Since time immemorial people have tried to look into the future. In 100AD, the Roman author Pliny wrote about soothsayers and crystal balls, early Christianity banned it for a period but by Tudor times the idea of divination, astrology and alchemy were part of everyday life.
Séances were much in vogue during the era of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon (Edwardian times)who, along with the then Prime Minister Balfour, was very much interested in the British National Association of Spiritualists and their meetings. Such things were all the rage at the best addresses in London and séances were commonly held at weekend house parties.
Even now, for example, everyone one of us, at some point, has probably fantasised about winning the lottery as we let our minds drift off to exotic holidays and carefree times. So entirely different from our recent experiences. Much of what was ordinary is now just a distant memory: walking through busy streets, the hubbub of people, the noise of distant music, the clatter of deliveries on pavements or the casual pleasure of walking into a cinema, choosing popcorn, something to drink. All our assumptions and every day routines, the things we took utterly for granted, have now changed as work and holidays, casual shopping, schools, films and theatres, sport, music and dinners, even in some ways the days of the week, have been stripped out from us. Luckily perhaps, there are no real crystal balls and we did not know the journey that lay before us all.
Some things are slowly coming back but many of our lives are still upside down and our diaries, past and future, are all muddled together with vouchers, delayed plans, events re-booked 3 or even 4 times now and, if there is a crystal ball, it is a very muddy one. The description “topsy turvy” is particularly apt these days with its suggestions of mild chaos and slightly dishevelled or unkempt lives and how many of us have felt like that recently both in body and mind?
Given the challenging first five months of this year, like so many others, Highclere has re-written, and then written again, times and dates. Yesterday, on June 13th, we welcomed some wonderful guests for Mothers’ Day, postponed in time and month but now never mind the true date. Some rather attentive media followers wrote in kindly pointing out we had got the dates wrong, both for the UK (March 14th) and for the USA (May 13th) but, given this peculiar world, we replied that we had and we hadn’t. Instead, we had taken a slightly eccentric and unliteral decision and moved it to when the gardens are in bloom and afternoon tea can be taken in the sunshine.
Equally, in another enterprising inspection of the crystal ball, we have moved our Valentines celebrations too. Next weekend we are welcoming guests for a Valentines themed tea with swan shaped patisseries and heart shaped chocolates. We are winding a rose garland down the staircase and the real roses in the Monks’ Garden and rose arbour will be a joyful mass of colour and scent, unlike the bare earth and cold winds of the real date in February.
We are so grateful to all those guests who have, with such good humour, accepted our revision of time and dates. I too am looking forward to the day, to picking the flowers and roses for the table decorations for the champagne tea and the magic of an English dreamy summer afternoon.
Last year we had planned a Mozart concert in the gardens which has now been shifted forward one year to next Sunday. Equally we had to cancel our event Magic of the Movies last year but this September fun beckons with with Castle tours and costumes and music as well as a little film script …
2020 tours have become 2021 tours, last year’s Spring guided tours have become this years’ Autumn guided tours or even 2022 tours, the Easter 2021 public opening visitors are being welcomed this summer and last year’s Christmas might come this summer or maybe this Christmas but the main thing is to hope Christmas stays still and happens when it is supposed to. Coach tours are figuring out what to do, cruise pre and post excursions are a bit up in the air, weddings are still wondering how to plan and product launches have entirely disappeared as, with the combination of Covid and Brexit, there is such a shortage of goods there isn’t anything to launch in any case.
There is no shortage of enquiries from fans of the paranormal but at the moment I am unsure about any further events exploring helpful, or perhaps not quite so helpful, spirits unless you are discussing our Highclere Gin and I am very sure we are going to follow the 5th Earl with any seances in the bedrooms.
Meanwhile, the sun is shining and I am simply going to take each day as it comes!
Lady Carnarvon, with the way things are right now it will improve. Till then I will appreciate all the positive things in my life that I have. Kind Regards, Cheryl.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Once again a beautifully written message of hope & inspiration, & your photographs illustrate it perfectly, thank you, you’ve cheered me up yet again. Have they finished filming yet?
I wish you & everyone @ Highclere a very safe & successful Summer, & I hope to visit again soon,
I highly approve of your idea of moving special days around! We had the same idea when our usual Christmas Eve feast for 2020 was not able to happen. We will be celebrating Christmas Eve on 24 July this year, and instead of the normal dozen or so guests, we are expecting over fifty! This will mean a marquee on the lawn, but the tree will still be up and I am busy planning a traditional Christmas meal. It will be different, but it will be a gathering of our friends who we have missed so much this past year.
