Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Google +

Right, the time has come to admit to myself....and you all, that it's highly unlikely I'll post much here again!

Not only have I lost the motivation to do so, the format and methodology of posting here is no longer suited to the way that I've come to update the world about the work in the kitchens at Hampton Court. The majority of what "I'm" doing is covered by confidentiality at this time, so I can't blog about it and it's quite clear that nobody else is likely to post anything either that would cover the sort of stuff I used to write about.

Short is indeed sweet and Twitter suits much better for now. Along with that there's also the forum and for some things I'm also trying out Google+  as a way of posting's easier to use than the Blogger site and as it's a "new toy" it may well keep me motivated for a little longer. Those of you with a Blogger account that folllow should find that your Blogger credentials are good for starting a G+ account should you wish to, you don't need one to read the drivel I write, but you would if you wanted to "follow" the page or comment on anything I write.

I'm not going to say that this is the end of the blog...never say never and all that...just the start of a hiatus, and unlike previous ones, a hiatus of my choosing not out of sheer laziness!!

Thanks all for following and commenting, please do watch the Google+  for news and updates as well as the Twitter feed and the Forum...and who knows, something may well present that's better posted here than until then it really is Ta Ta For Now....from here at least.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Fish Out Of Water...

is always the distinct feeling I get when at things like the IMC this week; I become acutely aware at my own lack of academic qualifications and always feel somewhat out of place. However, although the week started like that, by the end of Tuesday the situation was definitely much improved.

I had arrived on Sunday not having really finished my paper, but after a little time and contemplation I managed to fudge something reasonable together that would fit in the 15 minutes slot that I'd have. After a couple of sessions on Monday though, what little confidence I'd had in the text I'd got began to waiver and a quick review with a more critical eye lead to me re-writing the whole thing.....4 times over the day!!
So, bed on Monday, a fair nights sleep then up on Tuesday and breakfast, where a little conversation and questions from some other delegates got me thinking again about what I'd written.....time for another re-write before my session...just!

Managed to get everything finished, text and some accompanying images, then double checked it all would fit inside the 15 minutes, packed the briefcase and zipped off to get the shuttle bus to the other Uni' site where the session was. Rumour had it that this session was going to be popular, no idea why, but it turned out to be true as it was standing room only! Presented my paper and it seemed to go down ok, got some nice comments and had a few interesting chats about what I'd said so panic averted....but damn glad I'd done the re-writes.

The other papers in the session were varied, but all organised by the Wellcome Trust sponsored project, "You Are What You Ate" ,which I'm a part of...Jo Buckberry discussing the use of osteology workshops for the public in presenting information about the medieval diet and its visible effects in the skeletal remains, Gary Williamson and Iona McCleary on "was the medieval peasant diet healthy"...which included some interesting data on the polyphenol levels of a variety of apple types showing that modern varieties are no more or less healthy than heritage types...and Julia Gant, and Jenny Rogers from re-enactment group 4 and 20 blackbirds on cooking in a re-enactment context, they've only been doing that for 3 years or so and unfortunately it showed, both in the images they used and what they spoke about, but the audience liked them, so who am I to criticise?
I will say though, in case they're reading, that fireboxes in re-enactment are not "authentic", nor are they based on some historical reference, they are a direct result of the implementing of English Heritage guidelines for fires at historic sites which were introduced in the early 1990's. Prior to this time and regulation, the approved method for fires at historic sites was to cut and lift the turf, build the fire, then after the event, replace the turf. It soon became clear though that not only could that damage archaeological fabric close to the surface, it would also have some effect on any future geophysical surveying. So EH introduced a rule for re-enactment on their sites that fires must be in a box, suspended above the ground in order to protect the site as much as possible, this then became commonplace at all historic sites; attempting to claim otherwise, or reverse engineer a non existent reason for them is a touch disingenuous...though to give the ladies the benefit of the doubt, they haven't been doing the hobby long and probably don't know any of that!....but you really do need to check, re-check then check again everything that you say when presenting at this level of conference...unlike at a re-enactment event, here you could guarantee a knowledgeable audience.

