Thursday, 19 February 2009

Fast Flat Food

Are you in a rush to cook when you get back from work...........Now fast food is flat food. Get your chicken breast, pork loin chop etc, put it on a board, cover with clingfilm and bash flat with a rolling pin. It's great. Stress relief and speedy frying in one! Plus it looks nice too. (don't do this with bony things, apparently they do in China but it gets splintery.)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Stuffed Animals

Or sporting trophies or taxidermy or whatever. I was bothered at the NTS training course that so many people regard preserved animal specimens as simply morbid, unhygenic or sick. I have always enjoyed them, firstly at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham which had an amazing collection, including a huge giraffe in the hall, at one of my favourite museums, the Natural History Museum and now in Paris (although the osteology or skeleton hall is rather frightening.)
I now look after quite a few at the castle too, including stuffed dogs. These specimens form a valuable record both of the natural world (especially the extinct) and of the art and interests of the time. If you want to find out more I really recommend 'Dry Storeroom 1' by Richard Fortey about the Natural History Museum collections and 'Finders Keepers: Eight Collectors' by Stephen Jay Gould (although the anatomical items on some of the pictures are VERY DISTURBING, don't complain, I did warn you.) Best taxidermy moment was the wrapped civet cat, a roll of tissue with a furry tail sticking out........

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Osterley etc

This year, I was lucky enough to be the only Scottish (or working in Scotland anyway) person on the National Trust housekeeping course at Osterley Park in London. If you haven't been to OP yet, do try and go, it is an amazing house. I never really liked classical architecture and design for a long time, being stuck in gothic, but it is so beautiful there I am converted.
Highlights included......handling gold leaf, getting lost in creepy downstairs corridors, being up close and personal with genuine Adam furniture, touring the gardens in the frosty sunshine, finding a fantastic little bookshop nearby with amazing architecture books, the ceiling with the plaster grapevines, finally understanding what an octavo was, the lovely man with the passion for clocks, apple crumble in the tearoom, the OP cleaning lady who was informed and hilarious, meeting so many other people who are also totally obsessed by saving our wonderful historic buildings and collections........