Friday, June 9th 2006 is not a day I am likely to forget in a hurry. First things first, I had to get to Millfield Prep School in Glastonbury for a half day. We were housed in the music area of the school and it was HOT. Absolutely stifling heat. This was to be the final appearance of my original costume before being either pensioned off or shot, whichever was more humane. As it was the day went marvellously and I got paid in cash for once! The kids were great and the teachers wonderful. A really lovely school all round.
I left Glastonbury and began my long hike up to Essex and my appointment with my new costume in Chelmsford. Oh dear. Not the day for travelling in the South East. First of all the M25 was closed in both directions along it's south route causing about a 10 miles tail back onto the M3. When I finally did get on to the M25, I never really got out of 2nd gear all the way round the north section, until I got past Harlow. I finally arrived at Duncan's house to get the costume at about 7.15pm - 6 hours after leaving Glastonbury, and all of this through a scorching heat in a non-air conditioned car. The costume looked fabulous however and I was delighted. I would be the belle of the ball at Leeds Castle this weekend. I now had to head down towards Sittingbourne and my sister's house. This necessitated rejoining the M25 and guess what? Another traffic jam as people tried to get through at the Dartford Crossing. I eventually arrived at my sister's at about 9.15pm, nearly eight hours after leaving Millfield. Shattered is one description, as is completely knackered. I was both of those and a little bit more.
I was due on parade at Leeds Castle by 11am, but I was there nice and early. I got changed in Darlene's office and was driven in a glorified golf buggy down to the area where the jousting tournament was to take place. It was lovely to see Darlene again, and Helen Budd her lovely young assistant. It was also nice to see other familiar faces like Jean and Barry. It was a really fun two days wandering around and chatting to the great British public, and of course all the assorted visitors from around the world. Americans, Australians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Taiwanese, Indians, Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Poles, Italians etc., we seemed to have the complete set of tourists. The weather was ferocious but more bearable on the Saturday due to a slight cooling breeze. This had vanished by Sunday and I have never in my entire life drunk so much water and not wanted to use the loo! Saturday night was spent attending a banquet in the main castle, complete with minstrels, a jester, fire breathers, men at arms and even a wise woman or two! Much merriment had by all, but still ferociously hot. By 10.30pm I had really had enough. I had been on my feet in the new costume in boiling temperatures for over 12 hours. My knees were starting to throb! Time to go home. The walk back to my car that evening was delightful. A huge full moon hanging over the Castle battlements and glistening on the mercury-like surface of the moat and lake. Beautiful. Sunday finished on a nice note as Darlene bought us all a pitcher of Pimms and lemonade to slake our thirsts and never were more thirsts slaked by so much Pimms so quickly! Lovely. It was nice to meet Tony as Sir Lupin the tall knight on stilts, who was a big hit with the kids.
Monday found me back on more normal territory as my new costume made it's debut school appearance in Gravesend at the Holy Trinity School. Another lovely day, again in almost overpoweringly hot conditions. The kids were lovely and the teachers as warm and welcoming as the weather. I was even brough tea and toast on my arrival! The day ended with another fine jousting session with the ladies, almost inevitably triumphing over the boys. My journey home was a lot easier than my original outward journey and I was very very pleased to get home to Amanda and James.
I had a meeting with Matthew Applegate from Barrington Court again last night and there are plans afoot from them to use me over Christmas as a nice alternative to Santa Claus. Watch this space. Later this week I am off to Truro in Cornwall for my first visit to that lovely county in my Henry persona. But before that... England v Trinindad & Tobago. Fingers crossed everyone.