Archive | August, 2013

Meet Emilie, my guest blogger

26 Aug

Historic meeting: Emilie and Fletch

Today I’m handing over to a special guest blogger: 15-year-old Emilie, who is a pupil at Cockermouth School and daughter of our retail consultant and duty manager Sian. Emilie recently spent a week’s work experience with our lovely costumed servants. This is what she has to say about it:

Being an apprentice costumed servant for the week was exciting. Every morning was a new adventure and every day I came to work with a smile on my face.

On day one, I went out into the garden and picked 18th-century white strawberries. This was the first time I met Fletch. He was very warm and friendly, as was everybody else.

As I got used to the routine of the house, I would go into the garden more frequently to pick herbs such as lemon balm and thyme or rose petals and other edible flowers for garnishes, and every time I would see Fletch saying hello to the visitors.

During the week, I learned more about the Georgians and by Wednesday I was helping give the “Playthings and Pastimes” talk, adding my own research on theatre in the Georgian times.

I loved working with the other servants, Sophia, Helen, Ruth, Gwen and Keith. They were all very nice and bubbly and always made me feel welcome, just like Fletch did.

By the end of this amazing week, I realised, though, that if I was living in Georgian times it would have been much nicer to have been upper class than a servant – but everyone says that, even Fletch.

Emilie with Helen, left, and Sophia

Emilie with Helen, left, and Sophia

Ode to Billy Paul…

21 Aug
Bill Paul

Volunteers: Bill, far right, with Amanda, far left, and members of the house and garden team

I’m feeling quite sad at the moment, as one of my closest friends has moved away. Bill Paul, who was a volunteer room guide at Wordsworth House and Garden for 11 years, has moved to live in Yorkshire.

As well as being a knowledgeable room guide, Bill is a very talented musician and I’ve spent many a happy afternoon listening to the sound of his harpsichord playing drifting out of the house.

You could always tell when the last visitors had left because he would switch from classical melodies to his favourite Abba tunes. You’re lucky there’s no audio on this blog, so I haven’t been able to share with you the “melodious” sounds of Head Gardener Amanda singing along!

Our sad loss is the Yorkshire area of the National Trust’s gain, as he’s already making enquiries about volunteering opportunities over on that side of the country.

Amanda, the team and I wish you all the best, Bill – come back and see us soon!

We’ve branched out with a poetry tree

10 Aug
Fluttering: Leaves of literature

Fluttering: Leaves of literature

I’m proud to announce a very special addition to the flora of our garden: a poetry tree. And it’s all because of Head Gardener Amanda’s English literature teacher.

Many years ago, when she joined his A Level class, she was forced to admit she hadn’t come across much poetry yet. The starting point her teacher chose for her was the verse of Thomas Hardy.

Amanda says it was pretty hard going for a 17-year-old, especially as she thought poetry was very much a matter of personal interpretation. Her teacher disagreed – as far as he was concerned his opinion was the only one – so some interesting discussions ensued.

Because she had such an uninspiring introduction to this branch of literature, as an adult, she’s always been determined to do what she can to make it accessible and interesting for today’s youngsters. Hence, her innovative tree.

She began by hanging it with a selection of fun verses for children – and asked our visitors to contribute some writing of their own. Even she wasn’t prepared for the response. As you’ll see if you come and visit for yourself, our tree is covered with some amazing work.

In the meantime, here’s a selection for you to enjoy:

There was an old scarecrow called Jake.
Who tripped on the garden rake.
The chickens all flapped.
The gardener clapped.
And they all had a party at 8.

By the Toddlers of Cockermouth

Dinosaurs are big

Dinosaurs like to dig

By Joseph, aged 4

O Immortal Tree
O immortal tree
With words, like fruit upon your branches
For youthful eyes and ears

Though seasons may pass
And the wind may shake you
Your words are everlasting
Planted in memory

O immortal tree
I see a child playing around you
Paper- your familiar

He grows
And writes his own words
Engraved upon paper
And on our lives

O immortal tree!
I see him
Watching the wondering souls seeking

By Ella Yaron (3) and Emily Ayles (17)

William and Dorothy would be impressed!

Meet Arnold – a most determined man

1 Aug
Going underground: Arnold, the molecatcher

Going underground: Arnold, the molecatcher

A new team member has just arrived in our garden – and he’s been giving unsuspecting visitors, volunteers and staff members quite a start.

His name is Arnold, the molecatcher, and he’s the handiwork of our wonderful volunteer Lynne Hardman, the fabulous yarn bomber, who makes the tea cosies for TV’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch.

Here’s what she told me about why she made him…

Arnold, the molecatcher, was inspired by a happening in our family. My father, Jack Forster, a farmer and noted gardener, decided to lay a level and immaculate lawn on which to practice his bowling technique. No sooner than it was looking lush and verdant, the mole appeared, wreaking havoc.

He tried every method suggested to rid himself of the pest: traps, poisoning, windmills, Jeyes fluid, mole repellent plants and, the funniest of them all, the exhaust fume plan. This involved backing the car down the garden and connecting a hose to the exhaust with a view to gassing them.

At the same time, he got Mam, not the most athletic of women but noted to have a very keen sense of smell, to crawl around the lawn on her hands and knees, to trace the other end of the run. Needless, to say she had no luck.

The problem continued for months, till one day Mam was washing the dishes and looked out of the window to see a mound appear on the lawn. She yelled: “Jack – the mole!” Dad rushed down the garden, caught the mole as it appeared, threw it up in the air and thwacked it right down the field with a nearby spade.

End of problem!

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