The Battle of Lincoln Fair (2)

The Second Battle of Lincoln – or the Battle of Lincoln Fair– took place during the First Barons’ War on the 20th May 1217 at Lincoln Castle in Lincolnshire, England. As 2017 marks the battle’s 800th anniversary, it is being commemorated by reenactments of the battle itself together with accompanying activities for locals and visitors to enjoy. One of these extra attractions is the Knights’ Trail, which involves people finding 37 very colourfully painted models of mounted knights, all placed at prominent spots around central areas of the city.

Last Sunday (21st May) we went along to have a look at preparations for the battle and a general potter about at the castle. This Sunday (28th May) we headed off to watch the re-enactments of the different engagements involved. Needless to say the castle and surrounding areas were packed, particularly in the afternoon.

This was understandable for several reasons. Firstly, it was Bank Holiday weekend and the start of the half-term break for schools. Consequently, many families were out and about keeping children entertained as they usually are at such times. Secondly, people came to Lincoln over this particular weekend because the Domesday Book (compiled 1085-86) and Charter of the Forest (1217) were both on display along with the Magna Carta – which is resident there anyway, on loan from Lincoln Cathedral – inside the Old Prison which is in the castle bailey:

Both are incredibly important and precious documents, and although no photography was allowed, it was still wonderful to see them. The two documents will be in Lincoln throughout the summer.

The weather was pleasant with bursts of sunshine, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. We got there around 10.30 am and had a walk round the bailey, generally ‘having a look’ at the encampment of the reenactors and various items and activities going on before the first part of the battle began. These are a few photos from around the camp. Lots of knights were about at this point, too:

The events leading up to this battle are very much linked to King John, who had died the previous year (October 1216). John had been a very unpopular king for many reasons, most of which were based on his inability to rule wisely, as well as his questionable personality traits. When he died he left his son as king – the nine-year-old Henry – with the formidable William Marshal, the earl of Pembroke, as his regent.

Some of the barons who had rebelled against John during his reign and forced him to sign/seal the Magna Carta, had already taken steps to put the French Prince Louis (the future Louis VIII) on the English throne. On John’s death, a few of the barons returned to the loyalist side whilst others pushed on with their intentions of crowning Louis in order to stop John’s son from ruling. The kingdom was deeply divided over this.

Twenty-year-old Louis and his French armies had been in England since May 1216 and by May 1217, aided by the rebel barons, controlled half the country: only Lincoln and Dover castles had not surrendered. At the time of the battle at Lincoln Castle, the city itself was occupied by forces fighting for Louis, led by Thomas, the Comte du Perche. But the castle was steadfast. Lady Nicola de la Haye, the castellian, remained true to the royalist cause and was determined to keep this castle, with its strategic position, out of rebel hands.

Constable of Lincoln Castle, Lady Nicola de la Haye.

During the day, we watched three different events that took place at Lincoln. The first showed the arrival of the French at Lincoln and their attack on English defenders beneath the castle walls. The English are pushed back and those still alive flee up to the safety of the castle. The Comte du Perche, conspicuous with his shield displaying three chevrons, warns his men to be nice to the citizens of the city and pay for all their food and drink. It’s important to keep the people ‘on their side’!

The second reenactment showed the attack on the Lucy Tower/Lincoln Castle using two different siege engines. One of these was the perrier – one of the least complicated of medieval siege engines  It consisted of a simple frame with a huge 17 foot throwing arm with a sling. Some perriers are recorded as needing as many as 16 men to pull the ropes. It was the forerunner of the trebuchet, which has a large swinging arm to hurl missiles at the enemy and a counterweight to swing the arm. This very short clip shows the two siege engines being used on the day. The first we see is the trebuchet:

The Comte du Perche sees the bombardment as a great success, as parts of the castle walls begin to crumble.

The third engagement – the actual Battle of Lincoln Fair – followed the arrival of reinforcements for the English, led by the formidable, 70-year-old William Marshal, the earl of Pembroke and regent to the young King Henry III. This was him as he delivered his his speech about his life and duties to the Crown to the crowds earlier in the day:

Marshal had roused his loyal barons from across the country and ridden to Lincoln. The arrival of his army, together with the steadfast hold on Lincoln Castle by Lady Nicola, proved to be decisive factors in the defeat of the rebels – and the end of their attempt to put a French prince on the English throne.

