6 February 2015

Show Beatrix some love on Valentine's Day!

Someone once told me that the older you get the faster the time goes and I'm beginning to think that this is true. 
The time since my last post and our wintery closed months that followed seem to have passed with a super speedy blur – and I'm sure that I'm not the only one who's feeling this way. I mean it's February already!
THIS is February!
Our Hill Top has been looking a bit odd these past couple of months, the objects have been safely packed away, furniture covered and things have generally been out of place as we carried out the deep clean.
At the time of penning this post I'm pleased to say that it's looking much, much better inside the house and over the last couple of weeks a lot of things are being slowly returned to their rightful homes. It's like the house is coming back to life again and before we know it Hill Top will be open to the public once again.

With so much going on recently I think that the theme of this post is really a little update on what I've been getting up to.

I wish I could say that I've played a big part in putting things back out at Hill Top but I really can't take credit for any of it.

This year I was lucky enough to be allocated a place on the annual Housekeeping Study Days course. This year it was held down in Surrey at Polesden Lacey.

I am sure you'll agree that it's quite a contrast to our little Hill Top! It is an amazing property with a huge and beautiful collection, opulent surroundings and it's share of interesting past residents . It was wonderful to experience a totally different property.

It was a fairly decent journey but it was so so worth it! Through the course you get a good grounding in every aspect of preventative conservation and all the ins and outs of what we as house staff need to know to care for a collection of a variety of different objects and materials properly.
I really did enjoy it and have come back to the Lakes full of enthusiasm. It was a residential course, which means you stay over in a hotel as the course is taught over a number of days. This course was 3 nights and 4 days and as well as a whole lot of great learning it was fantastic to be able to meet and chat to others who are in similar roles as me from all across the country. To be honest, looking back I can't believe I was ever nervous about going!

Some other things I've been up to include measuring the plates at Hill Top so we can buy some new stands for them, this should improve the support they have and ensure they last for decades to come.

Not up to 'stand' ard :P
I've also been scaring away spiders and hoovering up their cobwebs with a vacuum at the Beatrix Potter Gallery and most recently I attended another course at Rufford Old Hall in Ormskirk on caring for historic wooden floors. Phew, quite a variety of jobs ey?

Finally, this week has seen me help Liz, our House and Collections Manager, to put up the new exhibition in the gallery ready in time to open for the new season.
Some of you might think that this doesn't sound too exciting but I would have to disagree, I mean, I actually get to touch and handle original Beatrix Potter artwork including sketches and watercolours. I do think I'm incredibly lucky sometimes, when I have a great day it's really a great day! :)

This year our exhibition is “On holiday with Beatrix Potter” with a focus on the people who came to visit and meet B. I know you probably think I'm slightly biased but I do urge you to come visit us this year, the exhibition is a great one – plus, if nothing else you can evaluate how straight I have put the artwork up, or not as the case may be..

On Tuesday we were getting some of the art out of the store ready to go up and Liz asked me to find a page in a sketchbook, 'half timbered buildings in Wales'. When I finally found it I was REALLY excited! I actually scared Liz a little with my excited squeal which apparently sounded a bit like I'd had a disaster haha.

Serious conservation face...Silly jumper :)
In the book were sketches and watercolours from different places that Beatrix visited in 1905, what was so exciting is that when I flicked the page and saw the images I instantly recognised them as my home town of Ruthin! Not many people know where this is so I'll explain, it's in a small county called Denbighshire in North East Wales... around 35/40 minutes from Wrexham (coincidentally where the majority of my family are from) if that helps at all? So yep, there is it, this means that I am Welsh, not that you would ever guess it from my (lack of) accent.

They are really rather good drawings and I was so thrilled to see my little town in B's sketchbook that I actually recounted the story of what I had seen to both my parents and wasted no time in telling them which buildings and businesses you can see in the images. For those of you who know the area, look out for The Castle Hotel, Barclays bank and the Wine Vaults :)

Valentine's day is soon approaching (it's a week tomorrow in case any of you still have last minute preparation to do :P ) however today marks another exciting day – tonight Wales takes on England in the 6 Nations Rugby! I know what you're thinking and you would be right, Wales are going to thrash England! We may be a small nation but we're extremely proud and extremely optimistic. It would be wonderful though if the land of dragons and daffodils came out on top – sorry English readers.

To go with this little slice of Welsh pride my “Hello there” comes in the form of this Welsh doll in traditional costume.

Cymru am byth <3
How did B acquire such a thing? To be honest, I have absolutely no idea but I would like to think that it's from one of her Welsh jaunts, one reason to visit the area would be because her uncle had a house in the next town over.

Although Wales is certainly not all about the black traditional hats and red cloaks, I can't help feel a sense of pride that the Welsh are being represented in this way, however small.

Like Pete, I also am looking forward to the arrival of Spring, I don't know about where you are from but here in the Lakes we have been in the minuses a hell of a lot recently and I honestly cannot wait for warmer weather. If I were to include a musical link it would go a little something like this "I can't feel my fingers, I can't feel my toes..."
Hopefully by March's post we'll have some of the sunny stuff :)
For now I will bid you farewell, I'll be back next month with another post but if you're looking for something to do in the mean time, why don't you come visit us when we open again on the 14th February.

Ta ta for now

Words and pictures by Natalie :)