We walked about the grounds, found the Rat Catchers spot,
rather cool one, next to a lovely yew tree and they were sheltered
by a wall. The chapel has an interesting history being founded in
1070, rebuilt in 1738 only to be dismantled in 1856(why?) and since
we were the only post 1800 group this means we should have been
looking at a hole in the ground. It was finally reconstructed in
It was great to be able to visit the other folks as we were mere
feet way from them and in the evening we ambled over to the Pelican-in-her-Piety
(Jules, Aidan and AJ) for a social, what a
great evening. We had met Wel
at Gunpowder Mills a couple of times, and apart from Eric
and Val we had only met a couple of the others in passing
While I heated water for Longstreet the hot water bottle
I could hear some rather bizarre comments coming across the green
from the Pelican camp, they seemed to revolve around Viagra
and trebuchets ( I won't go into detail) and mostly coming from
Aidan who can pluck innuendo
out of the ether with considerable speed and eloquence.
We had a great time chatting about all sorts of stuff although
one of the favourites was “things that people ask”, as you know
I try to grab a weekend quote so this was a subject that interest
It was a clear night and the stars were fantastic to behold, in
fact us townies were most impressed since we can just about see
these days…some villain stole our stars!!
Saturday: As I headed for my ablutions I could not help
but notice the line of black birds along atop one wall, all neatly
arranged in order of size; starlings, jackdaws and crows…waiting…watching…their
little avian brains thinking about taking
over the world…but I digress….
After breakfast Janet and I walked along the castle walls,
this is quite an achievement for me as I don’t do edges very well,
in fact at one point I almost gave up as there is a narrow walkway
with low railings and wall and an exciting drop on either side.
In the end I took my boots off and finished the walk in bare feet.
It was well worth the effort the views are amazing up there.
Returning to the green, we sorted out our museum and soon the visitors
started arriving, watched over by a couple of buzzards. One of the
really good things about this little show is that we were all time
slotted to do our main bit so the crowds ambled from one display
to another. I managed to overhear enough of Wel’s talk of
grisly medieval ‘justice’ to make a mental note not to apply for
the incarnation form for that period. From there the visitors went
to John the Hangman who dealt out further justice to anyone
who had survived Ordeals by Fire, Water, Stocks or Pillory…they
even put pigs 'n' cockerels on trial!!
Then it was our turn, we had some fantastic crowds who were a real
pleasure to talk to. From us they moved on to Steve the 18th
Century surgeon and then had the pleasure of the Singing
Plague Victims; the long nosed scabby pair did a great show
just next to us, little did we know that within seconds Milly
Molly Manky’s ‘My
Young Man’ song had burrowed into our brains and would play
repeatedly whenever there was a quiet moment!!
Between shows I went over to talk to the Pelicans and chatted
with Jules, who had some interesting grub which included
white carrots and something that looked mostly like the sort of
thing that you chuck away but was, in fact, a variety of parsnip,
the name of which I can’t remember but sounded vaguely like sk’rit.
Jules also donated a couple of eggs, one of which is the
smallest chicken egg that I have ever seen being just under 2 inches
in length…or approximately 4.5cm, not exactly omelette material!
Once the public had gone we chilled out while Eve and Steve
set up tables and food in the middle of the green for a party
to celebrate their anniversary. This was a great little do; I even
got to talk to the real Nostrildamus and Milly. Laz
and I had pondered on the idea of doing a magic lantern show and
in the end put it to our hosts…and so our first lantern show abroad
came into being.
We were going to use the shop tent but it was too shiny, it was
then suggested that we use the toilet display at the Pelicans.
So we set up our lantern overlooking a replica medieval bog under
which rested some rather excellent hand made turds and projected
on a screen behind which was a huge pile of donkey poo made by real
donkey bottoms. We did ‘Birds and Their Nests’ which we should
probably turn into a therapy lesson...”So tell me…what
you see? Mmm…The nest of the weaver or something more erroneous
perhaps…” I’m always impressed by what folks see. We also did ‘The
Tooms that Time Forgot and the Crystal Skull’ and due to a possible
Illuminati conspiracy we did not have the special effects slides
and part of the story was missing…our audience just could not have
handled the dark truth. It was rather odd and afterwards Val
said she could not work out what was going on…I’m not so sure that
I did come to think on it.
Talking of odd, Aidan told us about the sort of magazines
that he used to edit, coming from him; I did not expect such titles
as ‘Ambulance Monthly’ and ‘Fire Engine!’ with an
exclusive supplement of ‘What Car was that before Immolation?’
What really amazed us was that they had a bath
tub and a water heater in their tent! The luxury that some folks
re-enact in, eh!?
We had all worked very hard and went to bed replete on grub, beer
Sunday: …and then we woke up to a grey, windy, drizzling
morning where the only bit that existed was Carisbrooke,
of the island was out there somewhere in the haze. Into this
damp world emerged a bunch of people who would rather have been
in the Bahamas, there was even a hint of rebellion as we tried to
work out how we were going to do things, the museum for starters
was a non runner. We considered taking over the goods tent, we had
enough weapons between us. We watched as the wind sent the fine
drizzle in every direction, which, at least, explained why just
about everything had got soaked.