We attempted several videos of this battle but, unfortunately, there were so many spectators (and we got there too late after lunch!) to grab a good spot for photography. I managed to squat on the grass near the front – until these to two delightful little boys with buckets on their heads  – in reality, replica battle helms – decided to take the space in front of me:

I eventually managed a few photos during this battle, some of which show Lady Nicola taking stock of events from the gateway of the Lucy Tower:

Nick managed to film part of the battle, before people walked in front of him. It’s not too wonderful ‘ He missed Marshals’  rallying speech to his army, and the film  had to be cut before the end, but it gives a general idea of events. The English come in from the left on this one, and William Marshal is on horseback.

Following this short clip, English soldiers come up behind the French. Caught between two attacking armies, the rebels are soon overwhelmed. Thomas, Comte du Perche, is shown being cut down in the arena – contrary to the 13th century drawing by Matthew Paris which shows him being shot down by a crossbowman as he fled from the castle. But, whatever happened, the comte obviously died that day.

Following the battle, Marshal’s soldiers ransacked the city that had welcomed and supported the French. Most Lincoln people had hated King John and welcomed the possibility of a new king from France. Marshal’s army used that as an excuse to pillage at will as they celebrated their triumph over the combined armies of the French and rebel English barons.

And thus we have the name of The Battle of Lincoln Fair: a celebratory post-battle ‘free for all’ for William Marshal’s victorious army.

The Battle of Lincoln Fair (1): Preparations

I’ve written a few posts about visits and events connected to Lincoln Castle over the past couple of years, including the wonderful, German-style Christmas Market held annually in the castle grounds. But perhaps the most important events of recent years were in 2015, which focused on the 800 year anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runneymede in 1215.

19th century coloured wood engraving of king John signing the Magna Carta. Public Domain

That Lincoln should become so involved with the Magna Carta anniversary is understandable, since one of only four of the remaining original documents from Runneymede is held at Lincoln Castle – on loan from Lincoln Cathedral. Two are held at the British Library and one at Salisbury Cathedral.

The Magna Carta anniversary involved lots of events throughout the summer in Lincoln, including the Barons’ Trail and the amazing sand sculptures displayed in the castle bailey. They all did wonders for tourism in the city and gave everything a very holiday feel.

This year, Lincoln is celebrating another anniversary, that of the Battle of Lincoln Fair (also known as the Second Battle of Lincoln) which took place in and around Lincoln Castle in 1217. This event is also linked to the infamous King John, even though he’d died the previous year.

This event is being held over two separate weekends and we went along to the first part  yesterday, Sunday May 21. This one was held in the castle bailey and presented the  preparations for battle. The second part, the actual reenactment of the battle itself, will be next weekend from Saturday to Monday, May 27-29 (Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK).

As with the Barons’ Trail of 2015, this anniversary is made fun for the city and its many visitors by having a Knights’ Trail throughout the central areas of the city. It’s a great activity for kiddies (and adults!) to hunt all 37 of the knights out. The knights are already in place, and we started photographing them yesterday. I hope to do a post about them all soon. The photo of Nicola de la Haye (or Nicholaa de la Haye, according to some sources) at the top of this post is one of them.

I don’t intend to do a full post about Lincoln Castle itself here: that’s set for a future date. But I’ll just say a little about it before I show photos of the event.

Lincoln Castle was built in 1068 on the orders of William the Conquerer. It stand on the site of the Roman fortress and settlement of Lindum Colonia (which dates from around AD60) in ‘uphill Lincoln’. This elevated position ensures the castle has commanding views of the surrounding countryside and can also be seen for miles  – as can the nearby Cathedral. It is probable that, prior to the Roman fort, a Celtic settlement once occupied the site, which I’ll discuss another time.

The castle at Lincoln was one of the finest Norman castles in the country. It consists of an outer curtain wall (with an excellent Wall Walk along the top) along which are two gates – the East and West Gates, the former having a barbican, or fortified entrance. Three towers stand along the walls, two of them built on top of mottes (mounds or small hills, often man-made for the purpose). The two towers sitting on mottes are the Lucy Tower and the Observatory Tower, the one without a motte is Cobb Hall, at the north-east corner of the wall.

