Friday, June 29, 2012

Slight Change...

There has been a slight change to the Blog front page and set up.  It's not quite as horrific as the picture seen above, but let me know if you like it folks.  I'll explain why the picture has been changed later on.  Anyway, have a nice weekend, subjects.  Yours etc.  Hen the V and three I's.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Celebrate the City, Ingatestone Hall and THIS IS YOUR LIFE!

The Guildhall and the Guildhall Art Gallery, mere seconds after it was announced Good King Hal was going to start his comedy routine.

If I am going to be completely honest, I was dreading going up to London this weekend.  I sometimes find it hard to believe that I lived in London between 1986 and 1990 - and loved it!  But then London is a young person's City and now at my rapidly advancing years I find getting there a pain, I find it busy, fast, clogged up and usually very unfriendly.  However, Saturday was a lot nicer.  I caught the train from sunny Laindon Station and was then whisked up to London Fenchurch Street in only about half an hour.  I then caught a cab from there to the Guildhall Yard where I was due at the Guildhall Art Gallery.  I was warmly welcomed by Catty (how it was pronounced!) and given a lovely cup of tea, which really hit the spot, before being given a whistle stop tour of the Gallery and exhibition.  I got changed and then launched out into the yard - it was partially full of stalls, some selling craft type items, others fine smelling exotic food stuffs.  This was all part of the City of London Festival known as Celebrate the City.  Roads had been blocked off in the square mile to make it pedestrian friendly, and I was briefed with walking up and down King Street (rather appropriately), Cheapside (even more appropriately) and then back into the Guildhall Yard.  There were masses of stalls celebrating each and everyone of the City's Famous Guilds, there was livestock, farriers, sporty things and masses of street entertainment - myself included.  I had a quick bash at a ping pong game with two very sporty young lasses (down boy!) and an egg and spoon race (honest), before heading back to the Guildhall Yard, where I wandered round for the rest of the morning, meeting and greeting.  I was given some very nice Thai food from one stall which I sat down and ate in the corner of the yard.  I was then approached by a very nice lady who sat down next to me and offered me a cup of tea.  When I said yes, she then disappeared - it turned out she had to go back to the church to get the tea, bless her.  She also let me have a very nice white chocolate cookie, which was above and beyond the call of friendliness!  And after all that, she then simply slipped away into the crowd, so whoever you were Madam, the King is very grateful.
I posed for another mass of photos, with various people, including one stunning young lady from Brazil - looks like it might be worth moving there....  And before long it was nearly 5.30pm and my time was done.  I quickly changed back in the Art Gallery and then, dragging my Henry bag of costume behind me, I headed away to find a cab to take me back to Fenchurch Street Station.  I was picked up by a very nice chap from Brentwood in Essex who was fascinated by my Henry VIII job and was so taken with my story of my alternative career that he knocked a whole £1 off my fare!  What a nice chap.  My view of London improved immeasurably.  The journey back was uneventful and I was soon back with my lovely son James, devouring a very naughty take away pizza.
Sunday was supposed to be the uneventful day.  How wrong I was.  I was due over at Ingatestone Hall at about 11am, and the journey from the verdant grasslands of Steeple View to Ingatestone is only about 20 minutes at most.  I came out of the road where I was staying to be confronted by non moving gridlocked traffic.  I tried various back doubles and rat runs to escape this, but ended up being inextricably snarled up on a dual carriageway - FOR AN HOUR.  So from leaving at 10.40am, I finally arrived, a broken man, at Ingatestone Hall at about 12.15pm.  The Tudor Roses were already there and changed and ready for action.  There was Lady Emma, Lady Erica, Lady Katherine and a young Lady (please insert name here if you know it!), who was joining in the fun, but looking utterly terrified every time she was near me.
It was great to see my dear old friend Anne Edwards there today.  Anne has been very ill of late, but she was there with a couple of friends to enjoy the sunshine and ambiance of Ingatestone Hall, which is lovely.  I had a good chat with her and her friends.  We then had a spot of lunch, given to us by Lord Petre and his staff - very welcoming.  I then had another long chat with Anne and her group.  Next we were outside on the lawns for the Roses to give a display of Tudor Dancing, with yours truly tootling the Dordrecht and letting the ladies do their "thing".  We had just finished a couple of dances, when I was walking back to the Hall when I heard a voice tentatively calling my name.  I looked up to see Anuscheh Missaghian - a lovely lady I was at school with and someone I had not seen since 1984!  She now lives in the Canary Islands and just happened to be in England for a couple of days, and just by chance happened to pop into Ingatestone Hall with some friends - and here we were!  Fantastic!  So a typical Tudor Day at a lovely country house ended up resembling some kind of "This is Your Life" episode.  Anuscheh commented on my rotundity - how dare she!  What does she want Henry to look like?  Some kind of poor half starved child from the centre of a cholera outbreak zone?  Anyway, it was great to see Anne looking so good and an utter surprise and delight to see Anuscheh.  A lovely day!
And now........... a WEEK OFF!  HURRAH!

