This all begins on Remembrance Sunday. I had to drive back to Essex for three Henry VIIIth visits in the week. I would be staying at my parents again (they are SO lucky!) and as ever they were wonderful, kind and not too vicious with the rent book.
Monday I was at South Green Junior School in Billericay. Lovely and close to my parent's house, therefore slightly more of a lie in than usual. Lovely school, good teachers and great kids. We had a good time and the children seemed to really enjoy themselves. Good costumes again. That evening I went for a swift drink down at The Hoop, my old local pub in Stock. Little did I know that I was witnessing the end of an era. It was the last night the old bar would ever be as I remember it... I had a couple of drinks with Dan again, but went home relatively early on the vague promise of seeing Dan again the following night and maybe going on somewhere else.
Tuesday I was in Silver End between Braintree and Witham. I had tried to contact our friend Simon Runagall on my first arrival in Essex as he had recently contacted me to let me know he had managed to pick up some Gertie Millar post cards for me. Gertie Millar is a musical theatre artist from the Edwardian era and I, somewhat anorakishly, collect old post cards of her. Look, I know you are still out there reading this as I can hear you breathing. I knew Simon's parents lived in Silver End and so I attempted to contact him to see if we could meet up. It was arranged that I would meet him at his parent's for lunch during my break from being a Tudor monarch. But right at the start of the day I was in for another surprise as I was walking into the school with my props. I was followed in by a bloke I seemed to recognise, I wasn't sure where from. Crimewatch possibly. It turned out he was business partner with an old friend of mine from Maldon, Kevin Rowley, and he was at the school to tune their piano. The school was really good. Fabulous kids, great teachers and a good day was had by all. I got to meet Simon and his parents at lunchtime, collect my Gertie's and also some lovely photos Simon had taken of my son, James, on his last visit down to us. You will note the excruciatingly cute picture at the top of this posting... That evening I went back to the Hoop which resembled a war zone - the old bar had been completely hacked in half and was being systematically replaced with a new bar top. Too much for me. I ended up at the Bell at Rettendon with lots of friends and best of all a chance to see my dear old friend Sara Turner for the first time in about 7 years. Too long! I got back late. Thank God my mother (bless her!) had sat up to let me in. (Bless her!).
Finally, Wednesday at Southminster. This day was hard work. I was already tired from the previous two days shows, added to which the children in the group were very challenging and hard work to keep going with. By the end of the day though, I felt I was winning, but by 'eck! I earnt my corn this day. But that wasn't the end of the fun. I still had dinner with my parents and then the 2oo mile drive back to Somerset. I slept well that night. Most of it on the A303.