I chose to go to the other 2 sessions organised by "You Are What You Ate" and the 1st was absolutely top notch...some great papers on Anglo-Saxon attitudes to feasting, stable isotope analysis of food consumption at an early Scottish Monastic site and disputes and punishments associated with the bread assizes in medieval London, Oxford and Southampton. The final session of the day is where it came unglued!!
First paper was an interesting one on the medieval view of the Roman recipes attributed to Apicius. Then Dr Timothy Dawson on food from the later enduring eastern empire (Byzantium to you and me, but that's incorrect it seems) then came the crowning turd in the water pipe to quote Blackadder. "Feasting at Tintagel in the Late Saxon Period" by presenters who shall remain nameless (though not hard to look them up!)
Apparently they'd submitted a proposal and abstract that was " referenced as one would expect for re-enactors"...shame they didn't bring that....or any notes, paperwork, images, information,  coherent thoughts...or indeed sentences!
Instead the two of them rambled and babbled for 20 minutes, no structure, no plans (it seemed), no real idea what they were talking about...really best not to bluster, bluff, and bs about a subject when an acknowledged expert is in the audience...which they'd have known if they'd bothered to come to the session before! In short, possibly the worst "paper" (and calling it that, even in quotation marks is being generous!) I have ever heard presented....but fair play I suppose for having the stones to do it....and to think that I was worried about the contents of my paper!

Still, all in all a pretty good use of time....heard some interesting papers, met some interesting people and put the case forward for the work we do, or at least tried to anyway.

It's a shame that the congress doesn't publish the papers, but with over 1000 presented it's no surprise really, still the Wellcome project is looking to publish all of our papers at least, so that should keep the powers that be at work happy.

Now that this is all out of the way, I can get back to work, hopefully up to the National Archive in the next week or two to have a look at the Eltham Ordinances and some other similar paperwork...I'll keep you all posted about that when it happens though.


Full(ish) Report....

,,,to follow soon!

Am nearly finished writing the report for you about Tuesday at the IMC but have just noticed the time...I've got to be up early, so I'll have to finish and post it tomorrow.


Monday, 11 July 2011

Ah Ha!

turns out that if you knuckle down and actually write something, rather than rely on random waffle and some pretty pictures, then making something coherent that fits inside 15 minutes is possible....just in my case, but that's only because I gave such a scatter gun title and abstract for the proposal that covering everything I mentioned in those in 15 minutes would task the best of us.

Still, as i just put on Twitter, after the 5th complete re-write of the day it finally makes sense, fits inside 15 minutes and covers most of the topic title...result!! Now just have to present it.

Wish me luck!


It's IMC Time....Day The First.

So sat here in my digs at the International Medieval Congress, half eight in
the morning and the room's already like a sauna....gotta love student
Finally finished putting the talk together last night, though undoubtedly
there'll be some tweaks later on when I have had a chance to gauge the
average presentation style here...I have to say that this is a first, 15
minutes to present a meaningful presentation knowing that there is virtually
no chance of a longer, more full version being published for people to read
if they didn't get the gist of what I was talking about...still, I'll soon
find out I'm sure.
Being such a large gathering is also unusual compared to what I'm used many attend that all of the keynote speeches are on a first come
first served basis in terms of fitting in the rooms...which strikes as odd,
not having space for everyone to see, but I guess that's what happens with
such a popular this morning's keynote talks are at the other
university site (the congress is split between Boddington and Weetwood Halls
at the university of Leeds) and all the rest of the sessions...and more
importantly, lunch...are here at Boddington, I don't think I'll be rushing
to try and get a space, time will be better spent re-checking the talk for
tomorrow and having a look around the book fair here...though the wallet
will be remaining firmly in my pocket....I hope!!
Right, time to try and get a cup of that hasn't been extruded from
a machine!! (it was an interesting "taste"....a tea puree pumped into the
cup, then topped up with hot water...I have to say I *have* had worse, but
not that much worse!!)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

You Can Take Your Stinking Meat And.....

use it!!

Seems that the guys had some problems in storing the meat over the last weekend. As I mentioned before, thanks to the set-up for the Music Festival we don't get to use the modern kitchen for the June weekend and so they had no access to the large catering fridges for storing ingredients and in spite of their best efforts they weren't able to keep the meat in "tip top" condition for Friday.

To be frank and to quote Marc H it apparently "stank like an abattoir" before it went on the spit and when it came it was duly taken into our office, double bagged then stuck in the bin.
Now it can be argued that throwing it away was a waste of the meat and the money it cost, however the powers that be don't necessarily see it that way as while it was on the spit it "did the job" and allowed people to have a go at turning it round, take pictures and see what roasting is actually all about..eating it afterwards would just have been a bonus really.

