This weekend just gone was fabulous. On the Friday night, Amanda and James drove down from Essex and came and stayed with me for the evening. (We had the added excitement of a next door neighbour's motorhome exploding in the wee small hours and frying all my telephone lines - I think the neighbours were just trying to let my Basildon based wife feel at home! Sorry dear, I'll get my coat...) Then on Saturday it was time for my birthday party! The evening was spent at the very fine Duke of York pub in Shepton Beauchamp near Ilminster. Sitting down for dinner was myself, Amanda, James, my parents, my sister Cathy and her husband Julian from Kent, friends Jo and Pete Flanagan, Matthew and Sue Applegate, Tris and Jane Pinkney, and Alison Barling and her other half Ian Thomas. A splendid time seemed to be had by all. James was so good all evening, chatting, playing, being cute, but most of the time entranced by his Nintendo DS game! Lovely food and drink was had (I had scallops to begin with and then a fine gammon steak) and lots of fun and laughter. A very nice way to celebrate my 43rd birthday!
On the Sunday I drove myself and James back to Essex (Amanda made her own way) as on the Monday I was to appear at Friends School in Saffron Walden. I headed out bright and early on the morning, and attempted to avoid the M25 and M11, which seemed like a good idea. It was, for most of the way, but I did get held up in a couple of spots, particularly one where a head on crash had just occurred before I got there. Adding to my fun was that my windscreen washers ran out of water just after I set off and what with the low sun and spray from the road I was soon virtually driving in braille. I arrived at the school but couldn't get round to the "scout hut" hall we always use on my normal route, so I had to go in through a rear entrance with a code for the padlock given to me by the office. It didn't work. In the end I had to park in a crappy mud field what seemed like about half a mile from the scout hut and squish and slide across this carrying the props in. The group today was only 11 children, and small groups are notoriously hard to entertain. But this group were pretty cool and laughed and joined in at all the right moments. Lunch in the grand hall was as good as it always is at Friends School - a quorn sweet and sour served with rice and prawn crackers. Delicious!
Back to the scout hut for a slightly truncated afternoon session (we were evicted from the hall by a ballet class at about 2.30pm). The jousting was great fun and surprisingly loud for such a small group. And even though there were only three girls in the whole group, I bet you can't guess who won the tournament? Yup, the ladies stormed to a remarkable victory. This now makes our ongoing year score:
GENTLEMEN 12 - 19 LADIES
They are starting to get away from you gents! I mostly have a week of leisure ahead, doing some work for United FM, the local radio group. I seem to have managed to sort out an interview with Andy Partridge, lead singer of XTC and an all time hero of mine to be recorded for broadcast, something I am totally chuffed about! Next week I am off to Blandford Camp and Wimborne in Dorset for two school visits, but the filming for the TV documentary has been postponed AGAIN. I have a feeling this might never happen now. However, I will keep you posted.