What a lovely idea!
We once went to a Christmas carol sing in July on Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts. It was a long-time summer colony, and they decided that since none of them would be there at Christmas, they should have the carol sing when they were all present. We had gone to Martha’s Vineyard on our boat, and just happened to see the notice. It was great fun.
Great idea and fun!!!
A lovely way to celebrate Christmas in July! For us, it will feel like Christmas in July when my family will get together for the first time since the pandemic to celebrate my daughter’s 21st and my nephew’s first birthdays, both milestone birthdays. What a 2(or 3)-for-1 we will have!
Wonderful idea! May you all enjoy it to the fullest!
Merry Christmas in July!
I look forward to you’re e-mail every monday.
thank you, so much info.
Life is always best lived one day at a time. All we can do it make plans and wait to see if they come to fruition. And then adapt if they go off course. I commend you for all the adaptations you have employed and I’m sure all of your guests are of the same mind. I truly pray that one day I will be a guest as well. With love and appreciation for who are, what you do and your gift of verse!
You will be very welcome to visit Highclere whenever you can.
Lovely pictures! The seance one is fascinating.
I think your idea of adjusting dates of celebrations is good. We need the celebrations, whenever we can fit them in.
My friends and I had been going to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario for several years, until the Festival was closed last year, and the U.S.-Canada border was closed. This summer the Festival is open, but limited, and the border looks like it will be open for a short time; however, we aren’t going, due to the lack of a crystal ball. We’re hoping that that, and other things, will be back to normal for everyone next year.
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Thank you for the reminder that at times like these, we need to celebrate all we can, when we can. Dates may be “muddled”, yet the important thing is to gather for happy occasions when you can. I can only imagine how difficult and stressful it must be to run your gracious business during these times. On so many levels, you offer guests a relaxing, renewing break from the everyday, as well as guiding charity events to benefit many deserving organizations. Yet day-to-day uncertainty necessitates much patience, with no crystal ball to look ahead. Your optimism, grace and humor are an inspiration to us all.
I have a couple of beautiful purple bottles, in the cabinet, of Highclere Castle Gin, which adds sparkle to all celebrations, as well as 5 o’clock cocktails. Absolutely delicious!
In a couple of weeks I will be gathering, all together, with my children, spouses and first grandchild for the first time in 18 months. I told everyone that we are celebrating Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters, birthdays, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days…. everything that brings our hearts together. We are vaccinated, healthy, and can hug each other. Much to be grateful for. And we will toast with many Highclere Gin & tonics!
All good luck and stay well. Than you for another beautiful piece.
Charlotte Merriam Cole
Enjoy your Highclere gin cocktails!
Lady Carnarvon nice pictures of crystal ball and flowers and lovely sunny weather
Another wonderful story. I am so hoping to get to come snd visit one day.
Thank you for sharing.
Just when I think your Monday blog is the best ever……another Monday arrives ,I stop, I read and you transport me to Highclere with another beautiful, meaningful message for these times
Themed getaways are always welcomed irrespective of the date. I applaud your unique assignment of interesting events as Highclere is itself unique. There was a story in March I think about purists who complained that Volkswagen pulled an April Fool’s Day joke a couple days early- with deliberate intent as well. The part of your story is that you were assigning better times of year for some of the celebrations which I agree with.
Have a sparkling day
You are an awesome writer. I always love reading your posts!
I am a huge fan of Highclere and Downtown Abbey. Would love to visit there but Alabama, USA is SO far away. ☺️❤️
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Taking each day as it comes is absolutely the wise course. Might as well enjoy the process. The shift from angsty schedule shuffling to “so this is what we’re doing today” and “hallelujah anyway” does bring about a certain peace. Be well!
A lovely blog as always!
Yes living one day at a time ,is the ‘thing’ now .
But in a way it has stopped how fast paced things where before…..we actually get a chance ‘to stand back and smell the roses !
Good Morning, Lady Carnarvon. How wonderful you have gotten creative with the special days on our calendar. If The Queen can mark her Official Birthday in June when the weather is more favorable, doesn’t it make sense to enjoy St. Valentine’s Day when flowers are naturally in bloom? Although this week in So. California we might wish for some of the cooler breezes of February to combine with tomorrow’s expected 99 degrees Fahrenheit.
This season of Covid has certainly taught us the value of James 4:13-14 ‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, year there, carry on business, and make a profit.” 14You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
15Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.”
