It was back up to jolly old Essex for me on the 1st October. The following day was to be my return visit to South Green Junior in Billericay - my first return there for three years! The reason for this long hiatus is that when I last visited them in 2005, their year 4 group was studying the Tudors. However straight after that they switched it so that their year 6 group was studying the Tudors! Therefore they had to wait until the original year fours I had taught had grown up and got past year six before having me back again. Well, that was their excuse and I fell for it...
It is a charming school South Green, in a nice almost semi rural backwater to Billericay - lots of trees and greenery, but also lots of houses. But it feels almost villagey. The teachers were, as ever, a delight being helpful, funny, friendly and ready to join in the madness and fun at the drop of a hat. The children, a group of about 60, were very excitable and noisy, but fun with it. It was occasionally difficult keeping a lid on the whole thing, but come the jousting they let themselves go with aplomb and virtually blew the roof off the school hall! As for the result? The ladies triumphed AGAIN! This takes the overall score to:
GENTLEMEN 3 - 4 LADIES
A fine stirring come back by the ladies here.
The following morning I was up early and driving over to High Wycombe for my annual appearance at Godstowe Prep School. This is a fine old building in a leafy lane near to High Wycombe railway station. It is a girls school and you are always guaranteed two things at Godstowe - fantastic costumes for the pupils and a great day of fun, and I got both as expected! It was a new set of teachers for me this year and things got off to a slightly surreal start, because as I began my opening talk to the children two of the male teachers had a very loud conversation between each other at the back of the hall. Mind you, a couple of threatening barks and "looks" from the King and I had them right back in order! All joking aside the teachers were lovely as ever at Godstowe - very friendly and couldn't do enough for me. The children were fun too and the final joust was loud and raucous and of course a ladies team won, so we can't add this score to our overall table.
I left High Wycombe and drove over to Barrington Court in Somerset for Matthew Applegate's 50th birthday party. For the past few weeks he has been saying, in his usual "glass half empty" way, "of course hardly anyone will be there, when it gets to 8 o'clock we might as well go up to my flat and watch the telly..." How wrong. Little does this charming man know how popular and loved he is. As I arrived, the car park by Beagles cafe was quite busy but I decided to park round by the Court House. That car park was even more full! Packed! Walking in I was greeted by a jam packed restaurant full of familiar faces and good cheer. There was Matthew and his lovely wife Sue, dear old Blue and his wife Jo from the post office and shop in Shepton Beauchamp, all the lovely volunteer ladies that I bump into every time I work at Barrington, plus Alf and Lynn Trott, Rachel (Matthew's assistant), Becky from Stuart's Interiors and even a mass of people from Chard Historical Society who have just booked me for their annual talk next May, but were keen to come and say hello! There was a lovely true or false quiz to do, all about Matthew's life, drinks and nibbles aplenty, and even a magnificent birthday cake topped with 50 candles which Matthew managed to blow out in one, slightly extended go! I spent most of the evening talking to Blue, who was a great help to me and spoke a lot of sense about my current personal situation. By 8.30pm I was finished. It had been a long long day. I bid farewell to that lovely collection of friends and drove off into the night. What a lovely day.