Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Chiltern Open Air Museum 21st - 22nd August 2010



Saturday: According to the Incredible Dr Tooms, it was going to take us around one and half hours to get to the museum, adding an extra half hour to allow for hold ups meant that we got there far too early! Unlike Southampton, Chiltern Open Air Museum really is just outside the M25!

Once we were set up in the old vicarage again we waited for visitors to turn up, it was a bit of a slow start to say the least but around midday…about lunch time… things began to develop…I had barely cracked my hard boiled egg when the first of many visitors began to turn up…my lunch then lay there for ages, sad and mostly mangled while I talked about mermaids. I met a very nice Sri Lankan family who had their photos taken with a few of my exhibits, not really sure what granddad thought of the mermaid as he posed with it, no doubt he will tell an interesting tale when he gets home.

One lady was so intrigued by the platypus that she returned later to quiz me further. One of the things that strike people is the size, they either imagine that the critter is much larger or tell me that they are smaller, my specimen is a maximum size male based on photos of several mounted specimens.

Another odd question that came up several times was “are we wearing Victorian clothing?” I doubt if I could get into most Victorian clothing, I saw John Bell Hood’s frockcoat in the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA. Had I tried on the great man’s attire it would have burst at the shoulders – I thought he was taller than that.

There was a lady lurking about with a large camera and she introduced herself as Maureen McLean who was taking photos for ‘Totally Society’, so, being a bashful lot, we posed with some of our exhibits and visitors. For what must be the first time ever visitors were queuing up to have a look at Cassandra’s phenakistoscope, for some odd reason, lots of people were also interested in the box everything went into…how very odd.

Apart from us there was also a small group of members from Soskan, who were wandering around as a very dapper looking shooting party. Every time they went by I asked them if they had bagged something interesting for me. Donald, usually a surgeon but today a gentlemen of leisure and shooter of small scurrying things, came over to talk with Dr Tooms; no doubt they had quite a few things to catch up on as we had not seen Donald or his good lady Lesley for quite a few years.

It would have been nice to have stayed on site but there would have been a Billy No Mates element to it, so once the visitors were gone and the vicarage locked up we headed for home.

Sunday: Another fine morning and another busy day. Melissa came to see us during the afternoon and while chatting with Dr Tooms the subject of magic lantern shows came up, “one of the strangest things that we have used for a screen was a medieval loo complete with fake, hand made turds” said the good doctor. “That would be the Pelicans” was the reply.

I was not wearing my pith helmet today; it just sort of sat there and by an odd twist became an exhibit of its own as several people asked to try it on. One very nice lady even asked to be photographed wearing it.

I met a family from New Zealand and the young man with them had an amazing amount of knowledge on all things Novazeelandesque, that may not be a real word but it looks good to me! We chatted about my huias and then went on to talk about moas, moko and the pre-Maori settlement of the islands. The islands must have been incredible when the first human got there; no terrestrial mammals, a few frogs and lots of bird species including giant plodding moas and Haast’s eagle big enough to turn an unsuspecting hiker into a ready meal.

Just as we were getting ready to leave we heard from one of the staff that there was a family still on site somewhere and, while they were no danger of being locked in, I suggested that they send out dogs to flush ‘em out.

Well, this is pretty much it as events go for us; almost time to get back to the drawing board and make a couple more exhibits…all will be revealed.

This is Prof Grymm in search of new things to play with.