Ab ovo usque ad mala
We have now reached the end of the shooting season here at Highclere: in this case “game” shooting rather than “film” shooting, a difference which, in the recent past, caused many a “lost in translation” moments in our conversations with the Downton team.
This year the shooting season has been characterised above all by rain, and these last few days have seen biblical downpours. I think I have gained brownie points for increased skills with cross country driving and last weekend slid and bumped my way around the estate with passengers who were hugely grateful that they did not have to get out and push. The mud both inside and outside the cars attested to my efforts!
I always feel a little nostalgic as January moves to a close as I watch all the happy gatherings of early morning beaters, pickers-up and associated supporters arrive to pile into the beaters’ room at the start of the last day. The fire is lit and Eddie the head keeper is cooking breakfast.
Shooting season breakfasts and lunches for our guests are always a feast. Lunches are often stews and meat cuts, followed by proper old-fashioned Highclere puddings such as jam roly-poly, apple charlotte, bread and butter pudding, rice pudding and winter fruits and so on. Elevenses of soup and sausages emerge between breakfast and lunch, whilst later on there follows afternoon tea, cocktails and dinner. February definitely needs to be a month of salads and herb broths…
Since December 24th (the shortest, darkest day here), the chickens by the walled garden in the Park here at Highclere have begun to lay more eggs as the daylight begins to lengthen again. The hens produce not merely brown or white eggs but also blue and green. They are quite beautiful and, as boiled eggs, delicious. I also find the hens’ unfailing time clock fascinating.
The above title quote “ab ovo usque ad mala”, literally means from eggs to apples, from the beginning to the end, which was apparently the order of a Roman meal. I think of it, however, as the order of the year. January begins with hens starting to lay again and moves through to the autumnal harvesting of apples. In some ways Downton is moving through to its finale but it is also a new beginning for us as I try to figure out how to harvest its apples for Highclere. So from a new start to a different end. I have no idea what the end is merely that I, like many others here, are on a journey.
Dear lady carnnavon this was beautiful written, with a peak of sadness as you speak of Downton Abby coming to a end. You will be just fine as you prepare for your new harvest and journey for Highclere, remember life is a daily journey for us all. Continue to be encouraged. Sincerely Nichole
Always love reading about Highlcere’s goings-on – too bad about the torrential rain – but at least you don’t have to shovel it as we do here in Maine, US at the moment!
I like there are still people knowing latin,or, at least,wise words in latin..I like eggs, I have hens at home,but I do not eat meat for 16 years,mainly because my father used to hunt during my childhood..And that makes me asking a question: are you,the British nobility,still hunt foxes?All the best, Minodora, Romania.
I do not hunt but the pageantry is part of a rural tradition in the UK and has been modified in law during the past 20 years. What is rather wonderful is all the different local people who go out – and it does not revolve around “nobility” but a common enjoyment of the countryside.
The rain has been unreal here as well causing lots of loblollies, as I call them.
There’s nothing better after being out in the rain than a cup of hot Coffee and delicious meal. Here’s too a great egg and apple year!
What a lovely way to wish one well in the New Year!
What a lovely post. I, too, am very aware and appreciative of the seasons and the traditions they bring with them, the turning of the year. I especially enjoyed the pictures included here.. Many good wishes for your new journey and thanks for your efforts on this page and for the House’s past, present and future.
I have thought often, as well, of your future endeavors, as the Downton series ends. It’s impact will be perpetual on some level, just as many of your home’s stories have been. But this has created such an expansive base of followers, and Highclere’s image has become so iconic, that it will require s good deal of tending, maybe a bit like herding chickens! Visiting your home was a high point of our family’s time in England, and I expect that its draw will be I diminished in the foreseeable future. A cookbook would be lovely. The blog is wonderful. A yearly date planner book, with some pictures and occasional snippets of daily life at Highclerr would be a treat! God bless you in your plans, in a new era, of a lovely treasure.
I completely agree with everything you say and need just to find the hours in a day…
I too love the Latin, as I spent five years studying it, and I also truly enjoy your analogies and poetic descriptions of the seasons with the hens.
The rain has been unreal here as well causing lots of loblollies, as I call them.
There’s nothing better after being out in the rain than a cup of hot Coffee and delicious meal. Here’s to a great egg and apple year!
