Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cider With Henry

This has been a hectic couple of days. I drove up to Gloucestershire yesterday as I had a meeting with the people who run events at Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe. It is nearly a 100 mile drive to get there, but when I did it was instantly worth it. This is a delightful old Tudor House/Castle in a magnificent setting. I was due to meet Danielle from the Castle there. From what her voice sounded like on the phone I imagined some quite stern, tall and slightly officious lady somewhere in her 30's. How wrong can you be? She was this charming tiny little lady in her mid-20's who had a great sense of humour. We had a quick chat in their main office which is set up high in one of the Castle turrets! They wanted to hear some of the Tudor instruments I played, so I gave the office staff a quick tootle. I also brought along a load of the photos from the Barrington Court day and some of the unsolicited testimonials from my days at the County Museum in Taunton. Danielle then took me for a quick tour of some of the castle exhibits, which was very nice of her considering the castle had been closed to the public since October. It is a wonderful place. Hopefully they want me in May next year for a Tudor day. Fingers crossed, it would be lovely to work with them.
I drove back into Winchcombe and had a wander round it's lovely old streets and stopped for lunch in a pub called the White Lion which had all the atmosphere of an autopsy. But the fish and chips I had were very nice. I then headed back on the road to Cheltenham, and then on down through Birdlip to Slad, the village I was staying in over night. Slad is where Laurie Lee lived, and where he based and wrote "Cider With Rosie", one of my all time favourite reads. I stayed at the Old Chapel B&B, a place I stayed at about 10 years ago with my late lamented Grandfather. It is still with the same owners after all these years and I was very warmly welcomed. I settled into my room, put my feet up and opened my newspaper. Next thing I knew it was about 2 hours later and I had been asleep in the chair. Poor old git!
I got up this morning at about 6.45am and wandered down to my cooked breakfast from Mike the owner of the Chapel at about 7.30. Fabulous - omelette - cooked to perfection, crispy bacon, some herby sausage and plenty of toast and tea. I could get used to this. Next I was off on the road up from Stroud to Gloucester and my appointment at Grange Junior School. We had a really good day. About 90 kids, all very interested, great sparky questions and lots of laughs. The teachers were lovely and really couldn't do enough for me, even going as far as to nipping out at lunchtime to buy me a sandwich - bless 'em. The afternoon zipped by and we ended with a deafening Jousting tournament in which a simply superb boys team blitzed everyone! After payment and packing I was on my way. I had guessed when telling Amanda what time I would be home that it would be about 5pm. I pulled up on our home drive as the 5 o'clock news began on 5 Live. How's about that for a prediction?
A day off tomorrow, then a long long day driving up to Sutton in Surrey and back again. Then heading to Essex and more East Anglian frolics for a week. This has been a good couple of days.

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