The idyll couldn't last. A nice couple of days in Essex soon turned into something a lot worse as I came down with a horrendous cold. I kept most of it at bay with frequent doses of Lemsip - tastes disgusting but it does the trick. On the Tuesday morning I had to get up at the crack of dawn and head up the A12 and into the familiar lands of Norfolk. I was going back to Gorleston on the southern outskirts of Great Yarmouth - but to a different school to the one I normally go to. So it was that I arrived on a foggy damp morning at the deliciously named Herman Junior in Gorleston. Herman Junior sounds like a character from The Munsters. I had been booked by the lovely Rebecca who had been a teacher and seen me a few times on my visits to Martham Junior. It was a big group today, nearly 90 children, and they were very excitable and many of them had dressed up in fabulous Tudor costumes. We had a good morning, a lovely lunch and then the afternoon went virtually ballistic as the children really found their voices for the jousting tournament. It was another very closely run thing, but this time, as seems to be more generally the case, it was the ladies who romped to a fine victory. The score after Herman was then:
GENTLEMEN 4 - 9 LADIES
I left Gorleston but instead of heading back to Essex or Somerset, I struck out east along the A47 and my second destination of the week - South Witham in Lincolnshire. I had visited South Witham a couple of years back as my old friend Val Smart lives there so it would be good to catch up with her and her family. I was booked into the Blue Cow Pub which I found nice and easily after a two hour drive from Norfolk. The Blue Cow is a little...ahem...frugal? It is not a luxurious country pub, but a bit of an old boozer with a few slightly grotty rooms to rent above. My room was a single, which meant it had two single beds in it, plus a crunchy carpet which hadn't seen a vacuum cleaner in quite a while, various old used tissues dotted around the room, and a pile of magazines for the guest to read, including a couple of copies of the Daily Express from August 2008. However, the host was genial, friendly and honest, the beer was sensational (they brew it on site) and the cooked breakfast both mornings was damn fine as well. It looks like the Blue Cow is mooooo-ving in the right direction. God that was an awful joke. The first night at South Witham I met up with Val and we first went to see her daughter Bonnie and her husband Alex and their family, before going on to the White Lion in Colsterworth where we had a sensational meal.
The following day I had the very short trip from the crunchy floors of the Blue Cow to the nice bright front door of South Witham Junior School. This was a fabulous day - great fun, a lively bunch of children crossing the classes of year 3, 4 and 5. It was a fun full day, lots of laughs and jokes with some brilliant children, lovely teachers and a charming head teacher as well. The afternoon session was robust, lively and loud and after a thrilling tournament the gents finally managed to pull one back!
GENTLEMEN 5 - 9 LADIES
After the show I met up with Val and her family again and we had a nice Chinese Takeaway and more laughs and fun.
This morning I had another brilliant breakfast at the Blue Cow, said goodbye to Val and headed off down to Somerset. It took me just under four hours to get back, some of it through outrageously bad weather. But it was nice to be back after over a week away. Tomorrow I am down to BBC Somerset and another appearance on Emma Britton's show. Have a listen if you can!