So why tell you all of this...well, the next event in July sees us in the same boat as the June weekend as thanks to a function on the Saturday we will once again have no access to the fridges.
What will we do? Well, having considered the possible options....not roast at all, not roast on Sunday...the message from above is "carry on as usual, roast on both days". The only difference being to try and make the most out of things if the meat turns out not to be in the best of states on Sunday.

How will we do this? Simple really, use it to discuss storage in the Sixteenth Century Kitchens compared to storage today; after all the Tudors managed without access to electric refrigeration didn't they?! Worse case scenario and we end up with a stink laden piece of beef when we come to look at it on Sunday morning...roast it anyway then show that it isn't possible to disguise the smell let alone taste simply by using spices (yes that age old chestnut!) least until we can't stand the smell ;o)..take some pictures of public reaction, possibly some vox pop comments to be taken, that sort of stuff.

Now that's kind of sorted it's now time to get on with the nitty gritty of the rest of the menu plan for July and get that submitted before I pop off to Wakefield on Friday.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

You Aint Seen Me....Right!

Hard to believe, but it is indeed my weekend off the rota and hence away from the kitchens whilst the rest of the guys struggle with the June event.
It's always a tricky weekend because the Music Festival set up means we don't have access to the modern kitchen no baking but more crucially, no fridges!! I did my best to plan a menu that would fit this lack of storage as best it could, but if Marc H's latest tweet is anything to go on, the weather has taken its toll on the beef...still, from a personal standpoint, it isn't affecting my chicken sandwich as I sit here typing this ;op

I've re-tweeted Marc's various tweets of interest to the twitter feed, and you can always pop to the forum to see Terry Love's pictures from the Saturday... CLICK ME

I think I'm enjoying being completely dispensable and having them get on with things without me...after all there's no I in team....though I do have to say that the reports I'm getting do indicate that if nothing else I'm being missed as a target for grumbling at/about, so it's nice to know I am good for something.

June is shaping up to be a chaotic month, off to Wakefield to Clarke Hall for the food day and my sessions on chocolate next weekend, plans for July and August to sort out and the presentation for the International Medieval Congress to get sorted....and a new computer to source to enable me to do it all well as continuing the research project and get to a position where I can start writing stuff up in a meaningful pressure then!

Details for what they did this weekend can be found over at the forum via the link above (cheers Terry) and I expect this will be added to after today can also follow progress via the Twitter feed, but for now...time for the rest of my weekend off!!


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Clarke Hall Food History Day

FYI the details of the trip back to Wakefield that I mentioned on Twitter, maybe see some of you there??

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Well so far this has turned out to be a pretty duff month!!

I really didn't enjoy the last cookery weekend, that's one of the reasons I only updated you for the first day...I had simply had enough of it all and after work time was set aside for drink and loud music....I expect I was an arse to work with so apologise to the rest of the guys, but they're kind of used to that by now!

Since then I've made great progress with the research I'm doing, worked out the plans for the June weekend (when it's my turn to be off rota) and started on putting together the talk for the International Medieval Congress in was then that things really bombed!
Simply put, the graphics card in my laptop went belly up and that's really put the mockers on things for me. It means that I'll have to replace the laptop, but that will have to wait until funds can be accrued..until then I thought I'd worked out a lashed together work around that would allow me to work without having to resort to just using my phone for internet access. The laptop will still run in "safe mode" which bypasses the graphics card and uses the on-board graphics of the motherboard to allow very basic operations..great I thought, that means I can still use the computer to look things up online and carry on with work, all be it at a much reduced screen resolution.
Unfortunately, the computer "safe mode" isn't designed for running the machine with, just to allow access to sort out problems and as such it has a VERY limited can't for instance save documents or create new ones, or view PDF files, or images, or pretty much anything except look at some already created documents, go online and check email...result being extreme frustration and VERY limited scope for getting things done.
Fortunately, I've got loads of reading to get through and a shed load of images of documents from the National Archive to transcribe...BUT that doesn't help with writing stuff or, more importantly, getting the IMC presentation sorted....luckily I can blag the use of another machine for a limited time now and then in order to put the talk together and I should be able to take the departmental laptop up to Leeds for the IMC itself in order to give the presentation.
So, if I needed another reason to reduce how often I update the blog....that would be it I suppose!

