Hello followers old and new, Happy New Year to you all! I hope you had a lovely festive season, mine was filled with rest, relaxation and tons of food – perfect!
Since I have had two whole weeks off from work over Christmas I’ve not got too much to report so I thought I would do summing up of my past year, some of my highlights!
This time last year I was a Conservation & Interpretation Volunteer at Powis Castle, in Wales. I enjoyed this experience so much, and all the amazing things I got to do while at Powis have set me up really well for a career with the National Trust. What I learnt there gave me confidence in myself to get the job I have now, and the know-how to match and I have found myself using things I learnt then more times than I can count since I have been at Hardwick.
In February while I was just starting to think about looking for my next step after my internship I found out the Hardwick Hall were hiring Conservation Assistants. When I was younger my family and I used to visit Hardwick regularly, and this helped develop my interest in history, heritage and textiles. I knew I had to try and apply for the post as it was my dream job, and I got it!
In March I packed up my little Attic room in Wales and moved to Derbyshire to start work as a Conservation Assistant at Hardwick Hall. This was the start of another amazing chapter in my life! Again I have landed on my feet at an amazing property with wonderful people who I really get along with, and no shortage of interesting projects and tasks that make sure I’m never bored!
In April I was bust settling in to life at Hardwick, jumping in with both feet to all the projects going on there. This included cleaning some of the amazing textiles like the Blue Bed and the Mary Queen of Scotts Bed. It was also the start of what was an amazing re-enactment season!
May saw us Chaps occupied with the small matter of re-hanging two of our Gideon Tapestries, some of the largest tapestries that hang at Hardwick. This is part of a conservation project that has been on-going for years, and is in it’s final stages now with only three tapestries still to be conserved. The difference between the tapestries that have been away for conservation, and the one that is due to go next is startling. It makes you realise how important projects like this are for the Trust.
In June I had one of the wonderful moment where I saw my job through other people’s eyes, and was reminded again just how lucky I am. I took my mum, gran and friend round Hardwick, including up into the attics and on the roof. Their excitement over going where I get to go everyday made me think that I should be grateful for every trip up to the attics, and not just think about how many stairs there are (but there are an awful lot!)
As part of our attempt to offer something new for repeat visitors to Hardwick, we trailed several ‘themed weeks’, including ‘Conservation Week’ and ‘Delving Deeper Week’ where visitors got to learn more about Hardwick. Conservation Week was particularly good fun as we Conservation Assistants were giving talks and chatting to the public about how we care for the Hall, and all the fun and interesting things we get up to!
I spent much of this summer in a field, and in August it was hot! I love my re-enacting and this summer was particularly wonderful as I had only been to one show in 2012, so it was great to get back into it, seeing friends and meeting new people, and of course wandering around beautiful places in pretty dresses!
Something that really made me smile in September was the huge response I got on my blog post bout how I got my job, I couldn’t believe all the lovely positive responses. Also this month we sent two of our portraits on holiday to London; Queen Elizabeth and Young Bess went on display at the National Portrait Gallery in an exhibition called Elizabeth I & Her People.
In October y wonderful uni’ friends came to visit me and we spent a brilliant (but windy) weekend visiting Hardwick and Bolsover. It was great for us to have a catch up and I got to show them my world.
The beginning of November saw the end of our open season and the start of lots of fun projects; matting in the High Great Chamber, Training to clean some of the more delicate textile items and of course our deep clean got underway (lots of scaffolding fun!) And then we spent a week decorating the Hall for Christmas which some might say was a little early but I really enjoyed (but I have been known to be easily distracted by anything sparkly)
In December I got a chance to go down to London and see the Elizabeth I & Her People exhibition, to see our ladies and many other really beautiful things and to learn a bit more about Elizabethan life and people. I got to work the last open weekend in December which was so Christmassey! The Hall looked beautiful with all the trees, lights and decorations and fantastic flower arrangements done by our volunteers. We had carol singers in the Entrance Hall which completed the festive feel and everybody was in a great mood. Then I got to head to mum’s and spend some time with her and my little brother, which is always wonderful and full of lots of laughter!
And then there are all the wonderful things that have happened all year through; getting to work in an amazing setting with such a special collection, sending hours doing such rewarding work, seeing Hardwick from many different view points (often up scaffolding 🙂 ) fab volunteers and of course wonderful work friends!!
I hope you all have as many good memories of 2013 as I do, and here’s wishing amazing things for us all in 2014! Thank you ever so much for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy my blog this year!!