In my bag: Lifes essentials

Nicola Hems, curator of the Museum of the Broads in Stalham shares the secrets of her handbag

Nicola Hems, curator of the Museum of the Broads in Stalham shares the secrets of her handbag - Credit: James Bass

As curator of a busy museum, Nicola Hems needs to make sure her bag contains all of life’s essentials for her working day

Earl Grey teabag

Earl Grey teabag - Credit: James Bass

WITH HER children growing up, Nicola Hems decided it was time to make a big change in her life. Having always wanted to work in a museum, she enrolled on a full-time Masters course in Cultural Heritage at the University of East Anglia – and she hasn’t looked back since. “After graduating I began volunteering in the museum service, and six years ago I was made curator at The Museum of the Broads,” she says.

The museum has just re-opened for summer but, says Nicola, winter is their busiest time as they carry out maintenance and prepare for the season ahead.

Turquoise reading glasses

Turquoise reading glasses - Credit: James Bass

“I like to create a new exhibition every year, and this time it will focus on Broadland’s shops and high streets. I want to broaden people’s perception of the museum and what we are. Of course the boats are incredibly important, but we are not a boat museum. There are so many more aspects to the Broads - from wildlife and conservation to social and economic history.”

She says one of the nicest parts of her job is working with the museum’s 90-strong team of volunteers.

Memory stick

Memory stick - Credit: James Bass

“I have lived by the Broads for 24 years but I have learned so much since I took over as curator. I do pretty much all roles, from admin and managing displays to looking after exhibits, and I can always call on the volunteers’ knowledge and expertise.”

Her bag of choice has to be practical.

Membership card for Norfolk Snowsports Club

Membership card for Norfolk Snowsports Club - Credit: James Bass

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“I have a brown leather shoulder satchel and I keep to the same one so I know that when I pick it up I have everything I need for the day ahead.” w

The Museum of the Broads, The Staithe, Stalham, NR12 9DA; 01692 581681;

Purple fingerless gloves

Purple fingerless gloves - Credit: James Bass

In Nicola’s bag:

Radley keyring

Radley keyring - Credit: James Bass

Twinings Earl Grey tea, £2.99 for 50

Earl Grey tea is a relatively recent discovery for me and now I absolutely love it, just with a splash of milk. We don’t always have it here at the museum, so when I get the urge I always know I have one.

Reading glasses, turquoise, prices vary

I have two pairs, one for home and one for my bag. I do a lot of close reading work in low light, so they are essential.

Memory stick

It is like a mini mobile office. At the moment, it is full of photographs of shops in local villages through the years for my new exhibition, but it also has a PowerPoint presentation for talks that I give.

Membership card for Norfolk Snowsports Club

My husband and I always wanted to ski but never got round to it, so we started lessons two years ago at Trowse. I love trying to get better at skiing, and the social side is great.

Purple fingerless gloves, Accessorize, £12

I am famous for my purple fingerless gloves which I live in from September to April. There is a tiny fan heater in my office but everywhere else is freezing at the museum. But I still need to be able to work, hence why they are fingerless.

A little something else...

Radley keyring, from £15

This was a present from my son Michael, and I love it because it reminds me of our gorgeous Westie dog Sukie, who died a few years ago. Now I really want the handbag to match.

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