Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Leeds Castle and West Leigh

Good King Hal's front room. Notice hot and cold running stocks and huge fold back speaker. Nice!

So after all the fun and games of jousting at Hever Castle this summer, it was time for one final tournament - this time back at dear old Leeds Castle. It was all to kick off on the Friday evening with a "Sunset Joust" - this was like a normal joust only done in a sort of hazy twilight. Probably quite romantic with the Castle in the background, but you did feel that most of the Knights would have been within their rights if they'd claimed for bad light and walked off. I was on the microphone for this whole weekend which was great fun and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself - I hope the public did too, they didn't seem to run off in any great numbers which was a help. We'd only just started the show when one of Leeds Castle's hot air balloons suddenly came looming over the castle before coming to Earth with an undignified thump in the field just one up from our arena. We finished the show as the light was finally completely fading, and were then replaced in the entertainment stakes by the showing of "A Knight's Tale" on a giant screen next to our arena. I had an appointment with a bottle of Shiraz at my sister's house, so I made my farewells and left.

The final Saturday and Sunday were back to the usual set up for jousting at Leeds. Two shows each day, one at 12.30pm and one at 2.30pm - except on the Saturday the second show was put back to 3.30pm to accommodate a visit from some kids from Kent Youth, or some such organisation. Such was the ill behaviour of some of their number, then a visit from Genghis Khan and his Mongol Hordes might have produced less bad language and partial destruction of my costume. I have nothing against youth organisations, but I do feel the rest of us should have been issued with Luger pistols to give us a fighting chance.

I had my own little tent down on the site for, initially getting changed in, then also with my old throne from the "Henry's Horrid History" shows back in February (see this blog from February for details!) on a raised dais with the idea that I would have people coming to be photographed with The King. It was a nice little bolt hole as well at lunchtime. However on the Saturday night, long after I had gone, while the Kent Youth yobs....I mean kids... were still on site the heavens had apparently opened and some of the little darlings had taken refuge in my tent. This I discovered on the Sunday morning when I found my costume bag completely rifled, some of my clothes on the grass soaked in dew (I hope) and my hat crumpled up into a ball and had apparently been kicked around as well. Bless 'em. All four shows on the Saturday and Sunday went really well. My old friend Clara turned up with her kids on the Saturday, then on Sunday Greg and Diane Nash, who I have been friends with since I lived in London back in the 80's turned up with their sons Barnaby and Joseph - both of whom were primary school kids when I last met them, but who are both now at University. Where does all the time go..? Also Michelle Coda, her partner Matt and daughter Victoria, fresh from being Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle came along to see all the jousters with a view to Michelle doing some of the sound system work next summer at Hever. Much fun was had with all. I was also accompanied by The Tudor Roses, two fine ladies who turned up in brilliant Tudor apparel and were my Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour for both days. There are apparently three of them in total, but I only got to meet two of them as one was away in Cyprus! The two I met were Emma and Katherine (I think - HUGE apologies if I have either name wrong!). They looked fantastic - please check out their Facebook page.

It was a fitting end to the summer season, the final show being very much a "end of term" event with lots of in-jokes and larking about, but the audience seemed to really enjoy it as well. Sir Stephen of Porlock was over joyed to see Michelle back in the audience and promptly let her have another of his stunning ditties, even if it was a bit rude (he obviously struggled to find something to rhyme with "ditties"). He also spent a large part of the final tournament wearing a big frizzy yellow wig which caused him to bear a startling resemblance to Yazz from "The Plastic Population" circa 1989.

Monday was spent up in Basildon seeing as much of my lovely James as possible. Tuesday (that's today to you and me) and it was my first visit to a school for this term and I was back at West Leigh Junior School near Southend in Essex - a school I last visited back in about 2008. It was great to be back and I was very warmly welcomed by the charming staff. It was a very large group, about 128 of them in total, of Year 3 children, but they were brilliant. Great fun, very fizzy and full of laughter - we had a superb day. With such a big group the afternoon was a rip roaring affair and culminated in a deafening jousting tournament which, predictably (if you go by previous years scores) was won by the ladies. So after the first show of the year, our opening score is:


Who knows where it will go this year. I am next back at Shillingstone School in Dorset on this Friday (16th) and then that evening and the following Saturday I am appearing at the Bridport Hat Festival. Come down and see some big hats, Hank Wangford and yours truly strutting my stuff.

No comments: