Monday, 30 June 2008

Road Trip!

I suppose it's not directly related to the kitchens, but for the next couple of days those of us that also work for the education department with children's sessions and adult learners will be on a road trip with the education department going to look at other sites education sessions and how they deal with kitchens, children and object handling sessions.

The idea is to 'pep' up our sessions and see if we can learn from how other people run their theory I'll post some pictures afterwards as well as some prose and that should help to fill in the time between now and next weekends cookery.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Silence Is Golden?

No, actually as far as you are all concerned.....silence is boring.......sorry!
Those of you that know me will appreciate that I don't do small talk and to be honest over the last week or so I've not had much to say work wise.

I'm currently up to my ears in research (No Mr H, that doesn't mean photocopying!) looking into the names of the staff 'below stairs' so to speak during Henry's reign as well as looking at some very interesting price lists of food stuffs from the period. I can't say that it's going to be stunningly ground breaking work, but I do believe that it will fundamentally alter how we look at the work that was done in the kitchens 500 years ago and will in turn alter how we interpret them in the future. Fingers crossed I'll be able to see how people move through the ranks, if at all and how long they serve for at their also should help with the work that we're doing on trying to tighten up finding out the numbers that the kitchens catered for a little more than 'between 600 and 100 twice a day!'
It also means loads of trips to the British library and the Public Records Office will be on the cards in the future.....I just have to learn not to get too sidetracked with other less relevant but just as interesting documents and lists!

This next weekends cookery has now been sorted out (I think.....just a couple of chats to have with the guys to confirm a couple of points then it'll all be ready to go).....the aim, as well as some data recording for roasting meat, is to run through a few recipes step by step and get some good photographic records of the techniques used so that we can illustrate some recipes extremely well.....the aim being to expand the number of recipes that we can use in lectures and talks etc.....the by product being that you all get to see some more images....something that I'm all to aware that there has been a dearth of recently.

Friday, 13 June 2008

If You Hadn't Noticed.....

I've actually put pictures from last weekends cookery up on the Flickr site.....not many I admit, but at least they are there!
This one of the new and improved astronomical clock and gateway

Is a very rough and ready cobbling together of 2 pictures, but it does give you the idea of how good the brickwork looks after the restoration work.

All in all the weekend went well I think. It was a nice surprise to see how the public took to the cleaning and writing aspects of the you can see here

Jorge was rarely left to his own devices with both him and Robert spending their weekend explaining how writing and accounts are at the heart of the kitchen, both then and now.....explaining the science behind ink, letting people try their hand at writing, talking about administrating a large kitchen and the like.

Carter and Pick were also kept busy showing that in the past people weren't left wanting when it came to cleaning methods that could be used in the kitchen.....admittedly the older methods were a little more abrasive and needed a little more effort, but generally speaking people were more impressed with the 'old school' cleaning than they were with the results of the modern product.....suffice to say I can't see many multinational manufacturers beating a path to our door with offers of sponsorship based on the results of the last weekend.
The lye that I made on Saturday added to Pick and Carters repertoire on Sunday, leading to some very clean table tops and chopping boards.....I also spent the day on Sunday playing at making some rough and ready soap to add to their armoury.

O.K. so it wasn't perfect, but it was pH neutral.........if your skin is naturally pH 13!! (bring on the Nivea again) It did work though with test grease spots removed and a slight lather achieved, the main problem was in not having an alkali that was dense enough.....something to work on in the future I think.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Lye, Damn Lye & Statistics!

What a surprisingly busy day that was, considering.....1600 ticket sales which isn't too bad for what is essentially a quiet weekend in June.

The lye worked relly well....great at de-greasing; especially my hands which now feel like the skin is too small for the contents and is making typing an interesting experience......hand cream will soon be my friend. Interestingly as soon as the water and ash were mixed together the pH value maxed out at alkalai as our indicator paper registers....a touch of heat to reduce the water content and 'stiffen' it up has left some excelent cleaning solution for use on aprons, chopping boards and table tops.