What a wonderful title your eggs to apples and certainly apropos. That breakfast sounds wonderful. Thank you for the great pictures of mud and slogging about. Here in Kansas, we have had some snow, but several ice storms which makes driving so hazardous. I am always happy to see snow instead since it is easier to gain traction on snow. Here’s to a warm spring for all of us.
Dear Lady Carnavon,
Thank you for your charming short stories about hunting, logfire, Afternoon Tea etc and nice pictures! Yesterday we bought eggs from Brama hens, do you keep them as well? Blue eggs sounds excotic – perfect match to some blue English breakfast porcelain!
I have the feeling that you all run the Castle with so much love, God bless you!
Thank you so much for sharing this enriching life experience at Highclere. I can feel it in my bones. I wish I could taste the jam roly-poly. Sounds delicious.
Eggs to apples…soup to nuts…άλφα και ωμέγα: Α-Ω
Your Latin title says it all, what a grand day “shooting” at Highclere must be, even with the rain and mud. Is it game-hunt for partridge, pheasant? Grouse not, perhaps. Stag? Deer? there are some horns on the walls displayedAnd do the hunters have to pay a fee for the game they shoot, do they keep it and “take it home”, or is the game sent to your kitchens and served at the evening dinner? Would be excellent to have a book showing the foods/recipes for buffets, teas, and dinners at Highclere Castle. It is a joy to read your blogs, almost like being there! May it be a very happy journey, from eggs to apples, in this New Year , 2016!
It was a shoot for pheasant and some partridge. We keep or sell all we shoot and I enjoy cooking with either bird, they are low fat and not full of antibiotics etc as mass produced chicken. We do also manage the deer and again some goes into the freezer. I or the chef cook from what we have although my starting point is also the vegetables in season before looking at what we can buy. That is the book I am doing…
I simply love reading your blog and even about the hunting and the weather. The filming of “Downton” at your home has surely made Highclere a “must-see” for tourists from around the world. It’s wonderful that the “beat goes on” and you will continue to welcome the world to that beautiful piece of heaven on earth. Bless you for sharing your lives with us!
It is beautiful – thank you!
Rain looks good to me! We are usually knee deep in snow by now, but this year has been kind to us. Not like last winter. I am a bit of a garden/herb nut myself and after reading your July gardening blog, I thought I would recommend an author and book, if I can be so bold. Sarah Addison Allen and the book is Garden Spells. I enjoy all her books and their reference to herbs, but this was her first and my favourite. I am looking forward to our visit to Highclere on Easter Sunday! Especially interested in the Egypt tour! After my rain comment above, I’ll be sure to wear my rubber shoes! I am new to blogging anything, so I really enjoyed getting this my first ever! Your home and grounds are exquisite!
It is always a treat when I get an email informing me that Lady Carnarvon has a new blog entry! The window into this different world is a welcome respite from mine. And what a lovely flock of chickens! Your blue and green eggs sound like what the Araucana chickens we used to have would lay.
Thank you for sharing your these bits of your life at Highclere.
Thankyou for sharing this it looked really muddy your breakfast ic made me feel hungry x
It still is muddy and funnily enough the horses are a safer and more certain way to travel!
Love your blog! Would you please share with us the name of that lovely looking food item in the fourth picture; the one that has the twigs of rosemary on it? Looks like some sort of rolled up meat with something inside the roll. I love too that you have breakfast, then “mid breakfast aka elevenses,” then lunch, then tea all before dinner…. my kind of household!! LOL
Looking forward to the answers to many of the questions others’ posted here regarding the hunting and all…. all is so interesting!
Thank you for sharing.
It was a stuffed shoulder of lamb. I love rosemary it is supposed to be uplifting and so a good herb for January in cooking as well as teas.
Words are not enough to describe my fascination with your home.i m prisoner in it..it is my enteral dream to stand in front of it though it would never be possible in this life but I watch dawntonabbey daily just to feel it..
Can you tell me what breed(s) your laying hens are? I assume they are free range as well.
Hello we are from Yorkshire but we live in the USA. We will be coming to visit Highclere in August and bringing two American friends,we are all Downton fans. Looking forward to seeing your amazing home. Do you have any suggestions of where to stay?
Love the blogs.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The cycle of the seasons is timeless and reassuring. You capture it’s essence beautifully. Highclere, too, is timeless and well-preserved for generations to come. I love your stories, as they capture life in real time, while the house stands as a testament to all that has gone before. I have been privileged to visit (as a follower of Downton), and have been captivated by the art, the history, the landscape and the beauty of the Castle. I look forward to another visit this year, and more discoveries!
