In many of my recent adventures and visits to the Isle of Wight, I seem to have made something of an art form of missing the ferry. I have slithered to a halt on the dockside at Lymington at various different times of day, to see the backside of the ferry I wanted, steaming happily out into the Solent without me on board. With another visit to dear old Vectis due, I was determined this was not going to happen again. I got up disgustingly early, knowing that I had to be at the ferry terminal for the 6.15am sailing over to Yarmouth. I got ready, half scalded myself on a hastily slurped cup of tea and scuttled off to my car. I punched in the post code into my sat nav and waited while it worked out how long it would take me to get to the ferry terminal. It's initial estimated time of arrival was 6.16am. Bu99er! I was NOT going to miss another ferry. So I drove like smoke down to Dorchester, along the Troy Town bypass, hammered past Wimborne with my tyres almost melting and by the time I reached Ringwood I was approaching light speed. The ETA on my sat nav was now spiralling backwards - this was almost like time travel! But it seemed that I was going to arrive at the ferry with a good 10 minutes to spare before the sailing at 6.15. I got a clear run over the final miles and arrived at a worryingly empty looking ferry terminal at 5.59am. It was only then as I sat on a virtually deserted concourse that I checked my paperwork. I was actually booked on the 6.45am ferry. Ah. So I now had roughly three quarters of an hour to kill while I waited for the official ferry and could have done the whole journey with much less hyperspace and screaming. Well, we live and learn.
Simple pleasures like just sitting and sleeping in your car as you scoot over the Solent in only about a half hour crossing, are now not allowed. Due to that scourge of modern society - "health and safety", drivers must vacate their vehicles and then allow themselves to be incarcerated in the moodily lit passenger lounge where Wight Link Ferries spend the entire crossing trying to fleece cash out of you. They stop just short of letting heavily muscled stevedores give you Chinese burns until you succumb, but it is surely only a matter of time before they introduce this. I disembarked the ferry and began the pleasant drive across the island to Ryde and a return visit to Haylands Primary. This was a different Haylands though this time, located as they now are in a brand new purpose built centre. It is a stunning building, even more impressive inside than it is outside. We had a great day at the school - a whole load of laughs, and some really nice children in great costumes. I took great delight in choosing one classroom assistant to be Anne Boleyn in the morning session as she looked like Madonna, circa "Who's That Girl" and gave me a good excuse to crank out some elderly jokes.
After a very nice roast pork lunch it was a rollicking afternoon session. The children roared with laughter throughout most of the nonsense I peddle out. We came to a brilliant jousting session which a very good ladies team ran away with in the final. They are virtually unstoppable at the moment.
GENTLEMEN 19 - 26 LADIES
I began the long trek home, managed to catch the correct ferry and got home, clutching a Chinese take away and yawning like a good 'un. It really was time for an early night.
Wednesday 19th was a day off, but I was off over to see the multi-talented Judy Picton to pick up my newest addition to my costumes. Judy has created a beautiful black flowing doublet, with garnets and silver fixings. It looks absolutely wonderful. Judy is an absolute genius, very modest, but she really shouldn't be. Her skills are undoubted and if anyone should need a truly gifted seamstress, this is the lady to go and see. Judy Picton of Martock - you heard it here first folks.
My new costume didn't have long to wait for it's first outing. I was back at one of my favourite schools today - Paulton Junior near Bristol. l love this place - you are always guaranteed a very warm welcome from all the teachers and a group of very sparky, chatty, funny kids - and as ever all in fabulous costumes. And today was no let down, a real bundle of laughs, and one very bizarre question in the "Q&A" section just before lunch. All the usual questions had come out: "how fat was he?" "did he have pets?" "when was his birthday?" etc., when one little girl put her hand up and asked me very earnestly "Who are you?" I was a bit taken aback. "Er... me or Henry?" I enquired. She looked at me hard for a few seconds and then said "I don't know". And on that bombshell it was off to lunch - lots of pleasant chats in the staff room with the nice relaxed atmosphere that pervades this lovely school, and then more utter nonsense in the afternoon culminating in a much needed win for the Gents in the jousting.
GENTLEMEN 20 - 26 LADIES
It is seriously closer than it should be. The ladies have seemed to have held the whip hand since the start of the educational year, but the boys have hung in there. It was very hot today - not sunny, but very close and muggy, and by the end of our session in the afternoon I was flagging badly. Never was I more grateful to sling the last of my Henry gear in the back of the car and climb in and turn on the air conditioning. I drove home, pausing only at Popular Motors in Merriott to replace my shredded windscreen wiper blades which were so awful today that I spent most of the period driving up to Paulton in braille.
Got home this evening and carried on trying to sort out a visit to Ireland in the next couple of weeks, for a much needed holiday. Finally got my ferry booking sorted out. Let's hope my arrival at Fishguard for the crossing will be a bit better organised than my recent efforts at Lymington. But now is no time to rest on any laurels. I am off out pretty early again tomorrow for a drive up to Cardiff Castle for three days jousting with the Knights of Royal England. And the weather forecast is not exactly positive. Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye.