Monday, September 25, 2006

A Very Private Henry

Another weekend, so it must mean another visit to Leeds Castle in Kent! This Sunday just gone was a bit different, I had been asked to appear at an 80th Birthday party at the Castle for Nikki from hospitality's Granny. The event took place in the gatehouse, but as usual I got changed using Darlene's office in the estate office complex. This time, instead of being driven to my venue in a golf buggy, Nikki walked me over to the gatehouse. Nikki looked lovely all "dolled up" and when I commented on her looking so nice she said "I scrub up quite well". Understatement of the year, Nikki! A walk that would normally take about 5 minutes ended up taking almost three times as long due to lots of photo's being requested by tourists. At the gatehouse, there was a harpist from London, playing some beautiful music, and Davey the jester who I worked with back in June after the jousting tournament. He would be the main entertainment of the day, while my job was to mingle amongst the guests, chat to people, wander round the table and be charming. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. In between visits round the table I would occasionally pop outside for a little wander and was always immediately swamped with cameras and tourists, but it was great fun. Helen Budd and friends turned up briefly at one point as I was outside posing madly and they took the mickey out of my new white tights - how dare they!
Davey and I were then treated to a lovely roast beef lunch which was quite stunning, then we had another quick bash around the tables, it got to three o'clock and we were on our way.
I popped back to my sister's house near Sittingbourne to pick up Amanda and James who had accompanied me this weekend and then we struck out for Somerset. We arrived home after a good run at about 6.45pm, and by 7.30pm I was at the Dinnington Docks pub with Matthew Applegate from Barrington Court again! I arrived home about 10pm and was soon in bed, exhausted but happy. It was a lovely day all round.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dean Close Prep II - The Return

Just about three months had passed since my last visit to Dean Close prep in Cheltenham, but here I was going back again. The journey there this time wasn't quite so easy. It had been plain sailing up to getting on the Gloucester Road into Cheltenham. There had been some sort of incident and a major road filtering off had been closed by the Police causing some lengthy tailbacks. Luckily, I managed to get to the school by about 8.30-ish. I was met by Laura Sorrell as my usual contact there Caroline Hatchell had decided that climbing Mount Snowdon was preferable to meeting the King again, and who can blame her! Laura was a wonderful substitute and looked after me wonderfully all day.
We were in the main theatre/hall space of the school as opposed to the Library for my last visit. It was a good group of kids, some of them were a little challenging to begin with, but I won them over. Despite having only studied the Tudors for the previous two weeks, they showed some remarkably good knowledge on the subject. I managed to cram in the vast majority of the day into the morning session, this being a private school, all their timings are different to state schools.
Lunch was marvellous yet again. This time I was treated to a lovely Chinese meal of sweet and sour chicken, mushroom chow mein and vegetable fried rice, with the addition of some prawn crackers. Lovely.
After lunch we were in the hall for a bit more fun and games with the stocks and then a final rip roaring jousting session. Despite the gentlemen having one of their teachers as a member of their team, the ladies STILL managed to triumph!
Laura then very helpfully helped me get all my stuff out to my car and even set about trying to sort out a quick payment for me for my days work. What a lovely lady!
The drive home was a lot quicker and easier than the drive up and it was nice to get home to a hug and a kiss from my wife and son.
If Dean Close keep up their usual booking procedures with me, I should be back with them just before Christmas.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Manor Court School, Chard

Friday 15th September was a return visit to Manor Court School in Chard. This was my third annual visit to this school and I reckon the children there just keep getting better and better. There must have been about 60 of them for the visit and they were great! Sparky, bright and ready to laugh and learn - perfect for a Good King Hal day! It was lovely to see Lizzie Reynolds again, who always makes me so welcome there and is such a nice lady. This was my first full day at a school for a while and I reckon it went quite well. I am suffering a little at the moment with a chest infection I have picked up from my son, but apart from a few alarming hacks the voice and chest stood up to the day quite well.
One or two of the children were keen to show off their Henry VIII and Tudors knowledge and Lizzie should be proud of them as they have only been learning about this period in time for a short while.
We had to take a short break during the middle of the morning as the hall was needed for an assembly, but the rest of the day seemed to whiz past for me. My usual saunter down the road to Somerfield to buy some lunch was pleasant and the afternoon a real riot. As usual the ladies triumphed in the jousting, much to the annoyance of the boys team!
I was paid on the day, something I always appreciate, and then it was just the case of a small drive home and a nice evening sipping some wine and relaxing. A good day! Thanks again, Manor Court School. See you next year.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Charlton Horethorne

Final evidence that the summer is now over came with my first Henry back on the school circuit since Bridgwater. I had got so used to doing either walkabouts or truncated talks at castles of museums, thankfully Charlton Horethorne had booked me back for a half day. Belinda Stephens who had booked me way back in December 2004 was again the wonderful lady to book me this time. As ever it was a delightful school to visit. Only 18 pupils for the talk, but so sparky and lively - and still only year 3's! I did the main talk, a bit about sport and music, my usual nonsense with the stocks and finished with a rip roaring jousting contest that the boys won by a whisker. All in all a lovely day.
Next port of call is Manor Court School in Chard on Friday. My third visit in as many years! What a regular!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Not A Bobby Dazzler After All...

