Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Newhaven Fort June 9-10 2012



Saturday: I got a call from Paul on Friday morning that there was a gale blowing at Newhaven, well at least we will be indoors. Apparently some people are going to be living in tents. Since the only place for tenting is up on the top I did not envy them, anyone up there was likely to find themselves in the Channel.

After a somewhat circuitous and pixy-led journey in which roads seemed to shift off the radar and magnetic north lost its identity, we finally arrived at the fort. Paul met us at the gate and took us to our usual spot in the caponier, which may or may not have things to do with chickens.

Very little happened throughout the morning so I set off to explore the bowels of the fort, the lower passages are said to be haunted but my trip along the narrow corridor that looks out over the sea was mostly uneventful. I say mostly because just as I stopped at the bottom of the stairs on my return I heard a sound, like footsteps, way back down that tunnel…probably an echo of my own steps…probably…I was after all the only one down there.

The afternoon was as quiet as the morning and once the fort was closed we settled down for our evening meal, but there was a slight glitch there – where was the trangier or the pan to cook in? Come to think of it, where was the rest of the food? It seems that some nugget had forgotten quite a few essentials. However being resourceful fellows we did bring a little travel kettle and used the hot water to add to the stew and warm it up.

Since it was a rather pleasant evening and the gales that had been forecast had not arrived we invited Paul, Milo & Bethan to a game of petanque. For anyone who knows Newhaven Fort it will soon become apparent that ball games are mostly out of the question, a chucked metal ball would gather enough momentum to hit a wall with the impact of round shot. The only flat surface available is the children’s playground, the only drawback there is the layer of woodchips into which the bouchon quickly sank from view! We ended up using a scrap of yellow plastic for the jack.

Bethan had never played this game before but, no doubt as a result of her Jedi swashbuckling skills, she threw some amazing balls most of the time. At some point conversation switched to hovercraft (don’t ask!) and Bethan suddenly said “my acupuncturist told me that the German for “hovercraft is Luftkissencraft”. Halfway through the game the Napoleonic contingent amble buy, Bethan was eyeing up the jack and Tooms said “Looks like the cast from Les Mis!” This wrecked any accuracy in Bethan’s throw and reduced her into twitching hystericals! I won but I would like to think that this was not an act of flinging sabots.

After the game Paul suggested a trip into the tunnels, but it was time for bed and we left Paul to his part mole, part Morlock activities.

Sunday: Another bright and quiet day, what few people I spoke to were mostly interested in how to make a mermaid, information that I am always happy to give out. Perhaps I should do a piece on mermaids…

The afternoon was even quieter than the morning and the longest conversation I had with a member of the public lasted about five minutes and was with a half interested five year old. Then, about twenty minutes before closing three people turned up who were interested in the exhibits. We ended up chatting with them right through to the end and since one of them is currently studying in the British Museum, I gave him directions to the mermaid which is on display in the Age of Enlightenment (Room 1) exhibition. Stand at the door, walk forward to the cases at the back of the room and look to your left about waist height and there you shall find the shrivelled remains of a small Feejee Mermaid.

This is Prof. Grymm…in search of food for the brain