Inside the curtain wall is a large bailey (courtyard) in which there are three buildings of more recent origins. The first part of the Old Prison dates from 1788 and was completed in 1848. The Court House, which is still used today, dates from 1826, and the Heritage Skills Centre is a real baby, having only been officially opened in 2013. It’s  the only new building within the castle walls for 150 years. It lies immediately behind the Law Courts:

Here are a few more photos of the castle, most taken from the Wall Walk. Some look down at the bailey, one or two at places beyond the castle, others along the wall itself:

I’ll save the detail and views inside the different towers for another time.

Tents and stalls were set up in the bailey for this event. Some of the attractions included ‘having a go’ at archery and instruction on the use and importance of  the crossbow. A  number of stalls showed foods and weapons of the time and there were birds of prey trained for hunting on display. We missed the actual presentation of the different birds of prey as we were up on top of the wall at the time. Still, we heard the falconer announce that he couldn’t allow the birds to fly at present because of the peregrines nesting on the cathedral – who would see his birds as competition and we could end up witnessing an airborne battle!

Here are a few photos of attractions and displays from around the Bailey, from ground level:

And here are a few of two of the demonstrations we watched. The fist was of knights (comically) preparing for battle.

The second was of three mounted knights displaying their skills in attacking their opponents – one of the ‘opponents’ being a cabbage, which represented the head of a Norman knight. 😀 The smaller of the three horses was included to demonstrate the type of horse/pony used prior to Norman times. It’s the type that was used by the Vikings and is the only breed to be found in Iceland today.

Finally, here are a few photos of Nicola de la Haye (the constable of the castle) and an episode with a French envoy who had come to persuade her to surrender the castle to the French invaders who intended to put their own Prince Louis on the English throne. In doing that, they would simply depose the son of King John – the nine-year-old Henry III. The French were supported in this by the barons who had rebelled against King John. Nicola adamantly refuses and, as the French have already landed in England, she prepares the castle garrison for forthcoming battle:

And absolutely lastly, the Battle of Lincoln Fair was named from the festivities that followed in Lincoln after the French were defeated in the battle. This drawing, by Matthew Paris in the 13th century, shows the death of the French commander as the French flee from the castle. It also shows the importance of the crossbow.

Image from Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain

 

Time to Leave – FFfAW

Time to Leave

Amber sensed his presence before she opened the door. The air had that familiar chill and she sighed, knowing it was time to leave. The old man had come to replace her and change people’s lives for a while. They’d basked in her warmth and colour for long enough.

He entered the hut with an icy blast and she donned her russet cloak. ‘I am ready to go, Old Man,’ she said, tossing her auburn curls. ‘I’ll return when folks weary of the next summer’s heat and long for mellowing days.’

The old man smiled, tiny cracks patterning his glacial face, and swept through the room, turning all to white with his icy breath. Amber smiled in return, knowing he would delight folks with his tricks. Who else but he could order the snowflakes to fall, creating a paradise of white? Who else could style playgrounds of ice over lakes and ponds?

Old Man Winter raised icicle fingers and bowed his silvery head. ‘Your task was done well, kind Autumnus. Rest now, until next year.’

Word Count: 175

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This is my story for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It asks us to write a story from a given photo prompt in 100-150 words, give or  take 25. If you’d like to join in, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday – Tuesday every week.

This week’s prompt was kindly provided by Ioniangraphics.

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To read other stories or add a story yourself, click on the little blue frog:

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A Look at Cornwall (5): The Lost Gardens of Heligan

We visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan in the afternoon of the second day of our holiday in Cornwall in June 2016. After spending a full Monday morning and early afternoon at Tintagel (the subject of A Look at Cornwall (4)) we decided to stop off on our way back to Newlyn for a quick look round this fabulous site. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon and we could have done with many more hours there.

This map shows where Heligan is located in Cornwall. (X marks the spot). The site is a mile and a half from Mevagissey and six miles from St. Austell. It’s also only ten miles from another famous Cornish attraction, The Eden Project – which we haven’t visited since 2003.

