and ships cook and seamstress, Lucia Handcock Dickson. Registrations for the event where taken throughout the day.
Dr John Yardley, ship’s surgeon,
the overseer or referee for the event.
Photo by Steven Shaw

Demonstration by Inventor Beibhinn O’Donnell,
and ships cook and seamstress, Lucia Handcock Dickson.
Photo by Steven Shaw
The rules used for the duels on the day were a modified version of the traditional rules to make it easier for beginners to the sport, and the rule set favoured by the crew due to the confined  spaced aboard the airship. Though the sport is normally an all-female affair the contest was open to both sexes, as there is no gender discrimination aboard The Airship Sirius.

The contest itself had a modest turnout of 12 participants. The contest was played with participants paired up in the usual manor, they then fought the best of three duels, with the loser being eliminated and the winner going on to the next round. Winners then played winners and so on for 3 rounds until only two participants remained. The last two participants were a Gentleman by the name of Simon, and one Lady Madeline, both of the Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy. The whole event was a clean fought contest with the Doctor only having interject on a couple of occasions, only one parasol was damaged, due to an over excited Snub, and fun was had by all involved.

The final duel was hard fought, with it being extended from the normal best of three, due to the participants repeatedly drawing the same move to their opponent. Finally the match came to sudden death with Simon claiming victory with a well-executed Twirl, beating Lady Madeline’s Plant.
The winning Move, Simon claiming victory with a well-executed Twirl, beating Lady Madeline’s Plant.
Simon, of the Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy was then awarded with a lovely commemorative victor’s certificate and a medal, made by Skav of Skav’s Steampunk Workshop himself.

The Colour of Memory

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 0 comments

Lest We Forget

When I was growing up history was something that permeated our house.

There were books and photos, and old records.

There were fossils, models, maps and artifacts.

I was always interested in military history, because the military and warfare runs like a horrible bloody thread through the history of civilization. Didn't matter if it was ancient history, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Celts, or Mediaeval sieges and battles, or 18th and 19th C wars, or the great upheavals of the 20th C. I was interested in them all. There was one thing that I remember very clearly though and that was the major difference in the way my Father treated the wars of the 20th C compared to those of history.

These wars were different, they were different because they were still MEMORY not just HISTORY. My Grandfather fought in the First World War and I had friends whose parents had fought in the Second.
The Ghosts of these wars were not ready to be history yet. They were real people still living, still working, still hugging their loved ones and trying to live with the MEMORY of chaos and destruction that they had been forced to live through. They also struggled with the memory of those they had lost.

British troops negotiate a trench as they go forward
in support of an attack on the village of Morval
during the Battle of the Somme. Photograph: PA

As a kid my strongest impression of the difference between the Wars of History and the Wars of Memory was simply that History had colour whereas the modern wars of the 20th C were BLACK and WHITE.

We had photographs of these titanic struggles in all their gritty horror, you could see the face of war in its terror and its destruction, but there was no colour. That made them real in some senses but strangely unreal in others.

The Thin Red Line. 93rd Highlanders at Balaclava.
Illustration for Scotland for Ever (Hodder and Stoughton, c 1900).

The wars depicted in the history books were often illustrated in colour paintings, romanticized,
propagandized, draped with the colours of empire and the gloss of academic history. The Wars of living Memory were written of that way but they were illustrated with photographs that gave a glimpse of the true nature of war.

The first time I saw colour photos from the Second World War I was shocked, these were real people, they looked my age, they were not the Black and White ghosts that I had seen for so many years. Along with the colour came the realization that these great upheavals had been filled with REAL people who smelled the earth, the smoke the blood and the death just as I could. Suddenly War changed from a historical event to a mass tragedy, necessary sometimes but never something to take lightly. Suddenly to stand with the dwindling numbers of veterans on November 11th became not only a duty, but an honour. These men and women had seen unimaginable horrors, they had lived through chaos and destruction and they were REAL people. People I could shake the hands of, people I could see standing with tears for their lost youth and their lost friends. The colour that is in their memories we can never see, we only have the black and white old photos.

Photo by Neil Zeller
There is now, no longer anyone alive who knows the colours of WWI, who remembers the smell of the mud of Flanders, the sound of artillery or the shrieks of dying companions. That war has become history.

Soon the same will happen for those who lived through WWII. And still, there are wars where young men and women fight because they are told to. There are still men and women now much younger than me who will have such memories. 

To stand beside them today is to stand beside all of those who are now history, to stand and remember is to make sure that History is not forgotten.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

"The Night Mail" Rudyard Kipling 1905

Saturday, October 18, 2014 0 comments

A Rudyard Kipling SF tale.

Reading the Log of the H.M.A. R 34 I posted about last time I came across this gem:

10.15 a.m. Weather report from St. John's :"Barometer 1010.2.Steady ; temperature 44 F. Fog. Visibility about half a mile, fog seaward, wind westerly, very light."
This is all right.
Turned in for an hour, but unable to sleep.
Become absorbed in Kipling's story of "The Night Mail" in Actions and Reactions. Think I must have read this story fifty times! Every time I read it the more impressed I become with the reality of its prophecies, which give one that very same  "atmosphere" of Aerial Liner travel that we are actually experiencing during every
moment of this journey.

 A quick lookup on Google and I discover this wonderful tale:

With the Night Mail

A STORY OF 2000 A.D.



Illustrated in Color

Doubleday, Page & Company

This is a wonderful SF tale about traveling on a Mail Packet across the Atlantic. A delightful look at a future where airships are as much a part of regular air traffic as are heavier than air craft.

You can read the whole book, complete with the original colour illustrations, at Project Gutenberg here:

"With the Night Mail" by Rudyard Kipling

A bonus is the ads and articles that make up the "EXTRACTS FROM THE CONTEMPORARY
MAGAZINE IN WHICH IT APPEARED" portion.  Here is an example:

 High Level Flickers
"He that is down need fear no fall"

Fear not! You will fall lightly as down!

Hansen's air-kits are down in all respects. Tremendous reductions in prices previous to winter stocking. Pure para kit with cellulose seat and shoulder-pads, weighted to balance. Unequaled for all drop-work.  Our trebly resilient heavy kit is the ne plus ultra of comfort and safety.  Gas-buoyed, waterproof, hail-proof, non-conducting Flickers with pipe and nozzle fitting all types of generator. Graduated tap on left hip.
Hansen's Flickers Lead the Aerial Flight
197 Oxford Street
The new weighted Flicker with tweed or cheviot surface cannot be distinguished from the ordinary suit till inflated.
So what exactly is a "flicker" a parachute or some sort of personal lift device?
Lots more intriguing bits and pieces of the world of 2000 AD as envisioned by Rudyard Kipling.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

The Log of H.M.A R34

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 0 comments

Trans Atlantic Airship!

The  R 34 was built in 1918 for the Royal Navy by the William Beardmore and Company in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Her design was influenced strongly by that of a German Zeppelin that had been captured almost intact in England during the war.

In 1921 it was decided to attempt the first ever return East to West flight across the Atlantic.

From Wikipedia

It was then decided to attempt the first return Atlantic crossing, under the command of Major George Scott.[11] R34 had never been intended as a passenger carrier and extra accommodation was arranged by slinging hammocks in the keel walkway. Hot food was prepared using a plate welded to an engine exhaust pipe.

The crew included Brigadier-General Edward Maitland and Zachary Lansdowne as the representative of the US Navy.[12] William Ballantyne, one of the crew members scheduled to stay behind to save weight, stowed away with the crew's mascot, a small tabby kitten called "Whoopsie"; they emerged at 2.00 p.m. on the first day, too late to be dropped off.[13]

R34 left Britain on 2 July 1919 and arrived at Mineola, Long Island, United States on 6 July after a flight of 108 hours with virtually no fuel left.[14] As the landing party had no experience of handling large rigid airships, Major E. M. Pritchard jumped by parachute and so became the first person to reach American soil by air from Europe. This was the first East-West crossing of the Atlantic and was achieved weeks after the first transatlantic aeroplane flight. The return journey to RNAS Pulham took place from 10 to 13 July and took 75 hours.

