What A Difference A Year Makes!

So, almost a year since I bothered posting anything here, I suppose I should put some effort in eh?!

Well as I sit here on enforced sick leave I’ve got some time to think and write, which makes a nice change. First things first, and for the inquisitive…you know when you go into hospital for a procedure and they tell you there’s a xx% success rate, well earlier this year I fell into the other percentage and a septoplasty I had needed more corrective surgery which I got last week, leaving me high and dry away from work until after Xmas…though looking ever so stylish.

Rocking the attractive, yet ever so practical, nose nappy

The second thing that makes a nice change, I think, is Xmas. We’re now less than a week away and the usual stress and panic about the forthcoming week of cookery in the Kitchens at Hampton Court is completely absent, mostly because the week of cookery is completely absent this year!! Yes, for the first time since 1991, when Christmas festivities were started at Hampton Court, there’ll be no cookery over the course of the week between Christmas and New Year and we all get the same Christmas you all normally get. Now to put that in some perspective, this is the first Christmas since 1992 that I won’t be with my friends at Hampton Court on Boxing Day, New Years Eve or New Year’s Day…it will be the first complete Boxing Day, New Years Eve and New Year’s Day I’ll have ever spent with my family… it’s quite a big deal; but why is it happening and why no cookery?

If you visit the official HRP website you’ll find full details here if you scroll down, but the important bits are…

Henry VIII’s Tudor Kitchens

Electrical upgrades, re-decoration and re-presentation works.

Henry VIII’s Tudor Kitchens and surrounding cloisters are now subject to major work as we lay down new electrical cables to power our palace in the years to come. Archaeologists are also using this opportunity to help us better understand the history of the Tudor Kitchens and passageways.

The existing electrical system is almost 70 years old, and the work will allow the palace to continue operating into the future – as well as giving a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study buried archaeology in this part of the palace.

Unfortunately, this work will impact on what visitors to Hampton Court Palace can see in and around the Tudor Kitchen area. There will be no fire in the Tudor Kitchens for the duration of the works.

None shall pass! North Cloister is closed for the duration

The long and the short of it is that access in and out of the main Kitchen building where we work and roast is extremely restricted due to the electrical upgrade, with the main Kitchen building having become a cul-de-sac because of the necessary closures and it’s simply safer to not try to cram hundreds of visitors into a space they wouldn’t be easily be able to leave if there was an emergency; so the painful decision was taken to cancel the Christmas cookery this year, but plan to bring it back bigger, brighter and bolder next year.
Just because there’s no cookery, doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see and do over the festive period at Hampton Court though, and the HRP website details all there is for you to enjoy here.

Elizabethan Christmas at Hampton Court Palace

Special shout out to my colleague Hannah who now has the full weight of worry and stress about the Elizabethan Christmas event to see her through this week of technical rehearsals and soft openings and then through the Christmas festivities…I feel for you, and in a weird way, kind of miss the sleepless nights and panic….not!  😈

On the up side, the excavations to allow the new electrical cabling have turned up some interesting features..possibly a hearth feature from an earlier phase (Wolsey or possibly even pre-Wolsey when discussions were had during my visit to the site) of the building

Serving Place excavation at Hampton Court Palace 2017
Trust me, there’s a “feature” in there…honest

Now all we have to do is wait for the dig report to see what else they found.

The electrical upgrade work is scheduled to last up until just before Easter 2018 and that’s the next time you’ll be able to see live cookery in the Kitchens at Hampton Court. This will also be the last time you’ll get to see the Kitchens as they currently appear as, another thing that’s taken up huge chunks of this year, we’re in the middle of planning an updated interpretation scheme for the Kitchens and Service areas…indoors and out…which will refresh the Kitchens for the next decade of visitors (the last refresh and re-interpretation was done for 2006 and is now showing its age and looking tired)…but more on that and the wonders it all holds in a future post…possibly next week once I’m back at work and can catch up on all the latest comings and goings and photograph some of the new stuff we’re having made.

Probably the biggest change over this year, and the main reason there’s been nothing much posted…even on Twitter, where I’m virtually attached at the hip, is that I’ve had a change to my job…a big change!
Previously, I planned and organised most of the nitty-gritty, day-to-day, on the shop floor details for the Kitchens Interpretation Team, but reported to a manager who dealt with the higher level things like budget responsibility, training, “how does this all fit into the big picture” sort of stuff, you know, all that grown up management sort of stuff. That left me time to do some research, do some work in the Kitchens with my friends, keep up with the idea of doing a blog again, Tweet interesting stuff…and well, do fun stuff. Well in April all that changed when we had a small department shuffle and I became the line manager for the Kitchen Team and went from a frantic, pushed to the limit, part-time position to full time…theoretically to ease the burden a little and smooth out the management.
Well that didn’t really work as hoped and the extra days of work a week were instantly  taken up with the new work required as a manager…budget, team management, training, pastoral care etc, etc, and the work I hadn’t had the time to fit in beforehand still doesn’t get the time, and what’s had to give is all of the “fun” stuff…research, blog, Twitter etc…yes I still Tweet, but the quality, such that it was, has taken a bit of a nosedive!

So, is this the end of all this witter…not just this post, but me online in general? No, safe to say it’s not, it just might be that the sporadic nature of posting over the last year will be the norm for the future…believe me when I say I have lots of good intention, but little energy at the end of a day now.

There’s plans afoot

As I said above, I’ll post an update on plans for the Kitchen as well as a likely update on plans for interpretation of live cookery into the future at a later date, possibly the week after Christmas when I’m back at work…and with no cookery to worry about it should be nice and quiet in the office. Work also continues on all the previous research I’ve posted about into fires and roasting, along with some interesting work that Barry has been doing on apotropaic marks in the main Kitchen building and he and I have been looking into drains and water too…all fascinating stuff that hopefully we’ll get time to work on and write-up this coming year.

Well, that’s about it for now as I’ve run out of steam and am struggling to write stuff that makes any sense…thank God for the ability to edit is all I can say.



3 thoughts on “What A Difference A Year Makes!”

  1. Swift healing! The blog has been missed! Will there be cookery on the first full weekend of each month when the kitchens open or will weekend cooking be more frequent? (Will be in UK in mid-August.) Details about the new format, when available, are eagerly awaited!

  2. I have missed your posts and twitter. Enjoy the quiet Christmas and say hi to everyone! 😀 Can’t wait to see the new format and changes. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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