Thursday, April 29, 2010

Haylands School, Ryde, Isle of Wight

Good King Hal gets all arty. This is what the exit from Lymington Harbour looks like at just after 5am. Trust me on this. (But it is a nice photo, isn't it?)

Back to Haylands School in Ryde on the Isle of Wight yesterday, exactly a year after my last visit. I had noticed that from checking on-line with the ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth how the prices went up as time got later, so in a fit of some kind of dementia I had booked myself on the 5.10am ferry. What the heck was I thinking? This meant I had to get up at 3am in Crewkerne and be on my way by 3.30am. However, I made it on time and soon me, my car, one other car and about four lorries were slowly slipping out into the dark waters of the Solent. I went up on to what they laughably called a "Sun Deck" and watched the early morning sunrise. I took a few piccies, as you can see above, and also got waved at by a yacht full of what appeared to be young ladies sailing in to Lymington in the weak morning light. I say appeared to be young ladies as they were all clothed head to foot in what appeared to be full survival suits, so they might have been jolly friendly chaps instead. I wandered back inside and sat looking out of the windows as Yarmouth drew closer.
The two cars were let off the ferry after one lorry, but it was a lorry I ended up following all the way to Newport. My sat nav then had a bit of a "mental-mental-chicken-oriental" moment in Newport and for some reason known only to herself, took me down various tiny back roads and housing estates before we emerged once more on the road to Ryde. I found the school down it's tiny side lane, but found it was a good hour and half before the place was likely to burst into life. I needed some petrol, well, to be honest the car did, but I digress. I soon found myself driving into the car park of possibly the largest Tesco store I have ever seen. This place looked like an aircraft hanger. I kept expecting the whole front to swing open and see the prow of the R101 nudge out. I chose to go to Tesco's as I knew their fuel would be the cheapest around (tight-fisted swine that I am), but I had been shocked by just how expensive the fuel on the island was. Anyway, fully fuelled up I headed back to the school and was soon inside and setting up for the day.
Just like last year it was great fun. A really excitable and bright group of year 3's, some charming lovely teachers and teaching assistants, and just a pleasurable day all round. It was also the first time really in 2010 where I felt truly hot and uncomfortable in the costume - must mean summer is a-coming! After a nice lunch and a chat with a really charming lady who's husband works for the National Trust (I urged them both to visit Barrington Court when they get a chance), it was back for the afternoon session. Again much laughter and fun, and then a truly epic jousting tournament, which once more the gents won! This now makes our year-long score very interesting indeed.
The next chance the ladies get to pull away again is on May 4th at West Pennard School near Glastonbury.
I drove back to the ferry at Yarmouth and was soon back on the mainland. A fairly bother free trip back to Somerset and I was at home. In the evening I think I was supposed to meet Matthew Applegate at the Duke of York in Shepton Beauchamp for a drink. So I went over. Matthew never appeared, so I wondered if I had got the wrong pub. Perhaps we were going to meet at the Royal Oak in Barrington. I drove over there. Nope, he wasn't there either. I went home, pausing only to enjoy the wonderful friendliness and ambiance of Peejays Fish Bar in Crewkerne. And so to bed. In the words of Jane Austen "blimey, Mr Darcey, my dogs are barking and I am totally knackered." That was a long day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Walkabout, Radio & Hugh Sexey!

Good King Hal (centre), wrestling with a Yeti in a beret and his girlfriend.

