Sunday, November 01, 2009

Grand days out and pottles - or what I did in September and October

In between sitting in my study working on my writing, I've been out and about over the past few weeks researching and learning a lot about all sorts of things.

As many of my blog readers know, I use the Akashic Records to get at the people I write about. Alison, (who accesses these records for me) and I, were invited to give a talk and demonstration at the conference of the British Society of Dowsers in Cirencester. We were invited for the entire weekend to Cirencester Royal Agricultural College and so as well as our own talk, were able to attend several lectures by other speakers, including one on using dowsing rods in an archaeological context and a very fascinating and disturbing one on Electro Magnetic stress - what all those wireless microwaves bouncing round your house are actually doing to your health, and how to minimise the effect. The worst offenders in the home are cordless phones and wireless internet. The information on digital baby alarm monitors was horrific. Roy Riggs, the lecturer, has a website here:
Alison and I gave our talk - how we came to use Alison's ability to tune into the past, what it means to us, how I work with it. We gave a short demonstration and took questions. In the audience, specifically to see us was Peter Stewart, a professor of physics who is working on the same thing as us from a scientific perspective. He uses the terminology 'Remote viewing' for what Alison is able to do and has conducted several successful experiments himself whilst engaged in obtaining the scientific data to bring to the mainstream.

Cirencester Royal Agricultural College

Home from Cirencester, it was off to Rufford Park with my re-enactment group the Conroi de Vey for a day's cooking in Sherwood Forest - beef and veg stew.

Addressing the dinner whilst a colleague spins wool.

And then the last full weekend in October it was Nottingham's famous Robin Hood Pageant, where the good, the bad and the seriously scary all unite to celebrate a broad spectrum of medieval themes under the umbrella of that most famous of outlaws. I had cooking pot duty again (which is my preference. I'm a reasonable cook and in the colder months, having charge of the cauldron means a fire and shelter from the rain). Saturday's dishes consisted of a meatball stew with mushrooms and onions for the meat eaters and a leek, onion and parsnip soup for those who had foresworn meat. As nibbles there were cheese and turnip pies, leche lumbard (a kind of fruit spread made with dates) cheeses, apples, pancakes and a smoked ham. Sunday was more of the same re the nibbles, but the hot food consisted of a vegetable and barley pottage and a lamb and apricot stew for the meat eaters (high status, but delicious!).

While there, I bought 2 tavern pottles for holding wine, dateline 13th-15thC. The mostly unglazed aspect of the pottles mean that they could be steeped in boiling water and which acts act like a thermos, so they were ideal for holding mulled wine.
The little bit of glaze on these ( replicas of Kingston on Thames ware) is purely for decoration and snob factor. Height is about the size of an upright postcard. I also bought a hunting lodge mazer - a ghastly item dating from circa 1250 onwards. It has a representation of a deer and forest trees inside the body of the cup, so that as you drink down the wine, the tableau is revealed. It's a fascinating but horrible (to modern eyes) piece of work, rather like a tacky gift from the seaside. I just had to have it for show and tell!

Another item to add to my show and tell collection was an arrow. This is typical for circa 1200. It's poplar wood with goose feather fletching, bound with linen thread and secured with rabbit skin glue. Overall length is 2 feet 10ins. I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of one of these!
That's me done with re-enactment for a few months now. I am thinking of taking up spoon carving over the winter though...Here's Robin Wood's take on the matter with a video to click on at the left hand side Robin's site also shows what a porringer is, and you can even buy one. Philippa Gregory once said that she would never write the word porringer in one of her novels, so this is what one is (5th on the right) in case you were wondering!

Next time up - some Akashic excerpts from my Empress Matilda research.

Stirring the cauldron, courtesy of Alan Woolhouse
Credits go to Janet Walters for the photograph at the top of the blog.


Unknown said...

those pics are fantistic wish mine looked as good!
Vermeer eat your heart out!lol

Carla said...

Fascinating stuff. Roughly how long did the meatball stew and the lamb and apricot stew take to cook, out of interest? About the same as on a modern cooker, or longer, or what?

Glynis Peters said...

Thanks for taking us on your days out. Fascinating post.

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Carla - cooking queries:

About the same time as on a gas hob I'd say, or perhaps just ever so slightly longer, but not a lot in it. About an hour for the meatballs, and two and a bit for the lamb before it was eaten, but it could have been eaten at around 2 hrs. I'm getting to grips now with moving stuff around on the fire so I can get it to boiling and then to simmering just as you would turn the gas or electricity up and down.
Marshalslion, the ones by the serious photographers are good aren't they? I have microsoft digital editor 6 on my PC and it has a wonderful range of filters that mean you can turn any photograph into a painting in loads of different styles.
Glynis, you're welcome :-)

Anne Gilbert said...

Just out of curiosity, how big did the iron kettle have to be, to cook all these things? Interesting. It seems to me that a couple of hours of cooking is about right on a gas or electric stove,depending on the type of pot and the size. And of course, I suppose as you are aware by now, you could probably regulate the heat to keep it warm for a long time.

Another question: I know a lot of people are vegetarians these days, but I kind of wonder why vegetarians would be interested in being recreators, considering tht the idea of vegetarianism didn't even begin to register till about the early 19th century?

Just curious,
Anne G

Anonymous said...

You gave me ideas for several events to attend if we ever get to England. Love going to reenactment events. The dedication and authenticity of the participants is wonderful. Their knowledge of the time period the represent makes for good and enlightening conversations.
Thanks for an informative post.

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Anne, the vegetarian cauldron held about 15 portions I would say - don't know the capacity without measuring, and the bigger one about 25-30. I would expect in a medieval household to cook a lot of dishes in ceramic pots around the fire and to have various spits and grids set up - not viable on a windy day in a confined space as we were!
There were people in the MA who didn't eat meat - mostly for religeous rather than ethical purposes and most people would have meat free days - Lent for example, or because they were doing a penance, or because meat just wasn't available. Those who re-enact who don't eat meat in the modern sense, are generally interested in other aspects of historical lifestyle and craft. So one of our veggies who has now moved to Canada is something of an expert on the mail shirt and various aspects of weaponry, and his persona in the MA would be that he was doing a penance.

Jules Frusher said...

Sounds like you've been having lots of fun - I wish I could get cooking pot duties. Usually I end up out in the rain trying to look happy about it for the public!

Really looking forward to more akashic stuff (I didn't realise it was the same thing as remote viewing by the way).

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

LOL re the rain Lady D. Fortunately our group has a several tents with open awnings but sheltered from the weather, so must of us can get under cover at some point.
Akashic Records - Alison doesn't like calling it 'Remote viewing' because of its modern military connotations which are not her thing at all, and the first title brings in the suggestion that there's something a bit more moral and karmic involved - but scientifically it's pretty much the same thing. Professor Stewart calls it Remote Viewing, Alison calls it reading the Akashic Record, but they are both singing from the same hymn sheet more or less.

Lesley Haycock said...

When I'm on site I always make sure I'll do anything for the cook - peeling fetching and carrying etc, you never know when you might need to be near the fire or under shelter, do you? My 'expertise' is sewing and embroidery, so if a cook ever wants anything stitching....

Aarti said...

I JUST saw the pottle now! Haha- LOVE it (them). Wine glasses seem so tame now...

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Their wine glasses were a lot nicer than ours too though! I have a gorgeous exact replica green and blue one :-)