Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Cliveden Blasts From The Past- 6 to 7 September



Friday: The weather report for this weekend was not good and by the time that we had set up our somewhat cramped little street the rain had come in earnest. In order to cook I rigged up one of our little tables and covered it with a waterproof ground sheet so my Trangier would not get flooded and also save our stew. From our position we could see the entrance getting more and more interesting as the evening progressed and the light faded. The first of many got stuck and I went and helped. We had planned to have a sit down dinner this weekend but that was out of the equation. In the end we retired to our tents to eat.

Earlier we had wandered about to get our bearings and see who was about, we had been looking forward to seeing our friends the Hoplites but the only one we saw was Paul, no doubt making a last stand against the advancing elements:

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
that the weather at Cliveden is really crap…”

We met in the rock shop and while we sheltered from the rain I looked at all the wonderful things for sale, Janet despairs a bit when I am faced with rocks 'n' fossils and gives up when I try to explain the workmanship on a Neolithic multi-tool. After dinner we went to see Phil and Jayne and had a very good evening with them in their cosy abode.

Saturday: There was considerable debate as to whether the show was to go on today, the area leading into the field was mostly mud and there were now great ruts leading to the further end of the field, it looked like quite a few white vans had almost met their end along that track. The Antarctic Explorers did not turn up, they had probably thought better of it as they are usually there before us. We did hear that there was some serious weather and the roads were pretty bad.

Paul and Debbie from French History Festival came by to say hi. Paul was wearing a pair of trousers that I can only describe as a ‘shamanistic experience’, they are black with random white scribbles all over them. While we chatted a red kite flew over, Paul’s disruptive pattern probably making him invisible to the raptor.

There was continued speculation about the show and the weather, the show must go on…oh no it won’t, it was going to clear, it was going to rain, the mud would dry (considering the swampocity of the ground there was probably more chance of me becoming pope) and there was a storm front coming, that got our attention; it was due around 15:00hrs. At last Howard announced that the show had been cancelled but there were limits on traffic leaving due to damage caused to lawns and rides. Quite a few people were already packing up and heading for the hills and there was also a possibility that we may have to down one of our tents to create a new road way. Thankfully that did not happen. At that moment I would not want Howard’s job, that he kept his usual cool amazed me.

Simon the puppet man actually set up a show, we on the other hand did not even take our museum bits out of the cases, which was rather a shame. I think we were all a bit demoralised by the weather, every event has had horrid weather and we had been really looking forward to this show as it was our last main event of the season.

Paul and Debbie came by in the early afternoon and invited us to lunch with Fanlan Uri – and what a lunch! I have never seen such an exotic meal prepared at a re-enactment before; a risotto of game birds (using my Palaeolithic Tracking Techniques I managed to identify partridge and pheasant), fillets of sea bream, rabbit and an exceptional custard tart sprinkled with saffron.

When the ‘storm front’ arrived, pretty much on time, it swept down the street and was gone in a few minutes, thankfully causing no damage that I could see. So much for the doom 'n' gloom predictions!

We met a few of the hard core Union troops, including young Chris from the 4th Texas days, living rough in the wood, they had dug a trench and had made a cheval de frise, this impressive bit of kit can be dismantled and transported! When I saw it I immediately recalled one of those old Civil War cards I had as a kid, I think it was called ‘Pushed to his Doom’. There was no holding back on that set I can tell you; mangling, impalement and immolation of every kind on almost every card!

In the evening we did a lantern show, our very smart auto-ejector slide holder had been affected by the damp and Laz had serious problems getting slides in and out of it. Even in daylight it has problems, jamming at least every 5th slide, so in the dark it was a major pain in the bum.

Afterwards we sat and drank and listened to a bizarre mix of stories which ranged from some very interesting ghost stories to tales of drunken, vomitous adventures – my favourite was one chap opening his tent flap to upchuck out of the tent only to find on waking that he was, in fact, outside the tent and the puke was on the inside!

Sunday: It had rained lots during the night, the tents were sopping wet and the first thing that I saw when I got out of the tent was Laz’s car stuck inna swamp. Not a good start to the day. Thankfully we were helped by a couple of the Fanlan guys. Gerry’s lovely white cotton rope, now somewhat discoloured, came in very handy and saved our bacon. There was talk of waiting for the tents to dry but I was sick of Mother Shipton weather predictions and wanted to get home…just as well really since it never got warm or windy enough to dry the tents out during the day. While we packed up, a few ring necked parakeets went by and then a female sparrow hawk flew over followed by a couple of crows intent on disrupting her hunting technique. I suspect that in the ancient art of Ornithomancy the birds were telling us to go home…so we went.

The End

This is Prof Grymm wishing you all dry tents and other things