Friday, June 22, 2012

West Pennard and Paulton Junior

Good King Hal, belting out an eye watering version of "Don't Fence Me In" on Tudor Britain's Got Plague on Ye TV1.  Lord Callow of the High Slung Slacks called it staggeringly bad, before being hung drawn and quartered, which gave him a chance for a bit of a re-think.  His brutal execution certainly perked up the music charts.

After the early week visit to Newberries in Hertfordshire, it was nice to be back in Somerset and visiting two of my favourite schools in my home county.  First up was Wednesday and a seventh visit to West Pennard School near Glastonbury.  I first ever went to this school on the invite of Ian Gouge, a wonderfully insane teacher and one of the nicest blokes you could ever meet.  He has since moved up a year and now looks after the year six group, so for the previous few years the year five group I entertain are looked after by Tony Wheat - another absolutely lovely chap. 
The morning drive over to West Pennard was very nice - the situation of the school has to be one of the most idyllic you can imagine.  It is tucked away in a back lane of this lovely little village nestling in next to the beautifully Gothic tower of the village church and it's Westminster Chimes clock.  Once inside the school, the staff room has to have the finest view of any school I visit throughout the country.  It has sliding doors leading out onto a sun trap of a patio area, with views across the fields to the striking silhouette of Glastonbury Tor and the tower of St Michael's at it's peak on the not too distant horizon.  Just magical!
It was a fun group on this day - about 30 children and all very enthusiastic.  A whole barrel of laughs all round and lots of good Tudor knowledge.  We began in the brand new library that they have had built (which had been opened by Michael Eavis of Glastonbury Festival fame!) which was particularly nice as, with it being such a hot day we were in the only large room in the school with air conditioning.  Superb.  Another fine lunch of yet more sausages - you can't escape them this week!  We were then back to the main hall for stocks and jousting.  The tournament was very good - virtually everyone who took part was talented and showed a good natural affinity for it, but as it was it was the Gentlemen who streaked away in the final for a relatively comfortable win.  Our score after West Pennard moves on to:
Is the comeback growing in momentum??  Watch this space, or simply scroll down to the bottom of this report for the next result!
Thursday morning was a different weathered beast all together.  Heavy over night rain had subsided and instead I awoke to a murky, misty, almost foggy morning.  I was driving up to almost all the way to Bristol for another return visit to another lovely school - Paulton Junior in.... er.... Paulton.  I was warmly welcomed by the two teachers for the day - new people who hadn't been in with the show before, so it would be nice for them (I hope).  It was a big turn out of over 60 children, all of them in fabulous Tudor costumes.  Well, we had a truly wonderful day, the children began the day a little on the quiet side, but by the time they warmed up it was like trying to stop an express train.  Lunch was a pasta and meatball explosion of taste (and not sausages!) and then we were in the main hall for the stocks and jousting.  What a final we had in the jousting. It was so close - all the teams that took part were good.  But it was almost inevitable that it would be the ladies who claimed the win to keep the distance between them and the boys back to how it was again.  Our score ticks over to:
The evening was spent with Matthew Applegate from Barrington Court, where we met up at the Rose and Crown at East Lambrook for a spot of beer, or several.  It was nice to see the pub full and with some atmosphere for a change, rather than the somewhat sombre, morgue like place it can be when certain people are behind the bar....
Right, driving up to Essex now for an overnight stay with my lovely son James, then off to the Guildhall in London tomorrow to hopefully keep the Lord Mayor entertained.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Nude Berries. (I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again).

