573 visitors as of February 9!!!!!!!!!!!
February 2020 – terribly behind, but catching up. Blame it on the book.
We were invited by Maggie Tyson at Sheffield Local Studies Archives, to create a wall display celebrating 180 years of Sheffield breadboard makers.
Willem and Wilma from Middleburg in the Netherlands are old friends of my mother with an interest in Dutch farming knives especially. The Middleburgers have their own local style and rituals which have all been written up by Willem’s Uncle Frans Dingemanse – a consummate carver of traditional and modern knife handles. We look forward to his book.
The bb book is OUT at last and Jo Good invited me to speak about it on BBC London!! Thank you Jo. Vanessa Feltz saw the book and passed it on to her baker-daughter Allegra who is interested in possibly organising a bit of collaboration..?!
Maureen booked a visit to the Earlsfield Townswomen’s Guild where I brought a selection of boards for the 15-ish members to show, handle and discuss. Sheila brought her Nan’s old bread knife and donated it to the collection ‘I don’t want it’. Nell brought her Bramhall wedding board of 1965 to proudly show everyone and got a mention on Facebook!
Suzanne emailed 6 months ago from New Zealand, asking if they could visit for these two particular hours on this day in this month as it all fitted into their 5 week road trip of Britain! Of course, said I. She has a small collection of Victorian kitchenalia, including breadboards and kindly bought a nicely carved wheaty number from our for sale pile.
Pete, Janice and her friends were joined by Diane Burstein, an accredited Blue Badge Tour Guide, who later proposed we become part of her Fulham Tour. We are the much needed final watering hole after all the real excitement of Fulham Palace, Oliver Cromwell’s Putney Debates, the Boat race starter block and the river vistas.
James, Jenny, Lindie and Veronica saw us in the Evening Standard, with a lovely warm write up by Melanie McDonough. A happy trusting atmosphere developed despite five complete strangers being thrust together and all the sharp objects arrayed about. James tweeted about the afternoon and was most complimentary.
As part of Heritage Open Days, run by the National Trust, Liane booked in and found herself with the run of the place after 4 cancellations. For this event we offer tours for free, and include the generous cream tea. And still they cancel!
Ben finally found a date which suited all the family, having bought vouchers for last years’ Christmas. It was a bit tongue in cheek, as his brother Andrew has a habit of giving breadboards as Christmas presents. Andrew’s wifey boycotted the event!
Kit – on her SECOND tour – this time brought friends Caroline, Lesley, Charlotte and Sarah, as it has to be the only museum in the world where you can eat off a Pugin-designed bread platter!
Cathryn invited her sister Monica, along with Nancy, and they buddied up with Patricia and Sydney to form a warm trusting little bubble where we shared memories of home and bread.
Helena and 3 friends each picked their fave boards off the wall at the end for a commemorative shot, as the rule is only one board can be picked for the scones – which always engenders lively debate.
Zhijun was interested especially in the comparative food culture aspect, and enjoyed taking many styling shots with her hand picked pieces.
Sarah came for a tour and had the gallery to herself after a few cancellations. It means you get to ask all the questions, but miss out on the banter of a bigger group!
Susie and her friends were impressed to find out how much we don’t know. How many are there? Don’t know. Are they a British thing? Don’t know. What are you going to do with it all? Don’t know!
Vicky booked a tour ‘n tea to celebrate her sister’s birthday with all the trimmings and lots of joyous banter among the besties.
Nicola brought her young son Eric, who behaved immaculately I have to say, during a short stay in London before heading back out to China where they live. It is always a pleasure to let children discover the collection and, contrary to expectations, they show the greatest care and respect when handling the items.
Bill Nash, co-author of Secret London, buddied up with Liz and Alan to enjoy the ABM tour before writing it up for inclusion in the new edition of his charming book of obscur places with wonderful stories.
Amanda and Jenny, Jo Sue and Di all came to celebrate Jenny’s birthday with a special setting, candle, balloons and a singsong!
Tina was interested from an antiquing point of view and knew all about condition, rarity and price, although she wasn’t giving anything away!
