A Relaxing Weekend
What fun! I had invited one of my great friends of many years to come and stay for a couple of days. She had helped me research “horsepower” in its various forms for my latest book “The Earl and the Pharaoh” and, given it is all coming together for publication, it was time to clear up the papers and contemplate how best to order and file them. Then she was going to stay on: we could go for some relaxing walks and enjoy the annual firework picnic concert held here at Highclere.
She duly arrived late on Thursday ready for a lovely, and hopefully relaxing, catch up but, as many of you know, things do not always work to plan here. We had an observational film crew onsite filming for a documentary, so breakfast on Friday morning was not entirely private. Sustained, we headed upstairs to Orient where I had been writing during all hours and it still reflects the endeavour. There are always a lot of stairs at Highclere and sadly she has a broken toe from going on holiday last week but, game as ever, up we both went.
Some time was spent discussing what needed to be done, then more coffee was needed (I went down for that) and we had not achieved very much before we heard that a pallet of gin had just arrived and could John G, the Castle manager, please have all hands on deck to help. All the way back downstairs into the cellars both of us went.
There were 120 boxes of gin so, with the usual laughter and teamwork, we began to haul them along a corridor and into the correct cellar, standing in a chain to pass them along. The film crew were filming and not carrying or helping, consequently having finished the job, with all the boxes neatly stacked, John G turned the light off and locked them in the cellar…. but not for long.
Abandoning the filing, my friend and I then went to look at one of the estate cottages. This also turned into a saga – everyone had apparently decided it was hot and Friday and it could all wait for Monday so all the gates were locked. An hour later, I was driving through a field of beans trying to get near to it which was perhaps not my finest moment. Luckily Geordie was away that day.
Friday having not really gone to plan, we cooked supper and contemplated Saturday and all the things that needed to be done to get ready for Battle proms and our picnic. Thus, the next morning, she was roped in to help load up 35 chairs and quite a few tables into the red truck and then offload them at the picnic area. After which we had to take some of the boxes of gin back out of the cellar as well as more tables and chairs to where Luis was setting up his cocktail bar for the evening.
My lovely friend then did have a brief respite to put her broken toe up for a bit before helping me sort out my picnic guests who were beginning to arrive. Given that it had not exactly been the relaxing weekend I had initially envisaged, I had the happy idea of parking her with Winston Churchill by the gin bar. Curiously my friend’s grandfather was, in reality, Lord Ismay, the real Churchill’s principal assistant in his capacity as Minister of Defence who then served as the Secretary of the Imperial Defence Chiefs of Staff Committee, and became Deputy Secretary of the War Cabinet.
“Winston” is an excellent impersonator and knows his history so it was fun for both of them. Despite being 147 years old, he added some colour to the event and was very happy to meet visitors at the gin bar. It was a lovely warm evening with much laughter and hubbub. It all reminded me how wonderful it was being, once more, amongst thousands of people, hearing the chatter, the singing, the music and feeling the energy. Furthermore, the final fireworks were truly magnificent.
The evening ended, our guests left and like the complete trooper she is, at midnight, my friend then helped us move the French Citroen van Josephine Vanessa back across the lawn ready for public opening the next morning. We named Josephine Vanessa for Napoleon’s wife, given his desk is in the Castle, and she is a French make of car, but she has neither engine nor brakes. Luis was steering and we were all muttering as he took the long route but we did it. Next, we sat in the dark waiting to help unload the chairs once more before making our way somewhat wearily to bed.
On Sunday morning my friend left for home. I think she enjoyed herself and personally I hope she will return very very soon. After all, what is a weekend?
I thoroughly enjoyed your friend’s visit, especially the parts where I could read about it without needing to lift anything.
Marvelous story. Such a busy weekend. Makes me ready for a gin and tonic, even though it’s only 8am here in California. Cheers! (Coffee will have to do for now. )
Wow!!! Love the true “behind the scenes” look at what surely appeared to all as a magical event! Good friends are such a gift! Look forward to reading your book!!! Your jewelry designer friend, Wendy Perry
It sounds exhausting.
I hope you got to have some nice conversation with your friend amongst the busyness. Hopefully next weekend you can make a dent in the to do list.
There is always time for nice conversations!
