Saturday: According to the Incredible Dr Tooms, it
was going to take us around one and half hours to get to the museum,
adding an extra half hour to allow for hold ups meant that we got
there far too early! Unlike Southampton,
Chiltern Open Air Museum really is just outside the
Once we were set up in the old vicarage again we waited
for visitors to turn up, it was a bit of a slow start to say the
least but around midday…about lunch time… things began to develop…I
had barely cracked my hard boiled egg when the first of many visitors
began to turn up…my lunch then lay there for ages, sad and mostly
mangled while I talked about mermaids. I met a very nice Sri
Lankan family who had their photos taken with a few of my exhibits,
not really sure what granddad thought of the mermaid as he posed
with it, no doubt he will tell an interesting tale when he gets
One lady was so intrigued by the platypus that she returned
later to quiz me further. One of the things that strike people is
the size, they either imagine that the critter is much larger or
tell me that they are smaller, my specimen is a maximum size male
based on photos of several mounted specimens.
Another odd question that came up several times was “are we wearing
Victorian clothing?” I doubt if I could get into most Victorian
clothing, I saw John
Bell Hood’s frockcoat in the Museum
of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA. Had I tried on
the great man’s attire it would have burst at the shoulders – I
thought he was taller than that.
There was a lady lurking about with a large camera and she introduced
herself as Maureen McLean who was taking photos for ‘Totally
Society’, so, being a bashful lot, we posed with some of our
exhibits and visitors. For what must be the first time ever visitors
were queuing up to have a look at Cassandra’s phenakistoscope,
for some odd reason, lots of people were also interested in the
box everything went into…how very odd.
Apart from us there was also a small group of members from Soskan,
who were wandering around as a very dapper looking shooting party.
Every time they went by I asked them if they had bagged something
interesting for me. Donald, usually a surgeon but today a
gentlemen of leisure and shooter of small scurrying things, came
over to talk with Dr Tooms; no doubt they had quite a few
things to catch up on as we had not seen Donald or his good lady
Lesley for quite a few years.
It would have been nice to have stayed on site but there would
have been a Billy No Mates element to it, so once the visitors
were gone and the vicarage locked up we headed for home.
Sunday: Another fine morning and another busy day. Melissa
came to see us during the afternoon and while chatting with Dr
Tooms the subject of magic lantern shows came up, “one of the
strangest things that we have used for a screen was a medieval
loo complete with fake, hand made turds” said the good doctor.
“That would be the Pelicans”
was the reply.
I was not wearing my pith helmet today; it just sort of sat there
and by an odd twist became an exhibit of its own as several people
asked to try it on. One very nice lady even asked to be photographed
I met a family from New Zealand and the young man with
them had an amazing amount of knowledge on all things Novazeelandesque,
that may not be a real word but it looks good to me! We chatted
about my huias and then went on to talk about moas, moko and the
pre-Maori settlement of the islands. The islands must have been
incredible when the first human got there; no terrestrial mammals,
a few frogs and lots of bird species including giant plodding moas
eagle big enough to turn an unsuspecting hiker into a ready
Just as we were getting ready to leave we heard from one of the
staff that there was a family still on site somewhere and, while
they were no danger of being locked in, I suggested that they send
out dogs to flush ‘em out.
Well, this is pretty much it as events go for us; almost time
to get back to the drawing board and make a couple more exhibits…all
will be revealed.
This is Prof Grymm in search of new things to play with.