Our team of Explainers play a huge part in the visitor experience here at Nottingham Castle. Zoey, who was recruited through the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, describes what a day in the life of an Explainer looks like.
My name is Zoey and I’m one of the assistant Explainers here at Nottingham Castle. I’m going to be taking over the blog and social media channels on occasion to introduce you to the rest of the Explainer team, so you can learn more about what it’s like to work in a customer facing role at the Castle on the Rock. I’m going to start the series with my own experiences.
It all starts with the journey into work, be it via the tram, bus, train or simply walking or biking in. In my case, I usually catch the Indigo bus that takes me up Maid Marian Way, a trip that takes around 20-30 minutes in total. I arrive bright and early at around 8:35am, giving me plenty of time to have a quick freshen up, change into my work polo, and fill up my water bottle if needed. This also allows me to have a bit of time to just have a breather and prepare for the day ahead.
When 9:15am rolls around, it’s time to leave the loft (that’s where the Explainer team is based) and head down to the Visitor Centre. In this nice sunny weather, myself and other Explainers who’ve arrived early will often relax on the shaded grass nearby and chat amongst each other. We’ll also say hi to the Explainers who have just arrived.
Depending on the weather and who is Duty Manager that day, we may have our morning meeting outside. Usually though, the meeting is held in the Visitor Centre itself. The Duty manager is a rotating position between all staff at a managerial level; sometimes it’s the Volunteer Manager Pippa, other times it’s the Customer Services Manager, Rosie. Sara, who is the Castle’s CEO, also acts as a Duty Manager on occasion. The morning meeting is where all Explainers, Visitor Centre hosts, volunteers and members of the Facilities team share any important feedback from the day before. We also find out what to expect for the day ahead, for example how many people are booked in and if there is any technical issues to be aware of.
These meetings usually last around 15 minutes. Once the meeting is over, all Explainers head back up to the loft to get ready for the day, grabbing radios and checking our schedules.
To explain how the rest of the day works, we need to pick an Explainer schedule. So, let’s go with ‘AExp 2’. Explainers on the ‘AExp 2’ schedule begin their shift with an assistant Explainer. They head down to Robin Hood Adventures just before 10 to get ready for the first group, which arrives at 10:15am. The assistant Explainer will walk down the darkened stone tunnel to greet guests and check and collect tickets. Dressed in their custom-made outlaw hood, they then lead the group up the tunnel to the second Explainer, who stands on top of a tree stump to formally welcome guests with a theatrical and informative speech. Once this part is over, the rest of the experience is straight-forward – we just need to keep an eye on guests, clean everything regularly, and answer any questions people may have. This cycle repeats every 30 minutes as groups leave and the next waits outside.
When 1pm rolls around, the person on the ‘AExp 1’ schedule comes to relieve the assistant Explainer so that they can have a nice 30-minute lunch. After lunch, it’s time to set up the object handling collection. Sometimes it’s set up in Robin’s Retreat on the Middle Bailey, other times in the Ducal Palace next to the north stairwell. We have a range of handling collections available, but I usually go for the Civil War handling collection. When everything is ready, it’s time to entice people in to check it out, which is pretty easy when you have flintlock and matchlock muskets for people to handle! ‘AExp 2’ hosts the handling activities for the next 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Most of the time, ‘AExp 2’ will host object handling until 5:30pm, unless they need to backstop for the final cave tour at 4:45pm. In this instance, ‘AExp 2’ would leave the handling collection in the hands of another Explainer and head down to the caves.
The assistant Explainer’s day finishes at 5:30pm, whilst the regular Explainers continue until 5:50pm, ten-minutes before the Castle closes. After the final guests begin to leave, Explainers radio through to the Duty Manager to let them know everything is clear and begin closing their spaces before finally heading up to the loft to finish at 6pm. It’s then time to head home, but sometimes we’ll all go for a drink at the local pub!
So there you have it! A general day in the life of an Explainer, or more specifically an assistant Explainer. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and make sure you follow the Castle’s social media for more Explainer content.
By Zoey Broad
We’re currently recruiting Visitor Hosts through the Government’s Kickstart Scheme. To find out more about the role and how to apply, click here.