Karl drove Phil, Jill and I up to Kentwell so we could meet a re-enactor there who I had been talking to on Facebook – and to see if it was somewhere that the Rapscallions could play. It took over 2 hours to get there, and when we went to buy tickets we were told that it was too late and that last entry had been at 2:30. I whined for a while and said that we would pay full price – but was told that it was £30 each! Said we would wait in the pub and leave it, she relented and let us in for nothing. The place was swarming with re-enactors but not many members of the public – which given the price was not surprising.We went and had a ginger beer and lemonade in the bar in one of the outhouses (nothing alcoholic, they had used up all their licences for the year) and the only reasonable chat with one of the re-enactors as all the rest rigidly stuck to first person.
The house itself was beautiful – though a little rundown. We had walked round it in about half an hour as there was very little information, and the many re-enactors were not very forthcoming, apart from a little girl and boy aged about 5 who were telling fortunes from a Victorian party game. We tried to talk to a few of them but it grew a bit boring in the end – tried to liven it up by telling one that we too did re-enacting – iron age and enjoyed the freedom of jumping round with few clothes on.
After a look round the rest of the house we went out an had fun running round the maze, and in the garden as the dusk gathered. Jill was most upset at a model paddle steamer which was decaying gently on the lawn.
We went back in to catch the last couple of carols in the great hall, had a quick word with Beth and then went for a meal in the pub at the end of the drive. Nice day out, especially walking round the gardens – but don’t think Kentwell is for the Rapscallions.
Jill and I had some tesco vouchers burning holes in ouir pockets – so decided to experience Dickens World – as it was local and sounded so delightfully trashy. Trashy it certainly was – although the word delightful certainly didn’t apply.
I had no idea what to expect – I had thought it was part of the Dockyard complex – so had gone with high hopes of a historical experience.
It isn’t on the Dockyard – it is in the outlet shopping area – which is possibly the best place for it.
The booking hall has a hopeful winding roped off queuing area which was totally empty, and a rather bored girl on the ticket stand -who told us that the boat ride wasn’t working at the moment – but probably would be later on.
We handed over our vouchers and went in. First impressions were that it would be great – looking over the rooftops – with rickety looking bridges and a wide open space in the middle. To get in you had to push past people having their photographs taken in ‘Victorian’ costume, by a girl wearing an Oxfam bridesmaids dress. Then down steps into the space in the middle. There was a shop to one side with cards on racks outside and tables with lots of rubbish on it. Next to it was a cafe – more like a canteen layout with tables outside. We sat down at one of the tables to watch ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ which was just about to be ‘acted’ in the centre space.
I have seen some bad acting in my time – but nothing to beat this. The – I hesitate to call them actors – the people playing the parts were miming to an incredibly loud and overacted sound track. I suppose this means that they don’t have to learn their lines and can get by with employing people straight from the street with little enthusiasm and even less talent – which is what they appeared to have done.
It didn’t even reach the category of being so bad it was good – if you know what I mean! After that travesty we went to watch a 3D cartoon of Dickens life which was reasonably average – sprayed water on you twice – once when a man spat in a spitoon (tasteful) and then when a train crashed into a river.
We then had a ride on the boat – another missed opportunity. The canal it was on wove through and round the buildings – looking at nothing in particular – just backs of buildings. The most exciting moment was when we appeared to be heading straight for a line of washing – were we going to hit it – oooohhh!! – no just at the point we thought we might be savaged by laundry it was lifted out of the way. The boats were heaved up to a higher level, and then we entered a cupboard type of thing were there were a lot of pointless flashing lights and a glimpse of a convict – of course wearing pyjamas with arrows on them. The boat then turned so you went down a slope backwards and got splashed at the bottom. Through some more buildings and then past a crude representation of Cooling churchyard and a selection of shop dummies dressed very badly as a selection of random Dickens characters from different books.
Thinking that the excitement couldn’t be surpassed – we queued up for the haunted house. It looked as if it might be good – you walked in on a staircase that shuddered! But after that it rapidly descended – it was a stroll through rooms which had ‘ghosts’ = one with a race through A Christmas Carol – one with another random display of Dickens characters – and the last one with some poor employee wrapped in a cloak who leered at you. I am the chickenest of chickens when it comes to walking through places in the dark – but this was just past boring!
Here is Jill collapsed in terror outside.And here I am driven mad with fright.
We left through the shop – look at how well all the fine literature is selling!
Dan has been thinking of joining the navy – and yesterday I was talking with an ex-submairiner who was strongly advocating a life under the water, rather than on top of it.
So we – any excuse for a trip – went down to the Submarine museum in Gosport.
This did not have the intended result – Dan has decided never – ever – to go in a submarine – mainly because of the escape training -where you have to go up about 2 miles of water without oxygen – but better find that out before you join than after!
It was a great museum – lots of buttons to press – and tours of submarines. We finished the day with fine dining at Macdonalds.
Today my lovairrrrr and I went to Highgate Cemetery. You may have noticed that I love cemeteries, I wonder what people were like and how they had lived their lives. I have a bad habit of saying ‘aww’ at the children’s graves, and by the end of today I would not have been surprised if my lovairrr had not picked up a gravestone, clouted me round the head with it and shoved me in with some three year old who had roused my sympathy.
We had a great day out – John picked me up and drove us up there – almost right to the gate.
When we arrived there were several Police Officers looking very beautiful in their number one uniforms, a few soldiers, a couple of vicars and a photographer or two.
They were all there to dedicate a gravestone over a man who had been awarded the Victoria Cross in India at Lucknow, joined the Metropolitan Police, and then died of consumption in 1861 at the age of 30. He was buried in a paupers grave and it has taken until now (when people can spare the time and money from just surviving) for a gravestone to be erected.
Sir Ian Blair turned up, and had a little chat with one of the vicars, who seemed a little religiously confused as he was wearing what appeared to be a Jewish skullcap – hedging his bets?
They had even wheeled out a Chelsea Pensioner.
While they were having their little service at the graveside, we walked through the East cemetery. Obviously went past Karl Marx,his tombstone must be one of the ugliest in the entire cemetery.
There were some beautiful ones –
and I loved this one – extremely factual.
After the great, good and self important had left the soldiers grave we went to have a look, and found the BBC still there.
They don’t make gravestones like they used to.
We went over to join the guided tour of the older West Cemetery – it is the only way that you are allowed in now, which is a great shame as it would be lovely just to wander where you wanted to.
We were taken around all the highlights – the cedar tree,
the Egyptian catacombs the wonderful lion on the top of George Wombwell the menagerist, and Mrs Henry Wood. I liked this sleeping angel the best though.
Afterwards we walked down the lane to look for somewhere to eat, past this village behind a fence.
Even the Tesco was posh.
We had lunch in a small cafe, where I again fell in love with the waiter – he had the most divine voice. There was a view of my future across the road in front of the pub.I like the idea of a young man pandering to my wheelchair bound whims.
After lunch we walked up into Parliament Fields and watched the kite flyers and looked out over London.We drove home through the rush hour which took a Very Long Time.
Here is a picture of my handsome lovaiiiiirrrrr.
Small Print:- Obviously my lovaaaiiiirrrr is NOT my lovaaaiiirrr in any physical or deeply meaningful way – I am far too virtuous despite my prediliction for European waiters – and he has Far Better Options than me. I also have a lovely husband of my very own.