Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Newhaven Fort May 1st 2010



Having barely recovered from our adventures in Belgium we set off for Eastbourne on a sunny afternoon, it should have been a straightforward journey but Sibyl and the Fair Folk pixie led us first through Tonbridge and then down lots of quaint country lanes hardly wide enough for the car. I sometimes wonder about the motives of the Sat-Nav.

We had planned to eat at the little restaurant with the hot rocks that we visited last year but, sadly, this was gone to be replaced by a Chinese buffet munch ‘til you drop sort of place. Instead we headed for ‘Zara’ for another excellent curry.

It rained during the night but as we left Eastbourne, via several diversions the sun came out and we dragged it all the way to Newhaven Fort with us! We were met by Paul and Debby who informed us that there were three other events going on in the area that day: Bangkok Ladyboys, Nude Cyclist event and The Ladies Open, I did not catch what this bizarre combination of events actually entailed but I’m sure it was ‘interesting’.

Around mid morning we went up onto the battlements to see the last sea voyage of a little boat that had been designed by T E Lawrence. The view was stunning on such a fine day but we could not find the boat…ah, there it is, it really was little and dwarfed by the tug it was tethered to. A fulmar did wheelies in honour of this final trip, while a jackdaw looked curiously at us with its head tilted in such a way that gave me the impression that it had some doubts about our sanity.

Lunch was served by Debby and consisted of a delicious chicken chasseur. One thing that was thankfully missing from the day was recorded re-runs of WWI songs, I am not sure if we could have taken another bout of ‘Tipperary’, which, I might add, happens to be one of my favourites.

I talked to a gentleman who owns a real mummified cat; he was doubtful about my one, but I explained that it is based on several photos and specimens. Mummified cats ranged from large, elaborately wrapped specimens to small bundles that look like little more than a toilet roll wrapped in a cheap first aid kit. Just for the record no animals were harmed in the mummification of my Tibbles.

What had started as something of a slow day turned into a busy afternoon and we managed to keep our visitors entertained. During my telling of the Piltdown story I found that several people I talked to lived in the little village made famous by Charles Dawson and his cricket playing ancestor.

We met a gentleman of some 90 years who loved the stereoscopes and other ‘scopes in our collection. One young lad had seen the ghost that lives down one of the tunnels in the fort, his description had matched that of a known ghost of the fort.

Chris of the ‘Heilbron Commando’ had a chat with us about the ‘Ryedale Folk Museum’, I later talked to one of his members who had been a game guide in South Africa and told me a story about a close encounter with a cape buffalo, possibly the meanest, vilest, most short tempered species of cattle on earth and accounting for far more deaths than deep fried Mars Bars! The horror…the horror!

There were also some very nice ladies from the local library who tried to get me to join, they seemed assured when I told them that I was not a local and that I owned rather more books than most people, although the days when I read 50 odd books a year have faded like a daguerreotype in the sun.

And so on to the saying of the event; I usually quote the ridiculous or just plain silly but today’s prize goes to a young lad who, at some opportune moment during a Dr Tooms Talk suddenly asked, rather randomly, “are you going to watch ‘Britain’s Got Talent?’’, there is not a lot to say to that!

As the day came to a finish we packed, thanked Paul n Debby and set off for home, racing the rain that seemed to follow in our wake…nothing to do with us folks!

This is Prof. Grymm…off to check out those ‘other events’!