Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Festival of History (English Heritage) 16th to 19th July 2011



Friday 16th: Despite several hold-ups along the route we arrived on site in the middle of the afternoon. As we waited to go to our pitch I could not help noting that when the message went to Griffin it appeared that there was another Grymm Tooms out there. Whoever had given in our names earlier had, it seems, disappeared leaving a whiff of mystery in their wake…

It was a very pleasant, sunny afternoon but we had checked the weather and had a pretty good idea that we were in for another Kelmarsh Ordeal by Weather over the weekend – we could hardly wait! We were set up next to the Home Front display, Harry and Andy had a little Dig for Victory garden going that had the potential of ending up like Passchendaele by Sunday. This was an excellent spot for us as we were tucked up against a little woodland which would, hopefully, shelter us from the persistent wind of these here parts.

In the evening we were joined by Paul and Debby. They were camped about as far away from us as they could be without leaving the site. Earlier we had communicated by phone while Debby waved a shopping bag to get my attention, a yellow bag and a mobile phone could have saved Hannibal at Zama…well, it might have…trust me I’ve read Livy’s ‘War with Hannibal’!

Saturday 17th: We set up in the vain hope that the rain would not arrive until later but within minutes of putting our exhibits out the rain came and continued relentlessly throughout the morning. I got a text from Paul ‘If it keeps up like this we won’t be able to get the fire going’ my reply was ‘If it keeps up like this my mermaid will be able to swim to freedom’ – luckily I kept it under wraps and the lapping waters of the deluge did not reach the table top.

As we chatted with Tony Mugridge, who works as a brick maker at Iron Bridge, I could feel my formal coat becoming heavier and heavier. By the time I ambled off to the Viking camp to meet up with Mike, Katie, Steven and Matt, I had gained several pounds and was shedding water from my sleeves like the Kwisatz Hyderach…only there was no desert. Mike was going out as a veteran brother of the Knights Hospitalers and as he rested on his staff he looked more like the Ancient Mariner.

I can quite honestly say that by mid morning I would gladly have gone home. The thought of standing around in wet clothing discussing the finer points of mermaids and non-descripts just did not seem that important when compared to a hot meal and a warm bath.

Around 1 o’clock the weather cleared and the sun came out – it was time to work, at last. I took my coat off and worked in undress mode to allow my heavy, soaked coat and clothes to air and dry. Despite the horrid morning we had an excellent turn out and we were in a good position next to an arena.

Debby had hoped to cook lunch for us but their fire drum had turned into an elevated pond, so it was just as well that we had ready to eat food, hopefully Paul and Debby also had something to eat.

Mike returned and became, rather briefly, our valet, offering choice morsels of what I referred to as quagga biltong. I met a gent from Blackpool who is starting his own curio museum and I passed on information on model making and availability of originals. The rest of the day went very well, meeting up with some previous visitors. I was glad when the show was over – standing around in damp clothing had taken a lot out of me and I needed to sit down.

In the evening we were joined by Paul & Debby, Milo and Beth. Milo is possibly one of the tallest people I have ever encountered and even the wide French Foreign Legion sash did not detract from his tallosity! We were joined also by the amazing Mike the Medic who is so unique that if he did not exist he would have to be invented! Mike had had about as dreary a journey as us getting to Kelmarsh and by a twist of angwantibo giblets had seen the same three grey guinea fowl feeding along the motorway…What strange birds! We had a great social with the usual tales of odd re-enactment moments and spooky goings on in strange houses…but that, as they say, is another story.

Sunday 18th: Well, at least it was sunny, and the rain seemed to have used itself up during Saturday. However we were not to escape quite so lightly, where water had given up air took over and we did our show in the most horrid gusting wind. Things not meant to fly took wing in a random fashion; at some point during the afternoon a sudden gust grabbed one of Dr Toomsesss framed exhibits and slapped it against a barrier pole sending glass fragments a couple of feet further on, fortunately no one was standing in the way.

Debby had managed to get her fire going today and prepared some food for us, it was supposed to have been brought over by our new valet but he disappeared into L-Space somewhere on the way, perhaps the wind had taken him to Kansas. A couple who we had met in Zonnebekke last year came over to see us and then I ambled over to see Chris and his fellow Boers. I bumped into Elaine, Mike’s missus, on the way and told her to tell him that he was sacked as a valet.

Regardless of flying frames and a collapsing tent we carried on with the show and again met lots of interesting folks. I met a kid who knew that pterosaurs were not dinosaurs, it never ceases to amaze me just what kids know and what they are interested in.

After our last visit to Kelmarsh a couple of years ago, we decided that if we got the chance to do this event again we would stay over and chill out for the evening and, with a bit of luck we would be packing dry canvas in the morning. We had another enjoyable evening with Mike who was staying with us overnight.

Monday 19th: Having had a peaceful sleep I woke up to find that Tooms had had a pretty miserable night. Granted it had been a cold and damp one but the Pixies of Temporal Gateways had somehow undone his tent ties so that the whole thing flapped open during the night like a ruptured bat, so that he felt as though he had slept under the stars. I found him sitting in his car with the heating on, I suspect that if it had not been for us he would have simply driven away and left everything! And so, having survived another Kelmarsh, we sat down to bacon and a few of Mike’s home produced Indian runner and bantam eggs, with the proviso we broke the eggs into another container first since one of them given to a friend had been more balut than fry up!

This is Prof GrymmKelmarsh…it’s got ‘marsh’ in it!