Thursday 30 April 2009

It's a perfect (mouse-shaped) world - except for swine flu

‘Hey, shall we take the stairs? They’re just there, honey.’
‘I don’t think so. Let’s wait for the elevator.’
‘OK, honey.’
Now let’s get this straight. There are sixteen stairs and they go DOWN. And we wonder why Americans get fat? Not that I can talk but, hey you lot were right – I DO feel nearly svelte over here. Disney is apparently keen on ‘healthy choices’ but when one of the ‘must-tries’ is a bucket of ice cream, and when a strawberry daiquiri comes, not just with a strawberry on top but strawberry and CREAM, well – you get the picture.

I’m trying hard but it’s tough to resist fresh waffles and hot maple syrup, particularly when the waffles come in Mickey Mouse shapes with the obligatory ears. I know, I know – am I cracking? Am I turning into a Mouseperson? We were joined at breakfast by Goofy, Minnie and Donald (no, no, stop it Jane, I mean we were joined by people dressed up in big costumes) who posed for photographs and gave us their autographs.
Then we headed out to Typhoon Island, one of the two water parks on the complex. You have to hand it to Disney, it’s immaculate. They’ve thought of the lot. Children don’t ‘get lost’ (which could sound frightening) they’re told their silly parents are lost and get taken to a point where they can identify the errant idiots who lost their offspring. You forgot your towel? You can rent one. Want to keep your stuff safe? Rent a locker. Get thirsty? Buy a refillable mug for just over ten dollars.

I have this thing about the perfect beach day. In my head there is clean pure white sand, soft balmy water and we don’t have to trek for three miles to get from the car park to the beach. In my dreams, there are no sharp rocks, no jellyfish and no cod to nibble your toes as you swim (it happened to me once, I swear it did). OK, well this is it. This is beach perfect. A huge sweep of sand, warm blue water and hey, every 90 seconds a four foot high mega wave swoops out (but fades to ripples by the time it reaches the shallow water where the tinies play).
Early morning or late at night you can learn to surf here, without any of the vagaries of the real sea. You can even learn how to snorkel and scuba dive in a ten foot deep snorkelling tank, looking down at stingrays, leopard sharks and tropical fish.

It’s all so easy, it’s almost scary. The sun is shining and this is a perfect world. It’s safe and the only crimes committed are those against good taste. People swoosh slowly round in rubber rings down the Lazy River which takes them to the next attraction (saves walking). And if you’re feeling too lazy to walk up to the top of the water rollercoaster, hey, don’t worry about it, there’s an elevator to take you to the top. People shoot through tubes and are spat out at the bottom at something ridiculous like 30 mph. Only thing that worried me was if some of them might get stuck and stay jammed in the tube. Maybe they need a width restriction.

I was seduced by Typhoon Island, much to the amusement of the other bloggers. ‘She’s cracking…’ ‘She’s smiling…’ And yes I was. If you want to veg out in the sun with your children right royally entertained by endless slides and waves and amusements, this is the place to come. Is it real? By heck no. It’s a bubble, protected from everything dangerous and nasty and dirty. Except of course, swine flu. Lying in bed this morning, watching the news I heard that several students in Carolina have flu-like symptoms having been to, yup, Walt Disney World in Florida. Just great. Not sure even Disney can find a way around this one. Hmm, masks with ears maybe.

Aaagh, picture won't load. Ah well, you can just imagine the picture of me being cuddled by Minnie Mouse. And laugh. A lot.

Wednesday 29 April 2009

Desperate in the House of Mouse

The whole thing is surreal. I am so tired I can barely think straight and my body is complaining that it’s 4am so what the puck am I doing wandering around a lake mingling with people Having A Good Time? Why are all these children up and running around (OK, so it’s 10.30pm on Florida time but still……)? And, while I’m at it, this is term-time even here and these aren’t all toddlers so…. Oh stop being so darn judgemental, Jane. This is Walt Disney World. It’s Magical.

Trouble is it’s hard to feel magical when you’ve got a thudding headache and are still feeling slightly bilious after being force-fed food by Virgin Atlantic. An eight-hour flight and we never seemed to stop eating. Not that I’m complaining – it staves off the boredom. I watched Twilight, which was rather fabulous in a somewhat inane way (miles of footage of meaningful looks and yearning stares – but then, hey, it’s a teen movie). Then caught half of Vicky Cristina Barcelona which was perplexing until Laura told me it was Woody Allen at which point I stopped quite liking it and became irritated. Then endured Revolutionary Road which, while madly intelligent and subtle, was just vein-openingly grim.

