Thursday, May 20, 2010

Norton sub Hamdon & Brent Knoll

Not the two famous actors, Norton sub Hamdon and Brent Knoll, but Good King Hal (above, right) with his Father, who lives in Tudor England and is of little help.
Norton sub Hamdon is not, as the name might suggest, a slightly camp actor with Shakespearean tendencies, it is in fact a very pretty little ham-stone village nestling at the foot of Ham Hill, a huge Iron Age hill fort that has sadly been mostly quarried out of existence. In this village there is a Ladies Group, and one of their number had heard about my Henry VIII shows and had requested some time back, that I attend one of their meetings as a guest speaker. I was due to appear for them at the Reading Room in Norton sub Hamdon, but I wasn't quite sure where that was. Now luckily for me, Norton is not very far from where I live and is also pretty small, so finding it shouldn't have been too much of a bother. Wrong. I drove through the village during the day trying to find it's location, and drove up and down the main drag several times not spying anything that might lend itself to being a Reading Room. There is a very good little shop in the heart of Norton, so I popped in and asked them for directions and a very nice lady came out of her Post Office cubicle and showed me - I was virtually next door to the Reading Room, and honestly, if you didn't know where it was you were just as likely to go straight past it without noticing. Now I knew where it was I could come back in the evening for my performance without worry.
The Reading Room is quite small when you get inside, but it had great atmosphere, particularly as about 20 ladies from their village group had crammed in to see my talk. Well it went really well, they were a lovely group, ready to laugh and also very friendly and chatty. After my talk I hung around for a cup of tea and a natter with some of the ladies, but soon I was back home to the flat in Crewkerne and getting my stuff ready for the following days show in Brent Knoll.
Now if you don't know where Brent Knoll is, then drive up the M5 from Taunton and you genuinely cannot miss it. It looms out of the landscape, a huge great lumpy green hill rearing out of the Somerset levels. Brent Knoll is old English for "beacon hill", but was equally known in ancient times as the "Isle of Frogs". On it's craggy top are the tell tale lumpy bumpy shapes of an Iron Age enclosure. The village of Brent Knoll nestles at it's base and is quite pretty in a sort of elongated way. The school in the village is, at the front, a tiny old Victorian building, but has been expanded on greatly to the rear in the last few years. I was very warmly welcomed by the lovely teachers and head teacher of the school and we soon settled down to a really pleasant Tudor day. The children in the group numbered about 45 and were great fun - lively, excitable and always ready to laugh. One young lady, who told me she wanted to be a Doctor when she was older, had remarkable amounts of Tudor knowledge. Perhaps she should be a historian instead! Lunch was a delicious cottage pie, but we were soon stuck into the afternoon session. The jousting was great, simply because every single race came down to a single quoit finish which made it incredibly exciting. But once again, the ladies showed their class and stormed to a well deserved victory in the grand final. This now makes the overall year-long score:
Thursday has been spent trying to catch up on paperwork, but I did get a chance to record a new voicemail message for my answer phone - give it a buzz if you wish to hear it! This evening I am over in Barrington supporting Matthew Applegate and his lovely wife, Sue, in their work with the local Am Dram Society. Should be a fun show. Tomorrow, I am up to Bristol for an appearance for my lovely friend Holly Crossland at her Home Education Group. I will be with them from 12 noon onwards for a quick chat and a jousting session. I have never done a home education group before, so I hope they enjoy it.

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