Just a quick note to say that because of too little time and a lack of someone to adequately baby sit for us, my appearance on Bargain Hunt has been postponed until the next series. :(
Never mind. I shall update more info as and when I hear it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Daily Tudorgraph Fun Day

Another weekend and another visit to Leeds Castle in Kent. I drove down on Saturday the 9th September to stay at my long suffering sister and brother-in-law's. My presence was obviously too much for my sister who immediately took to her car and went out for the evening with her chums. I had been invited to my friends Anne and Ben's for dinner. They live in the delightful village of Shoreham near Sevenoaks. Anne cooked a fabulous meal of roast lamb which had been marinated/coated in a variety of herbs and was served with a reduced red wine gravy, potatoes and green beans. Delicious. And all this after I had virtually invited myself over for dinner. They deserve medals. When I got back to my sister's at about 11.30pm, her husband had gone out as well. I think they are trying to tell me something.
Sunday at the castle was great fun. It was basically the Daily Telegraph works outing, in all but name. There was a large marquee with seating for about 500 people, a cool jazz combo in the corner and several bars serving lots of nice and naughty drinks. Outside there was a massive roundabout, various ice cream stalls, a laser-gun battle zone, mini-quad bikes for the children, archery, clay pigeon shooting, Punch and Judy, and of course, me! I was in charge of announcements of all the fun and activities during the day and took great delight in meeting and greeting as many of the customers as I could. The heat was almost unbearable and I managed to borrow some sun block off one nice lady as I could feel my nose and bottom lip burning! There was also a 4x4 and proper quad bike area for the grown ups to enjoy. The guys from the hawking centre came and did their thing for the crowd again. Almost the finale for me was compering and adjuticating the tug-of-war between two scratch teams of hot and drink addled Telegraph employees. It was a hoot! I also got to meet Simon Heffer. I am sure he was thrilled. He and his wife were very kind and generous to me and I extend a big hello and thank you to them! HELLO AND THANK YOU! There, I did it.
Next stop? Charlton Horethorne school near Sherborne for a half day on Wednesday, then our Bargain Hunt interview on Thursday.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Real Bobby-Dazzler

If I suddenly appear to be talking very Tim Wonnacott from "Bargain Hunt" then do forgive me, things will become clear as this blog unfolds. We start back on Friday 1st September. I was to drive to Kent to stay with my sister and her husband again as I was back on parade at Leeds Castle again for the Ballooning and Classic Car Show that weekend. I drove to them via my parents in Essex as I hadn't seen them for a long time. I had a nice leisurely lunch with them and then headed down to Kent. Cathy and Julian were as welcoming as ever and only set the dogs on me once. Friday evening there was a barbeque at Leeds Castle as a thank you to all the people appearing at the weekend, so I took Cath and Julian as my guests. We had some lovely food and sat on a terrace over looking the castle, which looked fabulous lit with spot lights in the darkness.
Saturday was the first day of the balloon festival. I arrived at the Castle at about 9.30am to be told that there was little or no chance of any more balloon launches after 20+ had gone off at 6.30am - the weather was just too bad. This was also a classic car weekend and I was occasionally assailed by car anoraks trying to tell me about their latest front end differential changes or how much the parping couplet on their revolving squonk pan had made such a difference to their overall gearing ratios. Like I cared? It was a bit of a depressing day all round really. Pitifully few people in through the door and steady drizzly rain driven by a keen wind. I met some lovely people and had loads of piccies taken, but when it came to finish at 4pm I was quite grateful. What a difference a day makes! Sunday was another kettle of fish altogether. Although it started out badly, the weather was never quite as bad as Saturday, with strong sunshine and warmth for the afternoon. Sadly the wind was still too strong for any balloon launches. Masses of people piled into the castle and I met some fabulous people. I'd like to say a big hello to my friends on the Cappucino stall and the Pimms stall - thanks for everything! Also the lovely lady and her gentleman friend on the kite stall - hello to you. I got my photo taken with the Saga Balloon which will hopefully be used on the Saga Magazine at some point. My parents read that! And finally a big hello to the ladies of the Pimms Balloon! I finished about 4.30pm, had a nice leisurely Pimms to finish and said goodbye to dear Darlene and Helen, who have, as usual, been absolute stars. And so was Scott!
I drove back to Somerset and was pleased to see my bed. The following day I get a phone call from the BBC asking me if I'd like to be on "Bargain Hunt". Who am I to refuse such a kind offer! Amanda and I are travelling up to Wells next Thursday (14th) and then we will hopefully be on to Shepton Mallett for some filming on 23rd September and then onto auction on the 1st November. Keep everything crossed for us! Just think, the BBC are getting Henry VIIIth for free almost - now THAT'S a bargain!
Finally, another message from Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire who have booked me for the three days of the 2nd bank holiday weekend in May 2007. It was nice to hear from Danielle there again.