Blessings to you and your family as you bend the calendar a bit and celebrate love in your beautiful garden! 🙂
Highclere gardens are beautiful in June
Sounds like a wonderful summer planned. Here on the southern coast of New Jersey in the US we always have Christmas in July. What a fantastic time we have. I just might follow your lead and have other fun holiday events we all missed this summer.
Thanks as always for your wonderful article. I look forward to seeing it pop up every Monday morning.
I couldn’t bear to discard those lovely Highclere gin bottles once they were empty, so I’ve been saving them on a basement shelf over the past year and a half. I gifted myself with a 6 ft. tall metal bottle tree stand for the US Mother’s Day, and now have a remarkable cobalt accent in my backyard garden. Since we live on a corner, it’s very visible as neighbors walk by our white picket fence. We call it our Pandemic Tree. It still has three vacant “limbs” awaiting bottles and I currently have a bottle half consumed, so my project continues!
I wish I could share a picture,
That is just brilliant!! if you send it to my Instagram I could repost it!!!
A marvelous idea!! I am jealous!!
From a North Carolina fan of Lady Carnarvon’s blogs!
Love those bottles too and cannot recycle them! What a great idea and wonderful way to pay honor and tribute to Highclere Castle and it’s delicious gin! Would love to see a photo of it with a white picket fence behind it
Any event spent on any given day at Highclere Castle will be perfect.
A trip to the UK with a stop at Highclere is on my list of must-do activities just as soon as I feel safe flying all the way from Philadelphia. Meanwhile, thank you for your descriptive and uplifting posts. You’ve given me even more to look forward to.
I imagined Alice viewing her Wonderland at Highclere this morning as I read your neat blog. She probably would have just wandered along and joined in whatever was ready whenever it occurred without missing a step! It is what it is and should have been and might be!
“Carry on,” as a dear the Dowager Duchess might have said.
I live in California, the state with very restrictive COVID protocols. I also live in Santa Clara County which has the most restrictive protocols in the state. TOMORROW, June 15th, the state reopens. We are all beside ourselves at the thought of being able to see and greet friends and go places. In honor of reopening, my water heater has decided to blow up. I don’t even care. I am even looking forward to seeing the plumber.
How uncanny that I was just re-watching the Downton Abbey episode that they were playing with the Ouiji board last night and this morning your blog mentions it! Here’s to a bright future at Highclere!
Aloha & blessings,
Thank you Ada
Always beautifully written and informative. Enjoyable reading and wonderful photos.
New London, PA
Valentine’s Day in the summertime with the roses! What a grand idea! “Time is relative” said Eistein, and in Australia they have “Christmas in July”, why not! Thank you for the lovely photo of the beautiful flowers with Highclere Castle from afar. May you be able to welcome friends and fans and have a most wonderful time. Wish I was there for afternoon tea…maybe one day!
One day I hope!
Beautiful pictures, words and thoughts.
I am simply going to take each day as it comes, too.
Greetings again Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for yet another uplifting and beautifully photographed blog.
Sympathies go out for the struggles you and Lord Carnarvon and your Highclere Team have been through but cheers for how you all have worked together and managed every aspect to keep Highclere alive and ready and able to welcome family, friends and visitors once again. Tea at Highclere is SO beautifully presented and SO delicious, I am happy others are once again able to partake also with your rescheduled holiday and charity events. Enjoy them all and have fun seeing people gathering with you throughout the summer and hopefully beyond! Cheers!
I love your blog as always!
I would wonder though, how many of us would have listened to someone who told us what was in store via a Crystal Ball, or some other divination? We would have thought them crazy, conspiracy theorists, or scam artists. We all want things to be seen through rose colored glasses and the mere thought of something terrible coming is swiftly thrown from our minds in many cases. Just my two cents!
We would have thought them out to lunch!
I have always told my grown daughters, Christmas is celebrated when we are all together no matter the date. Never truer this year or last!
Like so many others, I find your pieces thought provoking ,comforting and inspiring. As you say, so much of what we thought of as everyday has been stripped away from us, that the smallest pleasure feels like such a treat now….. one of the few silver linings. Your adaptability in the face of adversity is a lesson to us all. Living in the north of Scotland which sometimes feels a bit remote, I shall appreciate anew the wonderful scenery on my doorstep until I am able to travel further afield . And Highclere is on my ‘to do’ list.
Thank you and you do have the most extraordinary scenery
Lady Carnarvon – I just listened to your podcast about the gift shop. It reminded me of how long I spent there in 2019 admiring all your goods. You have a fantastic selection and I appreciate that you carry lightweight items for those of us that visit from other countries so we don’t weigh down our suitcases. We enjoyed the bottle of Highclere Gin we brought back with us but sadly it’s all gone.
