Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Once More Unto the Travelodge...

You wouldn't believe that two days of this drove a couple of people in a Medway town almost psychotically angry.  But it did!
I was at my parents in Wales from the Tuesday evening until just after lunch on the Sunday.  It sounded like ages when I first arrived.  A near whole week of being spoilt by my lovely parents - how wonderful.  And suddenly... WHOOSH, it was gone.  Where did that go?  In what felt like a blink of an eye my time had gone and I was back on the road again.  I'd had a lovely time with my folks, had dinner with them again up at the wonderful Flat Rock Cafe in the delightfully named Gwber, I'd wandered round various antiques shops to my utmost delight and even gawped at a few Estate Agents windows and some of the lovely houses in the area.  While I was in Wales my sister, down at Cynwyl Elfed, had a nasty surprise when BOTH of her kittens, now a few months old, went missing at the same time.  Not a sign of them was to be found.  My sister was absolutely devastated and there were many tears shed for these poor cats.  But then, on the Sunday, just as I was about to leave Wales, a call came through to my parents from my sister saying one of the cats had turned up, safe and sound.  At least they got one back.  Funnily enough, I have just got off the phone to my sister who has let me have the joyous news that the second kitten has turned up safe and sound - hungry and dusty, so obviously been locked in somewhere, but none the worse for his ordeal.  God, I love a happy ending.
So back to Sunday afternoon and my drive away from my folks.  My next two days were going to be in Hereford and Coleford, neither of them a million miles apart.  I was booked into the inevitable Travelodge, this time just south of Hereford City centre on the A49.  The drive over to there took me through the infamous "Heads of the Valleys" road, usually only ever mentioned on BBC travel news when there has been some horrendous multi-vehicle pile up, with resulting soiled underpants, or when it has been closed due to inclement weather conditions, and more soiled underpants.  The weather wasn't too awful on Sunday afternoon, just sort of bloody miserable - glowering skies, constant though not heavy rain and everything appeared grey damp and horrible.  Finally, snaking up towards Hereford, the countryside opened up into pleasant rolling hills and quaint villages.  I found my Travelodge, this time in the form of a converted barn, would you believe.  I was booked in by a very nervous looking young lady (who only appeared to be about 12 years old) and settled myself in my cell.
The drive to Riverside School in Hereford the next morning wasn't exactly taxing.  I hadn't realised just how close I was to the school - 1.6 miles it turned out in the end!  Riverside is a fabulous school, a really lovely ultra modern site, with some very artistic murals painted for the children throughout the building, showing various fantasy characters from popular children's fiction.  It was a nice group of three year 4 classes today, some of who were a bit more... erm... taxing than others.  But they were sparky, fun, excitable and ready to laugh.  We had a fine morning, but I was starving!  I forgot to get any breakfast in the morning and by midday when we broke for lunch I could have eaten a scabby donkey and chips.  I went to see the dinner ladies and was told in no uncertain terms to come back at 12.45 pm when they'd finished serving the children.  So I sat in the staff room, surrounded by teachers scoffing away on sandwiches, salads, curry's and tried desperately to stop my stomach from sounding too much like Mount Etna just before eruption.  It finally got to 12.45 and I wandered back to the kitchens.  They were washing up and putting everything away.  Any food left?  I asked.  No, was the answer.  Great.  But she could rattle me up a cheese roll.  She could have handed me a dog turd on a stick by this point and I would have eaten it.  The cheese roll was duly scoffed, and I was back to being Henry and still hungry.  The afternoon was great fun and finished with a wonderful jousting tournament in which an incredibly cocky gents team got smashed to smithereens in the final by a very good ladies team.
Too easy!  I loaded up the car and made the short jaunt back to the Travelodge.  Now, next door to the hotel, cheek by jowl so to speak, was a pub/restaurant called the Grafton Inn.  I was still haunted by the cheese roll at lunch and complete lack of breakfast, and so decided to do something about it.  And, boy did I.  I had a lovely meal of calamari and King Prawns with a sweet chili dip, followed by a delicious gammon steak, served with two exquisitely poached eggs.  I washed this down with a very agreeable bottle of Merlot.  It was a very merry, slightly sloshed King Hal who staggered the 50 feet back to his hotel room after that.  I slept very well...
Tuesday found me on my way back to Coleford in the Forest of Dean and a ninth appearance at Coalway Junior School.  Such a lovely school again, it was a delight to be back.   I was warmly welcomed by all the usual faces and the exquisitely named Rhiannon Bunn, teacher of one of the Year 4 groups today.  We had a really fun day all round, I was treated Royally and didn't even have to beg for a cheese roll.  I was given a fantastic tuna baguette with a massive side salad, which went down a treat.  The afternoon galloped past at a rapid rate and finished with another damn fine joust, but this time, just for a change the Gents finally won a race.  Thank God for that.
It is still very one-sided but that does help a little.
I am off to Essex tomorrow to see my lovely little boy, then on Friday I am back at White Woman Lane School in Norwich for another visit there - again probably about my ninth!  Really looking forward to seeing my old friends. I then have a couple of meetings with film maker Doug Boulton and the writer Sarah Morris on Sunday, before heading back to Somerset on the Monday for a get together with the talented Judy Picton, my costume maker in Martock.  I might also fit in some time to see the beautiful Elaine - I can't wait!  Life is pretty good at the moment.  Just wish the weather would improve.

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