Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Battle Abbey (English Heritage) 13 & 14 August



Friday: We arrived at Battle Abbey on a fine afternoon but, tucked away somewhere in the ether was more ‘weather’. It looked, judging from the number of tents, that there was going to be quite a turn out but, as it happened, this array of canvas belonged to the Pelicans who we had not seen since our last visit here two years ago. It was great to see them and we did not have to wait too long before Aidan went onto innuendo autopilot.

Saturday: As expected the morning started out damp and windy, within a few minutes of getting out of the tent I saw part of the Pelicans small awning buckle and fall, so I went and helped Claire get the shelter up again. Breakfast was prepared in appalling conditions, this was a show too far, and I was sick of watching my exhibits getting damp or covered in plastic sheeting during opening hours. What amazed us was that the Pelicans and Discover History were off to Carisbrooke Castle straight after this show - now that is dedication for you.

Gradually the morning cleared and we got down to business. We met Paul and Helen from ‘Discover History’, they were doing a display showing a naval surgeon and nurse from the 18thC. Don & Cathy of ‘Heuristics’, Abs doing his space exploration and on the green was a display of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions.

The weather cleared by mid-morning but that wind kept gusting and eventually the Pelican’s main awning finally gave up the fight and collapsed. From where I was standing it looked as though it had fallen onto their fire but had fallen on the tables, I ran over to help get it up again.

I recently got into cheese making and I ended up chatting with Jules on the subject of cheese making. Her medieval cheese rounds were incredibly mouldy and apparently that was how they liked them. When Jules took the cheeses out of the container, they left a cloud of blue spores hanging in the air – shades of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ there, and I wondered if the Jules and Aidan we were talking to had grown out of giant cucumbers!

Sunday: Well, what a climatic change from Saturday, we woke up to a very nice morning and after breakfast got sorted out and ready. We were fairly busy throughout the day but I managed to take some time out and have a look at the da Vinci helicopter on the green. Only half of it was set up because they were not allowed to anchor it down into the ground. Nonetheless it was impressive and I would have loved to have seen this ungainly creation in its full, and rather unpractical, glory.

There was something surreal watching Aidan talking to a couple of boys about his medieval toilet. The pride that he takes in showing off his handmade turds can only be admired by a fellow re-enactor who likes detail. The boys were in for a surprise when he told them that no one used toilet paper, instead they used their hands which were then wiped ‘clean’ on a convenient surface! We once found a public toilet outside Malaga that could well have been used by people of long ago.

Just before finishing time I met a gentleman who was interested in Charlie. Due to the high winds Charlie had been lying down for most of the weekend so he was eager to get shown to visitors, flirt and get his photo taken with a couple of young ladies. Apparently there is a young man doing a PhD who has for the first time ever done a facial reconstruction on a tsantsa. In order to do this he experimented with a pig’s head, shrinking it to observe the facial distortion that occurs with the shrinking and then making a scan of a real tsantsa to get back the owner’s appearance.

And so our last outdoor event comes to a close – literally, because when we tried to leave we found that we had been locked in the Abbey!!

This is Prof GrymmBlessed are the Cheese Makers!