This week has been very busy! Even more that a usual week at Powis. On Sunday the other new Long Term Volunteer, Naomi, moved into the house, making three of us now with me and Ben. Then monday was are usual day to have all the House Team in, and on top of the we had a lad doing work experience at the castle for the week. On Tuesday and Wednesday we had two members of staff from Chirk Castle joining us for the day to see how we work at Powis. Tuesday also saw a new temporary house mate as a Horticulture student came over from France for two weeks to work in the gardens. It made the buzzing atmosphere even more hectic! It keeps you on your toes working in such a busy property but also ensures there is never a dull day, and all these extra hands meant we got along a lot quicker, which is good as there is always more to do!
Monday morning involved replacing some bulbs in the chandelier over the grand stair case. At Greyfriars changing a lightbulb anywhere was no more complicated than going up on a ladder, taking out the old bulb and popping in the new one. At Powis, changing the bulbs in the chandelier was a lot more complicated! To start two members of the team had to go on the roof to lower the light down to the rest of us waiting on the stairs. Then we had to take out the dead bulbs. We turned the lights on before it was lowered so that the working bulbs were warm and we could remove the cold ones. Then we placed the new bulbs in a had to winch the chandelier up to plug it back in, to check they were working. Then we had to lower it again as we had missed one, and winch it back up. Luckily second time round we had got all the bulbs and the chandelier look beautiful again! So much better than when almost half the bulbs were out.
I really enjoyed Monday as I got to pass on what I have been learning to the new LTV. This is very useful for me to test and concrete what I have learnt, and I really enjoyed passing the information on and making a new friend. Monday afternoon was store work again. I really do enjoy this work, discovering what is inside each box, and feeling very privileged to get to see these amazing objects. It was also good as talking to Naomi and made me realise how much I have absorbed about the place since being here, but also how much there is still to learn! I feel very pleased with my progress. Monday’s work in the stores showed the need for annual checks as we were getting to the end of the inventory list now and the objects are not listed in order, so it involves flicking through the lists to find the objects.
Tuesday is a deep dust day, so this involves picking items up to dust beneath them and dusting a lot of the items themselves with a duster or soft pony hair brush. I will do a post about all the different equipment we use soon, and a post with some more information about the castle itself. At lunch I went to see what the sewing volunteers had been working on. They come in every Tuesday and work in the kitchens where there is a long table with enough room for them to work. This also means they have access to the working Aga oven, so they cook lunch in there. I was lucky enough that they had cooked spare jacket potatoes and they offered me lunch, including a pudding of apple, rhubarb and pear crumble with custard!! They are such lovely ladies, like all the volunteers and staff in the castle! I feel so happy here and felt so welcome here from the moment I arrived.
The afternoon involved cleaning the dining room job, a winter clean and then mid-season job. First we had to take everything off the table. Once we had removed everything it was clear that the table needed cleaning, the plates and glasses had left clean circle amidst the dust. The dust was removed with a brush and back pack hoover, and once it was dusted it looked brilliant. I was in charge of cleaning the silverware. This was something I particularly wanted to do as I have no experience with metals and it was the one question I struggled most with in my interview for the Internship. The cutlery was cleaned with a blue duster, then wiped over with a ‘silver cloth’, a special cloth imbedded with the mixture needed to treat the silver, remove any corrosion and bring back its shine. Then they were wiped over with the blue duster again, to remove any excess chemical.
The knives were slightly more difficult, they had silver handles but steel blades, which had to be treated differently.