Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Archive Antics Part Two. it's not been as simple as I thought to choose some pictures from the archive for your edification....but I've managed to find a few and they do indeed actually have some food connection...not much, but better than none....there are a few others at the Flickr site so pop there to have a look too.

So from the past I present what I believe was an event from 2005 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of V.E. day....

The premise was fairly simple, divide the team in two, with one half in period clothes discussing life at the Palace during the watching, civilian life, and the army...SHAEF was set up in Bushy Park after all!


this is my heroic pose...are you getting that?

warding 1940's style!

The other half would dress in modern 'whites' and re-create period recipes either official government issue from the Ministry of Food, or those supplied by volunteers who had lived through the war.

business as usual!

40's food

The pictures, well the black and white ones at least, were all shot using a period camera then scanned, along with the colour ones, from film onto digital...which goes to explain the haze that they all seem to have I'm afraid.

It wasn't all just standing around and posing in uniform for those who'd escaped from the kitchens...oh no...they had fun teaching people army drill

oi you 'orrible lot!!

as well as marksmanship using Swift training rifles...something that Adrian and Dave now have a fairly comprehensive collection of!!


It was actually refreshing to see how people took to this part of the display with lots of family groups egging each other on to beat each others score.

As for the food, well some of it was really good...tasty, hearty and really efficient with the meagre rations available at the time...some though was.....not (beetroot cake springs to mind!)

Probably the best thing though about the whole event was listening to peoples stories from living through the war, both good and bad, funny and sad.
Showing people the quantity of rations that a family was allowed was an eye opener too as so many of the younger families that visited simply couldn't see how you could survive on the food that was allowed...their shock was then added to when it was pointed out that the rations were what you were allowed to have, NOT what you were given...we had so many people come through that had lived in inner cities during the war and never saw the full ration allowance because they couldn't get the supplies!
As for 'Dig for Victory'...."where?" was the question posed by the elderly gentleman who had lived in a Glasgow tenement....He remembered ripping the cobbled yard up as they were told to do by the government so that the could grow their own vegetable, but as he said "what was gonna grow in that cr*p??"

All in all it was a fun event and one that we repeated later in that also helped forge some ideas as to different interpretation styles and display layouts...all of which should become evident over this coming year as we try out some new ideas as well as re-vamping some old ones.

The weekend is now nearly here and the next update will come on Friday or Saturday (fingers crossed) with the odd tweet thrown in for good measure too.....who knows, we may even get some pictures to post during the event...but as always I'm promising nothing.


Sunday, 25 April 2010


May day bank holiday weekend plans are as follows ...

Pick, Carter and Robert will be working in modern 'whites', with the rest of the team in period clothes.

Pick and Carter will be continuing their work on chafing dishes, both ceramic and metal..there will be some boiling, possibly some frying and I would fully expect some wafers to be made too....hmmmm. Working in whites will allow them to use modern thermometers and clocks to enable better comparisons between the different types of equipment, something which has only been able to have been done anecdotally of late...fingers crossed for a few actual numbers this time.

They will also have a small selection of the various recipe sources to hand (well copies at least), perhaps combined with some of the other sources used to enable a better discussion with the public regarding the interpretive nature of the work done by the team...let's face it, it's all a bit of a guess really isn't it and it would be nice if we could get that across to people instead of letting them go away labouring under the impression that we 'know it all'....something I think those of you who are regular readers here will know is most definitely not the case!

It's also planned that they will have a selection of original artefact fragments pertinent to the work being done on chafing dishes for the public to handle and examine, these will include original chafing dish fragments and ceramic material from our own collections.....if I can find where we 'tidied' them away!!

Robert will be working in modern whites to enable him to photograph and record the recipes that are cooked. This has been happening behind the scenes over the last year, but has proved to be tricky to fit in with the interpretive needs of last years theme. This year we are once again being allowed to show everyone the recording taking place (so long as it's done by people in modern clothes) and hopefully we can be back to the stage we were at a year ago in terms of the number of pictures taken and the data collected...fingers crossed on that front.

Marc H and myself will run the charcoal area as Robin is away this weekend, cooking the chosen recipes; engaging visitors in discussions as to the interpretive nature of the work (spot the theme eh folks) and encouraging them to talk this through with Pick and Carter whilst looking at source material.

Everyone per usual!!

...and that is pretty much it. Plans are progressing for the next few events, fairly similar but moving a few people around to try out different jobs and to keep things nice and fresh...can't stand it when it gets all stale and 'normal'!! Bigger plans are also in the works for later in the years, but for those you'll just have to be patient I'm afraid...all hush hush and that for the moment.

Should be time for another trawl through the archive of images before the onslaught of the weekend...just got to plump for the images to go with......


Thursday, 15 April 2010

Flickr Flim Flam

hmmm....looks like the Flickr badge on the right may now be working correctly....I'd appreciate you telling me if that's NOT the case for you.