At Orlando airport we were met by Sarah, the Disney PR (did I mention that this is a trip for UK ‘mummy’ bloggers – something that perplexed all my fellow bloggers as much as it did me) and sidekick Eddie (who has possibly the scariest smile I’ve ever encountered – flashed on and off like a light switch).
‘Anyone need help with their bags?’ asked Sarah.
‘Yes, please,’ I yelled with fervant gratitude, having stupidly brought the kit bag without the wheels which was digging a two inch trench into my shoulder.
I was expecting Eddie to dash forward but no – he hung back and clutched his folder. Sarah, bless her, offered but that hardly seemed fair. So I lugged it up stair and down escalator, huffing and puffing, with scary spooky Eddie blithely unaware of the concept of gentlemanly behaviour. Either that or he was thinking, evily, ‘ha ha, stupid fat English cow….let her carry her own bag. I shouldn’t be here…..I should be in LA being Discovered.’

As we drove to Disney, Sarah explained why Disney were funding this all-expenses paid trip. ‘While print media is great, a piece appears in a paper and is read once and that’s it. But a blog sends out ripples, it develops a life of its own and spreads through the web.’
Why mothers? ‘Women are the ones who usually pick out the family holiday.’ Fair point.
But aren’t they taking a bit of a chance? While journalists can and often do write glowing reports (on magazines, travel freebies are considered perks and so half the time you’re not getting the opinion of a travel journalist, but of the picture researcher, the sub-editor, the receptionist). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but they’re so darn grateful to be away from the office that anything looks good. But bloggers are pretty anarchic. We can say what we want and the consensus amongst our group is that as a blogger you have a duty to your readers to cut the bullshit.

Anyhow, we drove through bland flat central Florida and gradually the signs started becoming dominated by Disney. The complex is huge – about the size of Manchester, according to Erica (littlemummy) and I started feeling a bit queasy. This is an entirely fake city – built for nothing but pleasure. As we drove through the famous gates I wasn’t sure if I was heading for paradise or voluntarily incarcerating myself in a cult complex, albeit ‘magical’.

Walking alongside the lake the feeling became compounded. People were smiley, happy, having fun, being magical. One couple wandered by in matching Mouse baseball caps with ears – his plain black; hers white with a diddy veil.
‘Ahhh, wedding mice.’
What?? Oh God, people actually come here to get MARRIED. And, even worse, are happy to advertise the fact by wearing his n’ hers mouse hats. I don’t get it, I really don’t.
My room is fabulous. The food was gorgeous (and I’d forgotten how gargantuan American portions are). The people seem great. But, but, but…..can I enjoy this unreal world? Ah well, time to find out.

Sunday 26 April 2009

All out of sorts

Oh dear. All out of sorts today. Sobbed over the breakfast bagel. Grizzled into my coffee (not the usual decaf so this blog may speed up over the next few minutes and become unintelligible). Crying and low because I’m off on an all-expenses paid trip to Florida? Eh? Well, no. Crying and low because as I waved my boy off to school I could see him grapple with his emotions and bite back his own tears. He couldn’t wave because his arm was in a sling.
Why is it that something always happens just when you’re set to go away somewhere?
Yesterday I should have been packing but it was the last rugby match of the season and a tournament to boot. James loves rugby and is a hugely physical player. He tackles tough and hard and so often ends up at the bottom of a pile of boys. Boys who are getting bigger and heavier with bigger and heavier feet.
As a brief aside I’m getting really concerned about boys’ feet. A classmate of James’ has size 8s (he’s only nine years old). Having a chance conversation with the man in Clarks the other day he said that a sixteen year old came in with size sixteen feet. It’s getting a bit scary really.
But anyhow…..back to the rugby. Third game. Tough match. James took the legs of some massive child and thudded to the ground. Barrel of boys jumped on top. Eventually clambered out and came off limping with a line of stud marks across his thigh. But it was his hand that really hurt. St John’s Ambulance said take him to casualty so we shot off down the motorway and played tag with the various A&E departments. Went to Tiverton (‘it’s further but will be less crowded than Taunton’). Waited ages. Needed X-ray but not open after 4pm on Sundays. They put him in plaster and dispatched us to Taunton. Back up the motorway. Waited ages. They took off the plaster. Examined him again. He needed an X-ray (really?). X-ray inconclusive. Plastered him again and told us we needed to see the fracture specialist. In Tiverton.

