Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Broadlands Blasts From The Past- 6th - 8th August



Friday: We left London around 2:30 having been told by Tooms that “It’s just outside the M25” – The journey seemed to take forever, having zipped through London we got held up for most of the way down to Broadlands, the tedium was broken only by my discovery of a rather decent crop circle in a wheat field. This was a simple old fashioned circle without the embellishment of geometric designs and messages from the other side. I really should have looked at the map before we set off… Southampton is only just outside London when seen from space!

Our pitch was in the entertainment area opposite the bar and eateries, our neighbours were to be Hands on History, Dragons of Wye Ten and Abs who we mostly remember for his incredible Zulu Wars with Vegetables from a few years back.

I saw that the Hoplites were around so popped over to say hi, it was great to see them again after almost two years. Their living history camp is most impressive and even included a real wabbit. Back at our street we had a nice quite evening with Paul and Debby while my trusty steam powered bat detector picked up common pipistrelle and noctule, Tooms saw the latter and was most impressed by its size, while not quite a tea tray it is Britain’s largest bat species.

Saturday: I woke up in the early hours to the dread sound of the weather beings peeing loudly on the tent, oh dear it was going to be one of those weekends. No rushing about getting things done, the public were not due in until about 10:00 so we could take our time. Still by the time we were set the rain came back and our resident medium coughed up yards, in old money, of ectoplasm. Once again a little hole appeared in mine and the leakage went straight for perishable photos.

It rained lots on and off throughout much of the day, it seemed that every time the heavens opened up, I caught sight of a guy in a diving suit trudging about like a misshapen amphibian from a Hieronymus Bosch painting or H P Lovecraft novel…We finally got to talking to him; he was a real Royal Marine salvage diver, he told us that the gear that he was wearing and carrying was incredibly heavy and he was as wet inside the suit as he was out of it. I had a goldfish called Hieronymus once…but that’s another story.

Once gain we were a department down and mine was mostly not to be seen, I was in some despair when a very nice lady came over and said “My son wants to know if you have a stuffed platypus as he has never seen one before” You just don’t get asked that sort of thing every day, now do you!? “Well, as it happens…” I replied reaching under the ectoplasm and bringing forth my prize…

Almost at the same time a young lad turned to Dr Tooms and asked if he could hold one of the skulls, and then, with skull in hand he went into a Shakespearean moment with a rendition from ‘Hamlet’, so it was the wrong soliloquy, what do we care, he was excellent. I think we can safely say that these boys get the Question of the Weekend Prize.

We did get to see and hear some of Abs performance, I could not see Mr Punch vs. Adolph Hitler but heard some of it, there was a point when the audience wanted Mr Punch hanged, they were reminded that this would have stopped him meeting Adolph and quickly changed their minds. I was most intrigued by Britain’s early attempts at space travel; men going to the moon with a supply of sandwiches and hot cocoa seems so very British, that the project never occurred is probably just as well…We also got to see The Dragons of Wye Ten, our other neighbours, perform their little show from their Medieval puppet box.

The highlight of the afternoon was a fly over by a Lancaster bomber, we had seen this incredible machine several times over the years but today we were honoured by it flying directly over us.

Once the public were on their way home we settled down to recover from the ordeals of the day, thankfully by the afternoon the weather had cleared up and we could sit out and enjoy the evening before heading off to join Andy, Elaine, Ashley and the rest of the Hoplites to take them up on their kind offer to join them for a Homeric BBQ.

Sunday: I awoke to the sound of common buzzards calling in the distance and since it was a fine morning I sat out and watched the world go by while I waited for the others to wake up. As I pondered on the meaning of life I realised that something rather odd had taken place during the night. The bar seemed a bit obscure for some reason, taking a closer look I discovered that there had been rather a lot of Symmetrical Chair & Table Stacking going on. This was either caused by disgruntled late night revellers or the same little folks who make crop circles. This was going to be interesting and, as it turned out, the owners were not in the least bit amused.

We were not particularly busy in the morning, despite the event starting half an hour earlier. I had been over to visit the Hoplites to tell them what a cool event Schoenenburg was, Paul has been trying to get them to that event for years. Hopefully we will see them there. I also met Nick from Fahnlein Uri, the unit seems to have grown a bit since we last met them and one has to admire the Landsknecht ‘uniform’ of many colours.

When I had the time I popped over to see the Bushwackers, there was a nice little camp off in a stand of trees, I knew many of the folks there from Laredo Western Town along with Jon and Rachel from Skirmish Magazine. It must be said that there is certain romanticism about the War Between the States but if you read anything about Bushwackers you find that there was a brutal, very personal, civil war within a civil war going on.

I returned to our pitch, it had turned into a hot and sunny day, although we were rarely inundated with visitors we did end up having many interesting conversations with some very nice people. In the afternoon we met up with the Bucktails for a photo shoot, they will be doing a March through History to raise money for The Soldier’s Charity. They will be taking on the task of joining as many groups as possible at some point next year. We, on the other hand, are trying to come up with something to help them out when they get around to joining The Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum.

It was drawing to the end of the show and while we were chatting to a medieval herbalist lady I got a glimpse of a couple of Polish winged hussars at the far end of the field. I’d love to have had a better look at these guys, when it comes to cool uniforms they are up their with landsknechts and jaguar knights.

One of the last things we managed to do was check out the modern stereoscope that Hands on History own, amazing that Victorian 3D home entertainment was not only to become something of military significance but has also had a recent resurgence in the art of Moving Pictures…

We would especially like to thank Debby of the Alsace Catering Corps for once again making yummy lunches for us. We would also like to wish the Bucktails every success in the epic re-enactment and look forward to meeting them again.

This is Prof Grymm in orbit over the M25…