Well, enough of the sob story, on with the "normal" stuff I guess. For those that don't follow the Twitter feed (Why not?), I had mislaid the menu plans for the next weekend of cooking at the end of this week so couldn't let you know what we are going to be doing. I thought that they may have slipped under the sofa, but it seems that I had actually put them in my briefcase ready for the weekend and not in the epic pile of paper next to my chair...doh!
So what are we going to be doing? Pretty much the same as last time...more from Harl. 5401.

Marc H wants to work on pottage of prunes....using plums this time as the word prune can mean either the dried preserved fruit or the fresh. Last time he used dried prunes and the result, tasty though it was, wasn't as the recipe lead him to think it should be....I'm not going to go into detail as I would hope (vainly perhaps) that he might actually write and tell you about it himself.

I want to look at mylke rosted again, although I was "happy" with how it turned out last time I still think I'm missing something. As it happened we had some American visitors through who said that they still cook the dish, or one very similar, at Easter except they use vanilla sugar in it to give it some flavour. They said that their dish didn't have a name but that it was a traditional one, seems that it might be the Carpathian dish Hrutka or Sirek, so I want to look at that and compare the two just to see how similar they are.

Robert will probably carry on with looking at the various pork and egg recipes like charlet whilst Robin will potter with chewetts, papyns and viandre Cypre de Salmon amongst others...we've got 4 or 5 dishes each day plus a roast that we can have a go at depending on how much talking we end up doing.

As far as I know the wine fountain will once again be running each of the three days filling up free glasses of wine for anyone that wants one (subject to licensing over 18 and collect a free token from the visitor centre some time during the day which you then exchange for a glass of red or white between 4.15 and 4.45 pm each day, weather permitting)

After this weekend we rush headlong into the June event...I'll let you know the plans beforehand but as I won't be working there will not be updates over the weekend itself I'm afraid. That will then be it for events that are on consecutive weekends until the end of August/beginning of September and we settle back down to cookery on the first weekend of each month as before.

Well, I think that's it for now...I've just noticed the time and should be away to sleep.


Saturday, 30 April 2011

Wedded...Bliss(fully Ignorant)

Hmm, definitely an interesting day, not busy by any stretch of the imagination...but that's not too much of a surprise given the Royal wedding taking place!
As we thought it might be, the bulk of visitors today were foreign with English not as their main language...mostly French as it happens...but all of them were interested and kept us busy with chat and questions...I don't think that I heard any talk about the wedding, apart from Dave and his slightly republican views! (we don't hold it against him)

Marc H had some trouble with his pottage of'll have a look at the Twitter time line to get an idea of what happened (will be able to go into greater detail when I have access to a proper keyboard instead of this phone one...or perhaps Marc will elucidate in person)
I had some joy with the roast milk recipe I was working on. So far it's set solid which is more than can be said for the last time I tried out...tomorrow we'll find out if it's solid enough to cut into cubes and roast...fingers crossed, though I don't hold out much hope for it being any good to eat!
Robin and Robert worked on a couple of other dishes, but I can't recall what they were called, so rather than waffle on without being able to tell you the names I think I'll call it a night and update you tomorrow....but with a little more detail than I'm providing here =0)


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

May Day, May Day!

Well, blink and you'll have missed the 3 days between the last event over the Easter weekend and this coming May bank holiday weekend of cooking...what you won't have missed is the blanket coverage of the impending Royal extra holiday added for you...and an extra day of work for us, making this another 4 day event.

The Palace, as I mentioned in an earlier update, has the theme of love and romance in order to tie into the wedding theme du jour and we'll probably be talking that up a treat....the food however is less theme related and continues our look into the Harl. M.S. 5401 as it's quite interesting and something we've not done before.
The dishes cooked will be different each day and apart from the usual roasted fare should include, amongst others:

potage of rice, potage of prunes, blawnk de sure, ryse of lumbard, doth, resalsike, gelis of mylk, fruays and a couple of versions of roast mylk again...fingers crossed it's less of a dismal failure this time compared to last!

