There is something about Christmas time. Magazines always seem to show perfectly decorated houses, beautifully thought out tables, immaculate trees, the food is perfect, mantelshelves are suitably festooned and everyone is behaving perfectly. It all looks very calm. My own reality is definitely different.
The other morning we got up far too early (5am) as ITV had asked if they could do the weather from Highclere. Not my best time of day. The dogs were all happy to be up and ran into camera shot to be petted and cuddled. Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora in Downton Abbey) was in the studio whilst I was down here… it was a fun exchange and then she was going to sing with her band.
I had wrapped up most of the presents for many people who work here including 6 bags with, 6 yule logs. Unfortunately by 10 am the dogs had eaten 5 of the yule logs, so my present tally was decreasing. The spaniels then ate Tony the Joiner’s cheese and tomato lunch sandwiches, so Paul the Chef offered to make some more and Tony very happily requested lovely hot Cornish pasties instead.
The rooms in Highclere are so high and large that I concentrate on decorating the Saloon where we all congregate (where the Christmas tree is) and the Library. My bright idea this morning was to cut some mistletoe, so that I could hang it down in bunches from the gallery. Although the tree was smallish I still needed to stand on a car to cut some of it down and then sensibly decided one bunch was enough in the Saloon.
I was dangling a bunch tied with ribbon trying to decide how low to let it settle and running round the other side of the gallery, dogs in tow after me as we all tried to judge. They thought running round in circles was a great game. Separately I tied masses around the hall lantern. The Front Hall is such a beautiful room, the stone arched ceiling and marble pillars were designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, a highly esteemed Victorian architect so I rather enjoyed standing on a chair having the time to look at it as well as tying in mistletoe.
My son and a friend were out in a little car buggy which had by now broken down and was in a ditch as well, therefore I thought canoeing was the next option but I forgot to take the paddles. In between it all, I was trying to answer e-mails whilst I cooked the boys pizzas which I slightly burnt (forgot about them,) and have since lost my phone.
I know various sisters and friends are turning up this evening, as we begin to gather for Christmas so rather than try much more, it is now “che sera sera”. There are beds, enough food and laughter for sure – we are very lucky. So perhaps a little champagne cocktail might be the order of the day as evening approaches and everyone at Highclere wishes everyone reading this a very Happy Christmas.