As Jules, AJ and Aiden bailed out the Pelican
patch Eve spotted a punnit of cherry
tomatoes secreted amongst the vegetables; they were quickly
removed to the future. Despondent cheese sticks and bits of food
soggy beyond recognition lay on the tables, the “I Love You”
spelled out in sugar letters had dissolved under the impact of the
Drizzle Gods. There is something almost heartbreaking when you spy
a bowl filled to the brim with rainwater at the bottom of which
lay the sad drowned bodies of peanuts and raisins.
I found a female Great Green Bush-cricket (Tettigonia viridissima)
perched on one of our poles and we all stood around admiring the
critter, she probably did not appreciate the delicate, artistically
arranged water droplets on her body and her mandibles were probably
miming “Do you know where my towel is?”
John the Hangman went to listen to the ‘Archers Omnibus’
while Janet and I, both hooded in robe-like garments, wandered
about like lost Jedi. I suggested that we stand at the gate
and turn people away by saying “This is not the event you are looking
for” complete with hand flourish. But…the show must go on! Two
Thirds of Grymm Tooms went to the education Centre which we
were to share with The Rat Catchers and Medieval Crime
It didn’t really work for us; Laz and I were at the back
and people were obviously afraid to come into the room. Eric
did manage to do his talk but his traps worked in slow motion due
to the damp. No doubt pesky rodents were celebrating in sewers everywhere!
The best bit about that little room, apart from the fact that I
seemed to have trouble finding the door, was that people had to
come right in to see our specimens. One lady with her daughter was
eager to see the mermaid and when I held up the crawling critter
the look on her face must have been similar to so many folks a hundred
years ago when they walked into a dingy tent to see a mummified
monkey instead of ‘Miss Atlantis 1897’
As the sun came out, Wel decided that he would go back to the green
and by the time that our lunch arrived we too had decided to take
the risk. So once again our boxes were ferried back to the green
in the ATV. There were people out there, we had seen a tiny percentage
and it was just as well that we had decided to return to camp as
by early afternoon the sun had come out and the crowds were as keen
In an ever so slightly déjà vu moment I met a group of people from
Ecuador who spotted the shrunken head, so I introduced them
to Charlie. When they asked me if it was real I showed them
the inside and they were convinced that Charlie was, indeed
a real tsantsa. Making the thing out of leather had paid off, and
I also told them it was the remains of my old boss.
There was another visitor who was somewhat captivated by the curios,
this was young Max who stayed around for quite some time
and probably memorised most of what I had to say. I passed on book
titles, collecting and model making techniques, he was as eager
for knowledge as I was at his age.
It had been a hard day and after dinner we all gathered at the
Pelicans. Earlier in the day I had spotted AJ pour
a pile of donkey droppings onto their fire grid, I had not thought
much of it at the time but now it became evident that he was going
to burn it as they had no coals. AJ worked at the fire for
ages, while it is a well known fact that herbivore droppings are
for fires, it is also a well know fact that fresh, damp turds
do not burn, no matter how much air is bellowed into them. The end
result was thick pungent smoke that the wind threw at us from every
direction until we were all thoroughly kippered through. AJ
had worked so long and hard at getting that fire going that by the
time he gave up the stars had come out.
Monday: I had an odd taste in my mouth when I woke up this
morning and tried to ignore the fact that it may have been a result
of exposure to smoking
donkey poo…nice. And then when we opened up the cool box the
A frame filled with the scent of Camembert, probably not
the best choice of cheese in a confined space, especially taking
into consideration that I like it when it is old enough to vote
and sending out pseudopods in search of prey. And why was my brain
singing “My Young Man” in such a raucous fashion?
Obviously my request about a dry and calm event went unheeded by
whatever beings control the weather, but it was different from yesterday…there
was more wind for a start and we had to put away the optics, good
thing too as half way through the day a gust flipped both of the
While I was giving my first talk it started to drizzle, I persevered
but in the end I had to cover my stuff up, calling the plastic sheet
ectoplasm went down very well with the crowds but I would have preferred
a dry day.
It brightened up about lunch time and as we set our food out I
was asked a rather odd question: “Are you going to eat those pork
pies?” since they were not Sweeney
Todd Specials then the answer is “yes”…do I get a prize?
I was not going to be beaten by the elements, I was sick of holding
my tables down against the wind and in the end I uncovered my display
for the afternoon talk. I had again, got a good crowd and decided
to try something with my talk on fakes. I asked how many of them
had ever seen a platypus, as it quite obviously could not exist.
They all put there hands up…”OK how many of you have seen a live
one…not on TV?” One hand remained, out of all those people only
one boy could prove that such an oddity existed. I was using this
in context with the fact that the critter was once believed to be
a fabrication. And, for the record, I too have not seen a living
During this talk was one of those amazing kids I meet, she was
into dinosaurs and told me that she liked the pterosaurs, so I showed
her the cast I have of Pterodactylus elegans, which may well be
the smallest of the group ever.
The wind had scattered labels all over the place and had also dismantled
my original copy of Waterton’s ‘Wanderings in South America’,
one portion of which was found about 30 feet away.
While I was taking a break, I watched the tosher give his talk
about finding things in poo (do I detect a theme…?). And then I
bumped into Max and his family, got thanked for being patient
with him and had my picture taken. And then it was off to pack up.
All went smoothly until we took our flag down and could not get
the sections apart due to water soaked wood getting all clingy and
emotional on us…we had to break the poor thing up in the end.
WOW! What a weekend! Great company, thanks for everyone and Happy
Anniversaries to Steve & Eve and Wel & Karen
This is Prof. Grymm in search of interesting root vegetables
such as the skirret (Sium Sisarum).