Category Archives: Live Interpretation

Guy in the middle distance

Some nice photos by Tom Davies. I happen to be in them (GITMD) but I like them because of the contexts. Thanks, Tom.

Bexhill from the beach at dusk

West Parade from the beach at dusk. I'm the silhouette with the MD

The baker talk

Back to the camera giving the baker talk

This was taken at Bodiam Castle’s medieval weekend. That’s me presenting the Baker Talk to a small audience in front of the West Range. I’m afraid that the hat has since been eaten by a dog.

A baker’s life

I’ve had a couple of days off at home. This has given me a chance to recover from four of my busiest days at the castle since I started working there in May.

The Grand Medieval Weekend was grand. The site was buzzing for the whole weekend. The jousting and the fighting were very popular. Perhaps we could rehabilitate some rioters by apprenticing them to historical battle re-enactment groups.

Monday and Tuesday were also busy with lots of families coming to visit.

Monday was a day to present and improve the Great Hall Feast demonstration. It involves two of us and I think we’re getting the hand overs working more slickly now. I think I prefer working in a team.

Tuesday saw me present the story of the paindemain loaf four times in a row. The energy level is now about right, but it needs a more disciplined performance’. It’s been too many years since I’ve ‘acted’ in anger – the technique is slow in coming back.

So it’s been a good few days, but I was glad to be off yesterday. Amongst other things it gave me the chance to have my first haircut in many years. The barber contrived to cut it in so that it looks like I’m wearing a bad toupee. I don’t think I’ll throw the clippers away just yet.

Quick update

Metal detect’ing: millionaire status has been delayed. I did have one good night (61p) but since then I’ve scored 1p and 2p (2 x 1p coins rusted beyond use – did you know that ‘copper’ coins are mostly iron nowadays?). I did, however, manage to pick up a pebble with a natural hole all the way through it. This is supposed to repel devils, so that’s all good.

Bread presentation: In the end it’s gone okay. It’s running a little long but it keeps visitors engaged and they ask questions afterwards.

Today I was shown how to really make a presentation work by one of the castle’s talented volunteers. She worked out a show featuring her character and mine with full audience interaction in a couple of hours. She then honed it across three presentations during the day. Very impressive.

This weekend is Bodiam’s Grand Medieval Weekend. I’ll be talking about bread up to ten times across the two days. We’ll see how it develops. I’ll also get a chance to see colleagues in action again, which helps.

Latest obsession

I’ve been working on a presentation about bread for use at Bodiam Castle. I’ve been rewriting it for weeks but can’t get the pitch of it right. It’s either research heavy, too flip, too pseudo-academic or too cr*p.

As I have to stand up and deliver this to a passing audience I am anxious to make it good (though at the moment I’d settle for ‘adequate’).

Bread word cloud

Word cloud image of the latest version of the presentation

It’s years since I’ve had to perform like this. And I have bad memories of street theatre. I’ve got to get it right.

Luckily the deadline is not until 1st August… Oh.

Word cloud image created in wordle.

Castles and bread

Sorry for the hiatus.

I am still researching castles and medieval bread.

Who would have thought that castles would be so controversial? The Battle of Bodiam Castle, it turns out, was not a medieval siege. It’s a contemporary academic quarrel that seems to crystallise the opposing camps’ points of view. Is Bodiam a military masterwork covering a strategic weakness in England’s defences or is it a symbolic architectural statement of status with little or no defensive worth? Discuss for 30 or more years.

It’s strange to be reading academic journal articles again. If you’re interested there’s an introductory guide to teaching medieval castles here (including a bit on the Bodiam battle) and there’s a Castle Studies Group.

Cooking & Dining in Medieval EnglandOn the whole bread seems a lot less contentious. Although I have found arguments over how effective medieval flour sieving was and there’s some argument over whether trenchers were square or round. Peter Brears’ Cooking and Dining in Medieval England has been a good and useful read. I’m currently reading Nicole Crossley-Holland’s Living and Dining in Medieval Paris which analyses the medieval text Le Ménagier de Paris.

I’m back in work on Thursday. Let’s see if those six years olds are ready to grapple with medieval architectural performance analysis.

Excuses, excuses

Still no miles on the bike this week. I’m not riding today’s race either, despite it being a day off work. We had a long meeting at the Rye Writer Hub and I didn’t get back in time.

Bodiam Castle

My walk to work

Bank Holiday Monday at Bodiam Castle was pretty busy. I enjoyed the French Castle builders from Guédelon. They’re building a medieval castle from scratch in Burgundy. Chapeau as we say in cycling.


Eric, the castle squirrel

I am currently reading as much as I can about Bodiam and its historical context. I’m also researching medieval cooking, baking and dining. It’s great talking to people who have a passion for the subject. I love this sort of work – immersing oneself in a strange world. There’s a strange energy in obsessive research. I just have to make sure that it doesn’t lock everything else out.

First week in the new job

I’m just back from 1385. I’ve worked three days at the Castle now and I’m enjoying it very much. It’s mostly an outdoor job. I’ve been sunburnt, rained on, overheated and deep-chilled already. The building is, of course, superb and it’s great to see how people relate to it.

The bike has had to take a back seat this week. I’ll miss Sunday’s event because I’m working. I do hope to build up a commuting bike today though. Back in the saddle soon perhaps?

New Job

I went for a job interview yesterday. It seemed to go quite well and I’ve just heard that I got the job. I’m very pleased.

It’s a part-time role with lots of weekend working. Although it’s a permanent post, most of the hours are allocated to the months between Easter and September. I’m going to have to ration my racing and training around shifts, but c’est la vie. At least I should be able to ride to work some of the time – the ‘office’ is about 16 miles from home.

I’ll add more details as I get them, but here’s a picture of the new office to be going on with.

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle. Image copyright

Tonight is another Eastbourne Rovers‘ Pevensey ’10’. It’s a nice day, so let’s hope I can get back into the short 27s.

No race this weekend – I’m not ready for a ’50’ yet and there was nothing else close.