Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Colchester Victorian Festival - 9th July 2011



Saturday: We had a nice easy run up to Colchester until we were about ¼ mile from the site then we found that, having missed our turning, we were now in some sort of vortex that took us around the same round-about half a dozen times! Finally saved from our circumambulations, we arrived at St. Botolph’s and got onto the priory green where we were met by Clive who had provided a huge gazebo for us to set up in - now that is what we call luxury.

We were lucky enough to meet Olivia, who is a story teller at the Horniman Museum in London and familiar with the mermaid that they have there. Mine was inspired by that specimen which is the only mermaid I have seen in collections that is, for want of a better word, animated. Technically, my specimen is a merman as is the Horniman specimen and the Merman of Lake Superior, which I saw at the Indian Trading Post in Banff, Canada a few years back.

The local museum had a little exhibit going which included a rather nice little stereoscope and a leopard skull which, I noticed, had information on when it was taken written on the skull, much the same way as a bear skull that I saw recently. There was also the opportunity for visitors to dress up as Victorians and have their photo taken.

At some point during the morning I ended up in a photo shoot with a couple of youngsters for the local paper and then back to business. I met a lady who was into Cryptozoology, not an -ology recognised by many folks but a very interesting one nonetheless. My approach to ‘unknown’ animals is use a field guide first and then, when it is not there take a closer look until you run out of options. I love looking at photos of mystery critters but so far sea monsters are usually decomposed whales or sharks, the majority of Bigfoot photos are fakes and chupacabras are just mangy coyotes. On an upside there is a great video of a black cat taken in Scotland a couple of years ago, the beast’s size can be measured by the railway line and the post that it walks by – that is not your average moggy!

We met a young lady who was portraying a Suffragette so I told her to ask Cassandra about her blouse which carries the secret code of the movement. Later I met a girl who, on being shown the platypus, exclaimed “I thought they were blue!” apparently there is a character called Perry the Platypus who is blue which leads me to ponder on the educational value of the moving picture box…

These one day local events can be excellent and today was no exception; the weather was fantastic and the visitors knowledgeable and entertaining to talk to.

This is Prof. Grymm in search of the Ropen...rule 1: use a field guide…can you see what it is yet?