Good King Hal attempts to bring peace to the Middle East, however the child is obviously a music lover and appears to be trying to escape.
I had never done a Henry show in Derbyshire before, so this was a real first for me. I was going to be driving up from Essex having spent some time with Amanda and James. Once more I was booked into one of those charming characterful Travelodge places, so beloved of all commercial travellers. Now my sat nav is not the most reliable thing in my possession at the moment, and on the Travelodge website it suggested you typed in another post code for the hotel than the one it officially had. Who was I to argue with that? I followed the sat nav's directions all the way up to the outskirts of Ashbourne near the Peak District, and then headed off for where it assured me the hotel would be. WRONG again. Nothing - not a sausage. I found a small petrol station and wandered in through the driving rain to ask for directions. The nice lady behind the counter smiled at me as I came in. Before I could even say a word she said "You're looking for the Travelodge, aren't you?" Was I that obvious? Apparently EVERYONE who goes into that petrol station and doesn't buy fuel has been sent there by their sat nav with the post code given to them by Travelodge in the first place! Or was she making an unsubtle pass at me? No, of course she wasn't.
I drove back the way she had shown me and saw that the hotel stood in what was basically glorified waste ground with only a Harvester-style plastic pub anywhere near it. Now I love pubs, good old fashioned English pubs. These modern plastic pubs have about as much in common with a proper English pub as I do with Jonathan Rhys-Myers. Yes, we both play Henry VIII but only one of us is even vaguely attractive to the opposite sex. So the idea of a plate of "Surf'n'turf with a complimentary salad bar to visit, and with a nice foamy pint of John Smith's Smooth Flow to wash it all down!" filled me with shuddering dread, so I was far more pleased to see that there was a Marks and Spencer food store just up the road, and so I headed there to stock up for the evening. I came back, checked into the hotel and wandered up to my room. It was a much newer hotel than the one I stayed in recently when in Shrewsbury, with the only difference I could see that the room was smaller and the bathroom considerably so. My car was one of only three in the car park at that time. I had just settled into the room when I heard the unmistakable sound of stiletto heels on concrete outside - being the nosey git I am I peaked out the window. There was a dazzling glamorous blonde lady in a steaming clinch with a man in a business suit. I looked on in awe as they appeared to be on the point of devouring each other - and what were they doing coming out of a nice Travelodge at about 4pm on a weekday? Perhaps they worked there! Perhaps they had just finished a hard shift stripping beds and replenishing complimentary tea and coffee sachets in the rooms and were congratulating each other with a vacuum like snog in the car park? They eventually disentangled each other and got into separate cars. As they drove off I could see a baby seat in the back of the business suited man's car. Now I may be putting two and two together and making 5,834, but my immediate thought was "what a bastard". I hope I was wrong.
I was up bright and early this morning and was soon driving up through the delightful town of Ashbourne and out into the countryside to find Parwich. In the drizzly incessant rain everything looked a bit grey and depressing. I soon found it and eventually the old Victorian School. I had only been there a few minutes when Laura Smith, the teacher who had booked me for the day, arrived. She was absolutely charming - one of the nicest ladies I have met in a long time. The plan was to do the morning "talky" stuff in the school classroom, and then in the afternoon to travel down to the village hall for the jousting etc. A bit like we had done at Broadclyst in Devon recently. It was a smallish group of about 26 children with a range of ages from years 3, 4, 5 & 6. Quite a few of them had come along in fabulous Tudor costumes. We had a great morning and finished off with a lovely meal of sweet and sour pork - delicious! I then moved all the gear down to the village hall, a delightful brand new building with a fine resonant main room. I went into the large disabled loo to get changed before the children came over and was horrified to discover an enormous "Richard the Third" lurking, unflushed in the toilet there. It looked like King Kong's finger and was rapidly flushed away by yours truly. The deeply worrying thing about it was that it was lying in the pan completely on it's own - no used toilet paper! ARGH! Did the person who gave birth to this leviathan simply haul up their trolleys at the end of the session and, unable to contemplate the thought of drowning their new born dreadnought, simply waddled off into the sunset? It scarcely bares thinking about. Anyway, rapidly changing the subject, the afternoon was a belter with a fantastic stocks session followed by an even better jousting tournament. We were joined by the infants from years 1 & 2 to cheer on the teams for this, and in culminated, yet again in a fine win by a very good ladies team. This now makes our score:
GENTLEMEN 20 - 24 LADIES
They are starting to get away again! I finally packed away, said goodbye to Laura Smith, and was on my way home. Parwich looked so much nicer in the bright sunshine - a really beautiful place, very quaint and definitely worth a return visit. I'll be back! I left Parwich at about 3.40pm - I arrived at my place in Crewkerne at almost smack on 7pm, tired but pleased to be home again for the first time in well over a week. I have tomorrow off, which must be an April Fool Joke of some sort or other, and am next being Henry on Monday when I make a return visit to Noremarsh School in Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire - close to where Andy Partridge lives in Swindon! HELLO ANDY!