There are 4 or 5 dishes (plus a roast) planned to be available for us to cook each day, but that's a maximum...if we get busy and get talking, then I would expect to see that number become much smaller...still, talking is what we're paid to do!!
Most of the new recipes (well, new for us to try at least) are sweet dishes, so the savoury fare will be supplied by some of the tried and tested favourites such as fyllets en galentyne, which will be part roasted on Friday for the dish to be cooked on Saturday....fingers crossed that Jamie the fire warder isn't working that day as it's his favourite and there'd be very little left for the rest of us if he got near it ;o)

Friday could be an interesting day...who knows how many, if any visitors we'll see...will it be like a cold wet December day for numbers? Who knows, though it's a safe bet that our core demographic (Royalist history buffs) will be thinner on the ground than usual...I do know that there is a French school party booked in for the morning, not sure how interested they are going to be in us though.
As for the rest of the weeken, the jury is still out....could be busy, could be quiet, only time will tell now. The plan is to keep you all up to speed as we it was last weekend, but that all depends on mobile signal etc. etc. (which was distinctly lacking on Sunday and Monday) well as time and energy...I really can't believe how exhausting last weekend was and 3 days hasn't been long enough to recover either.


Sunday, 24 April 2011

All Quiet On The West(ern) Front.

A much quieter day today than the jam packed one yesterday, still busy, just not as much as yesterday was.

Cooking wise, another positive day was had and with regards to the overall aim of the weekend great strides have been made already...Christmas here we come!

The wine fountain had been going great guns too, this year we seem to have acquired the responsibility to run the thing, though unlike last year the wine is free for visitors...subject to availability and licensing conditions...served between 4ish and 5 in the afternoon on days that we are cooking, all you need to do is ask for a token at the information centre then swap it for a glass of red or white towards the end of the afternoon...just check the details when you buy your ticket to avoid confusion or disappointment!

Tomorrow holds more of the same for us, though we think we'll be busy again which would be good as the busy days pass really quickly.

Time for an early night for a change now, TTFN

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Good Grief It's Good Friday.

Blimey, what a day that was!

Glorious weather and a shut Windsor castle certainly brought in the crowds, no ideas as to the numbers, but the kitchen was full for most of the day, as was the rest of the building.....and the line from Zulu goes, "there's thousands of them!" and there certainly were.

It was good to see forum member and librarian about town Johnna visit us for the day having travelled over from the States to attend the Leeds food symposium...I think she had a good day, but we'll have to wait for a full report I guess.

No real news from the shop floor to mention, food was cooked, visitors engaged and entertained....job done. Same menu again tomorrow, just a bit of work to do on the timings and we should be there....lots of thoughts and ideas have already been added to the proverbial pot to work on towards Christmas, so the weekend is already doing what it was planned to...and that was only day one!

Off for some sleep now, TTFN

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Easter Eggstravaganza!

well, not really, but it makes a good enough title!

Better late than never I suppose with the plans for this Easter weekend in the kitchens at Hampton, what are they??
This weekend will see us starting on work for the next Xmas event...yes, you read that right, beat that supermarkets with your Easter eggs on the shelves on January 1st and Xmas cards in stock after Halloween!
Over the course of the year we will be playing with a number of the ideas that we want to try out to see how we can improve on the Xmas event from last year but without the pressure of the actual event and a "must not fail" situation. This weekend....a 2 course meal!

Fairly similar to the last Xmas gig, the bulk of the dishes will be roast and the menu will be the same each day (though I've packed the book away ready for tomorrow so can't tell you the details right now...doh!!...roast beef, mutton and lamb are there along with chickens on the spit, that much I can recall), with none of the daily variations that we tried at Christmas...boring perhaps, but much more historically accurate.

The "meal" will be served at 4.00 pm for the 1st course and 4.30 pm for the second...I say served, but that would be a bit of artistic licence as what I really mean is "taken out of the kitchen"....Where to?
Our office as it happens, though that's not important as anywhere out of the kitchen is all that really matters. Once it's cooked the food isn't important (other than checking for consistent results, something else we need to work on), the whole point of the work is the cooking portion of the day, sorting the timings, making sure we can get everything finished at the same time; so the dishes will be plated up then removed to simulate the service part of the proceeding. That's not to say that the food will be wasted, far from it, the team will eat it all after hours and leftovers will be frozen as usual for later use...just that you won't get the chance to see that part of the foods journey....sorry.
Hopefully the weekend will show us the best way to run with the expanded menu in the future and that will result in an even better Christmas event at the end of the year....many, many more ideas to try/think through/test out towards that event in order to really up the game from last time.