Good King Hal trying the brand new Shepton Beauchamp diet that involves being fed large quantities of a very delicious Thai Green Curry by bespectacled Tasmanian local shop owners in a churchyard, during diamond jubilee celebrations.  It is obviously a very niche market. 

And so it was back to the daily Henry routine again, but this time to a new school - well, new for me.  I was on my way to Radlett in Hertfordshire and a visit to Newberries Primary School.  As I was driving from Basildon the vast majority of the journey would be on the dear old M25 and according to the sat nav, if there was no traffic about the entire trip from door to door would only take 35 minutes at most.  About an hour and some minutes after leaving Basildon, I finally arrived at the school.  My God, the M25 - if ever there was a better advert for not living in the South East I am yet to find it.  We stopped, we started, we crawled along, everyone jumped on brakes, we all sped up, then we repeated the entire routine - over and over and over.
I was at the school a bit too early to go in so I found myself sitting outside in the car listening to BBC Radio 2 and the Chris Evans Breakfast Show.  Very first thing this morning I had signed into Facebook to see what, if anything was occurring with my "chums" in the wee small hours. Luckily no new fatwas had been issued for me and the only "contact" who seemed to be live was the Chris Evans Show - and was asking the inviting Facebook question - what are you doing?  To which at that point, no one had replied.  So I simply said I was going to Radlett to be Henry VIII at a school day, all the way from Somerset, my names Good King Hal, goodnight!  That sort of thing.  Well blow me down, just after the 7am news, Chris Evans reads out my message in full to the delight of the British listening public.  Almost immediately my mobile phone starts "pinging" with messages from friends of mine around the country who had obviously heard it!  Wa-hay! What a good start to the day!
And things got better - Nude Berries.... I mean Newberries Primary is a lovely school - absolutely charming and I was warmly welcomed by the teacher who had booked me, Sue Rolfe.  It was a year 4 group of about 30 children, so quite a small gathering for me.  But what they lacked in numbers they more than made up for in stupendous costumes, oodles of enthusiasm and lots of good natured Tudor fun!  The morning was partially interrupted by an assembly, but that just really resulted in me having a longer than normal tea break before lunch!
Lunch was that good old staple of primary schools around the country - sausages, potato wedges and greens, but by God it was tasty!  The less said about the "fruit salad" the better (for fruit salad read "lots of chopped up apples, two grapes and a mandarin segment floating in what appeared to be a cross between Sunny Delight and industrial floor cleaning fluid").  They should definitely stick to the savoury stuff!
After lunch we had some more good fun and finished with a closely contested jousting tournament.  I was expecting an equally close final but as it was, a very competent Gents team simply annihilated the Ladies to clinch a much needed victory for the lads.  Our score is now:
Have they left it too late?  Who knows, but it might be fun finding out.  The rest of the week consists of a return to West Pennard near Glastonbury on Wednesday, and then on to Paulton Junior near Bristol on Thursday, before I am back in the south east for a show at the Guildhall in London on Saturday and then a walkabout with the Tudor Roses at the lovely Ingatestone Hall in Essex on the Sunday.  If I see you at any of these shows, please say hello!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

1,000 Umbrellas & Attack of the Morphs

Tony Hart's latest attempt at World domination. This is what a plague of Morph's looks like.  And it's art. 

