A Visit to Brasston – Extended Version

Something a little different this week:  Jan Miller, who purchased both Algernon and Josephine Cholmondeley from our Etsy shop, has added a further chapter to the story of their impending visit to Brasston, The Most Cosmopolitan City Award winner in 1850.  Delighted to know that the Lord Admiral of the High Skies and his wife are in such excellent hands.

We hope you will enjoy reading both chapters here:

Chapter 1

It was, not surprisingly, young Molly who found the book first.  She’d read her way through everything in the Steampunk-Shrunk library  – even the Suffragette newspapers – and had been on the lookout for something new.

“Excuse me, Lady Cholmondeley,” she said, dropping a pretty curtsy to Josephine, “But do you think your husband, seeing as how he’s the Lord Admiral of the High Fleet, could take me on one of his sky ship machines to Brasston?  They’ve got a perfectly splendid aerodrome and I’m sure they’d allow him to dock there.  Let me show you the pictures.  They’re in colour!”
“Why I’ve never heard of the place, my dear. Are you sure you’ve got the name correct?” smiled Josephine.
“Oh yes, Your Ladyship, Ma’am. I think it must be very famous. It won the ‘Most Cosmopolitan City Award’ in 1850.”

Josephine started to look through the book – a most difficult process since, unlike the inhabitants of Shrunk Towers, this book had not been shrunk to one twelfth of its original size.  She had to obtain assistance from several other members of the community and they in turn became mesmerised by the splendours of Brasston.

“Good lord!” Barnaby Balsover exclaimed, “There’s a chap there having his shoes polished by a clockwork automaton!  Quite remarkable!”
“Certainly,” agreed Ava Brassfeather, “And it says they do tours of the clock factory and provide cake and tea.”
“I believe it says you have to pay extra for cups and saucers, though, Ma’am,” Molly whispered, jumping in alarm when Ava made a loud tutting sound.
Molly wasn’t sure whether this was aimed at herself or the facilities available at the works, but she didn’t venture to speak again.

A touching moment for the valiant coupleWhen Algernon returned from a successful raid on a troublesome bunch of sky pirates who had been terrorising the airways above Penge, he was met by a mass of pleading faces.
His wife took his arm, gazed alluringly into his eyes and purred, “My dearest…”

“Hmm,” he said finally, once he’d had a strong cup of gunpowder tea and an opportunity to peruse the book.  “I strongly suspect that this is a work of fiction, created by this rather splendid gentleman on the back cover, Mr Ashley G.K. Miller.  I’m not convinced that the city exists.”

“Well if anyone can find it, it’s you, Old Boy,”  announced Lord Horatio Backgammon, and the others joined in a chorus of agreement with his Lordship’s sentiment.

And so, as I write, the entire group is busy packing and preparing for an epic journey in one of the fleet’s most capacious dirigibles, while Algy is earnestly poring over his charts, in search of the city of Brasston. Unfortunately the trip was delayed – but that is another story!

Should you wish to discover this remarkable location for yourself, dear reader, I suggest visiting Mr Miller’s Facebook page, where you will find all the details you need.

Chapter 2

After several months, Algernon Cholmondeley, Lord Admiral of the High Fleet, was finally re-united with his dear wife Josephine. He had been captured by Sky Pirates before he could take his friends on the planned trip to Brasston.   Josephine was so relieved to see him again.  But they had been communicating by means of the steam telegraph while he was captive.

 

It seems the Sky Pirates extracted a large ransom from the Admiralty before releasing Algy unharmed. He, meanwhile, had secretly been inspecting the Sky Pirates remarkable Airships and learning as much as he could about their design.  Of course Algernon was used to high powered airships in his normal day job, but the Sky Pirates had adapted some new ideas from other countries they had plundered.  Algy was now determined to make a new airship of his own.  It would have all the latest technology for the 1850s, including a pigeon-guided location finder.

Some of Algy’s pictures of the Sky Pirates’ airships

 

As his wife and friends were so interested in visiting this Brasston, he could use that trip as an experimental run.

