I hope you like this picture - it was from Ingatestone Hall the other week when I met up with my old school friend Anuscheh - as you can see she has weathered far better than I have over the years - but then she did have a head start.
Now even I looked worse than I do in this picture on Tuesday morning as I had to be up by 4am for a drive up to Gerrard's Cross and a re-arranged show at Maltman's Green School. I had often been told by Ian Weston from Portals to the Past about what a fine school this was, and he wasn't wrong. I arrived early, and after the late night of the previous evening and the Rotary show, that by the time I got to the school I was exhausted. So I parked up, set my alarm on my phone and had 40 winks, which was desperately needed and very welcome. The weather was appalling so after I had been greeted by Steve Thomas, the teacher who had booked me, I was soon slipping and slithering through the rain loading my props into the hall.
It was a large group for a private school - over 60 children, and all girls - well it would be, Maltman's in an all girls school (well done, Sherlock, that was brilliant!). Whatever you say about single sex schools I can tell you this - by God they were a loud group today! They had virtually all dressed up in brilliant costumes - one little girl was even sporting a fake ginger beard and had a pillow stuffed up her costume to turn her into a mini Henry VIII! Fantastic. The morning, as with most private schools, is a lot longer than it is at a state school, but we had loads of laughs and I even managed to get the start of the stocks section done before we broke for a well earned lunch. This turned out to be a delicious chicken korma, which was most welcome. The final jousting tournament in the afternoon was indescribably loud in the echoey hall that we were in, but everyone seemed to have a good time. There was even time for the King to have a go at the jousting taking part in a final race against a team that Mr Thomas had picked. Normally I am away from schools by about 3.30pm at the latest, but in the end it was much nearer 4pm before I managed to slip away. This put a bit of a spanner in the works for my evening plans. I had been asked by some friends I am in a pub quiz team with to join them at the King Arthur Pub at Burrowbrigde in Somerset that evening. If I had got away at a normal time I might just have made it, but the 4pm start was going to make it tricky - the appalling traffic round Stonehenge finished any chance I had of making it in time. I had to text them my apologies - the text I got back made me realise they weren't very happy. Oops.
No jousting score today as I can't really include a result from an all girls school, now can I? I am now in Essex having just driven up for a show tomorrow at Lee Chapel School in sunny Basildon. Sounds like it is going to be a good fun day tomorrow. I can't wait.