Thursday, January 31, 2008

Caister Middle School, Norfolk

A third return visit in three years beckoned for me at the lovely Caister Middle School, in Caister, Norfolk. I drove up to Essex on the 29th January and had a relatively easy trip aside from being stopped by the Police on the M3 and asked if the Peugeot was my car or not! Luckily I could prove it was!
I had a nice evening with my parents and was even treated to a glass or two of Gevry Chambertin by my father - very nice!
The following morning I was up at 5am and out the door and on my way by 5.40am. The drive up to Caister was quite pleasant and I arrived at the school just before 8am. I parked up and got in and was as ever so warmly welcomed by the staff that it felt I had never been away! I impressed the Head Teacher by wishing him a happy birthday as I remembered on my last visit there was a big party for him. All the teachers looked great in their fabulous costumes, even the ones made from curtains! I was in the big hall as I had been for the previous visits and the children came through, about 100 of them and honestly, some of the costumes were just so good. I had been warned that some of the group was a bit over lively, but they turned out to be a fantastic group. They loved the opening talk and laughed greatly at some of the silly jokes and displayed a remarkably good Tudor knowledge. Before lunch they did a great series of Tudor dances for me. They'd obviously rehearsed long and hard.
After lunch we had some fun with the Tudor crime and punishment section and they all loved the stocks. The final jousting session was a revelation with one of the ladies teams being so good that they just steam-rollered any opposition with a fantastic display of skill and teamwork. I went to leave at the end of the day to find I was boxed in again, just like last year, in the car park. The lady in the office who's car was blocking me in came out and moved the vehicle, but made it fairly clear she wasn't happy about it. Oh dear! Caister is a wonderful school and it was a lovely day all round. Thanks again.
I drove to my parents in Essex, had dinner with them and then headed back down to Somerset. I finally got home about 10.30pm and collapsed, gratefully, into bed. Nice day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Beauherne Primary, Canterbury

I was back at Beauherne Primary School in Canterbury for the first time since January 2006. I drove to my sister's house near Sittingbourne the day before and had a nice evening with her and her husband before kipping down on my luxury sofa.
The drive down to Canterbury was nice and easy this morning and it was nice to get back to Beauherne. I was warmly greeted as usual and was soon in the Henry gear with the group of year 3 and 4 children and we had a fabulous day. They were so funny. A real quirky little group and the two teachers, Mrs Morrish and Miss Bentley were just delightful.
After a nice lunch of steak pie, it was all systems go for the afternoon session which was rounded off by a fabulous win for the gentlemen in the jousting tournament. I then made my way back to Somerset and got home by 6.30pm to discover Amanda and James were over at our friends Ali and Ian's having tea! But they were home about half an hour or so after me. A lovely day all round.

Friday, January 18, 2008

201 posts and STILL no one is reading it!

What a busy day Thursday was. It began with me leaving home at just before 7.30am to get to Taunton for another appearance on the BBC Somerset Sound "Morning Jo" Show Panel. The traffic into Taunton was some of the worst I had ever experienced and it took me just over an hour to get to the BBC Studios. The other two guests were very nice - one lady a Stress Buster who lives up in Wellington and who is originally from Romford (there's a small world for you folks), and the other a very nice lady who worked for the NSPCC. Jo Phillips was, as ever, a lovely host and Emma, her assistant, was equally nice and very good at making tea! The discussion went really well and you can listen to it again here and selecting the Thursday button for the Morning Jo Show.
After that I skidaddled home for a few phone calls, letters and emails. Next it was into Crewkerne and Bilby's Cafe to meet Helen Hydes, a Development Co-ordinator for the National Autistic Society's Out of School Clubs. She is my local contact with the group I wish to raise money for with my "End of Winter Party" to be held on March 29th at Clapton Village Hall (more on that on this Blog soon...). The meeting was very productive and she was very helpful - and a very nice lady with it!
Then, after picking James up from School, he, Amanda and I went over to Barrington Court for the annual Barrington Wassail where they were blessing the trees for this years cider apple crop. There was the Babylon Morris Men who I had seen dance before at the Crewkerne Lions Club's Medieval Banquet at Clapton earlier in the summer. There was also the Langport Mummers who did a fantastic Mummers Play - wonderful stuff. I then read the poem my sister sent me (The Gloucestershire Wassail Carol) before we had to leave as poor little James was hugely tired by now. It was a shame to miss the rest of the evening as it was hugely entertaining - and more than a little bit pagan!
Oh and by the way, if you are wondering what the photo above is all about, I took it during my show at the Taunton Westival of my audience during my show at Taunton Castle. Just thought you ought to know!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Grange Primary School, Gloucester

