The Jackson Five as seen in Tudor England. From the left: Marlon, Tito, Groucho, Harpo and Sneezy. Ye YMCA in full vigour. Many thanks to The Tudor Roses for the lending of this picture.
You could tell it was a British Bank Holiday Monday by the Bible black skies and tsunami-like downpour of rain. What better way to experience this day than trudging round the soggy gardens of Sudeley Castle whilst dressed as a big Tudor Jessie. To sweeten this less than appetising pill I was going to be wandering round with the Tudor Roses again, this time with the addition of Zarrina Bull.
No new name has yet been finalised for the King's new sat nav in the car. The names Vivienne and Henrietta have been suggested, but more suggestions would be appreciated. She got her first proper outing on the Monday morning as I drove up the M5 towards Winchcombe and Sudeley Castle. However, she is going to have to get better at this as she insisted on taking me slap bang through the middle of Cheltenham - not too bad on a rainy early Bank Holiday Monday morning, but could have been a real pain in ye Royal posterior if it was a working day and getting close to rush hour. I arrived at the Castle to be greeted by the lovely Kim Gibbons again - a charming lady looking a little under the weather this particular morning. She insisted her ailments were self-inflicted, but I still felt sorry for her.
My morning got off to a bad start. I arrived at the Castle in pouring rain - not good. I knew this would soon be followed by the staircase equivalent of scaling the north face of the Eiger, whilst pulling a bloody great big suitcase after you - the room I use to get changed in is right at the top of a very high Castle tower... So to make things easier I decided to ease the weight of my Henry costume case, and before I went in I jettisoned my spare robe, pantaloons, doublet, tunic and anything else I might not need on the day. Excellent. I still sounded like a shagged out steam locomotive puffing up the last few steps in the rarefied atmosphere at the top of the tower, but I was happy I had completed my task and I was safe in the knowledge that my car was now parked about half a mile down the track in the staff car park, and safe and sound. I got the costume out and stripped out of my normal clothes. Henry shirt on - check. Tights on - check. Pantaloons? Er..... pantaloons? I tipped the bag upside down and went all through it - not a sight of any of my pantaloons. Sod it, there was only one thing for it - slip my jeans on over my tights and put some shoes on and slog back DOWN the north face of the Eiger and slosh through the mud the half mile to the staff car park where my car was all safe and sound, but bloody miles away. Sure enough when I got to the car I had indeed jettisoned both pairs of pantaloons I had with me. What a complete and utter twit. So it was back UP the north face of the Eiger and carry on changing.
I am always amazed by the tenacity of the British tourist. In the pouring rain and howling wind the last place most sane people would want to go would be a cold old Tudor Castle - but came they still did. Not a massive turn out by any standards, but somewhere in the region of about 400 hardy souls. One of whom was one of the lovely teachers I had seen at Hugh Sexey Middle School on Friday! She came with her husband, children and what appeared to be a full set of grandparents as well. For services above and beyond the call of duty, she receives the Good King Hal Medal of Bravery in the Face of Inclement Weather. It was fun perambulating the grounds with the Tudor Roses and dear Zarrina - their costumes look so fantastic and they're all such pretty girls.
We lunched all together in the great hall dining room, surrounded by the tourists in for the day. The big roaring fire in there was most welcoming. You simply would not believe it was May outside - it was so cold. The musical minstrels from our previous trip to Sudeley were not outside in the pouring wind and rain, but were stationed in the minstrel gallery above the restaurant and provided a perfect soundtrack to our lunch.
We were finally released at about 4pm and began our individual slogs home. The M5 to begin with resembled being inside a car wash on full blast, such was the ferocity of the rain fall, but it eventually cleared up. I was home by 6.30pm, and getting stuck into a glass of Shiraz by about 6.32pm. A really lovely day with some really lovely ladies and looking forward to us all re-convening at Sudeley on the 5th June.