As an observer on board the crossing Air Commodore Maitland kept a log of everything that occurred and this was published as a book. Illustrated with 35 photographs taken during the flight, this is real airship adventure!

Here is the introduction to this fascinating read.
IT is often thought necessary to preface a 
first literary effort with apologies from the author 
for its shortcomings. In this instance no one 
could be more aware of such a necessity than 
myself. But am I entitled to make apologies? 
R 34 is not a literary effort neither, therefore, 
am I an author. 

In writing a story such as this, the obvious 
and comparatively simple course would have 
been the adoption of the conventional narrative 
form, helped by notes and memories, ample 
time and thought and a comfortable arm-chair. 

Apart, however, from its practical usefulness 
or official importance, R 34's journey was just 
one long, wonderful and delightful experience. 

To look upon this journey coldly as part of 
yesterday, or to treat it with recognized con- 
vention, would be to lose both the essence and 
the spirit. 

My only hope of convincing my reader of this 
is to try and induce him to share our adventure- 
taking him with us upon our flight. 

Every word of this diary was written on board 
the Airship during the journey, with the exception 
of the explanatory footnotes and, of course, the 
appendices : the writer perched in odd corners, 
and amid continuous interruptions and ever- 
changing surroundings, to the silent accom- 
paniment of the wireless, like ghostly whispers 
across lonely space. Every incident, important 
or trifling, was recorded at the actual time of 
happening. Even to stop to focus or to pigeon- 
hole these would have been to destroy actuality. 

If only I can share a little of that fascinating 
and buoyant adventure with any readers of these 
pages I shall be content, I only hope my ship- 
mates may not find their journey too dull; if 
they do they must not blame R 34, for the 
fault will be mine. 
You can read this wonderful adventure in its entirety at the Internet Archive

For those who want a hard cover version of this book a reprint  edition is also available from Amazon
Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

The Log of H.M.A. R34
Journey to America and Back.

Air-Commodore E. M. Maitland
C.M.G., D.S.O, A.F.C, Royal Air Force


Hodder and Stoughton
Kessinger Publishing (Sept. 10 2010)


Mr Hublot

Sunday, October 5, 2014 0 comments


A delightful short film by Laurent Witz.

This short won the Best Animated Short Film Oscar in 2013.

 Check out the trailer:

If you get a chance to see this I highly recommend it.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Mystery Solved!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 0 comments

Thanks to everyone who entered their solutions.

SPOILER WARNING this post contains the solution to the Mystery of "The Evil Eye of Africa" if you would rather try to figure it out on your own first you can start at the beginning here.

Here is Margaret Curelas of Tyche Books, with her announcement of the winners and the solution!

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

"The Evil Eye of Africa"
By Jayne Barnard

A Guess-the-Murderer Mystery in Two Acts 

Steampunk Mystery Game Solution and Winners

Thank you to everyone for reading and submitting solutions to "The Evil Eye of Africa" Steampunk Mystery Game! Many thanks to Madame Saffron for reviewing entries. And, of course, our deepest appreciation to Jayne Barnard for writing the story and giving us such amusement.

Three intrepid detectives have solved the mystery: H. L. Dickson; Tim Ford; and James Prescott. All three submitted wonderful analyses of the mystery, and their solutions are presented below. Each poses several queries that we hope Hercule Hornblower will be able to resolve when he makes his arrest.

Now, the moment you have been waiting is time to unmask the murderer of Baron von Boddy!

About Gears, Goggles, and Steam oh My!

Here I collect interesting bits of information related to the world of Steampunk.

Category List

Absinthium (11) accessories (12) Airships (49) Art (1) Books (61) comics (5) computation (6) costumes (13) etiquette (13) events (14) fiction (53) Flight Engineer (19) Fun (39) games (17) history (90) howto (18) Inventions (50) manners (6) Meetup Repost (90) movies (3) music (2) Musings (34) mystery (23) news (8) Parasol Duelling (16) Photos (59) Pie In the Sky (1) poetry (1) resources (48) Role Playing (26) Ships (31) Steam (33) Steampunk Sports (11) Tesla (13) video (67) website (52) What Ifs (14)

Recent Comments

Template images by sndr. Powered by Blogger.