After some months away, I had been invited back to appear on Emma Britton's show on BBC Somerset, being broadcast this particular morning "live" from the BBC bus at Barrington Court. As it is the middle of flaming June, I naturally woke up to the sound of heavy rain smashing against my bedroom window and a strong wind howling round the eaves.  Looking out across the streets and rooftops of Crewkerne it was a vista of wet misery and countless umbrellas.  Ah, it must be nearly Wimbledon fortnight.
I drove down to Barrington Court and arrived just after 8.30am.  The bus was parked up behind the court house and I was soon inside chatting to Emma and her team.  It was nice to be back with them again.  I was on the show with a lovely lady who worked as a fundraiser for Marie Curie Cancer Fund called Amy Llewellyn from Yeovil.  Our first burning topic of the day was do you throw your rubbish out the car window, or take it home with you.  Just like Question Time... Our second topic was as it is nearly Father's Day how do you feel about your father.  Well obviously my Dad is an absolute hero of mine, so I bigged him up tremendously - I hope he appreciates just how famous he is in Somerset now.  I also managed to get in a plug for my lovely friends The Tudor Roses, which they were very grateful for later.  My pleasure ladies!
When the broadcast had finished I bumped into Barrington potter Paul Jessop who very kindly invited me to his birthday party this evening (Saturday) and was then taken into the Court house to have a sneaky peak at the art installation you see in the picture above - Antony Gormley's "Field for the British Isles" that at first glance appears to be a massive convention of Morph characters from "Take Hart".  But on closer inspection it really works on so many levels - tens of thousands of these figures in three different rooms in Barrington Court, each with a beady pair of blank eyes staring at you, and each one subtly different from the one next to it.  They also gently change colour as well, so you get swathes of terracotta, then a deeper rustier colour cuts through, then slightly greyer etc.  And in the large kitchen, the sun cut through briefly and dazzled on the little army of figures.  Well worth a visit - particularly if you like Morph and being stared at.
The rain and horrible weather continues - will summer never come?  "And just when I thought that my vista was golden in hue - 1,000 umbrellas opened to spoil the view..."
A busy week next week - Newberries School in Radlett, Herts on Monday, then back to West Pennard near Glastonbury on Wednesday and Paulton Junior near Bristol on Thursday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Earn Enough For Us

Good King Hal and Sir William of Antioch showing utter contempt for the Red Jousting team by hiding near a castle down the blue end of the arena.

The final Sunday of the jousting tournament at Leeds Castle had shown little promise - weather-wise.  Early forecasts indicated that something akin to Hurricane Katrina was going to strike the Maidstone area and reduce most things to utter carnage.  Michelle Coda and I kept close tabs on the BBC on line forecasts for most of the Saturday evening.  First prognostications indicated that rain was going to be falling by 10am on the Sunday - about an hour later this had been put back to 2pm.  When we next checked it was predicted for 4pm - which suited us as that was by the time the second jousting show had finished.  Just before we left for the castle on the Sunday morning the rain was not expected until nearly 11pm - so that was all good.  Of course as soon as we arrived at the Castle that morning it started spotting with rain, but it didn't really set in.
We had another fine day of fun jousting - lots of laughs, but by the end of the day the lads who actually do the fighting and rushing around were completely bushed, poor little devils.  I said a fond farewell to everyone and was soon on my long lonely way back down to Somerset.  I got home about 7pm.
After a Monday of recuperation I was up very early on the Tuesday (4am - ARGH!) to drive down to Lymington to catch an early ferry (6.45am - ARGH!) over to the Isle of Wight.  I was going over to Haylands School in Ryde for my 4th visit to this lovely school.  I was one of the first cars onto the ferry and, overcome with tiredness as I was, I simply stayed in the car for the voyage across the Solent and snored loudly from the drivers seat.  I trust the Captain on the ferry didn't do similar.  It simply poured with rain as I drove across the island to Ryde - I got soaked after I arrived at the school and ferried my props into the hall.  It was a lovely lively group today - about 60 year 3 children, but all very switched on and full of beans.  We had a fantastic day - lots of laughs, they were easily one of the most with it and clever year 3 groups I had worked with for a very long time.
After a fine roast dinner lunch (I asked one of the office ladies at the school what the roast was, she told me that it was pork as there was crackling - she disappeared and then returned saying that she at least hoped it was pork as there was crackling involved... Don't worry folks, it was pork, just don't tell my rabbi.), we were back in the hall for the stocks and the jousting.  It was a great tournament, something of a riot to begin with as it often is with year 3 kids, but they soon got the hang of it.  In the grand final, despite having led nearly all the way through, the gents team managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and the ladies walked away with the title.  This now makes our score:
I left the school at about 3.30pm and arrived in Yarmouth in time for the 4.30pm ferry back to Lymington.  After an uneventful crossing I was back on the road and finally arrived home tired, drained but thankfully paid, at about 7.30pm (ARGH!).  I snored loudly in front of the Euro 2012 match between Poland and Russia, and finally gave up and went to bed at 10.30pm (ARGH!).
You can hear Good King Hal again this Friday from 9am (ARGH!) on the Emma Britton Show on BBC Somerset, coming "live" from Barrington Court.  Tune in or check it out on line on .