Thank you for taking the time to share so much through your blog! Best of luck in the coming year!
They are free range and a mixture of different types of hen so hopefully some will lay some eggs.. marans, araucanas, rhode island crosses..
Thank you Lady Carnarvon for the pictures, and the breakfast, and the muddy hunting… I enjoyed it.
Here, in this part of belgium it has been raining a lot. And some more is coming if I believe the TV. But, sitting next to the fire with a nice cup of tea is a good medecine!.
Will Highclere still be receiving visitors wanting to see the “Downton” environment, now that the last season has been filmed? Maybe I will find a friend who could come with me just for a visit during the summer. I am too old to to it all by myself, but I think would enjoy it. A dream????
Thank you again for your blog.
Highclere has been open since 1989 and at first the queues were incredibly long as the Egyptian treasures had just been found here tucked in cupboards between two rooms. Highclere is again busy with visitors and Downton has given us a great marketing platform. Summer bookings begin next week!
I have been to Belgium and find the countryside is very similar to ours. We have some lovely Belgian friends and visit most years.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Your blogs are always wonderfully interesting and I look forward to them .
Downton Abbey I enjoyed very much( have the whole series complete) and now I have the app as well ! That is so nice ! Now I have to visit Highclere this year and I will be totally satisfied .
But following your blog is continuous and makes me happy . Thank you !
Kind Regards ,
Sophie De Vries-Lamping
Good – I am so glad you enjoy it!
Dear Lady Carnarvon, now that Downton has come to a close, I hope that your blog’s will not. They will now become even more comforting to us, now that we no longer have Downton Abby on Sunday night’s, to keep us in suspence. Will you ever have shoot’s for visitors? It would be very interesting. We have had shot!s here in the states, but they have been skeet shoots. Please keep the blog’s coming, and enjoy your eggs to apples. Rock on. Desiree.
I enjoy writing the blogs, I also have a number of unpublished blogs which are some of the hilarious side of life here and I think they would be a fun diary book. Sometimes I am paddling like mad underneath whilst hoping to appear more serene like a swan, but those moments cause such laughter.
We also have some great ideas of ways to share Highclere but I am trying not to spill the beans ahead of time!
and thank you for including us all on your ” journey!”
Dear Lady Carnarvon, I would like to take this opportunity to Thank You for opening up your home and life to the World as you shared your beautiful Highclere castle to all of us Downton Abbey fans. Hard to believe that it has been 6 years since the first season of this classic series which soo many have fallen in love with this special period in British history. My hope is to visit the castle the next time I visit the UK. Cheers.
I love chickens! The new app is great, the books that you talked about in the library was very interesting! While you’ve had a lot of rain we have had nearly two feet of snow!! Just watched the last episode of Downton Abbey, and I must say I am going to miss it terribly. Maybe Highclere Castle will be featured in another great drama, I hope so!
Thank you- I think the new APP has so much in it. I found the Antwerp cabinets in the Saloon with the mirrored scenes and figures inside them quite extraordinary.
My sister Lucy has just been working to dust carefully a few bays of books in the Library and she keeps calling me to show me what she has found. It is a project about conservation and librarianship and both of us find the books fascinating. So many were published in the 17th and 18th century. We are photographing some of the frontpieces so we can share some of them.
This is my first venture into the “world of blog,” and I am so honored to be communicating with you! I too have enjoyed the Downton Abbey series. Having lived in England as a young girl, I find myself pouring over the finery of the costumes, jewelry and lavish furnishings! I miss the English rain, especially as we have been in a drought for five years! Thank you for sharing such great photos and stories about Highclere Castle! Indeed you must feel satisfaction in the fact that the tradition of the English country home will carry on through your hard work, resourcefulness and the special touch that you bring to all that is HIghclere! I look forward to reading about the many phases of your journey!
My best regards, Sue Morse, Apple Valley, California, USA
Lady Carnarvon, What a wonderful article. Sitting here amidst a glorious NZ summer, your evocative descriptions of the shooting season has made me a wee bit homesick, but fortunately, not for long, as I will be revisiting the wonderful wilds of Worcestershire in a couple of weeks time. The only constant thing in life is change, and so as you move into a new era for Downton, new challenges will present themselves as well as amazing golden opportunities. Thank you so much for allowing us to vicariously share in your adventures, and heres to a wonderful 2016. Kind regards. Glen.
