Friday: On arrival at Dover Castle we were met by
met by Alysha. We had also allowed plenty of time so that
we could sort out where we were going to set up the museum. We were
hoping for somewhere sheltered; it was quite obvious that a gust
of wind up there would be disastrous for the collection. We need
not have worried, Alysha took us up to the Keep and showed us the
Lower Chapel – this is a fantastic little room, with a beautiful
arched doorway, windows and places we could put things. Some thoughtful
soul had, way back in circa 1188, made a little niche into which
one could display a shrunken head! The only drawback to all this
was that it was up stairs and I was the only one who could get the
heavy stuff up there…ho hum…
Dinner was eagerly watched over by a couple of herring gulls that
were quick to try and grab anything edible and unguarded. Did you
know that ‘seagulls’
don’t feature in field guides? It is usually ‘Gull and Terns’…just
thought you’d like to know that.
This was a fairly small event and reminded me a bit of the events
that we used to go to at Boscobel
House many years ago. After dinner we visited our neighbours.
We lost Tooms on the way…don’t ask how…we only had a couple
of hundred feet to walk in the dark! As it happened, he was with
a group who described themselves as the Four Horsemen of the
Apocalypse (and 2 spares…). We ended up at Don and Catherine’s
along with Eric and Val (The Ratcatchers).
Saturday: There was something surreal about the scene as
we headed from the Lower Chapel; colourful Medieval tents, Roman
lavatory, rat catcher and hooded corpse swinging merrily from the
gallows of the hangman.
As we added the finishing touches to the museum a member of staff
was looking at my ichthyosaurus vertebra; he asked me where I had
bought it. I said that I had picked it up at the ‘Fossil Shop’ in
Lyme Regis. “I thought it looked familiar” said Steve;
it seems that he had found it in Dover, sold it to a shop
in Dorset to be bought by me to show it to its finder!! Now
what on earth are the chances of that happening! Funny old world
As the morning progressed and people came up to see us, I noticed
that there were some hideously injured kids wondering about; cuts,
horrid holes in foreheads and purple bruises. They had been visiting
the face painting (with a difference) tent next to our little camp.
Oddly enough I also saw a few adults with equally nasty wounds…
Fuchsia came to visit us from the Four Horsemen… and took
some photos and talked about
her pet ferrets – ferrets are so
We met lots of interesting people from all over the world it seems.
I heard the word ‘tsantsa’
from one gentleman and went to talk to him. He was, of course, talking
about Charlie who was now displayed in his apparently purpose
built niche. This man lived in Ecuador and had travelled
quite a bit. We chatted about the Shuar (or Jivaro)
who make the heads and he told me that this unpleasant business
is still going on. I also met a very nice bunch of ladies from Boston
and a family from Chile who were fascinated by the platypus.
One lady who had done an Anthropology degree had chosen cannibalism
as her subject. Oddly enough, a friend of mine had done exactly
the same thing trying to prove that cannibalism did not and had
not ever actually existed but had been a general thing told by one
group of people to degrade another group; sort of “those people
up the hill eat dogs” sort of deal. Any way the end of it is that
my friend agreed that people did, in fact, eat other people!
A couple of lads came hurrying up the stairs and asked if we were
the ones with the ghost pictures. What they saw through the stereoscope
did not exactly leave them quivering with fear and they left almost
as quickly as they had arrived. At least the poster that we had
designed in true showman fashion was working thanks to Alysha
who made a large copy of it as our sign.
When I asked a group of visitors what the mystery mammal was, one
young lad called it a ‘cui’ and, as a man who knows a few
things, I recognised this as the native word for guinea
pig, which the critter is not, but I have never heard anyone
actually call the humble cavy a cui or cuy before…very interesting…apparently
there is good
eatin’ on a guinea pig.
We were kept very busy throughout the day and Dr Tooms kept
us entertained with his new toy which is a genuine Edison phonograph,
well it would have been entertaining had he not played the same
bit of ‘When There Isn’t a Girl About’ about fifty times!
And so the day ended and we headed back to our tents for dinner.
Tooms had made a jelly for desert and was disappointed that,
despite hours of hard work it was all red! However this was just
an illusion, possibly caused by gases reflecting off the stratosphere,
or possibly Venus, as it was quite colourful once it was
Dinner was again carefully monitored by a couple of herring gulls
that watched us like harpies at the table of Phineas…
(Who may or may not have owned a mermaid) One of them even tried
to drag off our cloth bag full of cooking gear!
We were so exhausted that we all hit the sack by 9pm! What ever
happened to those early re-enactment days when we stayed up to drink
into the early hours and get up at the crack of dawn to do marchy-marchy
stuff - mostly because some bounder blew a bugle at 06.00!
Sunday: It rained during the night…oh please give us a show
without rain 'n' wind!!!!
As I served breakfast I heard a familiar “krok, krok” call of a
raven and was fortunate enough to watch this noble bird harangue
one of our resident harpies!
Steve came by this morning and donated a couple of fossils,
sea urchin and a beautiful little ammonite Eupholites
lautus*. Many thanks.
I have over the last couple of days managed to slip on the castle
cobbles due to the fact that the leather soles of my brogues have
been nicely polished by friction. As a result of this I tended to
walk as though I was hiking across a frozen lake – hardly the most
graceful way for a renowned explorer to mosey! Note to self: get
rubber soles for boots!
There was a boy who not only liked dinosaurs but was also fascinated
by Jack the Ripper. Makes one wonder what sort of adult he
will grow into really…ohhh nooo he will be a sort of Grymm Tooms
We took a few minutes time out and chatted with Don on his
replica Houseteads Roman toilet complete with running water
and several sponges onna stick.
There were again lots of crowds, at one point that little chapel
was wall to wall with visitors…oh and there was lots of wind. And
then came the news from Vicky that one of our tents was starting
to come adrift. I finished my talk to a group of people and Janet
and I hurried out, mindful of my roller skate action brogues. By
the time that we arrived Vicky was sort of hanging on to
the end of Laz’s tent, either trying to stop it from buckling
completely or just hanging on hoping that it would not take off.
Don came down to help (cheers) but I gave up trying to keep
the wobbly thing upright so I folded it down and hog tied the critter
to the ground.
The Medieval tents faired little better and they were soon packing
a home away, the Horsemen had added demolition by wind to their
By the time that I got back to the chapel Tooms and Steve
had become something of a double act, as Dr Tooms tried to remember
names of my exhibits, Steve would provide the names!
Once the show was over, I had to lug all the gear back down the
stars and into the car, which thankfully we could get right up to
the chapel. Apart from Dr Tooms tripping over his own shadow and
almost trepanning himself on the flint wall, the packing up was
And so on to the quote of the weekend, this, in fact, probably
deserves a prize of some sort:
“Is that the fat midget?” This came from am American gentleman
referring to our photo of Her
Majesty Queen Victoria! He thought that it was a picture
wife! What can I say? The horror…the horror…
This is Prof. Grymm off to apologise to Mrs
*If you check this ammonite on Wikipedia there is a link to the
ammonite genus Hoplites…oddly enough the link takes you Hoplites…Greeks…without
any mention of crusty cephalopods anywhere!