After the grueling Snowflake Day drama at Sim Downton, I felt like it was time to check in properly at Crawley House. It's been a while since I spent more than a few hours there, so it seemed overdue. Crawley House is currently home to Matthew, his mother Isobel, and their servants Molesley and Mrs Bird -- less than half the number of residents at Sim Downton. I've been playing with the massive family at the Abbey for so long that a mere family of four seems... dull.
Maybe they could adopt a cat?
Or maybe there's someone else I could add to spice things up...
Ethel Parks. Erstwhile a housemaid at the Abbey, Ethel made a few serious missteps and found herself in a vulnerable situation with her young son Charlie. This pair would be a perfect addition to Crawley House.
Ethel arrives late at night, the day after Snowflake Day. Dropped on the house's stoop, her first wish materializes: She wants to become a celebrity. Her second wish is to meet a celebrity. So far, I'm feeling quite good about the personality traits I've chosen.
Unfortunately there's no chance for introductions, because the house is entirely empty. Molesley and Mrs. Bird are across the street at the bistro enjoying a late supper while Isobel and her son Matthew, heir to Sim Downton, are at a bar together.
A pretty shitty bar, for that matter. The kind with garage doors instead of windows. Not at all a bar worthy of a Crawley's patronage, no matter how many foosball tables they may have.
Back at the house, there are plenty of opportunities for Ethel to earn her keep already. Housekeeping at Crawley House as apparently been lacking while I was focusing on the Abbey. Mountainous piles of laundry occupy every room of the house, swarming with flies and casting off green stench clouds.
The pantry is in a similar state, with food rotting in absolutely every cabinet.
To her credit, Ethel doesn't dawdle. She immediately sets to gathering the largest and stinkiest laundry piles. Less to her credit, she drops Charlie off in Matthews room while she does this. She returns to fetch him before heading downstairs to turn on the washing machine, but drops Charlie of once again en route. This time, she plops him outside in the snow in nothing but his diaper.
Thankfully when Molesley returns has the sense to bring the child inside.
Now in order to accomodate Ethel and Charlie, I've had to make some serious adjustments to the servant's quarters at Crawley House. Mrs Bird's room on the lower floor became Ethel's, as it's the only servant's room big enough to accomodate a crib. Meanwhile, I've had to split Molesley's room into two exceptionally narrow rooms so that Mrs. Bird still has a place without sacrificing the guest bedroom. Given how much smaller Crawley House is compared to Sim Downton... Well, it's not pretty, but it's functional.
Even so, there's not much room (or money) for toys for Charlie, but at some point Mrs. Bird acquired a teddy bear. One bear's not much, but it'll have to do for now.
Morning comes soon enough. Time for the servants to wake up and get the house in motion for the day. There's food to prepare, masters to dress, beds to make, fireplaces to scour...
Unless you're Ethel, that is. She now seems to have the luxury of several overly-eager live-in babysitters who practically form a line in front of Charlie's crib while she's still deeply asleep. Of course you get what you pay for, and it turns out that all this free childcare could stand to be a little better. After the initial doting phase of Charlie's morning is done, he's dropped off on the floor of the pantry, behind a closed door, alone.
Though if Molesley has work to do, he isn't doing it. Instead, he's engaged in a pillow fight in the middle of the servant's dining room with Ethel, who seems oddly reluctant to change out of her patchwork pyjamas even though she has a perfectly nice uniform on hand.
Patient and well-mannered child that he is, Charlie just sits and waits.
Ethel and Molesley continue their pillow fight, through the morning and into lunch hour.
Charlie continues to wait.
It's at this point that I realize I may have miscalculated Ethel's personality traits. I try to design my Downton sims as close to the source characters as possible, but in Ethel's case, things are a little more complicated...
I gave her traits that aligned more with her character's original appearance in the show, and less with how she behaved after (spoilers!) losing her position at the Abbey and having her son. Entertaining certainly, but not at allfair to her character development over the course of the series.
Then again, as Ethel's moodlets are quick to remind me, life's not fair.
... While Charlie's back outdoors, waist-deep in snow and picking his nose cheerfully.
Somehow the poor thing makes his way back indoors no worse for wear. I suppose it's a nice change of pace that someone's actually keeping an eye on him this time, but I just cannot get past how creepy this is. Just put him in his crib or something, man! It's literally in the next room!
Ethel and Charlie have proven to be even more of a distraction that I expected. It takes me two in-game days to even notice that Isobel's been wandering around in a kitschy kitty-cat sweater instead of the lovely wool coat I picked out for her.
Not only that, but she's in an absolutely wonderful mood. At some point she's had her first kiss and her first romance.
A romance with.... Some random lady? Rachel Gandillon? Who the hell is that? She look young enough to be your daughter, Isobel...
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Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.