Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Henley Fort, September 9 2012



Sunday: We had been invited to this little event by James Dix of The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment for the fort’s open day, part of the County’s Heritage Day, the only time that the fort is open to the public. We headed for Guildford in the early hours of this lovely autumn day and got to Henley Fort with almost an hour to spare, which was just as well since the fort was well disguised. Unlike Newhaven Fort this is a small, low lying building and out of sight from the road, even when I got out of the car to search for it from the ridge overlooking Guildford I could not see it. Great view though.

We got a little pixy-led and ended up in the Education Centre where you can do things like archery, survival skills and bouldering, the latter being the art of clinging to a rock face using your fingertips and wishful thinking. As we pondered on this, Simon turned up just in time to assure us that we were in the right place. Parking proved a bit of a dilemma but we were helped by an incredibly caring native who told us where to go. Once inside the fort we discovered that the place had another advantage over Newhaven – the ground was mostly flat and since the weather was going to be fine we decided to set up in the little court yard.

James and Leanne turned up with their cat Brutus in tow as he was poorly and on his way to the vets. As the first visitors arrived Nick Ransom interviewed us for a little video he was making about the open day that would be on YouTube at some point, hopefully the number of times that I said ‘curios’ will be edited. Considering that the fort appears to be somewhat isolated, we were very busy throughout the day with a constant flow of visitors. It was a hot day and this time I had the sense to wear my brimmed hat.

As usual we met a fascinating bunch of people; one gent I talked to was also interested in Cryptozoology and mentioned sky-rods, winged, rod shaped, fast ‘critters’ that have been filmed and photographed. Evidence shows that most rods are nothing more than moths or other bugs. We also chatted about the Cottingley Fairies and orbs. Are orbs fairies or just dust? If they are dust/pollen then they should appear in every photo taken with a digital camera, but don’t. Very interesting…

James was hoping to show us around the fort but every time that he walked over to us to start the tour someone arrived to look at our stuff and we had to cut things short – perhaps next year…

Toward the end of the afternoon I chatted with one of the staff who had read Willard Price; I would have thought that Price was a bit past his sell-by date by now, although I did pick up a reprint of ‘Amazon Adventure’ (first published in 1949!) several years ago for the sheer nostalgia of the fact that Charlie the shrunken head makes his appearance in this novel. As I started to pack I met a palaeontologist who had never heard of Cope & Marsh, those estranged dragon hunters who discovered so many familiar dinosaur species.

We would like to take a moment to thank James and his Regiment and Simon and the rest of the staff at Henley who fed us and made our visit a very pleasant event. And so as we headed for LDN we played a cheerful tune for someone we had met earlier in the day…

This is Prof. Grymm…wishing Brutus a speedy recovery