It was back up the old wind and rain blasted M5 again today. Another crack of dawn start saw me and the new Peugeot heading back to a flood warning area! I was going back to Grange Primary School in Gloucester - a school I last visited back in 2005. I didn't seem to recognise the place when I got there, but the lovely teachers who greeted me reassured me this was because the place had been almost completely re-built in recent months.
I have to say that this was a really fun school to do today. About 100 children from years 3 and 4 and they were just so sparky and funky! Great fun all day. Laughs and jokes aplenty all day and some terrific Tudor knowledge from some of the children. The teachers were a delight to work with and the atmosphere in the staff room was more like a friendly local pub than a place of work! After a really tasty lunch it was back to the hall for the afternoon session. The laughs during my stocks routine were loud and genuine, and the jousting was a real rumpunctuous success! The ladies once more came through for a well earned victory.
I have tomorrow off to continue with the fun and games of my tax return, plus I still have to get my dead Honda Accord over to Ian Summers at Popular Motors at some point... Thursday is another appearance by me on BBC Radio Somerset and then Thursday evening is the Barrington Court Wassail evening. See you there...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dean Close Prep, Cheltenham

Well Henry fans, here it is! Long time - no blog. Well, things have been happening. My trusty old friend, my Honda Accord, has died. I was driving the poor old thing up Wayford Hill the other week when the engine just went "No Way" and stopped. I nursed the car home and drove it around for a couple days, but then it kept cutting out. No chance of me using it for work any more. So a new car was needed. I went to see Ian "Honest" Summers of Popular Motors in Merriott and he was brilliant. Ian is a great bloke and always very helpful. He only ever laughs with me about the cars I buy, never at them. So from this very high class vehicular boutique I have purchased a very nice Peugeot 406 on a V reg plate and today was it's baptism of fire as I got back on the road again being Henry.
Today I was back at Dean Close Prep school in Cheltenham, for the third year running. It was good to be back. Dean Close is such a lovely school to visit. The children are always great fun and never any bother, the teachers are incredibly friendly and generous with their time and the lunch is always spectacular. What more could you want?
As usual with a private school the timings were all a bit wonky, with the morning running on until nearly 1pm and the afternoon only lasting from 2.15 to 3pm. However we had a good time, lots of laughs and with the final jousting session the ladies won by default as the gentlemen's cheating on their final leg was so blatant as to be embarrassing!
The drive home was very good, mostly clear roads but occasional huge downpours of rain. I have to do a similar drive tomorrow as I am appearing at Grange Junior School in Tuffley, Gloucester. Should be a good one as I haven't visited them for about three years!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

In The Pipeline

Greetings, Peasants! Welcome to 2008! The year ahead looks likely to be a nice busy one. I am back at Leeds Castle for a few jousting events in the summer, plus over the second May bank holiday weekend I am back at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire. I am making an appearance over a weekend in March down at Abbotsbury in Dorset, plus a weekend at Barrington Court in April.
Schools coming up inlcude Dene Close Prep and Grange Primary, both in Gloucestershire, Beauherne in Canterbury, Kent and St Michael's in Wimborne in Dorset, among many, many others.
I will be back on BBC Radio Somerset within the next couple of weeks (now broadcasting on FM as well as good old MW!) and after my recent publication in The Guardian newspaper I am soon to be immortalised in a periodical of equal gravitas - namely the "Real Life Stories" Magazine. You heard it here first folks.
So a happy new year to all my friends. Here's to a great 2008.