Poor lad is distraught. While he had been quite sanguine about my going away when feeling well and with several cricket matches to look forward to, the prospect of my leaving when he was bandaged up and in pain was quite different. He sobbed. Came into bed with me and I sat and stroked his forehead. And felt like a heel. As I’ve said before, I never consider myself the archetypal maternal type but I love my boy to bits. So fiercely that it hurts and never more than when he hurts. It’s a cliché but I really would take on his pain and, while pretty cowardly in the main, would give up my life in a second if it meant he survived.
‘Get a grip,’ said Adrian, ever the pragmatist. ‘He’s hurt his thumb. You’re acting like he’d been given a week to live. At least he wasn’t stretchered off like that other boy, with his neck in a cast.’ True. More to the point, he wasn’t taken off with blood pouring from his mouth and a wobbling front tooth, like his team mate. Ever since I knocked out a tooth at a nightclub (don’t ask), I go cold at the thought of teeth flying. (I know, I know, this sounds like Hermione in Harry Potter - 'we could die or, even worse, be expelled' bit.)

But I live to worry and, having been ridiculed out of concern about his (possibly fractured) thumb, my ever-inventive mind turned elsewhere.
‘Mexican swine fever,’ I said, forlornly. ‘I’m flying to the US.’
‘Florida,’ said Adrian. ‘Not Mexico.’
‘Gulf of Mexico. Close enough. I could catch it and bring it back and infect the whole of Exmoor.’
He rolled his eyes. ‘Go and pack.’
Half an hour later I came down wailing again.
‘For God’s sake. What now?’
‘Nothing fits. Nothing goes with anything else. It’s a disaster.’
He bit his lip and I could see him mentally counting to ten.
‘I don’t think I should go.’
‘What? Because the boy has hurt his thumb; because of swine fever or because you feel fat in what passes for your summer wardrobe? Honestly?’
Honestly? I’m tempted to be flippant for the sake of a cheap laugh but truthfully I will miss my little boy. I had been feeling like a fraud about this trip as I don’t think of myself as a ‘mummy blogger’ but hey, maybe I am after all.

PS – will miss Adrian as well, of course….(hi darling! Know he reads this from time to time). Pic is of my two boys whittling (how right and proper is that?)

Wednesday 22 April 2009


A fellow blogger recently said that what she really liked about my blog is that I don’t go on about ‘me’ all the time. Most blogs, she said, are dreary descriptions of self-centred minutiae. I basked in her approval, nodding and agreeing, sickeningly smug and self-righteous. So, I feel more than a little uneasy about bunging up a meme. Never really been too sure about memes – presume they are simply ‘me me’ things, which makes it all worse really, doesn’t it? But I love Tessa’s Aerial Armadillo blog and my poor rain-lashed ego needs an outing so, ahem, here it is……

What are your current obsessions?
1. My hairy fingers and toes. In desperate need of plucking, waxing, shaving, whatever. It’s either that or give in to my inner hobbit and let them grow, plait them, bead them, straighten them…
2. Paisley. Permanent fascination.
3. Madmen – the TV show. Makes you realise how far we’ve come in forty years. Scary yet compelling.
4. Shades of yellow. First it was red, then white, now yellow. This house is begging for yellow.
Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often?
Like Tessa, it’s jeans and cowboy boots. Though in my case, sadly cheap nasty ones (the jeans) from Sainsburys. And it’s not ‘most often’; it’s always. I occasionally buy skirts but they languish unworn. I don’t possess a dress, save for my wedding dress.

What's for dinner?
Haven’t a clue – I won’t be cooking it.

Last thing you bought?
Not sure which was the last technically as had a little online flurry and waved the credit card around in a very rash fashion.
1. cricket spikes and trousers for the boy.
2. steam cleaner from eBay (if it ever arrives – three weeks and counting)
3. er, compact camera (blame KittyB – NOT my fault.)

What are you listening to?
Nothing. Forgot to get speakers on my PC. Duh.

If you were a god/goddess who would you be?
Persephone – Queen of the Underworld. Always sounded rather glamorous to me and old Hades seems a sexy cove….appeals to my inner goth. Beats picking poppies anyhow.