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Things We Used To Do On Grass...

Sir Jasper and Sir William - the Hinge and Brackett of the Knights of Royal England.

Another day, another jousting show at Leeds Castle.  Oh, and what was this strange yellow hot thing in the sky?  The sun, you say?  But it's burning my eyes...  Oh what a difference 48 hours makes - from being virtually drowned on Thursday, here we were on the Saturday roasting under the sun.  Lady Emma from the Tudor Roses was there again, along with new Rose Lady Rachel who had travelled up in the wee small hours from Cirencester in Gloucestershire, for which she deserved a medal.  Emma was joined by Lord "Sideswipe" Wilkins and her two lovely sons who were dressed in superb mini Tudor outfits and looked just wonderful.
With the nice weather we had a big turn out for the shows, and with more people there we always respond better when doing the shows.  Lots of laughs and some good jousting by the boys, Sir Sam of Castille in particular took a massive blow from Sir Jasper in the first show which brought an audible gasp from the audience.  During the second show, young James, aka MUNGO!!!, somehow managed to stumble and fall through the fence surrounding the arena which gave us the best laugh of the day amongst ourselves.  My little mate Owen was there again with his Mummy, this time decked out in a superb Tudor King outfit.  He has promised to return tomorrow as a Knight - I can't wait to see the garb!
After the show we had a little wander around, while the Knights of Royal England's younger sect, namely James, Sam, Ashley, Dan, Lucy et al, set up a long water slide and proceeded to career down it at breakneck speed risking life and more importantly limb, all in the name of having a laugh.  Oh, to be young again...
Tomorrow is the final day at Leeds for this particular run, and the weather forecast is actually getting better, so fingers crossed we will get away without too much interruption from the rain.  This has been such a fun week - I don't want it to end.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Drowning Here In Summer's Cauldron...

Leeds Castle, yesterday, just before we started the second jousting tournament of the day.  My, how we laughed.