 

 

Lady Cholmondely had also been in contact with Mr Ashley G. K. Miller, the author of the esteemed volume; ‘A Traveller’s Guide to Brasston’ which had started the whole thing, and he had sent  pictures of himself on one of his recent Hot Air Balloon Flights.

 

 

He said he would be delighted to help them make the Airship and take them to Brasston.

Lady Cholmondeley soon got the local enthusiasts together to collect all the bits and pieces they could find to make the new Airship. Having Algy’s colleagues in the Admiralty look through the old sheds, and with Mr. Miller’s collection of past pieces they had quite a good start.

 

 

Josephine and her friend Penelope set to work right away to make a comfortable day-bed for the passengers inside the Airship, while Young Algy played with his own model one. ‘Oh these feathers are going up my nose!’ exclaimed  Josephine.

They were happily employed in this activity while Lord Algernon thought about his new Airship design. More about how he is getting on with it another time!

 

Jan Miller is a writer and publisher on the conservation of native plants. She also has an interest in miniature plants and crafts.  See her website www.7wells.co.uk where you can also find her Asperger’s Syndrome son Ashley G. K. Miller’s book about Steampunk Lego ‘Brasston’.

Lord and Lady Cholmondeley and the Steampunk artifacts were upcycled and made by Jan Stone at Steampunk-Shrunk. Victorian dolls’ house and conservatory with real plants by Jan Miller.

Gertie and Lord Horatio Backgammon

Well I didn’t know what to expect.  In truth, I’ve never encountered a lord before.

I was met at the railway station, after a most bracing journey in a steam locomotive, by one of his staff in a gleaming vehicle.  The man didn’t say much during the journey, but as we turned into the drive, he said quietly, “Don’t be alarmed by his Lordship, Miss.  He’s fine when you get to know him.”

If anything, these words made me more apprehensive than I had previously been.  As I alighted from the contraption and the smoke from its boiler began to clear, I saw a figure who could only be Lord Horatio standing beside a rusting collection of gears and machine parts.  Despite my determination to maintain a calm demeanour, I have to admit that I gasped – or possibly squealed slightly.

“Miss Jekyllton-Smythe, I presume?” he boomed, as he began advancing towards me.
He wore the tallest top hat I’d ever seen, adorned with a pair of very complicated goggles, and on the arm of his leather greatcoat he carried a most fearsome-looking weapon.  I must have been staring at it, for he glanced down and lowered his arm.
“Don’t worry yourself about the transducer,” he said. “I was just tinkering with it when you arrived, and it takes a while to unstrap it, don’t y’know? So, welcome to Backgammon Towers, my dear lady.”

His words were friendly enough, though it was difficult to read his expression, since the vast majority of his face was covered, either by his enormous moustache or by the huge monocle he wore.
I fixed my gaze on the remaining visible eye, smiled and bobbed my head slightly (should one curtsy to a lord?) and thanked him for his hospitality.

“Hmph, yes,” he responded gruffly.  “My housekeeper tells me that you’d probably like to be shown to your room so that you can tidy yourself.  Not that you appear at all untidy to me, let me add.  The ways of the fairer sex are something of a mystery to me.  After that I suppose you’d like to take some tea on the terrace?”

“That would be delightful,” I said, quite relieved to discover that he found our meeting at least as awkward as I did.

As soon as we’d finished an excellent pot of Earl Grey, Lord Horatio escorted me to ‘The Board’ – the area of his garden I was to be redesigning and planting for him.  It was a level area and had been well cleared, however I wasn’t sure how I would fit all the features he wanted into this small space.

“You mentioned a pond, your lordship…” I ventured.
“Yes. Doesn’t have to be large. Cleo positively thrives in small, cramped spaces. She’s currently housed in a large bottle. Be good for her to get some fresh air.”
“And Cleo would be the, ah, pet you mentioned in your letter?”
“That’s it. Highly intelligent, she is. Beautiful creature. Just needs a bit of room to stretch her tentacles once in a while.”
My next question died on my lips. I swallowed and nodded.
“Perhaps a little fountain or some such?” his lordship continued. “She’d enjoy that.”