A short hop after Easter...the next weekend...sees us back in the kitchens again for the Royal Wedding day and then the May Day bank Holiday. The Palace theme for that weekend is love and romance, though how that's going to translate into the kitchens I really can't say....but Dave has been asked to make something suitable out of sugar or marchpane.
Other than that it'll be a fairly "normal" weekend of trying out recipes we've not cooked before from Harly M.S. 5401 so there should be something of interest to keep us all busy...hopefully I'll get a chance to give you some more details once I get the book of plans unpacked for this weekend.

Updates over the events are, as always, intended but mobile signal coverage seems to have decreased massively with my new, pffft!! you'll have to make do with what you get I'm afraid.

Think that about covers it for now, so have a good Easter weekend and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather....good for visitors (though to be honest hot weather makes for a quiet weekend indoors as everyone is enjoying the gardens outside)....but not so good if you're wearing some lovely woollen clothes....good job some of us have a little more ventilation than planned eh ;0)


Sunday, 10 April 2011

Apropos Of Nothing...

So, out for a family dinner yesterday and a situation presented itself that I really wasn't prepared for. It was a little pub restaurant, the usual sort of selection was offered on the menu...all looked acceptable and plenty of choice was available...nothing odd there.
Drinks were ordered first, then the food and I plumped for the chicken fillet "burger"...with chips (fries) and was now that a fateful choice was made...which in turn has lead to this post. At the bottom of the menu were a series of "additions" that could be had to accompany the various burgers, such as cheese or, what I opted for, a chili coating.
Now I was assuming a chili dressing/sauce would be lightly spread over the meat, perhaps a sweet chili dressing Thai style....what I wasn't expecting, nor anyone else round the table for that matter, was a bun containing a broiled chicken breast covered in chili con carne!!
I have to say that the acronym WTF was all I could think, I mean who in their right mind would a) think that chili con carne should go in a bun or b) that it was/is a suitable partner to grilled chicken???
So what did I do? Well the English thing obviously...I ate it with a knife and fork, without a word to the staff! As it happens, the chicken was really good, as was the chili...they just really, really didn't belong together.
The moral of the tale is a simple one...make sure you check what it is you're ordering when you go out for dinner!
Easter and May weekend updates for you some time next week....once I've finished sorting out the May weekend.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

What A Start.... the weekend!

Carter gets his pocket picked waiting for his train and has his wallet stolen with all his cards, cash and most importantly...return train ticket in!! Fortunately all cards managed to be cancelled pretty sharpish and he's talked Dave into giving him a lift most of the way home...just the tedious nature of getting a replacement card sorted now.

Ross on the other hand was half way to the Palace when he stopped for a rest and found that the frame on the motorbike had snapped!?!? So a tentative and slow limp back home in order to get the bike to a welder for fixing and to collect a hire car in order to re-start the journey.....not the most auspicious start to a weekend I think!

Still, on the up side, forum regular (and regular visitor) Terry L and fire warder Liam shared a birthday at the start of the week, so we're all planning on popping to the pub tonight for some belated celebratory drinks (though I think it's fair to assume that both the birthday boys in question have already celeb rated in suitable fashion already ;o) .....should make a nice change and a good end to the first of this seasons long summer hours based days.

Mobile phone signals are still atrocious in the digs at night, so I'm making full use of the office PC at this moment while I'm waiting for some printing to finish...can't promise any better communications later on, but who I said, Twitter is the most likely as it only needs a brief connection to send an update, but if things change then I may well add another blog update later on.

Anyway, time marches to change then onwards to de-bone the mutton!


Friday, 1 April 2011

April Addendum

realised after I posted yesterday that I hadn't really said a great deal about plans for this weekend of cookery...doh!

Well once again we'll be looking at recipes from M.S. Harl. 5401 along with the usual stab at roasting in front of the great fire.
Recipes planned include syrop of wardens, rost mylk, potage of prunes and ryshellis of frute along with several others, though to be honest I've no idea how much we'll get done!

Mobile signal (and the energy to post at the end of the now long summer days) willing, I'll keep you in the proverbial loop as we go, but it may well be that Twitter ends up being my updates of choice, so don't forget to check out the timeline over the weekend.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Our New Year Begins!!

