This time exactly a year ago, I was experiencing crewing my very first Bothwell School of Witchcraft, a real life wizard school larp in Sussex. While I knew going to wizard/witch/witchard school would be, well, wizard, Bothwell was magic beyond my wildest dreams.

I loved it. And it gave me back myself.

I loved it so much that I went back in August, and had every intention of being there at least once this year. Sodding coronavirus has nixed that plan, but we have some online gatherings planned, and some of us are dressing up and posting photos in our ball outfits this evening. I am currently in PJs still… we’ll see how that one pans out!

Here I am at the August run (floral ballgown skirt by the ever-brilliant Louise Rose Couture) with some of my favourites! The definition of colourful, magical weirdos, don’t you think?

The welcome letter declares the intention that by the end of your weekend at Bothwell, you really will feel like you’ve spent a year at a real wizard school – the highs, lows & magic.

And you know what – I really, really did. A year on and a second crew role and I’m still processing it – I think the combination of fellow weirdos, an ACTUAL CASTLE and the freedom to let my imagination run riot and create stories with other people was exactly what I needed at that moment in time.

Really I just wanted to mark the date – because personally, professionally, photographically & emotionally, for a whole host of reasons, Bothwell fixed something in me that I thought would always be broken.

As I drove down and got my first glimpse of the castle, I had to stop the car to cry. It felt like coming home, even though I’d never been there before. It was about 7.30pm, I’d driven two and a half hours to get there, I knew absolutely no one, and was starting to wonder if I’d made a terrible mistake – and the sun setting over the castle as I arrived just made me feel ALL THE FEELS, and I knew it had been the right decision to come.

Here is a not brilliant phone photo of that moment – I have rarely regretted putting my camera gear in the boot more!

I walked in, met the rest of the crew and was instantly home, welcomed & part of the Bothwell family. I’ve never felt more accepted anywhere.

And once the game started I was even more in my element – where else is it totally normal to carry & use a wand, have lessons about werewolves & other magical creatures, and meet fluffy owls?!

Bothwell is currently on hold, as is its sister school College of Wizardry, but both will reopen in 2021 – and I can’t wait to go back! I’m working on a burlesque gnome called Frilly to join the ranks of the Bothwell Gnomes…

“We are Bothwell, we are all Bothwell”