X marks the approximate location of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey, Cornwall UK

There are many wonderful gardens in Cornwall, all of them well worth a visit, but as the name suggests, the Lost Gardens of Heligan are particularly special. Not only are they amongst Cornwall’s finest gardens but – as you might guess – the word ‘Lost’ is the reason why they’re special. The story of how they were ‘found’ again – in other words, restored – is interesting as well as being an incredible feat.

At Heligan today there are over 200 acres of Victorian walled gardens, working buildings including bothies, a potting shed and a tool shed. There are exotic glasshouses, pleasure gardens, lawns, lakes and ponds and many acres of orchard as well as a farm (Home Farm, where lovely old breeds of cattle, sheep and pigs are reared) 22 acres of subtropical jungle and a 30 acre ‘Lost Valley’. But for many years following WWI, the beautiful gardens lay neglected and overgrown, the glasshouses broken and useless. So what is the story behind all this?

Heligan House was built by William Tremayne in 1603. It was the home of the Tremayne family who controlled over 1000 acres in the area. It is still privately owned and not open to the public.

Heligan House. The house is in private occupation and not open to the public. Source: geograph.org.uk Author: Neil Clifton. Creative Commons

Before WWI, the estate was completely self-sufficient, having its own quarries, woods, farms, a brickworks – the earliest in Cornwall – a flour mill, sawmill, brewery and productive orchards and gardens. Apart from luxury goods, the only imports were lime for fertilisers and coal for heating.

Most of the gardens and ornamental woodlands were created during the 19th century by the successive efforts of Henry Hawkins Tremayne, John Tremayne and John Claude Tremayne, all noted botanists and horticulturalists.

Henry Hawkins Tremayne (1766-1829) in black coat and waistcoat with aubergine lining, white coat, powdered hair. Source: Christies. Author: Henry Bone (1755-1834) Public Domain

By 1900 they had amassed a wonderful collection of trees and shrubs from all over the world. Follies and temples were scattered throughout and walks and rides were created. The local community depended on the estate for income: it was the centre of the community, with 20 house staff and 22 garden staff.

But the First World War changed all this, just as it did with most stately homes at that time (as shown in the fictional Downton Abbey).

In 1914, the male staff at Heligan ‘signed up’ for active service, most being sent out to the trenches on the Western Front. Heligan House was taken over by the War Office and became a convalescent home for officers. The house was returned to the family in 1919, but after the war, only 6 of the 22 garden staff returned, the rest having not survived the battles in Flanders.

The following picture is from an information board at Heligan…

…accompanied by these notes:

We know the names of 13 outdoor staff who served in World War One and have sown a field of Flanders Poppies in thankful memory of all of them, including 4 who served and returned. (Individual photos were given by relatives of those brave Heligan men.)

During the Second World War, the house was allocated to the US army (practice landings for D-Day took place a mile away at Pentewan Beach). The gardens remained with the Tremaynes, but for many years after the war the gardens were simply neglected, remaining in a time capsule – efectively, ‘lost’. But, in 1990, a chance meeting between John Willis, a Tremayne family member, Tim Smit (an archaeologist) and John Nelson saw the start of an amazing journey of restoration. When Smit and Nelson discovered a tiny cubicle at the bottom of a small, walled garden (since known as the Thunderbox Room – yes, the toilet) and saw the pencil signatures written on the flaking plaster walls, evoking past lives, they knew that the restoration project must be undertaken in the names of those former Heligan workers.

The Thunderbox room at Heligan (far doorway, through which the child has just emerged).
Fading, pe-WWI pencil signatures on the flaking lime walls of the ‘Thunderbox’ at Heligan. Photo from the same information board as the one of the servicemen above.

Before I share some photos of the parts of Heligan we managed to see in the short time we had, here are a few images (from information boards again) of what the site looked like in 1990, i.e. before restoration started:

And this photo shows what the head gardener’s hut looks like now, after careful restoration:

And these are the bee skeps now, on Bee Bole Lawn, which we passed on our walkabout:

In the following photos, I have tried to show things we saw along the way as we walked round. We had no particular, pre-arranged  route, and just went where the fancy took us.

This is the Entrance:

From the ticket office, we set off along the paths towards Flora’s Garden:

Next we spent some time investigating the different walled gardens and outhouses:

From the walled gardens we headed along the Woodland Walk, where we found some great woodland sculptures, all created by local artists.

