book 3 Gaby Title.jpg
Part 88

The Sherwood Forester's!

Excitement was still coursing through my veins next morning. I was really going to the bike show in Germany! How cool is that? Today though we were all going on a day trip to Norfolk so I better get my arse in gear! The weather has turned a bit cooler, no clear blue sky this morning, no, today we have a bit of a breeze and a fair bit of cloud.

"Come on Drew, we'll be late!" Jules hollered up the stairs.

"I'm coming!"

"About time too"

The four of us set off for school, collecting Mad and Sab on the way. At least we weren't last today, that honour went to Anna and her exchangee, Stacey.

"Everyone here?" Mr Wood enquired

"I think so Mr Wood" Miss Bell supplied.

"Right then people, I think it best if we stick to Tuesdays arrangement with the buses if that's okay with you Jessica?"

"Suits me" she replied

"Fine. Everybody on board then, we'll be stopping briefly at Sutton Bridge, okay Reg?"

"We'll see you there Mr Wood" Reg told him.

So at nine oh five we set off.

"Guess what?" Brit asked the rest of the super gang.

"What?" Darla asked without much interest

"Can I Drew?" she checked

"Why not, if you don't I will!"

"What?" Bernie asked

"Me and Drew, were going to Germany with his Gran!" Brit enthused

"Oh Wow!" Sabrina stated

"How come?" Amy queried

"You best tell 'em Drew"

"Well I was supposed to go with Dad but he couldn't go so my Gran sorted it so me and Brit and her go"

"Slow down Drew, go where?" Ally requested

"It's some sort of bike show" Brit supplied

I caught a look from Maddy, it was not pleasant!

"How come you get to go Brit?" the question came from the usually quiet Dan.

"Gran didn't think it was fair for me to disappear and leave her on her own, so she gets to come" I shrugged and sent a pleading look towards Mad, who looked less annoyed but still cheesed.

Up in front Jessica Bell smiled to herself. When Mr Bond had got hold of her yesterday she wasn't sure what to do, as acting guardian for her charges if she said no it wouldn't happen. However after a long discussion she agreed, heck she wouldn't mind going herself! She might teach geography but this trip to England was her first trip outside of North America, a month in Mexico when she was in college and a long weekend to Montreal summed up her previous foreign travel. Behind her, the conversation had moved on to what was happening this weekend.

The two buses headed across country towards Boston and the Fens, soon enough the café cum coach stop at Sutton Bridge appeared and they pulled in.

"Half an hour please!" Jessica advised her charges

Everyone piled inside, first stop the conveniences then into the café proper. The adults all shared a table and a pot of tea; the students mostly made a racket and drank an assortment of soft drinks. Seeing Miss Bell head outside, Britney followed her for her mystery chat.

"...should be fine" Miss Bell finished

"Great! I'll tell them later!" Britney replied

"Tell who, what later?" Amy asked joining them along with the rest of the gang

"Come on, you can talk on the bus" Miss Bell told us, with a shove in the right direction!

Once back on the road, Amy continued the chase

"Britney Walter's, what are you plotting?"

"I'm not plotting anything"

"Just spill Walter's" Dan prompted

"Alright! Sab gave me the idea yesterday. I was going to suggest that Mad and the girls join in our cheer demo at the end of the trip"

"That'd be pretty neat" Amy agreed

"I never thought I'd see the day!" Rhod mentioned, which got him a clip from Ally. There's definitely something going on there!

"You mean the short skirt and stuff?" Bernie asked

"It's not compulsory" Brit supplied

"Am I glad I'm a boy" I told no one in particular.

"I'm in!" Mad stated

"Yeah why not" Ally allowed

"Bernie?" Darla queried

"I guess, but I'm not really into all that jumping about stuff"

"No sweat!" a delighted Britney replied.

We were not far from our first stop now, Castle Rising. We turned into the village and up the lane to the car park. Dad would like this place! The main hall peeked over the huge bank and ditch arrangement; from top to bottom must be 30 metres! We followed Mr Wood and Mr Fredericks to the shop cum office then waited whilst our admission was secured.

"Okay everyone, there's a mobile guide here for everyone, Charlie, can you pass them out please."

"Yes Sir"

"Follow the instructions and it will take you around the site and explain what you are seeing. If you can meet back here at one, you can go in the shop then. We'll have lunch before we go on to our next stop."

"And kids, no horseplay!" Miss Bell added

"Right then, off you go!"

Dad's influence must be rubbing off; this place looks pretty cool! I chuckled a bit as I imagined what the former residents would have made of all these people wandering around holding these strange lumps of plastic up to their ears! Over the moat and through the gate into the inner ward. Wow! That is one neat keep place! It was a temptation to shortcut direct to the hall but thought I'd best do it right. Most of our group were by now just wandering about, the guides forgotten, these ruins need exploring!