Seems that it was the pictures of the moved tables and Dave warming his feet in the post entitled 'Lightweight' that may have been to blame...looks like Flickr have given them a new URL each, so I've re posted them to the blog again and fingers crossed it should all be back to normal for the time being.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Archive Antics Part One.

As promised I've been trawling through the archive, well looking at some images on the hard drive at least, to see what, if anything, we had done in the past that might interest you while waiting for some more up to date stuff to post.
As I mentioned on Twitter, I was leaning towards some images of a non-cookery event we had done back in the dim and distant past (2001), if only for the simple reason that it shows us when we were much thinner, younger and not in a kitchen....yes, that's right, in the past they used to have us do non cookery related projects....and at other HRP sites too. Now I realise that for a large number of you out there what I'm about to post is of absolutely no interest to you what so ever as it has NO references to food at all....if that's the case, then fret not as future trawls through history are nearly all foody in some way or another....well at least they are kitchen related anyhow....but for now you may wish to pop off and make a cuppa or read a good book whilst I present the 2001 event at the Tower of London entitled The Iron Duke.....

morning parade

Now with these posts of stuff from the past you mustn't expect too much in the way of actual details about what we did, when we did it and the like....let's face it, I have trouble remembering things that happened yesterday let alone almost a decade ago! Best to be thinking broad brush stroke descriptions here I think.

If I remember correctly, the event used a flimsy pretext to allow us to recreate a part of a British army regiment from the Napoleonic era....something about Wellington in his later life as governor of the Tower, reviewing troops dressed as those he commanded at the height of his military career...or something fairly lame like that (I have to say that even at the time it was a pretty poor reason to get us togged up, but we were 'up for it' as they say and I wouldn't be too shocked if it was actually our idea in the first place!!). All of this meant that we worked with the other interpreters on site to create a large scale interpretation event that saw us build a unit from scratch in a few months, drill and practice in order to march through the Tower twice a day (or was it three times??) and parade outside of the Fusiliers Museum before marching outside, along the river wharf and into the dry moat to demonstrate musketry skill at arms for the thousands of visitors that the Tower gets.

As well as officers, nco's and enlisted men

Sgt on parade

guard duty

we also had a few civilians and and Corps of Ordnance and Surveyors (I think)

As I said, we marched about a bit

at the ordinary time...march

made a bit of noise


and generally posed.....a lot!


It was the middle of summer, it was hot, it was busy and it was a blast!! We must have looked the part, well the officers at least, as all of the active soldiers in the Tower kept saluting us...must be ingrained in the training....salute the shiny uniform...and they certainly were shiny...if it looks like silver or gold on one of the officers then it is...either solid or very thick plating.....and yes the silver tarnished ridiculously quickly.
We were billeted in an army centre in London and each night on returning from the Tower the first job was to change then spend the next hour or so polishing buttons and buckles, wings and whistles....buffing shoes and boots and the re-whitening all of the leather strapping with liquid pipe staybrite or plasticote leather here !....apparently all the hard work was noticed and commented on by the soldier at the billet and word spread to those at the Tower too that we were putting the effort in to get it right which was nice for us to find out.....only when it was cleaned and ready for the next day did we have dinner and relax for the evening, before heading off to bed....well a horse hair stuffed mattress on the floor if I recall.

Other memories..sewing, sewing, sewing up to the last minute....ill fitting boots....thousands of people staring at interesting commute each day....a cracking regimental supper in full dress on the last night....the look on peoples faces when the command 'fix bayonets' is given....a laundry 'service' that defined clean in a new way for behind a security fence to protect us from the locals....afternoon naps in the officers tent interrupted by the 'men' throwing stones at me!....the ability of a marching unit of armed men to clear a path through a crowd....the tale of a trip to the off license that those who went will never forget....pleasant luncheons with Mr Hoare.....and the visitor who asked for directions to 'here' as the sign said "tours begin here on the hour"!?!?

It was one hell of a week of really hard graft made light by the company of a great group of people...all of whom had put in gargantuan effort in the preceding months to make uniforms and clothing as well as learn an exacting drill all of which was not open to interpretation unlike the work that we usually do within the safety of our kitchens. We repeated the event, well sort of, but larger in 2003...perhaps I'll post some of those images in the future....but have not been back since....well let's face it, time has not been kind to the uniforms as they mostly seem to have shrunk terribly, especially around the waist area!
On reflection whilst I really enjoyed the lead up to the event and the stuff that we did between ourselves when there, I didn't actually enjoy working at the Tower itself. That may seem an odd thing to say, but I think I can put it down to the completely different visitor demographic that existed then compared to that at Hampton Court. I believe that in the whole event I probably had an in depth conversation with no more than a dozen members of the public and half of those were probably directions to the toilet, even though there were many, many thousands of them each that to a day in the kitchens when talking to people is all we do. The main reasons for this are simple....loads of the visitors don't actually speak English, it is after all THE place to visit as a tourist to London, if not England...couple that with the fact that as a 'tick list' destination, many of the visitors, even if they do speak English, aren't actually that interested in the History, they just want a fun day out and a nice photo.....which they the thousand....all in all a fun event to do, but with hindsight, not one that would be financially viable to repeat unfortunately.

