The near legendary Sir Owen of Leeds Castle and the Broomfield Gate, trying to stay dry with his lovely Mum and a not so lovely Good King Hal. At Hever this weekend.
You can tell when it is the English summertime. The heavens open, the rain falls, mostly downwards, though sometimes at high speed sideways, and everyone moans about how miserable they are. All together now - OH HAPPY DAY! Well we knew there was going to be far too much rain around as we had a hosepipe ban on. With various Biblical style floods smiting the country it seemed like a jolly splendid idea to hold a jousting tournament at Hever Castle.
I drove up to my sister Cathy's house near Sittingbourne on the Friday, and with rain hammering on the roof all night prepared myself to head back to Hever Castle for the first time this year. I drove round to where the jousters had parked their submarine... I mean horse box and was greeted by the lovely Kim, Sir Jasper du Barry's wife. She looked at my rather pathetic trainers I was wearing and asked me if I had any decent Wellington Boots. By the time I had walked out to the arena to see Sir Jasper (Jeremy) I could see what she was talking about. With each squelching step I sank a little further into the waterlogged swamp that was once a jousting tilt yard. How on Earth they were going to do a show in these conditions was at this moment quite beyond me. I drove back round to the Astor Wing of Hever Castle where my luxury dressing room (for luxury dressing room please read "disused abandoned kitchen") is situated. I got changed and was then joined by Michelle Coda and her daughter Vix who were to be my Anne Boleyn and junior herald respectively. As we sat in the castle waiting to be called the rain simply hammered on the roof, churning up the waters of the moat and frightening away any tourists we could startle with our traditional window game. But cometh the hour and cometh the Sir William of Antioch, ready to bring us out to meet our beloved public! We did the usual jokey set up with me addressing the crowds, then we had a special honour as I got to Knight Sam, Jeremy's son, in his new character and costume as Sir Sam of Hever.
We wandered over to the arena and did the show. It was very very muddy in the arena, a couple of times as we walked in I worried I was going to lose a shoe. But they have built a new Royal Box for us at Hever and Michelle and I squeezed in there with Kim operating the sound system. Just to our right was seated Sir Owen of Leeds Castle who you can see above, with his lovely Mummy Shelley, getting very excited and laughing his head off at the antics of Sir William of Antioch and Mungo.
We finished the show and headed back to the Castle only to be accosted by a mad woman with a coach load of Italian teenagers who had only just arrived. She demanded we put the jousting back on as they had arrived and missed it. I left her with Jeremy to explain that we had finished the show, the horses were exhausted because of the soggy terrain etc., only to hear her utter the amazing words of "well, that's not good enough". What can you do with obstinacy and stupidity of that level?
The following day it was much warmer, dryer and generally nice, however it wasn't enough to dry out the jousting yard and, if anything conditions actually seemed worse than the day before. Some of the horses really just didn't want to take part at all and all of the Knights while fighting on foot kept falling over and sliding all over the place. But we had a much bigger turn out than on the Saturday, which was fantastic, and the show seemed to go really well, even if I did occasionally keep referring to Sam in his old character name of Sam of Castille and not Sam of Hever. Naughty Henry. Sir Owen of Leeds Castle was there again in another fantastic costume and seemed to enjoy himself just as much as the previous visit.
Michelle and I got back to the Castle, got changed and I then began the long slog back to Somerset, but it was a fairly easy run back and by about 7pm I was in Crewkerne and opening a bottle of wine. Schplendid...
Just a quick question - I have noticed on my Facebook page that far more people read my one or two line postings than these blogs. Can anyone who reads this via the Facebook page please leave a message after they've read it saying "Done it". That might get people asking what they're talking about and there is no such thing as bad publicity. I think. So let me know if you've actually read this! Ta. Back to Hever on Saturday, then I am off down to Sudeley Castle on Sunday.