I dutifully made notes. The orangery was to have stained glass panels. Flower beds in four sections. A gravelled path.
“Oh and some lawn!” Lord Horatio exclaimed enthusiastically. “You simply must come and see my lawnmower. One of my greatest inventions!”
I followed as he strode towards an enormous outbuilding.

“What do you think of that?” he demanded, his voice bursting with pride as he threw open the door.
“Oh my goodness!” I exclaimed, as I stared at what appeared to be a fire-breathing, metal-clad dragon.
“All my own work!” declared his lordship. “Call him Galahad! Entirely run by clockwork, don’t y’know? The flames aren’t real, of course.  Just a bit of wimsy!  Blades are razor sharp, though.  My gardeners tell me the cut he gives is second to none.”
“Stunning,” I replied. “Quite splendid.”
“Jolly good,” he smiled (probably – it was hard to tell with the moustache). “I think we’ll make a fine team, my dear lady.”
“I think we will, your Lordship,” I said, bravely.

And, do you know, I really think we will!

Lord Backgammon’s garden is a work in progress.  However the 1:12 scale figures of his Lordship (pictured here) and the delightful Gertie will be on display on the Steampunk-Shrunk stall at the Craft and Vintage Fair in Glastonbury Town Hall, once a month.

Other Steampunk and Victorian themed figures, rooms and items can be found online at The Steampunk Dolls’ House or at Rune Smith of Glastonbury at 1 Monarch Way, just off Glastonbury High St.

 

 

 

A Letter for Gertie

Did I hear a squeal emit from your lips, Gertrude?

“Yes, you most certainly did!  And with good reason!  I’ve just received the most extraordinary letter.”

Have you now?  Do tell us more.

“It’s from a lord!  A genuine lord!  It has his coat of arms at the top and his name and address (a very prestigious address) in curly writing embossed beneath it.  And – oh! – he says the most astonishing things about me.”

I think you’d better share the contents of this letter with us, Gertie dear.

My dear Miss Jekyllton-Smythe,

No doubt you will be somewhat surprised to hear from me.  Allow me to introduce myself:  I am Horatio, the fifth Lord Backgammon, of Charlton Regis.  I have a rather interesting project, with which I would be most honoured if you felt able to assist me.

You came to my attention through a friend who dabbles in temporal transportation – a ‘time traveller’ in common parlance.  His favourite era is the first half of the twentieth century, upon which he has become something of an expert.  Henry tells me that in that time, you are a lady of some renown.  In fact he says you are the most sought-after garden designer in this nation of ours and have published some quite excellent books on the subject.  Obviously, this will be news to you, since we have not had the privilege of visiting the future, but no doubt you will greet the information with some delight.

Now to the purpose:  I have, in my grounds, a small piece of land known as ‘The Board’.  It was laid out by my great-great-grandfather to the dimensions of a backgammon board (a pun on the family name, obviously).  Since his time, it has fallen into disrepair and I recently had it cleared.  I enclose a photographic print for your perusal.  Each of the two sections measures 8 x 17½ foot and is enclosed by a low wall, approximately one foot high.  I would be delighted if you would agree to design and oversee the construction of a garden in this area for me.

The brief is as follows:

  • The layout of the original backgammon board is to be retained, in deference to my ancestor.
  • There will need to be a lake or pond of some kind, to house a pet of mine.
  • I should like a small glasshouse or orangery, since I am most partial to exotic fruits.
  • Mechanical systems should be incorporated wherever possible for watering, grass-cutting etcetera.          I will gladly undertake to design and manufacture these elements myself.

Please contact me at the above address, should you feel willing to undertake this project.

Yours very sincerely,

Backgammon

“Just imagine!  I’m to become famous!  And successful!  And – well certainly it’s a very small space – but what an exciting proposal.  So much more entertaining and creative than designing red, white and blue bedding plant displays in municipal parks, as I do at the moment.”

Certainly it is an interesting project, Gertie.  Congratulations.  I wonder what sort of aquatic pet his lordship owns…