Another early start. I always seem to say that, but then I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get to Wiveliscombe. And how exactly do you pronounce it? WIV-L-ISS-COM? WIV-ELLIS-COM? WELLS-COM? I was confused. The drive down was quite nice as most of the snow in Somerset has now gone - or so I thought. As soon as you got down towards Wellington and the hills, everything was white again. It made the countryside look very attractive. After a rather tortuous back roads route in (thanks Sat Nav) I found the school, but there didn't appear to be a car park. Enter a caretaker. He said:
"Arrr, garve garner narg grarg enery wheeze spec tin oo." Well, there isn't much you can say when someone says that to you. So I smiled blankly at him. It turned out he was telling me he was the caretaker of the school and they were expecting me, which was nice. He then said:
"Arrr, darn arowd anlevt anlevtagan an arr b arrcarrparrr." Dirty boy! I slapped his face and blushed. It turned out he was trying to tell me where their car park was. I did as he told me and soon found their carrparrr, which was situated on a gentle slope at the side of the school - and was like a skating rink. I parked up in the corner and got the first of my props out. I slammed the boot of the car shut and watched in awe as my car slid four feet backwards on the icy surface.
"Arrr" said my little caretaker chum. "Oizz anoi arnlygott thuzeeer zaaaahnd" at which point he began flicking shovel loads of sand in a sort of random pattern around my car. Well, it seemed to keep him entertained.
Now the school itself - what can I say? Wonderful, for a start! Marvellous, for another! A really nice school, some lovely teachers, a wonderful caring head and some of the nicest kids you could ever want to meet. They were so well behaved! Polite, clever, interested and ready to laugh. You really would want every day to be like this! The morning seemed to shoot past and it was soon lunch time - a nice big jacket potato with baked beans and grated cheese, with a sausage on the side. Smashing. The afternoon was even more fun with so many laughs and moments of joy. The jousting was another rip-roaring affair with the gents once more storming to a memorable victory. Wiveliscombe - you were great. And how do you pronounce it? I asked the teachers and they said "Just call it Wivvy - everyone else does." So who was I to argue?
I got back to Crewkerne and began packing for my week away. I am due to be in Shoeburyness tomorrow (Friday) and then I start down at Leeds Castle for "The Big Dig" on Saturday. I began my drive up to Essex and everything went swimmingly until I got on the M25 at which point it began to snow again. And, boy did it snow. By the time I got to the A13 it was blizzard time again and it took me a lifetime to get to Basildon and my wife's place. By now I am sitting in her front room typing this up and looking out the window to a bleak winter scene. Thick snow everywhere. I have my doubts as to whether Richmond Avenue School in Shoeburyness will be open tomorrow. Watch this space for more. Or as they say in Wivvy - Arrr, wodge thusarrr spayzfur morrrrrrr.