The half term break has come and gone and we are sliding rapidly towards the end of of another academic year. My holiday was most enjoyably spent doing as little as possible. One or two stunning walks in the Quantocks, a bit of tennis and the odd dinner party or two. And...time spent in the workshop. Building a biltong box. Biltong is a South African delicacy which is basically (look away now if you are of a squeamish disposition) dried raw meat. Every South African I know is addicted to it and craves it and is prepared to pay exorbitant amounts to feed their habit. Our charismatic Zimbabwean jazz piano teacher, Bruce, told me some time ago that he made his own, using a biltong box - a ventilated cupboard with a light bulb at the bottom.
Well, I now have my own biltong box. It turned out rather larger and grander than intended. I made it so that if the biltong side of things turns out to be a rancid flop it could easily be converted into a rather fetching folksy kitchen cupboard. Oddly, Mrs Biggs didn't seem all that excited, either by the prospect of limitless quantities of biltong or by the prospect of a new cupboard smelling of old dried meat. Anyway, one half-price lump of silverside and a bit of pickling and spicing later we now have the box whirring away. I took a belt and braces approach and added a computer fan at the top as well as a light bulb at the bottom. And it seems to be working! Nothing's turned green yet. The meat is looking, with each passing day, more and more like the real thing. This could be the start of something very special. Form an orderly queue by the back door if you want some...
The opening of the amphitheatre was an unmitigated success. We were lucky to have struck just about the best day of the spring so far. It was warm and still and absolutely perfect. Professor Outram declared himself delighted to see that it was a genuine amphitheatre - properly circular rather than the faux semi-circular affairs so often put forward, quite mistakenly, as the real thing. The large audience fitted in easily (we now think we could seat 300) and enjoyed a wonderful performance of mostly classical theatre, punctuated by a few musical interludes. It was all absolutely wonderful and certainly one of those memorable King's events that will remain with me always.
This second half of term is definitely the best time of the year as a teacher and, to be honest, as a headmaster. It's huge fun. Half the school disappears on study leave for a while, there is time both to teach well and to enjoy the many and often quite different activities on offer. A spelling bee on Thursday. The staff charity concert next week (do come along...you'll be surprised at how musical some of my colleagues are). Warm, lazy afternoons of cricket and tennis. When it isn't raining. For me, it all passes far too quickly before we break up.
We have our annual Meade King Cup swimming competition on Friday evening. I understand that this is an historic event: the oldest inter-schools quadrangular match of any sort in the world. Or something like that. (If I'm wrong our excellent Archivist will come knocking... and I'll issue a correction immediately). I wish our boys and girls every success in the pool.
What an extraordinary weekend we have just had for for OA sports stars. Jos Buttler finally made his maiden international century with an astonishing knock for the England 50-over side on Saturday. He can't really have done more to get his name onto the test selectors' table. And his altercation with Sri Lankan side yesterday has kept his name in the limelight. No bad thing (though the dismissal was a disgrace). And Maddie Hinch was very much in evidence too: she is the England hockey goalkeeper, and is playing in the (televised) tournament in Holland. That's not bad for a small school - two recently-left world-class performers making an impression on the same weekend.
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