Friday, September 28, 2007

South Somerset National Trust Pub Quiz!

Another fun Friday evening! I had been asked by Matthew Applegate to once again host the annual South Somerset National Trust Pub Quiz evening, with all the competitors coming from the local NT Properties nearby. There must have been about 50 people taking part this year, and Matthew had asked me to set all the quiz questions.
We had a fine evening, lots of fun, but hard work on the voice and the feet! As it happened, Matthew's team, called "The HOD Carriers" (as Matthew and one of his team mates are both Heads Of Department) walked off with the title of champions, winning by over 20 points from their nearest team. The team that came last was a group of some very young sweet ladies who called themselves "The Young Ones" and only managed 15 points in total, compared to the 73.5 points that Matthew's team accrued!
It was a fun evening, and I hope I can do it again sometime.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Godstowe Prep, High Wycombe & Hazeldene Lower, Bedford

It was back on the road again this week. I got up in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning and drove through the clearing gloom to High Wycombe and a third return visit to Godstowe Prep School. It was a nice, relatively easy run up in the early hours. I arrived fairly early and nipped off to get a copy of "Private Eye" and a can of Diet Coke to pass the time until the school opened, luckily only about half an hour.
As ever I was greeted with extreme warmth from all members of staff and it was such fun to be back in such a lovely school. A vast majority of the girls had dressed in some quite stunning outfits and the morning went really well. After a pleasant lunch the afternoon progressed very well with a really rip roaring jousting tournament won by a very strong team of young ladies (I should point out that Godstowe Prep is an all girls school!).
After finishing at the school I headed off to St Albans where I was due to stay with my lovely cousin Liz and her husband Bruce and their delightful children Katie, Sophie and Robbie. Bruce had gone off to watch West Ham play in the League Cup so I helped Liz with the children and had some great fun playing with Robbie who is only slightly older than my own son James. After the children had disappeared to bed Liz and I enjoyed a nice home made spaggy bol and some wine and chats about our childhood holidays we had spent together with all our siblings. Liz is also a dab hand at website design and said she would like to have a go and designing a new look for the Good King Hal website. We shall see...
I woke early and after a quick ablutions session I went downstairs and finally got to say hello to Bruce! He made me a cup of tea and bemoaned West Ham's appalling play the night before. He should have gone for the spaggy bol and wine like me! Far more entertaining!
Soon I was on my way to Bedford, which seemed far further than I had imagined. Anyway, I arrived back at Hazeldene Lower and was once again greeted by Karen, the lovely year 3 teacher there. It was a bigger group for today's shows, more like 80+ children, but they were a fabulous group, very happy and with some good Tudor knowledge. One little boy called Luca was hilarious when I picked him out to play King Frances of France during my "Field of the Cloth of Gold" section!
After a lovely lunch it was back to the hall and another fabulous jousting session, with the ladies managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and handing the championship to the gents on the very last quoit! A fine day!
The drive home took about three hours, but wasn't too bad and I arrived home to kisses and cuddles from my wife and son, and a steak and mushroom pie and a cold drink. You can't ask for more than that!
Next Henry's are next week in Saffron Walden and Basildon. See you then!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Holly Trees Primary, Brentwood

I had last visited Holly Trees Primary School in leafy Brentwood in Essex way back in November 2004. Not only had I been invited back for a return visit all this time later, but they had also asked me to do TWO days, so who was I to argue?
I drove up to Essex on the Wednesday evening (with many thanks to my friends Alison and Ian in Kingstone for making it possible) and arrived at my parents' house in Mountnessing. The following morning I set off for Brentwood with my Sat Nav trying desperately to guide me to St Thomas' Road, not where I really wanted to go. In the end I found Vaughan Williams Way and then the school. I was warmly welcomed as I had been back in 2004 only this time I didn't turn up with my mother in tow!
The first day was with a predominantly Year 3 group but also a few Year 4's. It went wonderfully with the morning zipping along nicely. All the children had dressed up in fabulous costumes, as did the teachers as you can see from this lovely picture sent to me by Jo, the lady in the picture and one of the teaching assistants for the day. The afternoon was another rousing affair and ended with a loud jousting session which featured a very good boys team who stormed to victory. With nothing to pack back in the car as I was returning the next day I was soon home.
The next day I was back at Holly Trees while my parents went off to France for a little holiday. The second day was with a predominantly Year 4 group but also with a smattering of Year 5's. Again another good day was had by all. I really like Holly Trees Primary, you are made so welcome by everyone - it really must be one of the friendliest schools in the South East. The afternoon went very well and the jousting was once again won by a quite brilliant boys team.
I had to make a choice as to whether I was heading for home on the Friday evening, or leaving early on Saturday. As it was I went to the Hoop Pub in Stock again and had a lovely reunion with lots of members of the old Hoop Cricket Club - Mick Stephenson, Gareth Clipstone, Andy Banks, Adam Hudson and his lovely wife Lisa, Mike Slowey, Brian Boddy - loads of old familiar faces. We had a fine evening with lots of good laughs and happy memories. I capped a splendid night by stopping in Ingatestone for a chicken curry and egg rice from the local Chinese take away. Cue much burping!
I got up at 4.30am this morning and headed back to Somerset. I was here by 8.30am, so I have had a nice full day with Amanda and James. Next shows are on Wednesday and Thursday next week at Godstowe Prep School in High Wycombe and Hazeldene Lower School in Bedford. I am then running a pub quiz for the South Somerset National Trust at Barrington Court on the Friday evening. Lovely!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