This is my final set of photos before this post becomes ridiculously long. They are of an area of Heligan known as the Jungle. It covers an area of eight acres with what is described as ‘a watercourse’ running along the floor of the valley that links four ponds. The ‘big house’ looks down the valley, which winds its way to Mevagissey. It houses a collection of sub tropical plants and was created a hundred and fifty years ago when a craze for collecting exotic plants swept the country. Cornwall’s mild climate is ideal for such species. Visitors follow boardwalks along the valley.

Eventually we headed back to the entrance, with Louise being disappointed at not having found the one place at Heligan we all remembered from 2003. It was simply some stone steps that Louise had taken a photo of. Some years later, she created a very lovely painting (acrylic on canvas) of the image – a huge one that stands on an easel. As we got closer to the cafe and shop we saw an interesting-looking opening between some rocks and decided to investigate. And there we found the steps – which we all duly photographed again.

 

Although we managed to see a lot of the gardens, there were areas of the site we didn’t have time to get to – including the Lost Valley and Home Farm – so they’re now at the top of the list for our next trip down to Cornwall. And next time, we’ll get there in plenty of time to enjoy a Cornish cream tea in the cafe. On this occasion, it had already closed. 😦

The Promise of May (May 3)

When we first moved to the village in which we’ve lived for the past ten years, people who didn’t know me called me ‘the lady who walks’. Well, I don’t mind being labelled as such because, quite honestly, it suits me.  I do walk a lot, simply because I can’t bear being cooped up indoors. There’s so much to see out there, and every day is different; every month even more so. Besides, it keeps me fit and, hopefully, young. (Fat chance of that considering that I had my 70th birthday last month. Notice I didn’t say celebrated my birthday! How is getting old something to celebrate? 😦 On the other hand, I got some seriously nice prezzies).

And now it’s May, and the rest of spring has still to unfold before the summer ahead. So what does the onset of May bring to mind for you? This will obviously depend on which part of the world you live in and which season you’re about to embark upon. Here in the UK, it’s SPRING! Glorious Spring… the month of promise.

These are some of the photos I’ve taken over the first few days of May. They are of our garden and from around and about the village:

The photos of the sparrowhawk were taken two days ago through the glass of our conservatory, so apologies for the fuzzy look. He was gorging himself on a blackbird when we spotted him, and if we’d opened a door or window he would have rapidly skidaddled.

As for returning migratory birds, our house martins returned to their usual nesting place beneath our eaves a few weeks ago…

… and there are plenty of swallows about. But I haven’t yet heard a cuckoo, and often they arrive before the end of April. (In May and June they sing their tune.) I expect to hear the familiar call any day now. I wrote about the egg-laying habits of the cuckoo last year, here.

What else does May bring to mind?

For me, May will always make me think of Robin of Sherwood, the TV series filmed in the ’80s. To me and our two daughters, it was the best Robin Hood production ever. Michael Praed and Judi Trott were wonderful as Robin and Marion and the rest of the cast were also superb. The series was made even more poignant by the awesome music of Clannad.

Here’s a short YouTube clip of the first time Robin set eyes on Marion:

Did you spot the line… You’re like a May morning?  Marion’s youthfulness fits perfectly with the idea of freshness and beginnings. This is the rest of the little bit of dialogue, which seems to have been cut from that video version:

Robin: You’re like a May morning. Stay here in Sherwood and be my May Queen.
Marion: In Sherwood? And be your May queen? But what will I be when winter comes?
Robin: I’d build a fire at the cave’s mouth, wrap you in sheepskin, and hold you close.

