Saturday, October 23, 2010

Leeds Castle & Taverham in Norfolk

The Maiden's Tower where Henry VIII locked up Catherine of Aragon's ladies in waiting. And yes, I said LOCKED up.

I was back in a familiar place with a new look about it. Leeds Castle had contacted me and wanted to know if I was available to attend the re-launch of their re-vamped and freshly overhauled Maiden's Tower. The last time I had properly been in the Maiden's Tower was when I did Henry's Horrid History back in 2007. Back then it was a cold slightly dingy old place with only two rooms worthy of being shown to visitors. Upstairs, where I had to go and get changed during the shows, was even worse with parts of the floor missing and a general air of decay and dereliction. I was interested to see what they had done with the old place. I drove to Kent the day before and spent a very nice afternoon and evening with my sister Cathy and her husband Julian, before heading over to the Castle early afternoon the next day.
Once changed and in the building I was stunned. It was just amazing, particularly upstairs which had changed beyond recognition. Instead of decay and broken floors, there were now sumptuous bedrooms, each and everyone with a beautiful en suite bathroom. Downstairs were two huge function rooms and downstairs below that was a fully fitted professional kitchen. Out the back where a slightly manky old swimming pool used to be, there was now a beautifully secluded garden with terraces and patios. Lovely. A film crew from Kent Business TV (or something like that) roamed around filming everyone. I did a few pieces with them including a scene where I demanded the female presenter brought me some wine. The segueway safari people were there again, but once more I refused to stand on one. Too dodgy looking by far! Davey the Jester had been booked as well, along with a fire breather friend of his, so we all prepared ourselves for the onslaught of invited guests. But not many appeared. Of the 200+ invited, about 75 had replied, 50 had intimated they were coming and in the end about 30 turned up. It was OK, we had some fun and everyone who saw the new refurbished Tower were hugely impressed, so it was a case of job done.
I drove up to Essex after the show and was then up and early for a drive to Taverham in Norfolk for a return visit to the school there. I always forget just what a lovely school this is. It is just delightful! The teachers are universally friendly, chatty and welcoming, the large group of children (about 140 I would guess) are fun, full of laughter and this year, in amazing Tudor costumes. We had a fun, slightly truncated morning due to an over running assembly, but when we finally got going it was one of the best shows I have had this academic year so far. Lunch was lovely - fish and chips, followed by a lovely moist flapjack, then it was back in the hall for what turned out to be a deafening jousting tournament. It went down to the wire with a dead heat finish between the gents and ladies in the final. So we went for the "penalty shoot out" option and.... the gentlemen won AGAIN! They just can't stop winning this year. This makes our score now:
A scoreline to make all old timers think of Wembley 1953 and Puskas and co.
I am now with my son for most of the half term, but will be back on parade as Henry after half term with a first ever show at Elmlea Junior in Bristol. See you then!

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