Friday, 12 December 2008

The Feast of St Nicholas

The 6th of December is the Feast of St Nick. Not the jolly fat bloke in the red suit (that was hijacked by the Victorians.) But still suitably festive. We decorated the largest tower with holly and ivy and a minstrel strummed carols on a dulcimer while we were at work. Yes, it was cold but not desperately so. Minus 4.5 C at night but we were quite cosy in the tent. Thanks to the large gas heater that we swiped from my dad.

V in the outer bailey
We were dressed very warmly too - linen, silk and wool cannot be beaten for their thermal properties and V even had a fur collar (fake cos it's hard to get real wolf round here any more )

That very elegantly shaped window that you can see behind V's left shoulder belongs to the large kitchen so you can imagine that the chap who built this castle was not short of a penny or two. However, we cooked in the small kitchen tower which with two fires blazing and the bread oven going was the warmest spot to be - apart from our tent of course :o)

Myself and Mistress Pat in the small kitchen tower.

I spent most of my time helping to prepare the feast- pottage (vegetable stew) roast beef and spit roast lamb, roasted vegetables including potatoes which although they weren't around in Britain the 1300s it was felt that beef wouldn't be beef unless there was a roastie cuddled up next to it. The beef and the vegetables were cooked in the bread oven built into the tower wall but the lamb was spit roasted over an open fire. They tasted magnificent - I think I am ruined for beef now. There was a sweet furmenty for pudding - I had never tried this before and it was an acquired taste, flavoured with rose water and sugar it was unusual but fun to eat food made to a really ancient recipe. There were also dates stuffed with marchpane (marzipan) and crispalls which are some kind of small, intensely sweet cake. I don't really know what they tasted like because the archers scarfed the lot down as a kind of aperitif. We also had mulled wine and mulled cider to keep the chill out which worked very nicely.

Above is a picture of the outer bailey where we camped. Our tent is the one to the right, next to the fancy blue and yellow stripey one. It was rather hard getting out into the chill of the early morning. The girls elected to stay in bed until lunchtime and it later turned out that what I thought was tiredness brought on by a late night and fresh air was in fact the starting of tonsillitis which they in turn passed on to me - blah - so we have been busy with that most of this week. Back to earth with a thump as usual!

However, there has been one consolation when stuck in bed with sick children who will not let me move one inch away from them lest I get weak, queroulous calls of Mummy, Mummy! And that is that I finally managed to read all of Ken Follets World Without End which at about a thousand pages is a proper cockroach killer of a book. Thoroughly absorbing stuff if you can leave behind the taint of the horror that the Black Death must have been. Still 600 years is a long time to brood over something like that. Shake it off girl, shake it off.

Hope you and yours are well and blooming. Prayers and good vibes welcomed for three kids and a mum who aren't really.


Technodoll said...

'Tis the time of year for ickies, maybe that's why festivities are best washed down with spirits? You know, to kill the germs... except that the children can't profit from that. Aie aie aie!

Get-well vibes sent your way, hope you pull through it soon! Sleep, chicken soup, more sleep and plenty of liquids.


Lorraine said...

Sian- Let's hope it will all be over before Christmas- it's hard when everyone gets sick.

Anonymous said...

you should have rubbed all your chests with wild duck fat,then beef dripping with cloves and mustard plaster with mutton fat.Then stand in front gas bug would come near to you or anyone else.glad you had a good time. pop over for your award.hope to you sunday.

Anonymous said...

ON MY BLOG SOMEWAY DOWN (Teaches me award) can't miss it .

Patois said...

So many tidbits and asides I enjoyed here. "Cos it's hard to get real wolf round here any more." "Fancy blue and yellow stripey." "Cockroach killer of a book."

Your cooking descriptions were define. Thanks for sharing this.

Kate quilts... said...

Hope you're all feeling much better soon.

Deborah Godin said...

What a great tale, I enjoyed reading this, and the photos! Hope the tonsils have all settled down. And "cockroach killer" as applied to books is going into my personal vernacular as of right now!

Pippa said...

Sounds absolutely wonderful! You've made me so jealous with your spit roast and snuggly tents. Sorry to hear you're not well :o( Love and hugs to you all x x x

Kati said...

Gah!!! Toasty's just recovering from tonsillitis as well, from the sounds of it. I hope you and your girls feel better quickly! What a lovely feasting weekend gathering!