Dear old Barrington Court! I hadn't done a walkabout for a while there, but Matthew Applegate and I have been hatching plans of late. As the main house is still bereft of furniture we have been pondering ways of utilising the space. One idea has been to have Henry Days at the house - just like the days I do when I visit schools, only in the wonderful surroundings of this glorious Tudor building. I had designed some leaflets advertising the events and so on the Sunday I wandered the corridors and gardens of Barrington handing them out. I met some lovely people, including one couple from South Woodham Ferrers in Essex which took me right back to my days working there for the East Essex Adult Community College in the William de Ferrers School in Trinity Square. Ah, happy, penniless days.
In the evening I was due back on air at United FM for the evening Mike Farley Show. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, mostly technical problems, though other things were occurring, the show had to be postponed at the last moment. So I won't be back on air with the show until next Sunday. Hopefully there will be a change in time as well as the show will be broadcast at the more friendly time of 9pm till 11pm. I shall keep you posted.
Monday morning I was up early again for a return visit to the delightfully named Hugh Sexey Middle School in Blackford near Wedmore. This was my fourth visit and as ever it was wonderful. It is always a big group, but they are so friendly and love joining in that it makes it a really easy day. It was nearly 160 children today and we had a riot. The teachers were lovely, so friendly and charming, and couldn't have been more encouraging and positive. Just what I needed after Friday. The day seemed to simply shoot past and, after a delicious pasta lunch, before I knew it we were at the jousting tournament. It was a closely fought contest, but the gentleman's team came away with a fine victory. I think this was mainly due to one little lad who I think was possibly the finest jouster I have seen in my six years of being Henry! He simply flew up and down the course and never missed a single target. Brilliant. Our score for the year now is:
I have today at leisure, which is nice. Then tomorrow I am on the road again heading back to Vectis, the Isle of Wight for a return visit to Haylands Junior in Ryde. See you there!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

St Bernadette's School, Bristol

Good King Hal (left), trying to remove his foot from his mouth.

It is always with some trepidation that I visit Roman Catholic Schools in my guise as Henry VIII. Now even though Henry split from the Catholic Church, he remained a devout Catholic to the end of his life, but I am sure that won't cut much ice with some Papal fans! I am always very aware of Henry's reputation and I was similarly nervous approaching St Bernadette's School in Bristol yesterday. But I was very warmly welcomed by nearly everyone - it was a delight. Some of the female teachers there were absolutely lovely, and the Dutch gentleman, Walter, was a splendid chap who even laughed at my Walter joke. It goes something like:
A man at an airport sees another man carrying a very long pole. He approaches him and asks: "Are you a pole vaulter?"
"No" says the other man, "I'm German, but how did you know my name was Walter?" (Ba-doom-tish! Thank you very much, I am here all week!)
Well the day went marvellously - 60+ children all of whom seemed to adore the day and showed that they possessed terrific senses of humour and tremendous knowledge of the Tudor period. In fact I can safely say that by the end of the day I was very much aware that 99.9% of the people at St Bernadette's had really enjoyed the day. Yup, I was made very aware. It was just what I needed. One of the lady teacher's, Teresa, went so far to ask her class after the end of the show how good I was on a scale of 1 to 10, and the entire class shouted out 10. I can do no more than that.
Still, you can't please all of the people all of the time, no matter how hard you try.
The jousting was a lively and entertaining affair, which I assume didn't upset anyone, and the grand final was between two fabulous teams that ended in a narrow victory for the gentlemen. This now makes the year long score:
Interesting, very interesting!
This weekend I am back doing The Mike Farley Show on United FM between 10pm and midnight on Sunday night, though I am hoping to move it back an hour and make it a more easier listen for people on a "school night". Watch this space for more! I am at Barrington Court on Sunday between 1pm and 4pm for a Right Royal Walkabout, so if you read this blog, come and say hello. Then on Monday I am making a return visit to Hugh Sexey School in Wedmore for more Tudor nonsense!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Do I Look Like an Out of Bounds Kind of Guy?

The Jolly Roger. Oh, hang on, it's actually a picture of Mike Farley smiling with his arms crossed.