The jousting tournament continues at Leeds Castle this week, and each and everyday so far the weather forecast has been pretty dire.  On the Thursday I travelled up from Folkestone (where I am being cared for and cossetted by Michelle Coda, her chap Matt and her daughter Vix) to the Castle and was delighted to find myself arriving in bright sunshine.  The main car parks seemed full and there were a lot of punters around which all seemed to auger well for a fine days jousting.  The jousters all seemed in fine form and we prepared ourselves for the two shows to come. 
The first show began pretty well - a nice big turn out, but as the show unfolded, so the clouds rolled out over head and a few big spots of rain appeared.  These were then soon followed by several more large spots of rain, and then some more.  And then, the heavens opened.  We continued and finished the show (professionals that we are) but I cursed my lack of water wings on the return to the tent where we can hide from the public while we eat.  Inside the tent we could hear the rain hammering on the plastic roof, and the hammering continued and got louder and louder.  A quick peak outside confirmed our worst fears as there was barely a punter in sight.  By the time of our scheduled 2.30pm second show, the tempest had barely abated, but there were some hardy fans around the periphery of the arena, and Jeremy from the Knights of Royal England wandered over and told them we would attempt to put on a show at 3pm instead.  Twenty minutes later it was still lashing it down and the ground was too soft  for the horses to go on safely, so reluctantly it was decided to cancel the second show.  So I returned home early to Folkestone, and took to hair drying my costume to stop the fur from being so damp and manky.  Matt took my Henry dagger and gave it a much needed and long overdue once over to remove some of the rust and grime on it.  It now looks fabulous!
Friday was me, Michelle and young Vix heading up to the Castle - this would give Michelle a fine opportunity to show off her new specially made Tudor frock, and she looked fabulous.  The lovely Emma Fuery from the Tudor Roses was also there in attendance, and it was good to have Sir William of Antioch back in the fold after he took a day off to play golf - sub aqua probably.  The day started badly when we had only been there for about 40 minutes when Michelle managed to lock her keys in her car.  Luckily Darlene Cavill from Leeds Castle was on hand and we borrowed her mobile to call the AA, and they hurriedly sent someone down to unlock the car for us.  This had to be done as Michelle had left our picnic in the boot.  We got through the two shows today, there was a little rain, but nothing like the diluvian-like downpour of the previous day, but we had to contend with very high winds throughout which made it a bit tricky for the riders in the middle.
And so we come to the final weekend, I am back at the Castle on both Saturday and Sunday with Michelle and Vix in tow, Lady Emma from the Tudor Roses will be there as well, so all in all, weather permitting, it should be good fun. We are promised nice weather for the Saturday, but Sunday is looking somewhat Biblical.  So hold on to your hats and make room in the lifeboat if needed.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Sudeley Castle 3 Leeds Castle 1

Sudeley Castle in sunshine, a view never seen by anyone in a Tudor outfit so far this year...

And so the final day of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend found me once more up and out the door early for a return visit to Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe in Gloucestershire.  The weather on the way up the M5 never really alternated much beyond spotting rain and overhead gloom.  I had a feeling I was going to be one of the first to arrive at the Castle this morning, but I was wrong as the first battalion of the Tudor Roses had got there before me and were already getting into their battle gear ready for action.  I was going to be utterly spoilt for choice today for Tudor wives - the ladies present this day were:  Emma, Erica, Katherine, Sarah, Francesca, Louise, Zarrina, Diane, Rachel and.... and.... I am sure there was someone else as well, but my brain has all but shut down now just remembering all those stunning dresses.
We thought with such a large group, to go round all together might make us seem like some kind of Tudor steaming gang, and we didn't want to intimidate the punters.  I initially set off with Zarrina, Diane and Louise for a wander, but somehow we managed (not deliberately) to completely miss the rest of the ladies for the remainder of the morning.  Now you would have thought a group of ladies in big colourful Tudor dresses would be hard to hide away - not at all!  We wandered the grounds all morning and saw nothing of them.  So British military leaders, when considering new camouflage gear for your infantry troops, please think about sticking them in big crinoline dresses with bum rolls and farthingales - the enemy won't know where the hell they are.
We finally caught up with them at lunchtime, but by this time poor Emma was suffering having wrenched her back the previous day at Hedingham Castle in Essex.  She was in a lot of pain, poor love.  The weather was pretty grotty all day to be honest and we spent the vast majority of the afternoon stroll indoors keeping dry.  The final act of the day was the Tudor ladies all dancing in the restaurant to the resident Tudor musicians.  They looked fabulous - Lady Sarah and Lady Katherine also sang along with the minstrels and a good time was generally seen to be had by all.  The only two people not smiling by the end of the day was poor old Emma with her painful back (get well soon) and dear Kim Gibbons the organiser at Sudeley, who was once more left cursing their bad luck with the weather.
The drive back to Somerset once more began in awful driving rain, but steadily improved.  However by the time I got home it was actually cold enough to warrant me putting the central heating on in the flat - and all this in June!  I was up at 4.30am the next day for a mad dash across the country to Leeds Castle for a stint working on another jousting tournament with the Knights of Royal England.  After the long early morning drive it was wonderful to see them all again.  Sir William of Antioch and his lovely wife Tracy, had their delightful little boy Liam with them yesterday - 8 months old and just full of giggles.  A real bonny boy.  Both the jousting shows on the first day were fine - a big turn out for the first show, mostly in bright warm sunshine, then a slightly smaller crowd for the second show, blighted by cloudy skies and the odd spot of rain.  It was good to see my little mate Owen in the crowd on the day.  I know Owen and his family read this blog so "HELLO" to you all, and I am looking forward to seeing you again when you come back in on Friday this week.  Don't forget your waterproofs!
I finished at the castle and drove down to Folkestone to stay with Michelle Coda, her other half Matt and daughter Vix.  We had a lovely evening drinking champagne, singing along to Monty Python songs and having lots of laughs.  I managed to stay conscious until just after 10pm, when my early start and busy day stopped me in my tracks and it was time for bed.  So I did!  Back to Leeds today for more jousting - see you there!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Jubilee Day - Party and Walkabout

