I had never been abroad to be Henry VIIIth before. Someone said to me that the Isle of Wight wasn't officially abroad - I just pointed out that it was very difficult to walk there. I was booked to appear at Haylands School on the outskirts of Ryde on the Island through a Mr Chubb. He had seen me in action as Henry VIIIth some years ago when he worked at Brookside School in Street near Glastonbury. However, he is a Vectis man, born and bred, and had moved back to the island a couple of years ago - but he remembered me, and had consequently booked me for Haylands School.
I knew it was going to be a long journey down to the Isle of Wight, but it was also a long way down to Lymington where the ferry was. I caught the 6.15am ferry and it was lovely to sit on the viewing deck and cast my eyes over the steely grey waters of the Solent. The sun was smudging it's way to the horizon to my left, making vast silhouettes of the petro-chemical works at Fawley. The orange and pink colours of the delicate sunrise flecked the small waves as we slowly steamed out of the harbour. It was a crisp clear brilliant morning and my reverie was only partially ruined by some slack jawed neanderthal suddenly deciding to play the very loud fruit machine just behind where I was sitting. It was obviously a "Carry on" themed machine as there were lots of Barbara Windsor giggles, Sid James guffaws, Swanee whistle whoops and "ber-doing!!!!!" sound effects that obviously appealed to the mouth breather as he played the damn thing for what seemed a lifetime. We soon docked at Yarmouth and I was on my way. You can't go very far anywhere on the island and I was soon approaching Ryde at a rate of knots. I found the school but, as it was still only about 7.30am, the place was still fully locked up. I had just parked up outside expecting a long wait when a car arrived and the driver got out and unlocked the gates before driving in. I followed. It was the head teacher and he couldn't have been more helpful and charming. Haylands School is a very modern welcoming building with excellent facilities. It has the air of a very happy contented school. I was with the year 3 group for the day and was told by Mr Chubb that they were a very excitable group - and boy they were!
We had a lovely day - tremendous group of children, lovely friendly teachers and assistants, and a very nice lunch to boot. Lots of fun and laughter with the children who also showed a very high level of Tudor knowledge. For the final jousting tournament in the hall we invited the year 4 group to come in and join the spectators which certainly added to the atmosphere in the hall. We nearly blew the roof off the place! A thrilling joust final was won by a very competent ladies team, and we then had a fun teachers race which Mr Chubb's team won!
It was a long drive home and a slow ferry, with intermittent heavy rain and then dazzling sunshine. I didn't get back to Crewkerne until about 7.20pm - I was very tired, but happy. It had been a brilliant day.
Friday I am at Wooton Bassett in Wiltshire during the day and then have a mad dash over to Hever Castle in Kent for my first ever work there in the evening. Smashing!