Favourite holiday spots?
1. Peloponnese… I love the Greek islands but love this even more. Lapping soft sea, history and mythology in buckets, calamari, dolmades, metaxa.
2. South-West France….Lot-et-Garonne… warmth, great food, lazy days, caves, happy memories.
3. Maine. Fresh air, ocean, whales, good coffee, nice arty crafty places.
4. West coast of Ireland….wild beaches, seals, stunning bars, gorgeous seafood, lilting music

Reading right now?
The Great Western Beach by Emma Smith
Strandloper by Alan Garner

4 words to describe yourself.
Overweight. Unhealthy. Neurotic. Glum.

Guilty pleasure?
Spider Solitaire. Having managed to expunge it from every computer in the house, I have now discovered I can play on-line. My name is Jane and I am addicted to a pathetic online card game.
Oh, and black and white etchings of weird mythological creatures.

Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak?
Very little. I’m the one the workmen call out ‘Cheer up love, it may never happen’ to. Milla however has the rare capacity to make me wee myself with helpless laughter.

First spring thing?
Weeds. The torment begins. They exist to distress me.

Planning to travel to next?
Florida. Oh, OK, Walt Disney World. It’s going to be ‘magical’ apparently. I’m packing my broomstick.

Best thing you ate or drank lately?
Boston baked beans. The real thing. Slow-cooked nearly to oblivion and just deliciously sweet and cloying and, er, fart inducing. Separate beds last night. Wish I could put myself in a separate office as the effects are longlasting and truly revolting.

Flower of the moment?
Euphorbia. Dig that acid green.

Favourite ever film?
Into the West – makes me cry every time. ‘Nooo, Tir na Nog, nooooo.’ Nobody else gets it.

Care to share some wisdom?
I wouldn’t dare presume. Oh, OK then….

Life is short.
Nothing is fair.
Grab every chance for happiness with both hands, tie it up if necessary.
Never buy really cheap chocolate (though Galaxy is fine).
Be grateful for everything good (however tiny).
Don’t be precious, or snobby, or make assumptions.
Give children firm boundaries and don’t turn them into mini adults – it’ll happen soon enough. Never EVER have a terrier (unless you have a strong masochistic streak and skin as tough as rhino hide).
Learn the fine art of ‘getting in your NO’ quickly. As in ‘Would you like to be on the committee for…’ ‘No. Sorry. Really can’t.’ Quick as a greyhound out of a trap.
Never have pale carpets or sofas – it’s madness (and if you say white leather can be sponged down you need arresting for style crimes).
Be helpless sometimes – otherwise you will end up doing it all.

I could go on (I’m an agony aunt so it comes with the territory) but I’d better stop.

Rules of the meme. Respond and rework. Answer questions on your own blog. Replace one question. Add one question. Tag 8 people.

OK, I’ll tag the following (though if it’s a pain or a chore, just smile sweetly - or curse me roundly - and move on…)


Sunday 19 April 2009

Er, Disney....

Last week Blackden, next week Walt Disney World. The contrast couldn’t be greater really. I’ve been invited (along with a band of other bloggers) as a member of Think Parents Network. I always do a double-take on being described as a parent as it’s not a label I think of applying to myself (likewise ‘mother’). I’ve never been archetypal parent material and never really ever imagined I’d become a mother. My mind and body went into severe shock when I was pregnant and neither has ever really recovered. I have blundered through parenthood by applying my standard response to any new challenge – a crash course of reading the textbooks then bluff like fury. It’s always worked in journalism. I don’t think I’m a bad parent (I don’t write books shaming my son – at least, not yet) but I hardly think I’m representative.
Also, and here’s the irony – I don’t really like theme parks. Part of being an odd parent is that we have never really done the parks – have never made the pilgrimage to Paris, have never faced up to Alton Towers. My odd excursions (to Legoland and Chessington) have been to accompany friends and their children. I get vertigo and motion sickness and have a very low fear threshold. Consequently I screamed all the way round the baby roller coaster at Legoland and got off (shaking) to a barrage of abuse from parents who had been patiently queuing for an hour only to find that now their children were all sobbing and refusing to do the ride. ‘That mummy was scared – me not doing it’ was the bottom line. Wise me.
I succeeded in getting round Chessington without setting foot on a single ride.