Regular readers may well remember that 'we' run our event schedule based on the financial year rather than the calendar one....and with that in mind the new year is just around the corner and this weekend sees the start for the new programme of events.

So what can you expect this year??

Pretty much the same as last year as it happens, a mixed bag of this and that culminating with an attempt to expand and improve on the Christmas event, thus putting this back to the pinnacle of our event year as it used to be. As such, an amount of the experimental work over the year will be going towards not just trying to improve our understanding of things, but also trying out new ideas and planning for the Christmas event, which is our best opportunity for both trialling new ideas regarding food at the Court of Henry VIII as well as showing them off to you all.

This weekend coming will be a fairly simple affair with little in depth experimentation as we shall be having a film crew round working on another Historic Royal Palaces project, there is a need for them to record fairly basic processes without any of our "mucking about" getting in the that's what they'll get....the usual broad mix of roasting and boiling, chopping and grinding and the guys doing what it is they do best...talking for Britain.

Easter, which looms large at the end of the month, will be a different affair....can't give details just yet as I'm still waiting for confirmation, but I'll let you all know ASAP. The very next weekend though (May holiday weekend) , the Palace has the theme of love and romance to tie in with the Royal nuptials on Friday 29th..yes it's an extra bank holiday, so lucky us, we get to work!! As yet, the only thing I know that we'll be doing is that Dave has been asked to make something romantic in idea what, but I'm sure it'll be for the rest of us....the jury is still out there, not really got any ideas yet, but hey, it's a month away yet!

After that, we should settle down into a more regular and sensible plan of attack for each event, as soon as things are settled planning wise, I'll let you all know.

That's it for now.


Friday, 4 March 2011

House Rules

Ok, so I suppose this is a post with a little explanation in it, something to let you know why there has been a vacuum of silence of late I guess.

When I started all of this blogging a couple of years ago, I set myself some house rules that I would always aim to follow. In the main, they are of no great concern to all of you out there, they set out how I was going to layout each post and things like that. They also detailed what I would and most importantly would NOT post about.
Like a lot of people, I was always told that if you can't say something nice about someone, then don't say anything. My self set policy is to not report negatives or disagreements either within the team or within the organisation...that sort of thing is, frankly, nobody else's business and let's face it, that's not really what people want to hear...well not in our situation I'm guessing.

Over the last year or so though, there have been a much larger number of disagreements and problems that have either lead to bad feelings or operational problems within the setup that we operate in. What they are is immaterial, they are the sort of problems that any team that works so closely together experiences, they do however affect the way that I personally feel and mean that more often than not there has been "nothing to say" to you all....both figuratively and in reality. Painful as it is to say, the last thing I feel like doing a lot of the time is being positive and trying to find something worth writing as a blog post!

Now, I suppose the $64,000 question is, will the situation change in the future?

To be honest, who knows? The ideas that are being thrown around for the new financial year are pretty good and should make for an interesting year if they get yes, I expect to carry on boring you for some time to come, just how regularly I can't say. Will it get back to the way it used to be, lots of pictures of recipes and lots of cooking stuff...that I'm not so sure of..the pictures, probably not in the way that we used to, the recipe stuff, possibly but more likely if I can coerce others to do some writing for you as well.

So that's the situation as it is right now, hopefully this makes some sense of the vast periods of nothing from me, perhaps not. Please don't bother asking what the problems are as I won't be saying....either you know already or you won't, so don't waste time asking as a lack of reply may offend ;o)


Sunday, 6 February 2011

February Foibles.

New phone, worse signal! Oh how technology is a fickle mistress...still if you're reading this at least the tech' held up for long enough for the mail to send and at the moment that's pretty good!

Not much to report for you I suppose, we did a little cooking and an awful lot of talking, which seems to now be the norm....not that's any reason too complain as we had some great people round today, asking lots of taxing well as a number off different press people from both the UK and Germany. It appears that there's more of the same tomorrow.... .so another fairly "safe" day of cooking with plenty of chat and banter if it all works out. No pictures other than any Terry managed to post earlier I'm afraid, but a better description for you when a proper keyboard presents itself after tomorrow.

As promised the other day, then plan is still to process the last video from Xmas for you sometime early next week, so fingers crossed I can sort that out....but for now it's time for some sleep.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

What Occurs When....

....people put a little thought into things!!

