Tuesday brought the return of the Sultan Tipu’s tent. Some of the panels are on permanent display in a room off the Ballroom at Powis Castle, but other panels had been on loan for a temporarty exhibition called Cotton – Global Threads in Manchester. Here is a link to the website: http://cottonglobalthreads.com/cotton/
Late Tuesday evening my Line Manager offered me the chance to go on a training course the next day. The course was on floor care at Tredegar House. I had been lucky enough to go on a trip to Tredegar my first week at Powis and the property is lovely! The ground floor was open to view independently but due to the property not having been long open the top floor was open only as part of a tour. The tour was fantastic! The characters of the family that used to live in the house, you could not make those stories up! There were tales of parties, pets and eccentricity, very interesting. And the tour guide, Chris, was brilliant, so entertaining and he look very dashing in his tux, A huge thanks to him for making it a very enjoyable tour. I really recommend a visit to Tredegar if you are ever in the area, and so of course I jumped at the opportunity to go back and take part in my first Trust training course there.
The floor training was really interesting, I will never look at floors the same way! The training had been meant for Regional Conservators of the Trust so I was really lucky to be able to go along. It was a great opportunity to meet other Trust staff and learn valuable new information. The training was split into two parts. The first was a taught morning learning the basics about conserving and repairing stone and wooden flooring. They talked about the basics and then case studies given about specific problems and their solutions. The second part of the day was practical.
After lunch, which I spent talking to the different people on the course, we went on a tour of the house. Here we looked at the floors in Tredegar and their state of repair was assessed and advice given on treatments. I really enjoyed this part of the day as I got another look around the property, going into rooms that were not open on my previous visit. The knowledge gained from this part of the day illustrated what we had been taught in the morning, making it clearer and making the information more transferable. I find myself looking at the floor at Powis now and thinking about what we were taught at the training. Luckily it seems that Powis has no real problems when it comes to flooring, and what we are doing in order to keep it in a good state of repair is what was advised.
I have already put my floor training to good use as I was tasked with cleaning the Black and White marble floor in the Entrance Hall. I had done this once before, on my first day at Powis but today I was charged with leading the group of four of us. We had two members of staff from Chirk Castle with us and one lad on work experience so I taught them what I had been taught and we started polishing the floor. To protect the marble floor we clean it and put on a layer of Renaissance wax which will limit the wear and give it a beautiful shine. It is very rewarding as you can really see the difference once you have cleaned it. The shine the polishing gives the floor helps create a real ‘wow’ when people walk into the property, and creates a good first impression which is very important. I do find floor polishing very challenging and hard work! I am quite a perfectionist and buffing the polish off to a perfect shine is near impossible due to the wear on the tiles, especially as I do not have as much arm strength as would be helpful. I often feel like I could really do with a bit more muscle and to be a couple of inches taller for this job!
It was nice to work in this team as I was the one with the previous experience of this type of activity. I was flattered to be asked to show the others what to de here. One thing I really love about working at Powis is no one holds your hand, I have been shown how to do things correctly and then left to do it. This is flattering and keeps me working at the top of my game, and I really enjoyed passing on what I had learnt to others. I think I am still getting used to the fact that others are confident in my abilities to allow me to do this work with no worries. And my confidence is growing day by day, I am enjoying working hard, gaining new skill and knowledge and I feel very fulfilled when looking at the work I have been doing and seeing the difference it is making. I have had lots of very positive feedback and it is the best feeling to work hard and then have people appreciate it!