Above, a desperate attempt to discover if Cheryl Cole actually hit any right notes during her duet with Gary Barlow's stubble at the Queen's Jubilee knees up in the Mall.  Probably not.

Ah, what a day!  I had been asked some time ago, to appear in the village of Shepton Beauchamp near Ilminster for their children's street party to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  And today was that day.  And not content with doing that, I was also invited to then go to Barrington Court for a Right Royal perambulation round their grounds afterwards.  Smashing.
On arriving in Shepton Beauchamp the first thing you discovered was a road block stopping people from roaring through the middle of the village and mowing down vast hoards of children as they stuffed their faces with sandwiches.  I was allowed through so that I could get changed and begin my wanderings.  The atmosphere was great amongst the villagers - Shepton  is such a friendly place, I really miss living there (I was resident from 1999 to 2003) but it was good to see so many old familiar faces.  Just before the children were to begin their lunch I was handed a glass of very strong scrumpy and a bowl of Thai green curry - well, it would have been rude to refuse, so I gulped down both which were fabulous.  We then moved to the tower of the church for the launching of parachute wearing teddy bears.  Now this may not sound the most exciting thing ever, but it kept the entire crowd entertained for nearly 20 minutes.  There were gasps of wonder as some bears floated serenely to the ground, there were cries of laughter when some very haphazard descents were made, and there was even screams and sympathetic "aaahs" when one or two parachutes failed to open and the poor bear beneath plummeted to a speedy reunion with Mother Earth.  One poor bear got halfway down and then snagged on the lower part of the church tower, which elicited the largest sympathetic noise of the day!
The children then sat down for their feast.  I bellowed out a welcome to one and all and got three heart cheers for the Queen's 60th anniversary.  Great stuff.  But then I had to move on and head for Barrington Court.  As Barrington is so close to Shepton I decided to leave my tights on under my trousers for this short jaunt there.  As I was driving it suddenly dawned on me how awful it would be if I was in a fatal accident at this point.  The Police, on recovering my body would find me with a pair of white tights on below my normal clothes.  They would obviously suspect  that I was a Conservative MP.  I can imagine the knock on the door my parents would get.  "Mr and Mrs Farley?  We have some grave news for you I'm afraid... your son has been in an accident, but you should have seen what he had on under his trousers.  It was disgusting..."
Barrington Court was packed when I arrived, which was good to see.  I had a great time wandering the grounds, meeting and greeting people.  Towards the end of the afternoon the sun even began to force its way out from behind the clouds.  It was so nice to see so many people there and having a lovely time.  Towards the end of my two hour stint, Matthew Applegate found me and offered me a cup of tea.  So I ended the afternoon sitting in Matthew's office supping a much needed and wonderful cuppa.  So all in all a great way to spend the Bank Holiday Jubilee Monday, and the fun doesn't stop there.  I am off to Sudeley Castle again tomorrow to chase the Tudor Roses round the grounds again, and then on Wednesday I am up at the crack of dawn to drive over to Leeds Castle in Kent for another week of jousting.  And funnily enough I am looking forward to it!