Category: Daily Life

Roads are made for journeys not destinations (Confucius)

Saturday afternoon I set off on my bike with the dogs down the drive in the Park to “Redpools” where there is old sunken woodland, paths that are never straight and a pool or small lake that merges with rushes and marshy saplings.

Summer, such as it was here, has definitely slipped away and I had remembered a sweater. Nevertheless, it is a magical time of year, “seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness” and I had looped a bag over my handlebars hoping for the very last blackberries or more likely crab apples and pears [...]
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Wildflower Meadow

­­­“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” AA Milne

The wildflower meadow is coming to the end of its summer. The flower heads are turning brown, but are still, I think, rather beautiful. They give height and texture to the meadow, gently cascading down the slopes beyond the south lawns towards the Park.

There is a broad, winding mown path running though the meadow diagonally for visitors to enjoy. Just walk quietly, listen out for all the noises of the insects – it is so busy and an extraordinary testament to the flower meadow’s success. It is also [...]
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GB2HCC

It is summer in England so it must be raining and, on this particularly damp Saturday evening, I found myself sitting in our tearoom marquee whilst Robert (security) and Paul (parking) tested the reception and call signs for our new temporary amateur radio station.

Given my heritage is partly Scottish, and Robert (security) is Scottish, it is important to note that it was a Scotsman who first predicted the existence of radio waves (James Clerk Maxwell), although the theory was developed by a German (Heinrich Hertz). Radio itself was then apparently invented by the Italian Guglielmo Marconi who sent [...]
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Monopoly Cards

Like any multi-faceted business we have a number of different bank accounts, some of which are in a better state than others. The estate account is particularly prone to fluctuations. In the early days I used to ask my husband every so often how bad it was – never a good topic – but then I decided I would like to help. My husband is probably slightly ambivalent about this as, whilst I can think of ways to bring in money, I am also rather too good at finding ways of spending it.

The estate account is all about the [...]
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Combine Harvester

When I was growing up I can clearly remember a song which began “I’ve got brand new combine harvester and I’ll give you the key …” It was sung by the “Wurzels”, in thick West Country accents, but it did actually top the charts. It came straight back to mind when I climbed up into our combine harvester as part of my efforts to understand a little more about our farm and how it works.

Brian, who drives the combine through the weeks of harvest, put me in the driving seat and, with a sunny word of caution – “The edge [...]
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Costumes and Dress Codes

I grew up and went to school in London. During weekends my sisters and I explored (sometimes under duress) the various museums that London has to offer. The one that I never needed to be persuaded to go to was the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. I would head straight towards any exhibition of fashion and costumes – they have an extraordinary collection depicting what we wore that spans at least four centuries. You could stare for ages at the tiny waists, beautiful, delicate lace, the velvets, dresses with enormous hoops, the shoes and the wonderful hats. Admittedly [...]
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Journeys in Time

Journeys in Time

I have never been very keen on heights: I have to tell myself to breathe and climb steadily as I go up ladders or, indeed, on ski lifts. Much to my surprise therefore, I remained remarkably calm as I climbed a very long ladder to look at the restoration work currently being done on an ancient barn on the Estate.  So many visitors and guests admire the Castle, its setting, the landscape and gardens, yet that only represents a proportion of what Geordie and I are restoring and sustaining. This is not a “normal” investment with a chance [...]
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A Constitutional Walk for Canada Day

A Constitutional Walk for Canada Day

Reading the 4th Countess’s of Carnarvon’s diaries in her lovely clear script, I have begun to understand a little more about life here 130 years ago. Some things never change. The family liked going for walks or riding on their horses, perhaps up Beacon Hill as I did yesterday evening. They were keen to ensure they spent time outside and considered it was good for their health, for their “constitution”, so much so that if the weather was miserable, they walked in the dining room for 30 minutes!  The thought of Lord and Lady Carnarvon, arms [...]
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From Jeeves and Wooster to Downton Abbey

From Jeeves and Wooster to Downton Abbey

I hope, like all of us here at Highclere (aka Downton Abbey), that you are rather excited about NBC’s announcement that they are making a “Downton Abbey” film.  Michael Edelstein,  president at NBC Universal International Studio, said that the movie is in the works although it is a logistical challenge to assemble the cast of 18 or 20 much loved characters into one time frame. Of course the largest and oldest “actor” has always been delighted to collaborate and to my eyes, even in old age, has never looked better.

 

Casting back in time, before “Downton Abbey,” [...]
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A Change of Pace

As summer turns to autumn, the pace and diary at Highclere changes. Public opening finishes for a time and the Castle welcomes smaller guided tours and groups which work better around our traditional commitments of game shooting and other events such as charity runs, garden tours and small dinners. The office team try to snatch some holiday after a very busy summer and as John (our Castle Manager) and I sign off holiday forms, we wonder if we may be cooking or answering the phone or whether we should put in our holiday forms as well.

We are also now planning [...]
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