What a week. After the success of the previous week's Mike Farley Show I was in quite a buoyant mood. It couldn't last. I had to drive up to Essex to pick up James, my son, for our week in Wales, so at the top of the A303 I stopped for petrol. Both of my cards were rejected by the machine and I had no other way of paying. How embarrassing - being made to feel like a criminal is not fun. This had never happened to me before and I really hope with all my heart that it never happens again.
James and I were on our way down the M4 the next morning. Almost as soon as we were out of the Basildon conurbation, James was telling me how "bored" he was, and how much he was missing Mummy already. Luckily he got into his PSP games, and after stopping for lunch at a service station on the M4 he was soon armed with a copy of a Ben 10 magazine which kept him occupied as well. Our time in Wales was delightful with lovely weather and several days out, including a train trip to Cardiff so that James could visit the Doctor Who exhibition there. Honestly. It was for James. Not me. I wasn't excited in the slightest. OK, it was as much for me as it was for James, but it was great fun with some great exhibits and James was only slightly scared at one point which was the Dalek Battle room which was loud, dark and full of very angry Daleks! The only down point on the day was the awful train journey there. This is the height of the school holidays and how many coaches had the train company put on? Two. When the train arrived at Carmarthen station (where we got on) it was packed already, and at each extra stop more and more people got on. James and I had to stand all the way to Cardiff Central next to the disabled loo. We were packed in like sardines and to be honest it looked more like a train somewhere in the third world, except we didn't have anybody sitting on the roof, but I wouldn't have blamed anyone if they tried. And for this joy I had forked out over £15 for the privilege. Thank the Lord there wasn't an accident, and even more thankfully there wasn't a buffet trolley on the train as he would have definitely had to have gone on the roof. We finished our week with a day down at Tresaith which is a delightful secluded beach that not many people know about - so keep it to yourself and tell no one! As we came to leave on the Saturday morning James was now sobbing to his Nanna that he didn't want to go home and see Mummy! How things change in the space of four days! After a long drive back (I had to go back to the service station on the A303 and settle my bill!) James had changed his tune again and was now delighted to see his Mummy again. After dinner and Doctor Who I was then on my way back to Somerset.
Sunday was my second Mike Farley Show on United FM in Crewkerne. My guest this week was Marion Draper, local journalist for the Pullman's View From Crewkerne Newspaper. We had a great time and a good chat. Loads of emails from friends and listeners. Among the odd music I played this week were "Busy Doing Nothing" by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin, "Hard Times of Old England Retold" by Billy Bragg and the Imagined Village, "My United States of Whatever" by Liam Lynch and "Teddy Picker" by The Arctic Monkeys. I shall be back next Sunday for another show between 10pm and midnight and you can listen in on
And if you're wondering about the title of this posting, it is my wife's favourite quote from Doctor Who and was spouted (if that is the right word) by Captain Jack Harkness, a quiet chap who you might not have noticed.
More Henry nonsense this week with a visit to St Bernadette's School in Bristol on Friday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Mike Farley Show

Mike Farley's mic, called Mike the Mic. I'd like to travel one day...

