My return visit to Sudeley seemed to creep up on me almost unnoticed. After much preparation on the Friday evening, I left bright and early (well, OK, early-ish) on the Saturday. The drive up the M5 towards Cheltenham and my eventual destination of Winchcombe went very well, and was made all the more enjoyable because the south-bound M5 was one solid pile of caravans chugging down to Cornwall. And it served them right.
I arrived at Sudeley at about 10am and was greeted by Peter, one of the staff, who looked and sounded just like Ricky Tomlinson. He was a lovely fellow and a great help all day. I was given a key to the Guides' room - a place where the tour guides can normally go to rest and recuperate, and this became my luxury dressing room for the next three days. I had recently purchased a silver topped cane to make Henry hobble a bit, and to help take some pressure off my frequently sore left ankle. I stumbled out into the bright light of day and began my constant circuits of the Sudeley Castle area meeting and greeting all and sundry. The very wonderful History People were there again, this time in their Viking encampment mode. They really are a lovely and very historically accurate group and do some great work with children and adults alike. It was good to see them again. There was also another group in the top part of the gardens putting on medieval events including sword fighting, archery and jousting. Out the front of the castle was The Hungry Hog! This was Mark Douse who accords himself the title of "The South's Premiere Hog Roast Specialist" and he and his lovely wife Natalie did not disappoint! See more of them at www.thehungryhog.com !
Halfway through my first day at Sudeley I was delighted to see the lovely little Isis and her beautiful mother Holly who had come to visit me when I had appeared at Weston-super-Mare museum and had been in touch ever since. The fact that Holly doesn't drive and had taken trains and boats and planes to get to Sudeley over about three hours was very touching, particularly as she and Isis had come primarily to see me! I had a lovely chat with them for a while before I sadly had to go off and meet and greet others! Later that evening as I came into Winchcombe on the look out for some dinner, I spied Holly and Isis getting on a bus to head back to Bristol - dedication to Good King Hal beyond the call of duty.
After I had finished at Sudeley I checked into my B&B - Blair House in Gretton Road in Winchcombe, run by the indomtiable Mr and Mrs Chilsholm! It is a wonderful place to stay, incredibly friendly and very cosy and comfortable. That evening my search for dinner was relatively low-key and ended up as fish and chips eaten from the paper in a lay by! After a cracking episode of Doctor Who in my B&B room, I drifted into a deep and welcome sleep.
Sunday was very disappointing at the Castle. It poured and poured with rain all day, dampening spirits and making the fur on my coat look very sad! There were few brave folk around, but those who did turn up were very friendly and we had some fun. The Hungry Hog man surrendered to the vile weather fairly early and made a run for home. Who could blame him as the rain came in at every conceivable point! Another dinner in the car and another early night at the lovely cosy Blair House - if anything I slept better that night than the previous one!
Bank Holiday Monday - it was grey, the wind blew and it was cold, but thankfully the rain just about held off all day. This was another fun day, lots of good people and hundreds more photos of me taken by some lovely tourists. The Hungry Hog might have had a bad day yesterday, but today was even worse. After driving 3 HOURS from Littlehampton (as he had done each and every day at the castle) he had got the hog on for spit roasting at 7am. All was going well until at about 10.30am when the entire thing burst into uncontrollable flames and ruined the entire hog. Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But that was the end of the hog roast for that day. His entire work day ruined. Poor man. He didn't deserve that as his hog roast is some of the tastiest you are ever likely to try. The rest of the day passed at a steady if a not exactly Earth shattering pace. I left Sudeley Castle finally at just after 5pm and managed to arrive back at home to a kiss and cuddle from my wife and lovely little son at just after 7pm.
A nice weekend, good to see so many good old friends and familiar faces, but a bit cold and damp as well!