Given this antipathy, I’ve been reluctant to tell people about my forthcoming trip. But the response has been extraordinary. Seems the most unlikely people go gooey-eyed over Disney.
‘Oh, it’s fabulous, absolutely fabulous. You’ll love it!’ gushed one of the mothers from school, who I’d always had down as the ‘trekking across Patagonia by llama type’.
‘Don’t be such a snob,’ said a friend at the pub, rolling her eyes. ‘Suspend your critical faculties and you’ll have a ball. Ah, you’re soooo lucky.’ She went dreamy-eyed and floated off into fond memories of Mickey and the Magic Kingdom.

Even my mother-in-law went into full-on gush mode. Turns out she’s been to Disneyland, Disneyworld, Florida, Paris and Outer Mongolia with her friends (not a child in sight) and LOVED it every time. Now there’s the weird thing. Like MIL and crew, we bloggers (mothers all) are going without a child between us which, to my mind, rather defeats the object. But no. It seems that people (lots of people, adult people) go to the ‘worlds’ sans children. Strange but true.
‘We went without children,’ said another friend on the phone last night.
‘We did?’
‘Yup. Don’t you remember? We were in Florida and felt we ought to have a look. It was full of children screaming, ‘I wanna burger, I wanna nicecream, I wanna ka-ka.’
Silence. Did we really? Ah yes, it’s coming slowly back. I was twenty-something and lean as a reed, wearing cut-offs, a t-shirt and a baseball cap over cropped peroxide blonde hair. We walked down the beach and I noticed that three months of working out had paid off – my leg muscles were actually rippling. Full-on panic mode set in. Can I lose three stone in a week? Florida = sun + coast = swimming = costume = ritual humiliation. Having spent last week writing about the latest Hollywood beauty trends I am suddenly painfully conscious of my:
a) rippling flab
b) eerie gleaming white skin, pockmarked with cellulite
c) two inch grey roots
d) sprouting hair (sorry Milla)
e) grubby finger and toenails.

‘Oh, don’t be so ridiculous,’ said my pal at the pub. ‘This is Florida, not LA. You’ll be the skinniest there by a mile.’ Flicking through my photo album, refreshing my memory, I take comfort in the pics I took of the largest bodies in the world, standing like megaliths, fat-swathed ankle-deep in water, gazing out to sea. Let’s just pray that Florida hasn’t gone on a health kick in the last thirty years.

PS – have to say, full brownie points to Disney for taking along a self-confessed sceptic. ‘Can I write what I like?’ I asked. ‘Yes, providing it’s not libellous,’ came the reply. So that’s OK then. Of course, when someone is paying for everything it takes a hard nut to be totally and utterly rude but I will try my hardest to be honest and objective. Yup, even if hanging upside down vomiting. Whether that would be on Thunder Mountain or at the sight of a giant Mickey Mouse cosying up to small truculent children is yet to be decided.

PPS - image shows me and my fellow bloggers - see, I'm getting into the mood already....(he he)

Wednesday 15 April 2009

On Blackden

There are places that touch the soul so deeply it hurts. It’s like standing at the front of a ferry breathing into the wind, loving the exhilaration yet gasping for breath, being filled so totally it is unendurable. It is too dense, too intense so you turn away to breathe more thinly, more easily – just enough to fill your lungs before turning back.
I have a list of these soul places clear in my head but I never share them openly. I keep them tucked away, like secret love letters, jealous of others sharing their nectar. Not just jealous, but scared – because these liminal places (and they are all liminal – thresholds to other worlds) are so fragile that the wrong approach, the simplest profanity (however unintentional) could rip the veil and leave the place just that – a place.

So I am breaking my bond by talking about Blackden - a place that is breathtaking in every sense. Yet its guardians know the power of place far better than I and, as they have given their blessing, I figure some powerful magic holds the tenemos. It will be a case of those who are meant to go will go and learn and love. Those who are not will simply not read these words or read and misunderstand or just shake their heads and mutter, ‘wish she’d get back to the funny stuff’. So it’s probably safe.

It started a couple of years ago. A discussion online about our favourite books as children and my answer was unequivocal. Alan Garner. Books whose veins throbbed with ancient magic, with the knowledge of the earth, where the veils were thin between worlds, where there were folds in time, where past, present and future were never quite linear. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath, Elidor, The Owl Service, Red Shift etc (if you haven’t read them, you must – they are not really ‘children’s books’ so don’t be put off if that’s not normally your bag). I am not a star-struck person and there have been few famous people I have ever wanted to meet (in fact, I would usually want to run in the opposite direction) but Alan Garner was the exception. It transpired that a fellow blogger, Elizabeth, knew the Garners well. She told me about Alan and his wife Griselda and enthused about their home, Toad Hall, and their vision for the Blackden Trust, set up to guard this place and explore its history. A few days ago she took me to meet the Garners and to be initiated into the ‘door from the past to the future’ that is Blackden.

