Friday: We arrived early in the afternoon, which was just
as well as the little corner that we had been allotted a few weeks
ago was disappearing into the Bucktail
camp! This minor glitch was soon sorted out and, as it happened,
we ended up right along the ride leading to the other living history
groups – a prime spot. Another advantage of this little shift meant
that we were not near the wasp nest that would have been right under
The ground was pretty lethal; not only was it uneven but sneaky
rabbits had dug random pits just deep enough to twist the unwary
ankle. There was going to be some sort of mega reception here on
Sunday evening and every now and then a black helicopter flew over
head, a little too close for comfort I thought.
We watched various colourful medieval tents going up, looking briefly
like something from ‘Alice
in Wonderland’ as they spun around on the central pole.
After dinner we popped down to see Phil and Jane at
Point. Bella, their big friendly rottweiler greeted
us, there was one of those flashing red things on her collar but
as night descended she became virtually invisible when laying on
the ground...you had to check which way she was facing before patting
her on the head.
When we returned to our camp we were invited over to the Bucktail
campfire, due to lack of space their randomly generated ‘street’
looked more like a mushroom patch. We had a great time with them
and there was a great deal of howling into the night!
Saturday: The site was heaving this morning, what little
space remained was reserved for the public to move and stand. Before
we opened up shop Laz, Cassandra and I ambled down
to West Point to present them with a ‘By Royal Appointment’
certificate from Norton I, Emperor
of the United States of America and Protector of Mexico.
We had a constant stream of people along our path. I have noticed
that while I am talking to one or two people I develop a sort of
tunnel vision when suddenly I realise that there are some twenty
odd eager listeners stretched out along the barrier. Our barriers
suffered quite a bit, the ground was hard a couple of inches down
so most of our poles were upright by sheer will power and the space
between my table and the public rapidly disappeared as poles sagged
and ropes wilted under the press.
I had the usual mix, but today’s prize goes to a little girl whose
knowledge of dinosaurs was astounding to say the least – put it
this way, I could not say “Baryonyx”
when I was three years old. She was fascinated by the Pterodactylus
elegans cast and told me that when the dinosaurs died out their
relatives, the birds, took over.
Laz and Cassandra were also doing very well; although
I did notice that Dr. Tooms was developing a bit of a fan
club, he never got that sort of attention when he portrayed Major
J C Jones of the 4th
Texas...I suppose the blood spattered apron and pile of
severed limbs may have had something to do with it.
Finally it was time to pack up and chill out, it had been a great
day, in fact so many people had arrived that the car park was filled
to capacity and people were being turned away. As I started preparing
our evening meal, a single wasp turned up, we had been unmolested
by these bugs all day but now they had sent out a scout to Grymm
Tooms or in this case just Tooms. The wasp landed on
his face and then wandered about until it found his nose where it
peered into a nostril just in case there was something interesting
in there. I was trying to work out how to deal with wasps in nasal
cavities when it lost interest and flew off.
With darkness we set up our, now legendary, magic lantern show.
Oddly enough the Grymm Tooms Picture Company has been in
existence longer than the Travelling Museum. The Antarctic
Explorers let us use the side of their huge tent. I’d love
something like that for our museum but it would be a nightmare to
put up. We had some new slides; in fact they were hot off the press
as Dr. Tooms was putting them together during the day whenever
he had a few minutes to spare. New adverts went up prior to the
show and then we had some very nice hunting slides that mostly show
what happens when you don’t get out of the way of your wounded target!
Sadly, once on the screen, these lovely slides faded out into a
series of ink blot tests that only a good psychologist could interpret.
After the show I watched some night-time fire juggling practice
at the Lion
Rampant camp. You must need some pretty neat co-ordination
in order to grab the bit of the stick that you can’t see and so
avoid sautéed digits.
We later spent some time at the Heilbron
Kommando camp. I was offered a little wooden stool with
rawhide straps to sit on. Chris called it ‘rimpi’ but I thought
he said ‘impi’
and wondered what an elite Zulu unit might be doing down there...This
was a great little social and we chatted about the Boer and
Zulu Wars before saying good night and heading back for our
Sunday: There was quite a bit of mist this morning and by
the time I got out of the tent to sort out breakfast it was already
warm. Poor Dr. Tooms didn’t sound so good, I heard him coughing
and spluttering away earlier and when he finally crawled out of
his tent he looked like death warmed up, as one would expect for
someone called Lazarus Tooms, I suppose. His voice was a
faint gasp and he was worried about how long he would be able to
talk today, if at all. After breakfast he disappeared into his sagging
tent “to take a power-nap
and adjust his chakras”
of his chakras brought conversation to a stand still, little Zoë
looked at me with slightly raised eyebrows and then went off with
Before show time we did a photo shoot as a group, the early sun
seemed mostly in the wrong place no matter where we stood and while
Cassandra looks cool and collected Laz and I are mostly
scowling like a couple of grave robbers caught in the act.
Today I met another child full of dinosaur facts; he asked me if
I had any Suchomimus
teeth. I wonder what on earth these kids have been eating!? I could
not even imagine what Suchomimus was when I was six... It
is truly wonderful to see that dinosaurs are still exciting and
grip our imagination as they did when the first ones were exhibited
Park over 150 years ago.
We took a break at 2.pm and we would all like to give a big ‘thank
you’ to Rae and Donna from the Union command of Soskan
who volunteered to look after the museum while we took an hour off.
It was pretty hot once you were away from the trees and the place
was jam-packed with people, the car park was full and it seems that
the closed road was being used for extra parking. We went to see
the puppet show at Perrot’s
Puppets, a great tale about a dragon slayer. I was struck
by the fact that so many people of all ages were watching this show.
We went down to see Ali
and there we found something that Dr. Tooms was after – a
pair of Persian slippers with wonderful turned up toes. The good
doctor has been after an interesting ‘dress down’ outfit for some
time and is now looking for some sort of Oriental gown...I do worry
about him sometimes!
Back at the museum Rae told me that she had been telling
visitors how amazing all our stuff was. It was pretty much non-stop
from there on. There was a delightful group of kids who were a real
pleasure to deal with, their hands went up and down like a Mexican
wave and they asked so many questions I was on the verge of borrowing
Dr Tooms’s spare brain just to keep up!
Between takes I managed to say hello to Jack from the 4th
Texas, who now looked very dapper as a German infantryman and
take an occasional bite of my food. I don’t usually talk to the
crowd while I eat but today was an exception since I didn’t get
to my grub until late in the day, not that anyone seemed to mind.
The end was nigh and as I started packing up, a young lad turned
up who not only bombarded me with cynicism, but insisted on grabbing
things to prove that they were fakes. I was far too exhausted and
in no fit state to swashbuckle with so much pessimism! Hopefully
next time he will keep an open mind and read the ‘Do
Not Touch’ signs. Thankfully I was saved by two very
nice ladies who asked sensible questions.
This is Prof. Grymm signing out...and for those of you who
may have spotted it; both Baryonyx and Suchomimus
were not discovered until the 1980’s and 90’s respectively, so there
is no way that I would have known about them between the ages of
3 and 6 years! Oddly enough they are closely related...unlike the
two kids...who were not...and just for the record; I’ve been fascinated
by all things dinosaur since I was about 9...