There are a few more images along with these here over on the Flickr page, but I'll leave you with the photographic proof that things actually never change....Dave, as always, captured for posterity doing something 'odd'....he's actually trying to brush up on his waltz, but I'm guessing that you would never work that out.....


Dave does his thing

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Easter Update....

....well not really I'm afraid!

As seems to be all too common if we check back through the blog, the event finishes and my head empties of anything that may have been of the vaguest interest to pass on to you all....sorry, but that's just the way it is. I've not even got any pictures to show you, but you can pop to these links PICTURES and MORE PICTURES to have a look at some that follower Terry Love took of us in 'action' (if what we do can be described by the use of the word action!!)...many thanks for letting us pop the link here Terry...hope you all enjoy.

Apart from letting you know the links above there's not much to tell about the weekend...thousands came and went, having spoken to us and reamed our brains for all they held, we cooked some food and served some meals and talked a whole lot more...job done.
Although we cooked a few recipes that we haven't really done much with before, there was almost nothing 'experimental' planned for the event and I can safely say that the plan was followed almost to the letter...with a little exception here and there...mostly from Pick and Carter with the work that they are doing looking at the practicality of ceramic and bronze chafing dishes...more about this though later in the year when they've added to what they have already learned and submitted it to the boss.
It was, as I say though, planned to be a fairly straightforward event...the idea being that the rest of the year emphasises and highlights the experimental and investigative work that we do, not just to the public, but those higher up the food chain at HRP as well...and to do that we started the year with a 'normal' event and from here on in it will be anything but that....fingers crossed for the ideas I've got planned, still awaiting confirmation of the broad idea from the boss before we can discuss detailed ideas, but the idea for the Palace as a whole over the year is to be more 'edgy' and boy can we do spades!!...nothing too out of the ordinary, but enough to not be that most hateful of I hate it and all of the cozy, bland, safe, dull repetitiveness that it implies.

How 'edgy' will we be? Can't say until I get confirmation of the proposed events from the boss, but to be honest it should be just like we have done in the past, but with more pictures, more recording of information, more interaction with the public (I hope) and more regular updates on an event weekend. What I can say is that there are no more plans for us to cook and eat a meal until Christmas and then hopefully we'll be back presenting that, but in a new and much improved style....the only possible exception being the second July event when I believe on the Saturday we shall be cooking a meal to be served to the 'King' in the Privy Garden, so we may well sit down to a meal ourselves to 'play the game' too.

Next event is the first May bank holiday, as and when plans are known I'll pass them on for all to see....until then I'll probably fill your time and mine by digging through the archives and sticking up a load of stuff from our dim and distant past, before all this blogging malarky, some kitchen based and some not, but all possibly of interest...should be entertaining to see what we all looked like with less paunch and more hair (well me at least!)


Saturday, 3 April 2010

Windsor 0 - Hampton Court 1

Crisis dealt with so back to business I suppose!

Good grief it was busy yesterday and pretty much the same again today...all due, so we were told, to Windsor Castle being shut, which means that all the coach parties that would have gone there came to see us instead....and blimey there were lots of them! We haven't been given the exact numbers but I'd guess it was close to 2000 or so, if not more...if I find out I'll let you know.
Roast turbot, poached gurnard, perre, chese tart, wardons in syryp and lyode soppes formed the menu on the table at 4.00 and to be honest there were absolutely no problems at all....everything made the table and it all tasted pretty good...shame I'm no great fan of fish though.
That as they say, is just about it for what happened yesterday....obviously add in the metric shed load of questions that we were asked and answered as well as the usual load of good humour and the like to get a more complete picture of our Good Friday.

Today we landed roast beef, pie of alowes, caboches, ryse of genoa, applemoyse and tart of all in all another pretty decent day, with good food and great visitors to keep us on our toes. As it happens we also had the boss in to keep an eye on things, not sure what he thought of things, but I'm sure he won't be backward in coming forward and telling us what he thought....possibly more news on this is the future....possibly not.

Tomorrow brings pretty much more of the same and I'll let you all know how it goes as and when I'm able, but for now it's time for a monster sized mug of tea with a ginger biscuit to dunk.

Friday, 2 April 2010

The Get Go On Good Friday.

The team's all here, as are the ingredients....including the fish....again! So it's time to wend our way to work I suppose.

We've got a few things to sort out in the kitchen before the Palace opens, then it'll be into the office to run through the plans for the day, distribute the work load and all those sorts of things ready to hit the shop floor at 11.00. As I said it's the fish again today along with a handful of other dishes....more news later and hopefully a little Twitter action along the way.