Leicestershire. What did I know about Leicestershire? It's cheese was red, David Gower used to play cricket for it, the Battle of Bosworth Field raged in it, and the Download Festival frequently rages at Donnington - which is in Leicestershire. Here endeth the lesson.
I had been booked to appear at the Orchard School in Broughton Astley, a village in Leicestershire which sounds remarkably like Rick Astley's ne'er do well older brother. I'd been recommended as one of the teachers at the Orchard has a sister who works down at dear old Knightwood School in Chandlers Ford in Hampshire and had very kindly informed her sister how good I was. How kind! My original plan was to travel up on the Monday afternoon, stay overnight at a Travelodge and then pootle up to the school fresh, awake and not knackered from a long drive. Wrong! I had looked up Travelodge on-line to see if their much trumpeted "bed for £19" offer was still going strong. Apparently not. As it is nearly half term the general price for a room (and remember this is just a room -nothing else) seemed to be about £55+. Not my idea of fun, so I decided to get up very early and drive up to Leicestershire and back in the day. Also not my idea of fun, but cheaper. Therefore I was up at 3am, in the car by 3.45am and soon rocketing my way up the M5. The much discussed "warning light" which had mysteriously turned itself off at the weekend, suddenly re-appeared approximately 75 miles up the road. But what the heck could I do, apart from press on. So I pressed it on, and it looked lovely. I arrived at Broughton Astley at about 6.45am, bought some petrol for the return journey, a newspaper, and some brekkie and parked up in a side road. After reading all about England's abysmal match against Mexico (How on Earth did we manage to win 3-1? Is this a good sign for the forthcoming World Cup? Can we really play that badly and STILL win matches?) I then had a little snooze in the car, which was just what I needed. Actually, what I really need is a night out with Lisa Rogers, but that just isn't going to happen is it?
Arriving at the school I was warmly welcomed by some really cool teachers. Such nice people! And all dressed up to the nines as terrific Tudor wenches - who needs Lisa Rogers? (ME! ME!) One of the ladies had a fabulous home made costume on dressed as a Tudor Queen. Her brilliant billowing dress allowed her to simply glide across the floor. I told her she looked like a Dalek, which was meant as a compliment. She rather ruined the illusion of Tudor grace with graphic details of her struggles to use the disabled loo, the only toilet large enough to welcome her and her hooped skirts.
Well we had a fabulous day - this is such a lovely school I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful it is. The children were brilliant, hilarious, sparky, eager to learn and all of them in fantastic Tudor costumes as well. They had just been on a recent visit to the site of the Battle of Bosworth Field and were therefore already hugely enthusiastic about Tudor history before I turned up. The morning seemed to just shoot past - lots of laughs were had, especially by the teachers and classroom assistants! After a gorgeous lunch of roast pork, I was back on again and the whole day culminated in a really pulsating jousting tournament. The two gents teams who contested their semi final were, not trying to sound rude, truly awful. The two ladies teams were brilliant, so it was really obvious where this final was going to go. Yes, the gents roared to a great victory, coming from behind to pip the ladies on the line! See!? What the heck do I know! This now makes the score:
GENTLEMEN 21 - 26 LADIES
On leaving the school at the end of the day I managed to drop my stocks and break them, which did cause me to mutter a few words of choice Anglo-Saxon language. The drive home was remarkably easy and despite not leaving Rick Astley...sorry, BROUGHTON Astley until about 3.30pm I was pulling up outside my place in Crewkerne as the 6pm news came on the radio. Wonderful. So was going to bed that evening. Even though something was missing - LISA ROGERS! Down boy!
I next have a meeting with Matthew Applegate at Barrington Court (it involves a pub so there might not be THAT much work discussed), then next week I am at Leeds Castle for a Jousting Tournament from the Tuesday to the Sunday. Come and say hello! Especially if you are Lisa Rogers.