Carter and Pick had great success with their traditional cleaning methods, but considerably less using modern products......photographs when I can post them should make it much easier to explain so for now I'll leave that.

That's it for to have a few drinks now and rub in the hand cream.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Finger Still In!!

No video edited yet I'm afraid....a combination of laziness, lack of time due to being up to my eyes in reading Tudor accounts and the fact that my PC is on the fritz as far as long term power intensive work is concerned have all combined to keep me away from editing Roberts videos from the other weekend......still, something to look forward to in the future eh!

Subtle change of plan for this weekend in that almonds were off as far as our supplier was no marchpane work.......which is a problem as it's pretty good at keeping people busy, all that blanching and schucking then the grinding......and all that before anything 'arty' has to be done! So instead it'll be more sugar boiling and possibly some of the sorts of recipes that our visitors can try at home.

All the rest of the plans seem to still be ok, fingers crossed things stay that way.

More news as it happens so to speak.

Sunday, 1 June 2008


Forgot to put in the last post the answer to Elises question....What are Dave and Adrian doing now that the fountain is finished?

Good question!!

As I'd mentioned when they finished the fountain, I'd rather that they didn't rush into any new project without thinking, so they've spent the last couple of weekends bimbling around trying to think of something to get on with.......In one respect, the massive damage that seems to have befallen St George and the fountain when some building work (possibly for the recent BBC filming) fell on them has given them something to work.......sticking the various loose bits back on and tidying up the parts hanging on by a thread.
I'm making it sound worse than it was (decapitated dragon, broken wing and wingless putti on the fountain.....and goodness only knows where his horn went!) and the repair work kept the guys occupied for most of the latter half of the weekend just gone.

Rest assured that as soon as we find something to keep them busy you'll all know about it.

Back In Action......

...technologically speaking! Hooray....I've got my Internet connection back so normal service can now be resumed.....well as normal as it gets anyway.

First off, last weekend.....what on odd mix of weather we had.......raining one minute sunny the next, not great for visitor numbers, but they still came, not as many on the Monday as the two previous day, but still enough to keep us occupied.....occupied enough that neither Robert or myself took any pictures worth showing you!?!

So saying, I did manage to take some in Base Court and create another rough and ready panoramic view for you to see (I seem to have botched taking enough pictures of the floor, so that's not included here) usual, just click on the image and drag around to see the whole courtyard.

In theory that will have been one of the last opportunities for us to take pictures of Base Court in that state.....i.e. with grass in it! As I type this there should now be a stage and seating in the courtyard ready for the annual music festival and when that's done and dusted work should begin on the 'Base Court re-presentation project'.....the main part of which should see the whole courtyard paved as it is believed it was in Henry VIII's time!!! Fingers crossed that it all goes ahead as planned......if so, we should be able to keep you all abreast of the situation with pictures of the work progressing.

Talking of work, the re-pointing of Anne Boleyn's Gateway is now finished along with the work on the astronomical clock.....and now that the scaffolding has been removed it can now all be seen in its full glory....sorry, all the pictures I took were a bit on the duff side, I'll try better next weekend when we'll be hard at it again....but doing what I hear you ask.
Well as the music festival will be in full swing (Saturday evening's soundtrack will be provided by Cleo Laine and John Dankworth.......Jazz....nice) we won't have any access to our normal washing up facilities, nor will we have any cold storage either so it all rather puts the mockers on doing much cookery. Current plans include some confectionery work......marchpane, boiled sugar and the like, possibly some comfit work but who can tell. We'll also be talking about cleaning within the kitchens maybe even a bit of rough and ready soap making and possibly a little bit of comparison and contrast with modern cleaning methods. Jorge and Robert will also be doing some work with pen, paper and (if they get the ingredients in time) making ink to do some writing.....probably talking about inventories and accounts as well as letting people have a go with writing as well. If plans change I'll let you all know, but otherwise I'll keep you all posted over the weekend as to what we actually did.......and hopefully this time with pictures as well.

Hopefully next post will include the video footage that Robert shot at the beginning of May....if I can get my finger out and edit it together that is!