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Bank Holiday Fun

        

Bank Holiday Monday today, and time to be out and about in Britain's countryside, joining the long queues of holidaymakers looking for something to do. Look no further! Here is a list of some of the best attractions available in the country this festive Monday…

          
Great British Diseases - A Demonstration
        Just as the Sealed Knot go around recreating old battles, so the Sealed Flask go on the road to keep awake memories of old diseases, from the Black Death to scrofula and dropsy. Today they are making a rare foray into the Victorian era and exploring the ladylike world of consumption and the vapours, so twenty Victorian ladies will be at the National Epidemic Centre in Birmingham today, swooning and fainting all over the shop…
         "If you've never had smelling salts or sal volatile applied to your nostrils, you've never lived!" says Sealed Flask director Vernon Nosegay. "Come along for a sniff today!"
 

The Unmakeover Centre - Open Day

         So many people have had TV companies come in and transform their gardens, redecorate their houses or brutally rejig their cooking habits, that many of them, following nightmares about gardens with purple wallpaper and balsamic vinegar waterfall features, have sought therapy and help in rebuilding their lives here at the Unmakeover Centre near York. Today is their open day, when you can see their work at close quarters.
        Special attraction: personal appearance by several people who auditioned for Big Brother but never made it.

Ashtray World
         George Portwine has been amassing ashtrays for over fifty years, and has now opened his vast collection to the public in a converted warehouse in the appropriately named Wiltshire village of Cold Ash. They range from a tiny portable ashtray which women would carry in their Edwardian handbags to a giant fifteen-man ashtray to be found in Victorian poorhouses. 
        Open today 9-5. Sorry, no smoking.
        
Toast-Throwing Contest at Sheeps Wyngate.
         For as long as anyone can remember, there has been a summer toast-throwing contest at Sheeps Wyngate in the Yorkshire Dales. The object is not to throw the toast the furthest but to be the first to land a piece of toast in Bishop Bunting's Butter Dish thirty-five feet away. Who Bishop Bunting was, and how it started, is anyone's guess, but it has known a huge revival in the last century (except during World War II when the shortage of butter caused the contest to be suspended for seven years ).
        
Operation City Paintball
         The paintball game, in which energetic businessmen fire paint at each other from behind trees, has always been played in the depths of the country. Today, when the City of London lies empty, they take to the lanes and streets of the world's financial capital for the first time and will be hunting each other in nooks and crannies of the financial jungle. Watch out for wet paint on bank windows tomorrow!
        Gather at Mansion House tube station for 10 am start. Bring old clothes.

Britain's Most Haunted Bank
         Ever since Barclays started closing down rural branches, rumours have spread of empty Barclays banks being haunted by ghosts crying "I want to pay in my week's takings very very slowly!" and "Can you let me have £300 in 50p coins, please?".
        This weekend the hunt has been on for the most haunted empty premises, and the winner will be announced somewhere in East Anglia today.
          
Blotting Paper World
         The last blotting paper mill in Britain closed in 1967, but the abandoned mill house at Worplesby in Derbyshire has been restored to working order and reopened as a blotting paper heritage centre. Here you can hear the forgotten sound of the thumping steam-driven machinery and see the soft weft and woof of the absorbent strands of paper being woven into sheets of the traditional pink, blue and white "blotch", familiar to anyone over the age of forty and baffling to anyone else.
        Visit the new Blotting Paper Museum, where you can see signatures of famous murderers who were trapped by their incriminating use of blotting paper....
                
David Shayler in Dover: A Commemorative Conducted Walk
         This historic walk follows the exact route taken by the celebrated intelligence agent when he returned to England to face the music and asks the question: turncoat or patriot?
        Stop Press: we have just learnt that this attraction has been closed down by government order and will now not take place.

The Independent Monday Aug 28 2000

       

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© Caroline Kington