We’ve been watching Tudor Monastery Farm on the iplayer and really enjoying it.
Firstly it is filmed at the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex, very near where we used to live. I went on school trips there myself as a child and we had family membership there for several years and attended various events throughout the year including Christmas Fayres, the 12 days of Christmas event over the festive period, the heavy horse shows and more. We saw a couple of plays there and the kids went along to several workshops including a Victorian Christmas where they made traditional decorations, cards and learnt about how Christmas was celebrated in the past and a breadmaking session where they learnt about making flour from the mill and baking it into bread. It’s a fabulous place which we were very fortunate to live close to and make full use of over the years. So it’s lovely to see it on TV being such a familiar place.
Secondly we have a lot of friends who participate in the Kentwell re-enactment events set in Tudor times. Although it has never appealed to us as something to do it is something many of our friends have got a huge amount from being part of and it always sounds like a fab day trip even if we are not keen to make our own costumes and live like Tudors for a couple of weeks….
Which brings me nicely to why I think we are most enjoying the BBC series, because actually I suspect a lot of the time we are living a bit like Tudors every day up here on our muddy hill! Tudors with many home comforts and access to BBC iplayer of course! We’ve picked up some great ideas from the series so far and are very keen to have a go at wattling (which we have done before on a trip to Butser Ancient Farm, another localish to us place back in our old lives which we visited several times for practical hands on history lessons) and make some brushes out of goose feathers. Mostly though I think we are enjoying the portrayal of life in Tudor times where folk worked hard, made merry and enjoyed socialising, drinking, dancing, singing and being with friends, everything had a purpose and plenty of ingenious skills were used, many of which seem sadly lost today.
In the most recent episode we have watched there is a church bell with a clockwork ringer to chime when it is time to pray. It is weighted so that the summer days and winter nights are longer than the summer nights and winter days to account for extended and reduced daylight according to the season. At a time when we have barely 6 hours of daylight in poor weather at this time of year, compared to 20 hours of daylight during the summer that strikes a real chord with us. 6pm in December and January is a very different time of day to 6pm in June or July.
The pictures below show some of what we’re up to this week. The turkeys are in their final stages of fattening – we will definitely be enjoying one for our own Christmas dinner and are taking orders for preparing any more. We only have 3 more to sell really as we plan to keep one stag and all the hens for breeding / egg production next year so we have not widely advertised them. The geese, although fat, are not for eating at the moment, they are our grazers / lawn mowers and egg producers rather than meat. We have decided to dispatch our two young boy pigs fairly soon and have a tin bath on it’s way to us for part of the process. Currently it all sounds rather like black magic and pagan sacrifice rituals but I’m sure it will all make sense in practice!
We’ve been busy sorting out produce for the Christmas Fayre this weekend – Davies has hand made Christmas cards, Scarlett has some festive home made candles, I have some scarves, some Christmas decorations and some sweets and chocolates.
My fruit trees, ordered way back in August or September finally went into their dormant state and were able to be dug up and shipped to me arriving this week. So today I braved the wind and planted them all out in the fruit cage. It is now fully stocked with 21 red, white and blackcurrants, 9 gooseberries bushes, 2 blueberry, 2 cranberry and a honey berry bush and 16 raspberry canes. Fingers crossed for a productive harvest in 2014. I need to repair the netting on the top between now and fruiting time as the turkeys tried to roost on top of it and fell through, tearing the cheap thin netting I had used but I have plenty of time to find a cheap option to do that with.
More wood collecting, splitting and stacking has been going on; we’re trying to replenish what we burn each week so that if a very bad weather period came in, heaven forbid one of us got hurt or ill and was unable to carry wood up the hill or wield an axe then we would be okay for wood. Hopefully none of those happen and we just go into next winter with an excellent supply of well weathered firewood – either way we’re on top of things and well prepared which is a nice feeling.
We’ve all been getting outside as often as possible to make the most of the limited daylight and but the days are noticeably shorter with every passing day and snuggling up inside the static with the logburner and a good book is one of the justifiable luxuries of this time of year.