Now that we’ve closed the doors of Wordsworth House to the public for the winter, we’re getting down to some distinctly unglamorous tasks, rolling carpets, dismantling our working Georgian kitchen and generally putting everything to bed until we reopen in early March.
Tracey, one of our very experienced conservation cleaners, says that although she enjoys her work at this time of year, getting everything clean, wrapped up in tissue or cloth and put away, it isn’t as much fun as when she and her colleague Liz get to reawaken the house in the spring. She says they often forget what’s in each package and opening them is a little like going through a treasure chest of lovely surprises!
Here’s our dining room before and after Tracey, Liz and their boss, House Steward Rachel, have done their work…
In the immortal words of Noddy Holder, I’d just like to say a big “Merry Christmas everybody”.
The picture above shows the team dressing me for the festivities last year – this time around I’ll be enjoying my cosy hibernation in gardener Amanda’s shed.
I also want to share with you the fabulous Christmas e-card our boss Zoe made to send out to colleagues and friends. (You’ll need Flash on your computer to view it.) That’s me in the middle of the band, with gardener Amanda on the right, Alex – our interpretation and communications manager – on the left, and Zoe on the drums. Enjoy!
Scent sensation: Matacuna sweet peas with Painted Lady runner beans
I hadn’t seen Amanda for a day or two as she’d been indoors at the computer, busily ordering her seeds for next year. When she popped out for a chat, she told me about all the wonderful things she’s chosen to plant around me.
All of our vegetables and annual flowers are heritage varieties so they have to be grown from seed. Many have the most fabulous names – with appearances to match.
My particular favourites include the curious red-and-white stripped beetroot Tonda di Chioggia – and its cousin, the glowing golden variety – which the garden volunteers assure me taste as good as they look. (Amanda can’t comment as she hates beetroot.)
The gloriously coloured Purple Cape cauliflower is another stunner. We also grow Lazy Housewife kidney beans and, confusingly, two forms of Painted Lady – a runner bean and a lusciously scented sweet pea.
Amanda would also love to grow rat-tailed radishes, simply because of the name. Sadly, the variety is just too modern.
Definitely not a lazy housewife: My friend Alicia, the maid-of-all-work, busy in the Wordsworths’ kitchen