Sue Applegate using "The Force" on Good King Hal, in The Library at Barrington Court, with the lead piping.
Isn't it dark on January mornings? It's hardly worth opening your eyes to be honest. It was an early start for me, made slightly more unpleasant for me as I sat up the night before to watch the final denouement of the Ashes series. As a long term sufferer from the disease known as England Cricket Fan, I have endured the previous 20+ years of utter dominance by the Australian cricket team. They have wheeled out players of the calibre and quality of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Justin Langer, Steve Waugh, Craig McDermott etc., while we had Devon Malcolm, Ian Salisbury and Graeme Hick. God help us. So to not only go and beat Australia in their own back yard, but to do it so dominantly and in such an emphatic manner was wonderful. We had already retained the Ashes but had to be sure of not losing the final test to actually win the series outright. The dawning of the final day in Sydney it was obvious we were going to win, with only three Australian wickets to be taken for this famous victory. Knowing what was coming I decided to celebrate by putting some champagne in the fridge for that final moment. First, as they do, the Aussies decided to make a fight of it, then it started raining - surely we won't be denied our moment by inclement weather in Australia of all places? But then the sun came out, and whilst sitting in cold dark England, at about 1am in the morning, Chris Tremlett clean bowled Mike Beer off an inside edge, and England had won the final test and the series 3-1. I popped the champagne, had a glass full and then headed for bed as I knew I had to be up early to get to North Town School in Taunton.
North Town is such a fantastic school, it really is. The children are a delight, friendly bright and intelligent with just enough charming cheek to keep a smile on your face for the majority of the day. It was great to see my old friend Viv Farrow there again today, and she was on fine form. Lots of laughs and jokes aplenty. The group was of about 60 children from year 4. They had only really started their Tudor topic on the previous day, but still showed some really good knowledge at this early stage. We had lots of real belly laughs in the morning session with this lively good natured group. Lunch was particularly nice as it was partaken in the pub over the road from the school called, rather appropriately, The King's Head. I sat with a group of the teachers with a big basket of chips and chicken breast, and had a lovely time! It seemed a shame to have to go back to the school to be honest. The temptation just to purchase a large bottle of red wine and settle in at the pub for the day was incredibly strong. But back we went anyway.
The afternoon was another great one and culminated in a fantastic jousting tournament that the gents team led from start to almost finish, but they were pipped at the post by a resolute ladies team which now makes our year long score:
GENTLEMEN 9 - 10 LADIES
The ladies go into the lead in our on going score for the first time this year. Great stuff! On finishing the show I was packing everything away and took my visitor's pass back to the office when I bumped into Polly, the gorgeous delightful lady from County Donegal who I have come across at this school before. She looked as fabulous as ever and we had a little chat before I was back in the car and on my way. The rest of the teachers obviously read this blog a lot and have noted my comments about Polly before as nearly all of them kept saying "have you seen Polly yet this year?", and then grinning before virtually nudging me in the ribs and winking. How dare they! It's an innocent chaste relationship. She is innocent and I can't chase her. Perfect really.
I have another return visit on Monday, going back to Coalway Junior School in Coleford in Gloucestershire. This will be my sixth visit to this school - six! That's almost as many runs that Ricky "Thicky" Ponting got in the Ashes series. Splendid.