More snippets about May…

  • May was named after the Greek goddess Maia. It was a time of great celebration in the northern hemisphere; the time when flowers and crops emerged. Before 1430, May was called Maius. Meyes or Mai.
  •  The Anglo-Saxon name for May was Tri-Milchi, which referred to the new lush grasses that allowed milking of cows to be three times a day.
  • On the 1st of May in days long past, young girls would rush out and wash their faces in dew. It was thought that May dew had magical properties: anyone who washed their face in it would have a beautiful complexion all year round. It also removed freckles, spots and pimples. (Sounds like good stuff!)
  • People born in May are said to be loving and practical
  •  The zodiac signs for May are Taurus until May 20 and Gemini from May 21 onwards.
  • May’s birthstone is the emerald (emblematic of love and success) and also chrysophase in the UK.
  • In the U.S. and in many countries around the world, Mother’s Day in is May (May 14 this year, I believe). In the U.K. we celebrate that day in March.
  • May 1st is May Day in many countries and celebrated in a variety of ways, which I wrote about here. The day is also International Workers Day worldwide.

And here are some well known quotes about May:

  1. Among the changing months, May stands confest The sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed.  – James Thomso
  2. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May – William Shakespeare
  3. Sweet April showers do spring May flowers – Thomas Tusser

To finish with, here’s a video of an old song, Now is the Month of Maying, written by Thomas Morely in 1595. It has been recorded by a number of choirs and singing groups and this one was uploaded to YouTube by Ana Pachero. It features The Kings Singers.

And now, after three posts about it, I’ll leave May alone and have a think about my next post about Cornwall.

The Collingham May Fair (May 2)

The Collingham May Fair has been going for years – long before we moved to this area 20 years ago. For many years it was held in the area of the village green, and since the green itself is so small, this involved the road being closed to traffic for the day. The ‘green’ is just beyond the houses to the right of the road in the second picture below:

For the past few years the Fair has been on Collingham Cricket Ground – a nice large area for all the stalls and activities. Yesterday, May Ist, Nick and I went along to share in the fun. On Sunday I wrote a general post about May Day celebrations in the UK, so now I want to share a few photos from a typical village May Fair.

I used this poster advertising the list of events for this year’s show on my last post, but here it is again:


We arrived at the cricket ground at 12.15 pm, so not too many people were there. We walked around, looking at and photographing the various stalls while more people filed in. As you can see from these distant shots, the stalls were around the edge of the ground:

These are close-up versions of various stalls and activities on offer:

At one o’ clock we had the crowning of the May Queen. Traditionally the young woman chosen would have been one eligible for marriage, which in the past would have been a girl of perhaps fourteen upwards. Today’s May Queen was  a cute little girl of eight. I suppose it makes sense, considering that it’s the primary schools who usually organise both the maypole dancing and crowning of the May Queen nowadays. Anyway, here is a photo of the ‘Queen’ and her little attendants as they watched the Morris dancers:

Straight after the crowning of the May Queen came the Morris dancing, performed by the same troop who were here last year – Rattlejag Morris. As it says on their website, they are a mixed troop, formed in 2002, who use recently collected material from East Yorkshire as well as their own material from local research into dancing in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.Their aim is to revive and develop their own locally based dance tradition. The troop performs broom dances, bacca pipe dances and sword dances, as well as many others unique to their group, and are continually developing new dances. On this occasion we didn’t video anything, but here are a few photos…

…  and this is one of  Rattlejag’s several videos from other events, this one uploaded in 2014. It shows one of the dances the troop performed yesterday in Collingham. It’s called The Rufford Poachers and is based on real events. As it says on the YouTube site, it is a dance “to record the events in Rufford Park in 1851,when the Rufford Park gamekeepers had a battle with the local poachers, resulting in the death on a gamekeeper.”

In the video, the four dancers in the middle represent the gamekeepers and the four outer ones are the attacking poachers.

Rattlejag Morris performed several dances, including one with swords, and their routine was thoroughly entertaining.

Unfortunately, we were unable to stay more than a couple of hours as we were needed elsewhere, so we didn’t get to see the Nottingham Ukulele Orchestra or the Collingham Singers. We’ve seen the Singers on several occasions  so we weren’t too bothered about that. All in all it was a pleasant visit and the weather wasn’t too bad at all. Although it was a bit too windy for my liking, at least it didn’t rain. There were some interesting exhibits and demonstrations – the wattle and daub fence making and the pizza making particularly so. The van with the pizza oven inside was something different and I’ve never seen so many items of crockery smashed to bits as on the plate smashing stall! In my experience, it’s usually coconuts we aim for. 🙂

Before we left we headed over to the most important place on the site…the ice cream van. How could we leave without having a Mr Whippy?