I had been invited back to Leeds Castle for another series of Henry VIIIth talks as I had last done back in February 2006. The whole half term would see me in The Maiden's Tower at the Castle doing four shows a day. Adverts had been put out on Invicta Radio in Kent and in all the local papers, so hopefully we would have a good turn out. Boy, did we have a good turn out. The wonderful Darlene Cavill and the lovely Helen Budd were again my main hosts from Special Events at the Castle. They were budgeting for approximately 1,000 visitors per day to the Castle during my residency - what we were getting was more like 3,500 per day! The room I was stationed in for my talks would hold approximately 200 people for each show and was absolutely packed to the rafters everytime. We had some great groups in, lots of laughs. Occasionally people would come in and bring in children that were too young to appreciate the show, but the majority of the time the audiences were very good indeed. During one of the early talks, I was explaining about my Kornholt musical instrument, about how it sounded and it's history, when a little boy aged about 6 in the front row shouted out "JUST PLAY IT!"
Also working at the Castle for the week was all the other lovely helpers from the past, including the wonderful Jean and Carole, and some new faces like Shenina. I was treated Royally by everyone and had my lunch bought for me every day - how cool is that? 28 talks in 7 days would test even the most robust of larynxes, but I had been laid low with a cold and chest infection before I even started, so by the end of the week Henry VIIIth was sounding more like Barry of the White.
I was staying with my sister and her husband near Sittingbourne again, and once more they were just wonderful. Kind, patient and very hospitable. Bless 'em.
After finishing at the Castle I was still not finished in Kent. Monday saw me down at Blean near Canterbury for my 4th visit to this school in 4 years. As ever I was not disappointed with a great turn out, some wonderful costumes and some lovely sparky kids. The afternoon jousting was good and the gentlemen romped to a comfortable win. The evening I drove up to Essex to stay with my parents as on the Tuesday I was in Colchester for a return visit to Monkwick Junior School.
I slightly overslept on the Tuesday morning, but still managed to arrive on time. This was another good day at one of my favourite schools. By now, having done 9 fulls days solid without a break being Henry I was getting tired, but the school kept me alert and alive and we had a great day that concluded with another brilliant joust where the ladies snatched victory in a final quoit race off after the original final ended in a dead heat.
After dinner with my parents it was back down to Somerset for the first time in over 10 days for a late night reunion with my lovely wife, Amanda. This morning my lovely James woke me at 6.30am with a big kiss and cuddle and telling me "Daddy, I've really missed you." It doesn't get much better than that.
Tomorrow I am back at Parkfield Junior in Taunton for another return visit to a favourite school of mine! I am looking forward to seeing Mr Sides again!