We have just closed to general visitors for the summer. So for once Highclere is quiet ,and everyone has the weekend off before we prepare for an Autumn of tours, lunches, shoots, charity runs, a car rally, a conference or wedding and so forth. Luis, one of our banqueting managers, is in France playing golf and tasting champagne (on my behalf). It sounds good. Jorge has returned to Portugal, Jo is looking for a horse for me, Sid is not on his digger, but instead he is fishing and so on.
Our guides gathered for tea on their last day, about 36 women and 4 men, chattering in the Coach house, although many will be back sporadically to take the school trips or private tours over the next months. The car parkers led by Pat have more intermittent work, and Colin and Evelyn at visitor reception can take a well deserved break.
The dogs are the first to miss the visitors, the crumbs from scones, dropped sandwiches or ice creams are no longer there at the start or end of walk. Sally has little left in the gift shop and was just about to consider selling Christmas stock in desperation. She is now turning to re-present the web site and plan towards next Easter.
Autumn at Highclere is a beautiful time of year as the light and colours begin to change. It is a time to gather stock both metaphorically and in our farm. I have realised that has been a year since I started a blog; last September I wrote about a church service in the cemetery chapel, which has again taken place on a beautiful evening, a time of reflection and peace and a time to have the space to grieve in a busy world for all those people we loved, who have died.
Now we are working towards a Harvest Festival at Highclere church, I thought it would be fun build it up, to add more harvest decorations, sheaves of wheat, a tractor, some sheep, baskets of apples and to ride to church for fun. It is trying to connect what we grow to what appears from a super market shelf on the kitchen table.
Lastly I must finish the writing part of my next book in the next two months, and we have more photography to do, of the kitchens,the quinces, the food , the old menus…..anecdotes and less interruptions!!!