Sue and Colleen from New South Wales did us the honour. It always amazes me that of all the thousands of things to do in London (2,500 on Trip Advisor), people should choose this itty-bitty little place to spend an afternoon of their precious lives…
Carolyn, Michael, Jamie and Tom came and enjoyed the cultery as well as the boards, asking insightful questions which got to the heart of the many mysteries surrounding the collection. Such as H-WHY bother?????
Wendy brought her friends over and told us about her 1955 round bb which was a wedding present and is still in use.
Avril Horsford kindly invited the ABM to the Putney WI meeting for a bb talk! 25-ish members made a huge horseshoe shape with the chairs and were able to all handle each item as it came round as the topic of conversation. There were bb tales to share and lovely cake. Thank you all!
Margaret our neighbour invited friends Rosemary and Charles to tea. It was a gentle, happy afternoon with sharing of bread knowledge flowing both ways.
Ness Hyland came with her bubbly besties Julie Julie and Julie – no kidding. Julie was a superb knitter, showed me her latest creation – a hangable-upable moose head. Would you like anything knitted she asked?! Oooo I mused. A loo seat for the privy ? With wheat on she asked. Hum, can we make it rainbow coloured ?! And she DID.
Jean, Julian, Tracy and Eva from Fulham Palace won extra scones for guessing where the sad, sorry-looking men were sitting in the black and white photo. No, it wasn’t in the ABM – for shame – it was in Scott’s hut in Antarctica in 1911. Essential kit, what what. Jean then generously tracked down a first ed. Mrs Beeton so I was able to confirm there were no bbs mentioned in the 1860s.
Bloss, Sue and Heather ran the show asking all the right questions!
Martin, a forester drawn to the woodiness, came and admired all the bits of tree. He also gave me a fascinating lecture on the skills required to make a tree flourish, and how to look at wood and diagnose its life-story. As in was the tree flourishing or struggling. He also had a good oggle in the garden which he baptised The Arboretum, because of all the tree-lets.
Catherine, Heather, Alanah and Charlie spent a jolly afternoon revising A level History and the Corn Laws!
Diane, Lesley, Katie and two friends all know each other through the Worshipful Company of Turners which very kindly granted us a table at their Christmas fair.
Diana and Clive paired up with Sarah and Georgina and were amazed to find out that the breadboard phenomenon was possibly a spin off from the Corn Laws as entrepreneurial woodcarvers sniffed out a new niche.
Karen booked a treat for her friend Miles who got very excited by our collection of porcelain platters. Karen had come to our Putney Library talk on a blazing hot bank holiday weekend when I expected no one to turn up.
Juliet and her two besties came from the North to sample the joys. It was a ‘special treat’, having seen the museum ages ago.
Anne, Daisy and Kay, all great friends, had a fun afternoon discussing art and creativity. Daisy made a sculpture using her bread knife, and having sent me a photo, it was later included in the book under ‘Uses of a breadboard and knife’!
James booked in for himself and his mum Bernadette as a treat.
Ruth and David were especially pleased to handle the superb carving of William Wing and his Sheffield dynasty.
Sheila, an early visitor, got back in touch. ‘I was helping at a Bric-a-Brac stall at Christmas & this breadboard had been donated. Apparently someone’s Father or Grandfather had made it who lived at 126 Acre Lane, Brixton. It is a board with metal surround. I can get the full story for you and you are welcome to add it to the collection – it was going to be binned if not sold. So I rescued it before that happened. It could do with a clean up.’ Sheila was true to her word, did the research and presented it to me, wrapped and be-ribboned, at the book launch a year later !! Thank you Sheila 🙂 So according to the directory of 1955 which Sheila very kindly photographed and printed out, at the above address lived: Mrs Daisy L. Moore with a cafe! Best Wishes to Sheila Hearsum.
Susan, Erika and Marlena came and contributed wonderful information about Switzerland and the significance of edelweiss which is often carved around the Swiss boards. It was a love gift for a young man to present to his best-beloved as the flower grows in inaccessible places. Following some deaths from over zealous lovers craning too far, the tradition fell into abeyance.
Jackie and Gwen came all the way from Basingstoke and waxed lyrical about the religious boards such as the Winchester oak ones with William of Wykham’s coat of arms and motto on.