Loved the photos! Reminded me of the short time I worked at a dairy, milking cows( in my wild and carefree youth!) and having to go out in the horrible mud…mud so deep the boots were literally sucked off of my feet!
The chicken/eggs photos were so sweet! Have you ever tried duck eggs? I get my produce from a CSA nearby(all organic community supported agriculture farm, where you buy shares yearly and then receive a weekly box of goodness) They had duck eggs as well, and they are scrumptious!
Regards, Jan Hammersmith
You are right about the mud – feeding haylage to the horses is quite exhausting at the moment, trying not to be pushed over by them and not fall over as I head back over a fence. Something of laughing matter for those watching perhaps! Yes I do like duck eggs – you are right they are delicious.
Thank you for another, much looked forward to blog – as you say new starts…I am planning a white garden inspired by my visits to your beautiful garden, so hope there is a garden blog as the year progresses. All the best!
And you paint the perfect word picture of what my mind’s eye would envision of an English country estate on a rainy and cold January day. By the way, what is “Apple Charlotte”? Sounds like the perfect desert.
Apple Charlotte was one of my mother’s favourite puddings. This is the brief idea:
You line a pudding basin with slices of buttered bread, (buttered side down). Then you fill it with peeled,chopped, cooking apples which have been simmered with some cinnamon (very good for you) and brown sugar, until soft. Cover the top with more buttered bread. Put it an oven for about 30minutes, you can see the top is crisp and then it is done. When you turn it out upside down it should be a nice dome shape. I always remember it never quite coming out perfectly but there were always lots of children to cut in and eat it quickly.
We used to have custard or clotted cream or both with it and, as children we had further debates about who liked thick lumpy custard and liked thin perfect custard, so sometimes there were both custards!
At Highclere, Paul the Chef’s Apple Charlottes are usually prefect and his custard is smooth with no lumps!!!
Your world is so different from mine here in the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona, USA. Hunting here is not full of ritual and community. I love seeing the photos with the countryside, the wonderful meals and the continuation of social heredity.
I’ve tried to incorporate some traditional British foods such as Yorkshire puddings and plum puddings.
Thank you for opening your home and life to us. Well done.
Thank you so much for your blog.
I have just booked tickets for me and my husband to visit Highclere and all of its beauty in August as a birthday treat for him. I have always been a huge fan of Downton but my husband has only recently discovered it and has enjoyed it as much as I have.
We look forward to visiting your wonderful home, and enjoy reading your blog about the restoration projects at the castle.
Have a happy and healthy 2016
Leigh and Paul
Greetings lady carnarvon!
I’m really enjoying your blog! I’m from Penna. & nice to see your blog w/the pictures & comments, kind of enjoy bit of England & Highclere when ever I can! I love Downton Abbey & will miss the show a lot! The Apple Charlotte sounds so yummy! I love rice pudding too. in some of the photos there’s so much mud that maybe Highclere should open a spa & give mud baths! ha ha! do your dogs bother the chickens much? My cousin & her husband used to have several kinds of chickens also. Do yours have names? Like some of the other followers I’m also looking forward to more books from you! Nice to know that even though Downton Abbey is ending we will still have your blogs to enjoy & will still learn about Highclere! Thanks for all that you do for Highclere & also for all of us! I also send best wishes to the Earl & also to your son!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I sincerely hope your monsoon season has slowed down a bit, so you can be once agin enjoy your grounds. You mentioned some interesting items in your last ‘Blog’, and I wondered if I might dare ask, is there by chance, a cook book with these special “proper old-fashioned Highclere puddings” written down somewhere? I’d love to be able to try them, or better yet, try making some for my family. (I’m sure I’d need a proper lesson from Eddie to get them right)
They all sound Wonderful!
Lady Carnarvan, your writing is so fluid. Maybe you should write your own drama series. I’m sure the good Lord will watch over you as he has done thus far.
After visiting the amazingly beautiful Highclere castle ( your home) today , I feel that I have to THANKYOU from the bottom of my heart , for the most memorable day . Your grace and also your humour , alone made us feel welcome . I am such a Downtown Abbey fan and to be able to come to your home and be standing where it was filmed was a real treat .You truly have an amazing home . I feel humbled and very grateful to yourself and your family and all the staff who looked after us so very well today . We truly have had an amazing day . We will be revisiting , hopefully the weather will be better . We look forward to seeing you and your family again . Kind regards , Jayne