Henry VIII, proving what a stunningly wonderful chap he is by appearing in full colour, while Leeds Castle can only manage sepia. This pic was taken during the week of the jousting tournament by the very wonderful Nigel Wheal. I have to say this as he has my Mother hostage in a safe house on the Lincolnshire fens.
I suddenly realise how old I am becoming. I went to a wedding reception near Sherborne on the evening of Saturday 29th May. Had a fantastic evening boogieing the night away and singing my head off at a really great 80's disco. Then I woke up on the Sunday morning. Ouch. Everything hurt. And I mean everything. Even the toast I had for breakfast was in pain. (That's a French pun on the word pain. I know you're out there, I can hear you breathing). Anyway, after staggering out of bed I packed a big suitcase and then drove up to Essex for an evening with Amanda and James. I parked in the usual side road near their house and settled in for the evening. Halfway through the evening there was a knock on the door. It was one of Amanda's neighbours asking if our car was alright as there had been a collision in the street with some little chap in a car driving into a parked car. Amanda quickly nipped downstairs and checked what she assumed was our cars, but everything seemed OK. So we all slept soundly and happily. The next day we went downstairs to pop over to Amanda's parents when I noticed a note stuck to the windscreen on my car. I suddenly felt a cold chill. The note was nicely written and apologetic and said my car had been hit and badly damaged, and the person who left it had left their name and phone number. I walked round the back of my car. Oh dear. Bumper smashed, rear off-side lights smashed, exhaust system damaged, rear panel pushed forward, even possibly damage to the rear wheel. Oh bother, I sweetly murmured.
So instead of seeing my in-laws I was back at Amanda's on the phone, calling insurance companies. To cut a long story mercifully short my car was not safe to drive any distance, and probably illegal anyway, so Amanda and James had to drive me down to Kent and my stay at Cathy and Julian's place while I was working at Leeds Castle.
Leeds Castle! Two words guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any Henry VIII look-a-like. But a bit different this year - for the first time ever I would be doing an event at Leeds Castle without the ever presence of Helen Budd. She was sorely missed, I have to be honest, but Darlene and her wonderful team did sterling service throughout. I almost couldn't believe it was a year since my last appearance at the Royal Jousting Tournament. I was back on with The Knights of Royal England group, led by the noble Sir Jasper (aka Jeremy). They are a lovely group and nearly all of them are friendly and chatty. It was very good to see Roland again, who plays a wonderful central role as the commentator/master of ceremonies. There was also the deeply wonderful Sir Stephen of Porlock and his lovely wife - who, with a name like that, very obviously come from deepest darkest Somerset. Sir Stephen is a great character, strongly helped by the fact that he looks like the lovechild of a cross between Chewbacca the Wookiee, and Dusty Gibbons from ZZ Top.
Just like last year the weather started badly - cold and damp on the Tuesday. But suddenly - WHAM! Summer was back with avengence. It ROASTED. Each and everyday it got hotter and hotter. On the Saturday (easily the hottest day) I very nearly passed out while in the Royal Box. The heat was incredible. After that show I staggered back to my little hideaway on site and poured two bottles of ice water down my throat without pausing and then poured a third straight over my head and costume to cool myself down.
Most of the people and kids we met were wonderful. Sweet charming and dying to get their pics taken with Henry VIII. I even met a family group from Kazakhstan who knew who Henry VIII was! Surely a first. Amanda and James came down on the Thursday, and had a wonderful time. James even got to meet the Knights and their horses which he really enjoyed. In the tournament he had watched, Sir Jasper had lost out to Sir David of Kent in the finale. James took great delight in telling Sir Jasper to his face "better luck next time!" with an evil grin on his face! Some other friends of James and Amanda, Yolanda and her children, came down on the Friday with a big coach group. The only child I would happily have boiled in oil was a little lad who had been bought a toy bow and arrow set from one of the stalls and decided to shoot me in the face with it from point blank range, before running off. I watched where he went, and clutching the offending arrow wandered over and reported him to his Mother. He was suitably admonished. Then when we did the "parade of the children" in the arena before the next show, guess who was stuck right in the middle in front of my Royal Box? Yup, the errant young archer. Funnily enough he couldn't make eye contact with the King!
It was a great week away being with the Knights again, plus also seeing Cathy and Julian. My car is now being repaired down in Wellington in Somerset and I have a fantastic courtesy car - a virtually brand spanking new VW Golf Turbo Diesel Estate, in black, with tinted windows and all mod cons. Hopefully I should get my own jalopy back sometime in about 2012.
Next weekend - another big event! My parent's 50th wedding anniversary down in Wales! It should be an absolutely wonderful weekend.