Putney WI invited us to do a talk at St Mary’s Church cafe during one of their meetings and were asked to sit in a huge horseshoe so that the boards could be passed around efficiently without missing anyone out.
Madeleine, Manoele, Sylviane, Brigitte and Margaret buddied up to form a jolly party. They got particularly excited by the dinky accessories which include ash trays, pot stands, salad servers and individual salt cellars.
Megan, a friend of my son from their university days wanted to sample the local colour and persuaded her whole family to pile in, incl. some teenagers, who arrived feeling distinctly put-upon. As the chatter progressed, they realised it wasn’t a typical sort of museum and had a tolerable time after all.
Katarzyna and Steve brought a party for an eccentric tea and tour, and were particularly taken by the political board, ‘In Memory of Richard Cobden’ which celebrated the repeal of the Corn Laws, described by Cobden as ‘legitimised murder’.
Ann, Di, Harry and Madeleine all piled in, the latter two guests from Sydney, Oz. When I asked what possessed them to come all this way and choose to spend their precious time in the ABM, Harry sweetly said, ‘I just love Quirky’.
Zoe and Karen had a good afternoon discovering how prevailing arty trends were reflected in breadbaords including Neo-Gothic, Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Art Deco etc…
A party including Gimena from Mexico and Irena from Russia was sadly depleted when Gimena could not make it, but Irena said ‘I have left a part of my heart here’ as she was departing.
Reverend Whittaker is our new vicar and he sent out a call to be invited into the homes of his parishioners. He was not bargaining on a breadboard tour, but got stuck in and provided some valuable intel on a Christian board which got included in the book.
Cynthia from Putney and her friends had a fun tour – Cynthia for the second time I might add!
Anne and Ruth have been friends since grammar school and took a keen interest in the historical side. Ruth also gave us a lecture in gut hygiene and as a result we are now confirmed Actimel swiggers.
Gill and Danny were given a gift experience for the museum by friends who wished to celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary. I have to say they were the fairytale couple, still affectionate and witty and kind after all these years.
I invited Marie and Simon back for a chat about the possibility of taking over the baking recipe section of the book, and thank goodness, Marie was gungho. Since then I have tried my hand at baguettes – and scones following Marie’s recipe – which I enjoy. There’s nothing like the smell and texture and taste of ones own freshly baked…
Erin from Illinois had a solo tour having arrived just days before in the UK. After a while, I noticed her having great trouble staying awake, and offered our guest room for a 20 minute kip. TWO hours later she awoke but I had had to leave for family commitments. She found the tea all laid out magically, and a note saying to come back and finish the tour on her next visit!
Ella and Stan, a young couple with a warm affectionate aura, were very interested by the Challah board and enlightened a contradiction which had been niggling at me. The board has a knife with, though not originally a set, with the inscription ‘Holy Sabbath’ in Hebrew on the handle. Aware that Sabbath is supposed to be a moment to ‘down tools’, I wondered why the knife should be connected with Sabbath. Ella explained that among the different Jewish traditions, some were more strict than others.
Susan and Doris, sisters from North Carolina had the gallery to themselves and quietly enjoyed the immersive feeling of having breadboards on every inch of wall, in every cupboard and knives in every drawer.
Jane Dorner’s splendid breadbasket of bread, woven and baked, the handle kept on with cocktail sticks. We received it in the post, intact, after she had used it as a centrepiece for a dinner party! I ronsealed it at it lasted for at least 6 months, being much admired by our visitors. She is also a multi-talented artist who even carved her own breadboards.
Cathryn has had a board made by Wests of East Dean! Superb bit of sycamore – in one piece – most importantly, and with a lovely oak wreath around the border.
Christopher, Kit, Gladys, Zakaria and 2 year old Gaby all piled in with Marie and simon for a jolly afternoon. Christopher had known my mother from the 1980s. Marie is a fellow bb enthusiast and went on to write the recipes for our book!
Katt came for a second time, this time with her mum from Newfoundland. Her mum remembered her mum’s breadboard, would you believe! Katt did a lovely podcast on us for her MA in multi-media journalism which you can hear in the Endorsements section.