Now as I mentioned and posted before, I made a number of time lapse recordings of the meal time at Christmas so that we could get some idea of how the set up really makes it so much easier to notice how the crowd moves about and so on. The trouble is, certain people got to thinking about how best they could "play" with the recording and after an abortive, but interesting first attempt (which isn't worth showing), Robert came up with this

Click the image to visit the Gallery and see the fairly short video.
Now obviously, this had potential and was bound to go further....which it did. I'll post the results after the weekend when I've finished editing's taking a while because the camera failed midway through the recording, fortunately it saved what it had shot to the memory card (which is a first, normally it wouldn't have!) but unfortunately there is some data corruption which I'm trying to clean up.

Now I suppose it's time to get ready for the weekend of cooking which is now upon us.


Friday, 14 January 2011

T i m e L a p s e

First of the videos that I took of the Hall being set up/taken down and the King dining has now been edited, you can find it over at the Gallery...just click on the thumbnail to get there:

The King Dines, 31st 12 2010

Sorry for the appalling picture quality, but it was a very gloomy day and the lighting was awful, that and the fact that I'm using a small pocket camera not a video camera all combine to give the effect of Henry dining on the event horizon of a black hole!!
That aside, you should get an idea of what went on...and "get" the "Lenin's tomb" reference. The 31st was really the day that everything came good I suppose. Teething problems with the layout of the Hall were dealt with, visitor management was spot on...great work by the team from Past Pleasures who man the "upstairs" parts of the Palace, absolutely first rate stuff, with just the right levels of solemnity and levity I felt....the State Apartment Warders and Conservation and Collection Care teams were also running like a dream too (not that they weren't before, but by the 31st everyone, including me, had relaxed somewhat and the atmosphere in the Hall seemed to reflect that).

Still more videos to edit, but that may have to wait whilst family stuff takes over for the next few days (hmmm, decorating, can't wait....not!), but when you do see them you'll see that very little changes....we'd got it just about right. That is not to say that it was perfect by any means....but as I've maintained all along if you were to have asked me, this was the beginning on a new road to the way that food and meals within the context of Henry VIII's Court are interpreted. There is still a L O N G way to go to get anything like an accurate presentation, but these tentative baby steps are a start......and much much closer to history than what was done in the past.

Hopefully, the powers that be at work were equally happy with the event as I was, we'll just have to wait for the debrief meeting to find out, but all in all I think we can safely say B-, could do better!

What would I change?........I think that can wait for another post, possibly with the last video, to give me time to think.


Thursday, 13 January 2011

Xmas Images

Just put a new album into the Gallery with some of the images that I took at Christmas....only 25 I'm afraid, most of what I shot was for internal analysis later on and not, I'm sorry to say, for public consumption....that and they're mostly blurred or out of focus due to the gloomy lighting on the day or my general ineptitude!! For images of the event I can recommend those taken and kindly shared by Terry L over at the forum, much more comprehensive than this small offering....but I digress.

As ever, Dave features large with this image

quite simply, the man gives great photo!!! Point the camera at him and.....assuming you use a fast enough shutter to freeze the movement or he's run out of steam, you'll always get a good image....damn him!!

There are a small handful of the table being set for the dining, not enough as although I was on photo duty, I was also needed to set the table up as well, so images took an unfortunate back seat (though a useful lesson for the future...don't try to do 2 things at once, something will give)

You can also see the "revised" public queuing/route system in operation too...

nattily referred to as the Lenin's Tomb effect by a number of staff...still it worked and that's the main thing.

I'm still working through editing the time lapse footage that I shot of the Hall being set up and the dining being's just taking longer than I thought due to the need to protect the innocent/guilty (delete as you feel applicable).

Will update you with the video when it's done, but for now, here is the link to the Gallery >>>>> LINK

Navigate through cookery events > Henry VIII to find the Xmas 2010 album.


Saturday, 1 January 2011

Fire From The Skies!

Just a quickie as it's rather late!

Was walking back to the digs through Base Court and found one of those hippy sky lantern thingies on the floor. If you use them, please think of the possibilities of where they may land, fortunately the heat source had burnt out, but what if it had landed alight on the Palace?

Hippy types....thing before you light those decorative floatong lanterns....where might they land? Will it be safe?

Here ends the fire safety message....tipsy though it may be ;o)