Monday, 12 September 2011
Volunteering, and back to normal???
Well, this is the first day in I don't know how long when I can say - tentatively, so as not to tempt the fates - that I feel "normal". For starters, I didn't have to phone in to say that I was unable to volunteer at the "Big House" today because of illness. Yet all of August was spent doing just that. Even last Monday when I thought I would be fine to go in, having volunteered the previous week, there was a spanner in the works and I found myself in A&E having various tests and back on heavy duty anti-biotics yet again. However, that turned out to be a blip and I was off the a/b's as soon as I was on them. Yeesh.
I enjoyed myself SO much today. My son cannot understand why people volunteer. He happily gives handsomely to various charities but he thinks that volunteering is "working for nothing." Not so, I have told him. I get SO much back from my 3 hours a week, as a room assistant at Newton House (Dinefwr Park). I have a chat with the other volunteers and room stewards, and as we all like old houses and history, we have lots in common. I get to "work" (yet it doesn't feel like that) in the most wonderful surroundings, in a beautiful old house set in wonderful parkland, with 100 deer in the Deer Park, old trees anything up to a thousand years old, and just soaking up the history of not just a small part of Wales, but what was part of an entire region in the control of a ruling dynasty when the Normans arrived to set their stamp on the principality.
Most of the people who visit are "the converted" and readily ask for further details about the family - Rhys, then Anglicised to Rice, and then back to Rhys again - and the castle, and how old the house is and of course, who the people are in the family portraits which line the dining room. Using these portraits (which I am still learning about) and the paintings of the castle and house in the entrance hallway, we room assistants are able to paint a bigger picture of the family and the house & castle, and their joint history and bring it all alive. I love it and it is so rewarding sharing this history with people who appreciate it.
Meanwhile, I am busy at home dealing with produce from the garden. I have plenty of windfall apples after the recent gales, lots of Autumn fruiting raspberries of huge size, a late glut of courgettes and runner beans, and I am using everything which comes our way to squirrel away for the lean winter months. Blackberries have been poor this year, but I pick those that I find and freeze them. There are plenty of Sloes, which will go in the freezer. Excess Damsons have been frozen or turned into wine and Damson Gin. Elderberries will also be frozen - they are good for coughs and tight chests in the winter months. I have made some Damson Ice Cream, and made the first batch of jam using Pineapples and Kiwi fruit from Abergwili. The jam is destined to be gifts for friends, as we eat little jam in our household, but I love making it.
Dinefwr Castle, viewed across the park. I always expect Edmund Blackadder to gallop across . . .