"Funny place to put a church huh?"

"Oh hi Miss Bell, yeah I guess so"

"You like this sort of stuff?"

"My Dad's into castles and stuff so we get dragged round quite a few, I 'spose it's okay"

"This trip is a real treat for me, I've read about all these places and I finally get to see some of them"

 Castle Rising

The Keep seemed to be the centre of attraction from the shouting we could hear!
We started walking over to the keep. The sound of exuberant teenagers could be heard inside as we started up the stairway.

"I suppose they'll learn something" Miss Bell mentioned

The two of us made our way around the roofless building, I tried to imagine how it would have appeared five hundred years ago but the lack of floors made it difficult. I spotted the girls outside.

"Hey there's Drew"

"Come on Drew, Mad's taking our picture!"

We'd finished inside anyway so Miss Bell joined me outside.

"Oh Miss Bell, could you take one of all of us?"

"Sure Britney"

We arranged ourselves on the steps and Miss Bell ended up taking six pictures on different cameras. The last one was taken by another visitor for us; Miss Bell squeezed in the middle!

After hitting the gift shop and rescuing our lunch from the buses we settled down to eat. Rhod, Dan and I settled back against a tree and watched the world go by before doing a bit of eye resting.


"What's that row?" I asked the world in general

"Hey Drew, wake up"

"It's the girls Drew" Dan mentioned

I sat up to see what was going on. A few metres away the girls were stood watching Britney.

"See it's easy" she told them

"I feel daft" Bernie mumbled

We watched as Brit and her mates started again, my girlfriends tried to imitate the moves and to be truthful it was quite comical!

"Today Norfolk, tomorrow the Super Bowl" Rhod opined

"If you're so clever, you have a go" Ally suggested

"I don't know what you're laughing at either Drew Bond?" Mad added

"Me? Nothing!"

Britney got the look again

"I reckon the guys should do it too" she suggested

"Ot oh!" Dan stated

"Oh come on guys, humour me?"

"Scaredy cats!" Amy mentioned

"Alright, but just this once" I allowed, pride, as they say, cometh before the fall!

So that's how us three lads ended up trying to follow what Brit called 'a simple routine'. Simple my foot! We cavorted around for about ten minutes before I realised that we had an audience.

Miss Bell applauded our efforts.

"Well done boys, I can't wait to see you in uniform!" she joked

"I think they'll look cute," Darla added

"Well, we have to get going now, don't forget anything"

"Right behind you" Britney told her teacher

"That was fun Drew" Mad mentioned taking my arm

"Maybe for you, I'll stick to riding a bike thanks"

"Aww, come on Drew you know you enjoyed it"

"I did not!" Mad went quiet, "what?"

"Oh nothing"

We clambered back into the bus and soon we were headed towards Thetford and the Brecklands, the big sandy heath and forest that make up the western edge of Norfolk.

"You guys should start a cheer squad" Brit suggested

"There's only three of us" Ally mentioned

"I bet we could soon recruit a few more" Mad pointed out, "after all aren't cheerleaders supposed to be boy magnets?"

"Kinda" Darla allowed

"What'd be the point, there's nothing to cheer, we don't have American Football and the school doesn't compete at basketball"

"Swim team? Soccer? And there's always Drew" Brit replied

"Never thought of that" Mad agreed

"You need a name" Sab stated

"Meden Morons!" Rhod suggested, Ally was too quick for him this time catching him good and proper around the lughole.

"Warsop Wally's" was my contribution; I was quick enough to avoid Mad's swipe though.

"I know, how about something with Robin Hood" Ally put forward

"Maid Marion's something?" Bernie offered

"Sounds a bit X-rated" Mad pointed out

"Sherwood Forest wave and jumpers" I joked

"Hey you might have something there Drew"

"I was only kidding!"

"What about Sherwood Forester's?" Mad enquired

"That's pretty good" Brit agreed, "Sherwood Foresters, yeah I like it!"

"We've got a name but we can't cheer and there's only three of us!" Bern pointed out.

"Well seven for the next few weeks, we can teach you some routines and stuff, I know Sab's already been showing Mad some stuff." Brit announced

The bus lurched to one side, bringing our attention back to our current surroundings. The roadway we were following took us towards a large hut in the middle of a large swathe of heathland. There didn't appear to be anything here, a few lumps beyond the hut and what looked like a sort of conservatory fifty metres away.

"What are we doing here Miss Bell?" Amy asked

"Well I'm not sure what we are supposed to see but its called Grimes Graves"

"A cemetery?" Sab asked

"No it's a lot of flint mines"

"Oh! That's a pity" Bernie mentioned

"Come on kids, off the bus" Mr Wood called over.