West Leigh Junior School, Leigh on Sea

A visit to a new school seems quite rare these days, but that is what was in store for me at West Leigh School in Leigh on Sea, Essex. I drove to Essex on Thursday, 13th September and was lucky enough to be taken out to dinner in the evening by my lovely Mother! We went for a really nice Chinese meal in Ingatestone.
Friday dawned clear and bright and I headed down to Leigh on Sea. I think the last time I visited here was in about 1984! I found the school fairly easily, but was alarmed to find one of the smallest car parks in the history of humanity! However, I parked, got my gear in and got ready for the day ahead. The teachers were very kind and welcoming, and the children were brilliant. It was a big group, about 150 children and all year 3. Now year 3 groups normally fall into two distinct categories - the first are an overwhelmed, quiet, very young looking group, who sit in stunned silence throughout my shows and generally look terrified. The second are cocky, self assured, rude little monkeys who come across as a sort of mad hybrid of A.J.P. Taylor and Eric Morecambe. However, the children of West Leigh were unlike either group! They were fun, lively, full of laughter and generally very well behaved. We had a fine day, some good laughs and a really good jousting session which the ladies won by a whisker.
Friday evening I went for a drink over at my old local, The Hoop Pub in Stock near Billericay. I met up with old friends including Mick Stephenson, Brian Boddy and his wife Lorraine, Dan the Man and his cute dog Thistle and even "Little" Jim Hawes. It was a nice wallow in nostalgia. Amanda and James had driven up Friday evening and arrived at my parents a little after I got back from The Hoop.
Saturday it was down to Basildon for a surprise 40th Birthday Party for my wife's lovely sister, Maria. A good time was had by all, but sadly I had to leave early to drive back to Somerset. And here I am!
Good night!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Manor Court School, Chard

The 2007/08 Educational Year started on Friday 7th September, as far as I was concerned! For the fourth year running I was back at Manor Court Junior School in Chard. For the first time though I was not being looked after by Lizzie Reynolds though - she is now the Deputy Head of the School. Instead I was with a Miss Devereux for one class, and another charming lady for the other class (sorry, I can't remember your name!). We had about 66 children in for the day and it was a good one to start the season off. I always love coming to Manor Court School, not just because of it's close proximity to my home, but because the teachers are always really good fun and the children are really nice. A good combination.
As the children were in their first week of learning the Tudors there was obviously a lack of the usual knowledge that I get with groups, but they more than made up for it with their enthusiasm - especially Harry! The morning was cut short first by an assembly, and secondly by us being invaded by some very noisy dinner ladies halfway through my final talk. However, the afternoon went really well and the jousting (won by the gents for once!) was then followed by a jokey teachers race that turned out to be the highlight of the tourney! It went to two dead heats and a play off before we managed to find a winner! Great stuff.
I loaded up the car with some help from some mini-roadies before being asked for a load of autographs from some of the children. An old gentleman walked past pushing his grandchild in a push-chair as I finished off signing the last autographs.
"Can I have your autograph?" He asked. I looked at him.
"Do you know who I am?" I said. He smiled.
"Not a clue, but you must be famous to warrant this attention."
Another good day at Manor Court. I can't wait to go back next year.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Where does all the time go?

James started school today. Four years, eight months and sixteen days after he was born. I was a very nervous Dad today, but also proud. Thank God, he actually seemed to like it and is quite keen on going again tomorrow. To all other parents who went through it today - well done.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

And coming next...

Well, the new educational year is about to start, something bound to get Terry Deary frothing at the mouth and nailing pins into effigies of hard working teachers.
In the next few weeks Good King Hal will be re-visiting some old friends from the past. Manor Court at Chard at the end of this week, followed a few days later by a return to Hazeldene Lower School in Bedford. A week after that I have two days at Holly Trees Primary in Brentwood in Essex, a school I haven't visited for a long time. I've been invited back to be host for the National Trust South Somerset Area Pub Quiz Evening again, my finest hour! This will be followed very shortly by visits to old friends at Ruishton near Taunton and Blean in Kent. New ground will be covered with Good King Hal's first ever visits to Yate in Gloucestershire, Papworth Everard in Cambridgeshire and even a visit to Swansea in Wales to look forward to! I can't wait. Looking forward to seeing everyone again.