You shudder down a long track that bends and sways, as if to confuse tricksy spirits and then the most incongruous sight comes into view. The vast white cup of the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank, staring out into the universe and behind it, separated only by a field and a railway line, the low slung lines of the ancient timber-framed Toad Hall and Medicine House. I couldn’t escape the idea that the two were in cahoots somehow – that one day the telescope would summon something from afar and the ancient site would channel and transmute it somehow. I was as nervous and excited as a child on her first day at school but the Garners were the spirit and soul of hospitality and so started the most extraordinary day.

‘We hope to use the rich history of this site, that stretches back 10,000 years to open things up, to change the way people think of things,’ said Griselda, as we sat drinking coffee. The Trust runs a variety of courses and workshops for all ages. Griselda has a lifetime’s experience in teaching, so lucky primary school children have the unique chance to become hands-on with archaeology and living history. ‘Give them metal detectors and the little buggers will always find something,’ said Alan with a wry smile. ‘One little runt of a child came up and said, ‘what’s this?’ – he’d found an early Mesolithic scraper made of quartz eye.’
The next stage offers A level students the rare opportunity to be taught and inspired by university professors, pre-eminent in their fields, who all donate their time for free. Then, finally, there are the open workshops and events that give adults a chance to play catch-up, to expand their minds in ten directions at once.

Alan showed us around, an erudite guide who juggled millennia with panache yet managed to ground ten thousand years of history by exposing the human face of artefacts. The site is extraordinary – a promontory of sand and gravel created at the end of the last Ice Age as the slurry washed out from the glaciers. Originally surrounded on three sides by water it was good land, perfect for a winter camp and the flint artefacts found are all about making, mending and repairing – classic winter pastimes. The burial mounds are Bronze Age (but also used by Saxons). There are signs of Iron Age defence and fragments of Roman artefacts, although it seems unlikely to have been a settlement. Then, in medieval times, came Toad Hall (possibly originally t’old hall).
Alan came across it one day by chance when he was looking for a house. He found a cardboard notice in a hedge, ‘17th century cottage for sale’ and, as he walked through a gap in the hedge, a roofline emerged slowly.
‘I said, “Oh my God,”. I knew it wasn’t 17th century but a medieval timber-framed house. I went home in a stupor. At that time I knew my father would be about to go out. He’d go at 8pm, first to The Drum, then the Royal Oak, then the Trafford Arms and finally to the Working Men’s Union Club. The Garners were of a monosyllabic culture, virtually Pinteresque and the conversation went like this.
‘What’s up with you?’
‘I’ve seen the only place I can ever live.’
‘Where’s that?’
‘That’s a way.’ (it was six miles from the family home). And his father walked out. When he returned from the pub he simply said. ‘You’ve got it.’ The house cost £510 freehold. ‘I had five shillings and threepence….and no prospects,’ said Alan with a wry smile.

The place lives and breathes history and the Garners knew years ago that they did not want to keep its treasures to themselves. They also realised that, if the house went on the open market, the only people who would be able to afford it would be the very people who would destroy it. ‘Footballers’ wives,’ said Griselda, rolling her eyes.
‘They’d dig up the burial mound for a swimming pool,’ added Alan. So they set up the Blackden Trust, quietly, organically, offering young people and adults the chance to share the magic, to get hands-on with history.
It’s run on a shoestring and needs all the help it can get if it’s going to survive and thrive. So, I beg you – please support this incredible place and these amazing wonderful people. There are conducted tours that run from April to October but really you should, if you possibly can, go on one of the workshops. On 23rd May there is a workshop on Tudor Herbs and Spices and on 4th July a course on Pilgrimage and Protection. From 21st July – 27th August you can take part in an excavation of a lost barn.
Or just listen to medieval music, played on intruments of the period in its original environment – a lunchtime recital on Sunday 21st June. Follow the links, follow your heart….become part of the magic… (or, on the other hand, simply turn away and wait for the next funny blog).