Well Dad would have been right at home here! Inside the hut was a small exhibition with models and stuff showing what the 'Graves' really are like below ground. Then there were some cabinets showing how the bits of flint were made into tools like arrowheads and knives and scrapers. According to one of the boards, the name is supposed to be from some local giant called Grim and this was supposed to be where he buried his victims!

"Right then everyone" Mr Wood started, "if you can go outside and walk over to the little glass shed, yes Juliette you can come back to the shop afterwards." He must be a mind reader!

We trotted out and reassembled at the glass shed.

"Come on in" the young woman inside encouraged

Once inside, we could see that there were hard hats hung on the only solid wall but the main feature was a ladder descending through a hole in the floor.

"Who's first?" she asked

"Come on Mad!" I dragged her forward

"Okay young lady," she plonked a hat on my head, I didn't realise they were so heavy! "There's forty rungs, just step onto the top and take your time, don't look down" fortunately I don't think anyone else heard.

Now it came to it I was nervous but I tried to cover it with a "going down!" comment. It was a bit scary, after the first few steps I was into the dark; there was a faint glow from below but not enough to really see by. Ten, another thirty to go! Then as my eyes adjusted the walls opened out and I risked a quick glance down into some sort of cave. I could hear and feel through the ladder what I guessed was Mad starting down above me. I finished the descent with a sigh of relief and stood to wait for the others.

It took about ten minutes, but everyone who was coming assembled in the space. I say everyone who was coming, Amy and one of the older girls wimped and stayed on the surface! The curator girl joined us and for twenty minutes she told us all about how it was dug out and showed us some of the antlers used for digging and what we all thought was an obscene little naked statue of the Donii or Earth Mother, gross!

The climb back up was much easier; you can see the circle of light at the top, which is kind of reassuring.

"That was pretty cool" Brit mentioned as she followed me outside

"Yeah, Dad should have come"

"Come on you two, shopping!" Ally mentioned

What is it with girls? I mean the shop here has a few books and postcards! I'll never understand them.

Back onto the buses and we headed for our last stop of the day in Thetford.

"That curator back in the mine, she thought you were a girl" Brit whispered in my ear.


"Did she?"

"You know she did, I heard her call you 'miss'!"

Double bum!

"She did? I didn't notice"

"That's always happening" Mad turned round and put her two pen'ath in.


"Well it does"

"What does?" Sabrina asked. This was getting out of hand.

"Mad was just saying that Drew is always being 'mistaken' for a girl"

Where's that hole? I'm not sure but it seems like Mad was deliberately trying to embarrass me, I thought we'd got a 'no Gaby' agreement. I just let the conversation go on round me; things have been going so okay and 'Gaby' free.

Only our arrival at the 'Brecklands Museum' ended the discussion about mistaken identity, which fortunately had moved onto Britney being mistaken for Debbie.

This last stop was a typical small museum and we all shuffled around the exhibits of local life. You'd be hard pressed to spend more than half an hour in there so the visit for us was pretty quick. Mr Wood managed to get us all together on the pavement.

"It's four o'clock now, we need to leave here at five so we are going to trust you to behave and set you loose on Thetford. We shall only have a quick toilet stop on the way back so you might want to get a snack for later. Back at the buses for five."

"Cool!" Darla stated

"Come on, the town centre's this way" Ally started off up the street.

So we spent best part of an hour doing the grockle bit around Thetford's flint faced streets and shops (again!) I mean, don't get me wrong, it's a nice enough place but the highlight for me was a couple of minutes checking out the kit in the window of 'Breckland Bikes'. We descended on a small supermarket that supplied some pop, crisps and sandwiches.

Back on the bus, we started the journey home and the conversation returned to the formation of the 'Sherwood Foresters'. Dan and Rhod joined me in several hands of pontoon to pass the time and avoid the conversation. We soon joined the A14 and then it was a fast road nearly all the way home. As promised, we had a toilet stop at Colsterworth on the A1 before continuing up to Newark and the last bit of cross-country back home.

Dad was waiting with Mrs Rose when we pulled back into the school just before seven thirty.

"Good day?"

"Excellent Mr B" Deb told him

"You would have enjoyed it Dad" I mentioned

"Do Mad and her friend need a lift?" Dad asked

"You two want a lift" I called over

"You haven't got room have you?" Mad queried

"I'm sure you can all squeeze in for a couple of minutes" Dad advised

It's a good job it's a fairly big car! Jules got to sit up front with Dad, Deb sat on one side, Sab sat in the middle with Britney wedged on the floor and I got the seat behind Dad with Mad on my sat on my knees. Sheesh she's heavy! We dropped them off at Peter's Acres but instead of heading home, Dad drove back into town to the Indian.

"I don't know about you lot, but I didn't fancy cooking at this time."

Maddy Bell 14.03.04 Secret © 2004

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