United FM in Crewkerne launched on Friday the 9th April. I was there for the original opening part. My parents had come to visit as well as it was my Father's birthday, so they got dragged along to the radio station HQ. We were there early and met David Laws, the fine MP for Yeovil, however we had to push off before the main, rock'n'roll guest, John "Rabbit" Bundrick, "live" keyboard player for The Who, turned up to cut the ribbon. It was a good launch and everyone seemed in high spirits. Later on the Friday my sister Cathy and her husband Julian turned up from Kent for a long overdue visit to my flat in Crewkerne. We had dinner with my parents at the Duke of York Pub in Shepton Beauchamp where I had celebrated my 43rd birthday in February. On the Saturday we all ventured over to Ilminster as my parents wanted to pay their usual visit to the august portals of Dyers Department Store there. We had a lunch at Bilby's in the High Street and then my parents headed back to Wales. Cath, Jules and I then drove over to Barrington Court and enjoying the fine weather had a nice leisurely stroll round the houses and gardens. We finished with a drink and a slice of lemon drizzle cake at the Beagles Cafe.
That evening we headed over to the Dinnington Docks Pub and all had vast platefuls of delicious faggots, mash and gravy for dinner. These plates were huge and really were just too much on top of everything else we'd scoffed and drunk through the day. We got back to my flat and sat around like three stone Buddhas.
On the Sunday morning Julian and I headed over to Ilchester and the car boot sale over there. I bought a few bits and pieces but we were soon home. A day of leisure was then had as first of all Cath and Julian watched some motorbike racing - don't ask me what it was or where it was but it seemed to go on forever. After that we watched Manchester City thrash Birmingham 5-1 which was wonderful to behold! Then we watched incredulously as Portsmouth beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the FA Cup Semi Final. Wonderful, amazing and totally unexpected. Cath particularly enjoyed looking at David James in his tight pink shirt.
This evening I did my first "Mike Farley Show" on United FM. I broadcast from 10pm to midnight and had a great time, really enjoyed myself with Cath and Julian sitting in the studio with me and joining in the banter. I played some of my favourite songs, such as "My Pink Half of the Drainpipe" by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, to "All In My Head" by Kosheen, to "Earn Enough for Us" and "Then She Appeared" by XTC. The two hours seemed to shoot past, and I can't wait to do it all again next week! Hope you get a chance to listen next Sunday - 10pm on - you know you want to!
Off to Wales for the week now with James. Should be fun!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Parson Street School, Bristol

"Look at the size of those soda breads!" Cried Good King Hal.

The evening before had been pretty good. I had watched with increasing delight as Bayern Munich stuffed Manchester United with virtually the last kick of the game in the Champions League. This is the sort of thing Man Ure do to opposing teams with depressing monotony, so to see them on the receiving end for a change was just a sheer delight. And to see dear old Sir Alex Ferguson going a violent shade of puce at the end was even more wonderful. And so I hied me to bed with a big smile in my heart. That was when I started coughing. I have a cold and a bit of a chest infection at the moment, and I found that every time I laid down in my bed it would induce more coughing. By 2am I was ready to give up, especially considering I was due to get up at 6am to drive to Bristol. I shuffled back into the living room with my duvet and snuggled into my big squashy chair. Luckily I was soon asleep, but before too long the alarm was going.
The drive up to Bristol was fairly easy, but when I got to the proximity of the school the traffic was appalling, added to which with the cold and lack of sleep I was feeling pretty rough to say the least. The last thing on Earth I fancied doing at that precise moment was a Henry VIII show. I had trouble getting into the school as the gates were locked but I was let in by a very nice lady and started unloading the props. However bad I was feeling I was soon very glad I had come all this way. Parson Street School is a lovely place, great kids, lovely teachers and a nice atmosphere all round. We had a great, lively morning session, the only draw back being that the main hall we were in is like a thoroughfare for the whole school and people were coming and going all the time, which proved to be a bit distracting for everyone.
After a delicious lunch and a nice friendly chat with the lovely Joanne Wallace (the teacher who booked me), we were back in the hall (after a slight hold up when a group of excruciatingly cute nursery class children came in for a very short PE lesson - they were doing marching at one point, so I played my recorder for them which they loved!). The afternoon session was even more raucous than the morning, and the final of the jousting had two of the finest teams I have seen in a very long time going head to head. It was finally won by a faultless ladies team who never once put a foot wrong. This now makes our year long score up to:
On the long drive home I stopped briefly for petrol on the A37. My God! It was FREEEEEZING! This is supposed to be British Summertime, isn't it? The wind was howling across the station forecourt, and sleety snow was spattering against me and the car. Added to which the guy who served me seemed to be completely deaf. Every time I said anything to him he said "Huh!?", I'd repeat myself and he'd say a sort of vague "yeah...." which didn't induce any confidence that he could actually hear me.
For Easter weekend I am off back to Essex to see James and Amanda, and no more Henry-ing until some possible BBC filming later in April. Watch this space...