Saxon the City

We started filming season 2 of Calamityville Horror yesterday. After a five week break between filming, we suspected things wouldn’t run smoothly. We were right. We had a 7:20 start to Oxford, where we were meeting the lovely Cinta Garcia de la Rosa, who’s over from Spain doing a writing course. It was all going so well. The roads were quiet. Too quiet. We were beginning to suspect the zombie apocalypse had happened already but we were enjoying the lack of traffic too much to be unduly concerned. Very nearly got mushed on a roundabout by a BMW but Cat’s quick reactions got Mickey onto the grass verge and we lived to film the episode. Clearly Fate is enjoying our disasters too much to cut our golden threads just yet. We had 4 maps of Oxford telling us how to get to different places, where the car parks were etc. Then we reached Oxford and everything was downhill from there.

Oxford is a series of one way streets that lead to dead ends, most of the car parks marked were private or we couldn’t find our way in. Don’t laugh, this was a serious problem. We ended up circling Oxford several times. Then we committed a terrible breach of the Highway Code. Yep. We drove through another pedestrian zone. Screaming pedestrians dove for safety, shaking their fists and cursing our very names. It was Nottingham all over again. The major meltdown that erupted was caught on camera but by the time we’ve bleeped out all the swear words, there might not be much left to hear 😀 The tour started at 10:20. At 10:15 we found a car park and wept as we paid £8.70 for the privilege of parking there. For that price we expected a personal valet service. No. The sign just warned you about leaving valuables in the car. We got lost trying to find Cinta, who was in the bus station. Right next to our car park. In fact as you climbed the stairs out of the car park, there was the bus station. But let’s never mention that again. We were a bit concerned about leaving Mickey in a place where the sign outside read ‘no drinking, no drugs and no sexual activity.’ It’s a grotty underground car park, not a brothel.

We eventually found Cinta and luckily she knows her way around Oxford and we arrived at the castle safely. It turned out to be Saxon weekend so we watched the combat training and played with a sword on the mound before heading off on a tour. Our tour guide, Duncan, who also goes by the name of Can Gerrett, was really good. At 6’3 he made us look like pixies.

Lynx, Cinta, Duncan (Can Gerrett) & Cat

We were taken up the Saxon tower, where a volunteer was required to go in the stocks. He chose Ryan, much to our delight. Finally that scurvy bilge rat was where he belonged.

Ryan stocks up his criminal ways

Unfortunately we had no rotten food to throw at him but he was left in there for quite a while. We went right to the top of the tower then down into the prison cells, where an identity line up board was set up. The four of us lined up to have our photo taken. Turned out our crime was highway robbery. Ryan’s criminal ways were obviously rubbing off on us. We were allowed to wander so us and Cinta dressed up in prison uniforms while Ryan dressed as a prison guard. As Cat was lining up the self timer, a kid walked past and kicked the tripod. Don’t know if it was deliberate but she glared threateningly at him and shook her fist as his departing back. Then as we were in the shot, he re-appeared and walked right in front of the shot. Had his parents not been there, he would’ve found himself as Oxford prison’s latest inmate. We journeyed into the hospital and were thrilled to discover a padded cell. Naturally we shut ourselves in and did an EVP session.

We headed down to the 900 year old crypt where creepy mannequins awaited. In fact, one of them was holding open his robe and had a mischievous grin on his wrinkled face. He was fully clothed but we strongly suspect he was flashing the two female mannequins sitting in front of him. They didn’t seem that excited by his wares. We listened to an abbreviated storytelling of Beowulf then bought our mug shot as well as ancient shackles and gaoler’s keys in the shop. They’re now hanging up in our summer house. Can Gerrett was pleased we’d filmed the tour for our show and wants us to put the footage on their site. Nice change from some of these places, who act like filming is akin to randomly kicking small children and graffiting their walls. As we walked through Oxford town, an unimaginative teenage girl shouted ‘freaks’ at us. In Italian! (Cinta speaks Italian so was able to translate). This is the first time we’ve been insulted in another language (that we know of) and we were surprisingly delighted by it. Italian, such a sexy language 😀 We think she was so overcome jealousy at our outfits that ‘freaks’ was all she could come up with. We returned to the castle for lunch, after paying £5.20 for an extra 2 hours parking. Ryan got harassed by a wasp then we filmed our debrief. We were about to leave when we were asked if we’d done the outside tour. We hadn’t. We were taken back up the Saxon mound we’d visited earlier. Luckily, Duncan was to be our guide again. When we were up there at the beginning, we ventured down a pitch black staircase to find a well. Without Lynx’s light, we couldn’t see anything. When we went down with the tour, it was lit up. We passed a building where they used to execute people. It’s now a trendy bar called the Living Room. We wanted to drag some peasants off the street to re-create history. We weren’t allowed. We were gutted. We were then taken to the old prison, which was built by the prisoners and is now a hugely expensive hotel. But to the side of the hotel is the original solitary confinement cells. We convinced Can Gerrett to close the door. Not sure the rest of the party were too keen on that as they left as soon as he opened the door. That’s what they get when they gatecrash our show. We stayed to explore. The castle was brilliant, the tour was fantastic and Can Gerrett even let us interview him.

the highway robbers were caught

We got lost leaving Oxford but that worked out better for us as it meant we avoided the toll on the Severn bridge. After the parking charges in Oxford, it was looking likely that had we crossed the bridge, Ryan would’ve been forced to dance for spare change. We ended up behind a Range Rover towing a piece of climbing wall. We’re not joking. It was an overhang piece. He kept veering into the grass verge and we were convinced he’d tip over at any minute. He didn’t. We were a bit gutted. The wall would’ve made a great feature wall in our house. Sadly he went a different way and we didn’t get an unusual souvenir.

Oh and Ryan and Cat suffered sunburn – Ryan on his face, Cat on her chest. Boy, was his face red! (Sorry, couldn’t resist the Simpsons quote) Lynx and Cinta, who were covered up, escaped unharmed.

let’s start a riot