Friday, February 29, 2008

Trull Primary School

It was a third year running visit to the village of Trull just outside Taunton today. Now, no visit to Trull is complete without the joy of going through a Taunton rush hour. The place is a nightmare, just such a bottleneck. A journey which should only really have taken me about half an hour took far nearer an hour.
But it was good to be back, because Trull is a lovely school. The children had all dressed in some wonderful costumes today, every single one of them! Even the Deputy Head was sporting some very groovy pantaloons and complaining that his football socks were making his calves itch.
Judy Picton had already finished renovating one of my costumes and so that was given an outing today and it received rave reviews from all who saw it.
After a fine morning of some delays but mostly good fun, we had some photos taken over in the churchyard opposite the school before lunch was taken with one of the teachers telling some remarkably dotty stories about her chickens! How could I follow that?
Well the afternoon was equally fun. Some superb stocks fun and then a jousting session to savour with the gents just pipping a good ladies team to the title. A wonderful day and already talk about another return visit next year. It would be my pleasure. Next stop - back to Little Parndon in Harlow.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me - and Half Term

Just a quick note to explain the long silence on this blog! It's been half term and so the King has been taking it easy! My wife, son and I had a few days down in South Wales staying with my sister near Cynwyl Elfed just outside Carmarthen, including some fun runabouts on the beach with James down at Llansteffan, and James and I went and had a nice lunch one day down at Bilby's in Ilminster, where James flirted outrageously with a young blonde waitress and even gave her a Love Heart (it's a sweet folks, don't worry). Not bad for a five year old!
I am continuing to work on the End of Winter Party which is coming up at the end of March and I am currently having two of my Henry costumes renovated. I am next on parade as everyone's favourite monarch (apart from Terry Deary) on Friday 29th February for another return visit to Trull near Taunton. Watch this space for a full report.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Banquet at Awbridge near Romsey

I was invited today to go along to Awbridge Primary School in the village of Awbridge near Romsey in Hampshire to attend a banquet! The teacher from this school who had recommended and booked me is friends with little Jo, the charming teacher from Nelson Primary in East Ham. Its a small World sometimes.
I drove down and arrived slightly later than I wished, mainly due to the horrendous traffic in Salisbury town centre (as I remember all too well from my time working for Skandia Life in Southampton). The school was lovely and the teachers very welcoming. I quickly changed and was taken through to the main hall where the children were waiting for me all seated round a big table and in some fantastic costumes. As they got stuck into their chicken legs, rolls and apple pastries, I regailed them with some nice horrid Tudor stories and did some of my usual routine. I then played them some tunes on my dordrecht recorder, and then wandered round the table chatting to the children. They had also brought along some fiendish questions to ask me, and I did my best to answer them. Then the children played me some of their own compositions on their recorders, sang me a wonderful song and then displayed their Tudor dancing skills. Great stuff! I was then given a guided tour of the school by some of the children, met all the other children in the different classes (Hello Harry and your blue painting in year 1!). Then it was back to the hall for another demonstration of their Tudor dance skills, and then it was time for me to go. The two hours had just flown by!
I drove back to Somerset, then popped into Crewkerne for a haircut and some more shopping, and then got myself ready for our visit to my sister in Wales.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

BBC Somerset - The News Panel

Today I had been invited back on to the Morning Jo Show on BBC Somerset and another appearance on the Morning News Panel. I drove into Taunton quite early and arrived in time to begin sifting through the papers prior to going on air. I found a great story about Berwick-upon-Tweed wanting to be back in Scotland again, so I chose that mainly so I could retell my own experiences of visiting this funny little town. I was joined on the panel by two sisters, Hayley and Carly, one a beautician and the other a cabin crew member for Virgin Atlantic. Both stunners, and nice company as well.
Jo Phillips was a great presenter as usual and Emma Britton a superb assistant and travel news updater. We all had some good laughs and it seemed to go particularly well today. If you would like to hear how it went, please go to the website and click on "Listen Again" and choose the Morning Jo Show for Wednesday!
I stopped off in Ilminster on the way back and bought a couple of books, then had some lunch in Bilby's and chatted to Tris. This afternoon I did a load of paperwork in the office and made some phone calls. I also received a couple of lovely emails from ladies at the schools in Shoeburyness and Sheppey saying how much everyone had enjoyed the Henry days - which was most gratifying. I shall have to see if we can add those to the "Feedback" pages on the website. Go and see if I have done it yet!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2 - and a couple of visits!

Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2. Can I just repeat that once or twice? Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2. It just keeps sounding better each time I mention it! To be honest, on driving up to my sister's place for a couple of Kent shows, I really didn't want to hear about the Manchester derby. The build up to it had been sent into an hysterical stratosphere with the Munich coverage - added to which City had been playing so badly of late and United so brilliantly that I could only see my beloved Man City getting a caning of Biblical proportions. I vowed to avoid the match if at all possible and listened only to CD's for much of the journey. At one point I had to change CD and with my radio pre-tuned to Radio 5 Live, straightaway I heard the commentary when the radio cut in - just in time to hear Darius Vassell put City 1-0 up. I was happy, but it did remind me a bit of the old line from the movie "Blazing Saddles" where the Sheriff is warned not to shoot the big bad guy as it would "just annoy him". It seemed the same with United - don't score against them - they'll just get angry. I put another CD on and carried on with my journey. Much later I tuned in to find out the score, only to hear that City were now 2-0 up, and there was only a few minutes left. Now was the time to start listening, but typical of my luck just as I start listening United go and score. Thankfully City hung on for a deserved victory which prompted some horn honking and whooping from me as I trundled round the M25.
My two days in Kent were great fun as well. The first of my shows was my fourth annual appearance at dear old Oakfield Junior in Dartford. It was so nice to be back at this wonderful school. As ever all the teachers were hugely welcoming and polite. The children were a delight - bright and sparky and full of fun and questions. Some of their costumes were fantastic and a lot of work had been done by family members. After lunch they sang me a couple of wonderful songs, accompanied by their teacher on a classical guitar. The rest of the afternoon shot by and a hugely competitive joust was won by a good ladies team.
Tuesday was a brand new school for me. Quenborough Junior in Sheppey. This was another fabulous day. About 130 children and some incredibly wonderful teachers all made for an exciting, fun and hilarious day. I had years 2, 3 and 4 all in with me and they were a delight. Full of beans and very sparky with lots of laughs aplenty. I thought some of them might pass out they were laughing so much during the stocks session! Another superb jousting tournament, the gents finally managed to get a win in for once.
It was a lovely couple of days staying with my sister and her husband, and a delight to be at two such lovely schools, but I am very glad to be back this evening and I am thoroughly looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again!
Back on the Morning Jo Show tomorrow on BBC Somerset, then I am off to Romsey on Friday for a banquet at a school.
Oh, and Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2. Nice!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Birdwell Primary, Long Ashton

Another brand new school for me today - and what a good one it was! Birdwell Primary School is in Long Ashton on the outskirts of Bristol. I didn't even know somewhere like Long Ashton existed, but it seemed like a really nice place. The school was warmly welcoming and the teachers just delightful. The children apparently had no idea that I was coming along as Henry for the day so it was a really nice surprise for them. The morning whipped through nicely while all around us preparations for the lunchtime banquet continued apace!
After the morning session was completed, and a quick question and answer session in the classroom, we then had a break for about 40 minutes before the specially prepared banquet began. All the food for this wonderful event had been prepared and cooked by the parents of the pupils and it was just spectacular! Delcious and pretty much authentic Tudor food served on real home made trenchers. We all ate and enjoyed ourselves, but by the time we had finished enjoying ourselves most of the afternoon had gone! However, there was still time for a spectacular jousting tournament which a quick, but somewhat erratic gentlemen's team triumphed in.
This was a really special lovely school with some fantastic teachers and some great kids. Thanks for such a lovely day - I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Richmond Avenue Primary School, Shoeburyness

Back to jolly old Essex again! I drove up to my parent's house in Mountnessing on Ash Wednesday and spent a nice evening sitting with my Father and watching Fabio Cappello's first game in charge of the England Football Team. My, how little seemed to have changed!
The following morning though, I was up with the lark and off down to Shoeburyness near Southend-on-Sea for a visit to Richmond Avenue Primary School. I couldn't even remember when I last visited Shoeburyness - must be over 20 years. Whenever I think of Shoeburyness it brings to mind Billy Bragg's immortal song "A13 - Trunk Road to the Sea" with the opening lines "If you should ever go to Shoeburyness..." Anyway, I managed to find the school OK and was warmly welcomed by the staff who were all just wonderful. I set up in a charming little hall and waited for the children to arrive. I had been told they were a lively bunch - and they most certainly were! We had a great morning. They certainly knew their Tudor stuff and took great delight in showing off the knowledge they had already picked up. We had lots of laughs and a good time was seemed to be had by all. We finished the morning session with a question and answer session in a packed class room.
The afternoon was equally fun, with lots of laughs had with the stocks routine. The final jousting session was hilarious. One ladies team thought they had won with only two of their riders home and just stopped! By the time I had realised what they were doing the other team had managed to rush home and win! The ladies eventually went on to win a thrilling and very close grand final. I can honestly say this was one of the nicest schools I have visited in a long time and I really hope they will consider having me back again next year. Thank you all for a wonderful day.