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
GOOD MORNING FROM BRAZIL,
MILADY, WHEN WILL THE BOOK : “THE EARL AND THE PHARAOH ”
BE RELEASED ?
RIO CLARO – SP
Good afternoon from Highclere, The book will be released at the end of October
P.S.THANK YOU VERY MUCH ,MILADY.
Because your surroundings are so beautiful and tranquil (ok maybe not your office), we are lulled into thinking that your lives are also. Far from it, apparently! Running your estate requires a lot of work, but I am glad you always find the fun and humor in it!
There are moments of tranquility but also moments of hard work!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I am impressed! You work so hard, and your friend with a broken toe sounds awesome. Making hard work fun makes it all the more worthwhile, so well done you!
Really nice garden with 3 of your favorite dogs. The fireworks were great. Wish I was there. Keep doing the great job of keeping Highclere estate in good global standing. What you do there helps all of England and the rest of the world.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
You are a lucky person to have such a wonderful friend and I am sure she has already made plans to return to have more fun and laughter. I hope your writing room got picked up!
Isn’t it wonderful to have such a friend? I can’t wait to read your new book!
Busy, busy, busy! I’m tired just reading your actions…….well done.
My wife and I visited Highclere last week walking to Highclere Park from Newbury a very pleasant 6 mile stroll. When we arrived at the Chapel we meet a friendly member of your grounds staff who showed us the way to the visitors’ gate. A wonderful visit ensued. Thank you for your work to maintain and preserve the Highclere treasure
Don & Charmaine Lovell, Victoria, Canada
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a fun laugh! Most days are certainly not what we intended! You and your dear friend certainly have patience and humor, as well as strength, Two are within one’s self, but thank the good Lord that some of us have not yet aged out of strength!!
Enjoy a bit of calm – if possible at Highclere!?
Greetings again Lady Carnarvon.
Good for you both getting together and getting through such a busy weekend, (even with a broken toe!) as being with a long time friend is valuable. Given you have only steps in Highclere and no elevators it sounds as though you always get a minimum of the heart healthy recommended 10,000 steps in each day! Glad the event took place, the weather cooperated and so many attended once again.
We were lucky with the weather
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The account of your weekend made me laugh out loud. It’s nice to know that life and plans, even when one lives in a castle, can stray off course too.
Thank you for getting my week off to a humorous start.
Virginia Beach, VA
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I laughed as I read your blog this morning because it sounds very typical of times that I have with my best friend. We always have an adventure and often things go awry. However, we always laugh and enjoy our time together.
The weekend looked like a great deal of fun! I am glad all had a good time.
Until your next adenture….possibly later today.
Dear lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of the relaxing weekend and your Carnarvon have a lovely weekend and lovely to visit highcelere castle and l am fan of Downton abbey
I very much loved your conclusion:
“After all, what is a weekend?”
I Love Your humor.
Sandie Carpenter Whitefish, Montana USA
Dear lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of relaxing weekend and you and lord Carnarvon have lovely weekend and lovely to visit highcelere castle
Difficult but necessary work is always lightened a bit when you have a friend to help. Thoroughly enjoyed Sir Winston! Hope you can rest up now, a least for a day,
We moved to the states, from Newtown Common, many years ago. Reading your blog every Monday morning is just such a spectacular start to my week! Thank you!!
Oh my goodness your Ladyship, time to rope in the family to help. Where are the children when help is required!!? Estate management is horrendously difficult and hard work these days. You might need to install a lift somewhere in the castle for future requirements if you know what I mean. I’m sure you feel likeyoure an octopus some times trying to do so many things all at the same time! Bless you and your poor friend who thought she was coming for a lovely weekend with her pal!!! Friends beware….enter Highclere at your peril!!! Lol
Love to you Lady Carnarvon x
Lady Carnarvon, that was a wild weekend. Not as quiet as you would like it to have been, at least you were in your friends company. She no doubt enjoyed being in yours. Friends are forever. Cheryl.
“The Earl and the Pharoah” releasing in time for a hopefully cockahoop hundredth anniversary celebration of the opening of King Tut’s tomb. Can’t wait to read it. Best, Sandy Snyder
Yes exactly !
Lady Carnarvon –
Loved the behind the scenes glimpse of your weekend. I especially related to your writing room/office, as the scene was so familiar. 🙂
I so look forward to your Monday missives. I don’t know where you find the time, but I’m glad you do. Reading your Blog makes me feel connected to my beloved England.
You are kind
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
If that is what you and your (incapacitated) friend get up to on a quiet, “relaxing” weekend, one can only but wonder what the two of you get up to when you decide “to hit the town”.
To borrow a line from the closing scene of the original ‘Die Hard’ movie “I’ve got to be there for “New Year’s Eve”!
Thank you for sharing that thoroughly delightful, amusing and at times chaotic tale. I’m sure it has put a smile on all reader’s faces.
I hope you friend’s toe promptly heals and I wish you every success on the publication of your new book.
Finally, congratulations on what appears to have been a spectacular weekend
Thank you Jeffrey
” Weekends are a bit like rainbows: they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them…” ( J. Shirley). Anyway I think you are so lucky to have such important and special friendships! She will surely be back very soon ! Now you should relax…
That is a good quote
What a great friend! Did I miss mention of who the young fellas in red in the first photo are?
The Red Devils who parachuted in at the start of the evening
Your adventures (misadventures!) reminded me of the John Lennon song lyric, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” A sense of humor was certainly required! Your Churchill event looked like so much fun!
All rather fun
Who are the group shown at the top of the page? Aviators.. or possibly, Airborne troops. I wore the same Maroon Beret when I was in the US Army, Airborne Looks like they were having a good time. Thanks
The Army Red Devils – great team, as you might expect
I enjoyed your behind the scene look at your weekend. Nice to see how everyone pulls together to make occasions run smoothly. Thank you. l look forward to your next book.
I have no idea how you have the energy to do everything!! I’m so happy that you had some time with an old friend for some good conversation and some smiles! It’s always good for us women to have a close friend laugh and talk with!
I hope she had a laugh…
What fun! And a cocktail party with Churchill thrown in! I’m jealous!
It was all a bit mad!
Love, love, love!!!!!!
Thanks for sharing LADY CARNARVON!!
Enjoy the rest of your week,
While visiting from the US, we had the very good fortune to attend the fantastic Battle Proms concert this weekend. We happened to see you and “Winston” and friends walking on the path which was really fun – you are pretty in pink! This was the first Battle Proms concert my UK family had ever attended and they loved it as did we! Thank you for sharing Highclere!
Thank you !
I felt tired just reading about your weekend! When you mentioned gin I remembered that on my recent cruise I ordered Highclere gin in a cocktail that I think was called White Lady. It was nice, and introduced my friend to it. He liked it too! Cheers!
Even though we only live about 15 miles away from Highclere this was our first Battle proms and what a great time we had we just plonked our seats down got settled in and watched as everything started to come together we also managed to sit ourselves fairly near where you were all sitting got some great photos of the day and thanks to you for doing this see you next year ( or earlier)
Best wishes to you all
Caroline and Steve
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Sending greetings from California!
Having friends from London visiting here in a week and a half here in the Golden State. Wishing in some small way we could host you both as well. Nice dream …:)
I just wanted to thank you for this most beautiful blog. I love the entries and particularly the current photo of the garden and dogs .
Looking forward to reading your book in the fall , when published, as I have a degree in archeology ( though later switched careers ) and have every intent of visiting Egypt and the Valley of the Kings someday.
Best from California
Laura Whipple Getman
How very kind – I was just reading the proofing pages once more … I hope you do enjoy it
Loved hearing “The Reality” of what really goes on behind the scenes . I live in a modest Victorian in the States but do know that when my friends enter my world they seem in a dream of where and what I live in and as you know we are all just stewards of these Old Girls.
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for this Monday’s blog.
I truly enjoyed reading about all the ups and downs of the Castle. From the photos, it appears everyone had a good time.
You are fortunate to have such a patient and understanding friend (with a broken toe) to just muddle through the constant changing events.
Massachusetts is beautiful as the leaves on the trees are changing colors before they fall to beat the snow falling to the ground ahead of Winter storms ! Folks here are preparing for the Winter Storms ! Happy Holidays !
I imagine it is beautiful