I have been enjoying all the podcasts and hope Lord Carnarvon appreciates how much knowledge and love you have of the history of the estate. Thank you for sharing it with us!
(An American expat in Mexico).
How very kind – thank you ! So grateful I am trying to promote the podcast so this is very kind of you!
Thank you and your followers for the reminder that numbers are just that……numbers. It’s the spirit behind the events in our lives that hold meaning.
We will be celebrating Christmas in July as well as Canada Day on July !st. We are finally able to gather with 10 people outside. We might not be having a turkey but it will be nice to get together with our kids and grandkids.
I so much love the pictures of the beautiful white flowers. So glad you have written about the crystal ball, it’s so much fun.. we all want to know about the future. Especially now. We worry so much on time. And don’t realize the right time could be any day. Happy summer.
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Once again a great blog which I receive on a Tuesday morning and which I look forward to every week. Just as we should drive our cars to suit the road conditions, we can similarly re-configure events and times we are all together.
Here in Australia we have a big following of “Christmas in July” mainly because it is our winter and a traditional British dinner of turkey, ham, roast pork etc is far more enjoyable to cook and eat in the colder weather. Standing over a hot stove here in December is not the nicest of things to do so we all get together and cook our Christmas fare when we have cooler weather. It is a popular thing to do here with the event held in pubs and clubs. We like ours at home 🙂
Last week nature graced us with 4 inches of snow right on cue for our July celebration of Christmas and the only thing missing was the open fire. Reverse cycle air-conditioning just was not the same but we were very glad to be warm nevertheless.
It sounds like you are re-scheduling important days and trying new things is always fun. Maybe Highclere could have a Christmas in July with decorations and different fare, I am sure people would love the idea as they do here.
Meanwhile keep smiling and forging ahead things are getting better albeit slowly but things are only going to get better 🙂
Best wishes to all our lovely chatters and of course to you and your lovely husband Lady Carnarvon. God Bless all and keep you safe and happy.
Enjoy Christmas in July!!
The world is topsy turvey and a crystal ball would be helpful. My trip to the UK with a visit to Highclere has been cancelled for a second year. I refuse to give up and will get there as soon as possible!
While plans are still uncertain to visit Highclere coming in from the states this summer, I will continue to dream of the day when I can. Hopefully soon and until then, I’m grateful for the ability to see all the going’s on at Highclere via computer and your informative weekly blog. Can’t wait for the new Downton movie coming later this year for more snippets as well! Thanks so much for everything you do to keep us dreaming!
Lady Carnarvon, I would like to comment on your podcasts. They are absolutely wonderful! Each and everyone is so informative and a joy to listen to. It is a must to all your admirers. Brilliant! Cheryl.
Thank-you Lady Carnarvon for the wonderful history tit bits! It is the beginning of winter here in New Zealand and we have been privileged that covid hasn’t changed our lifestyle’s to much.
Enjoy your summer… Ruth
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for your Monday blog. I began reading it yesterday afternoon, but became side-tracked. Only now did I have the time to finish it.
Great pictures to support your story line with much beauty and color.
As England’s Prime Minister speaks of revising restrictions, I am sure everyone wishes they had a crystal ball to foresee how much longer the COVID-19 situation will last.
Hope you, Lord Carnarvon, and your guests will enjoy the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration.
In the United States, we will celebrate Father’s Day this coming Sunday (June 20th). Great time to have gin cocktail with Highclere’s best.
Until next week, keep calm and remember to continue to record the changes to your calendar.
I am so glad that life and fun events will be coming back. I am fortunate to live in Texas where The Governor and Church leaders have decided to open up again. Life has been normal for some time with no dire results. Florida is the same under another wise governor. There is a feeling that we are healthier when we are free. I hope that all your beautiful events are well attended and happy celebrations of life and freedom.
As usual and as expected, a wonderfully scripted observation and perspective from the wonderful Lady Carnarvon. The insta posts and blogs and any sort of literature whether it be visual or scripted, is always so incredibly well thought out. I love reading these when I get time. Thank you Your Ladyship. God bless and I sincerely hope we have countless years ahead of your exceptional creativity.
What a lovely idea of moving the Valentine festivities to date it can actually be enjoyed.
I’m reminded of what my class did one summer to thank our instructor.
Her favorite holiday was Christmas and her favorite gift was socks.
We planted a tree in her yard and decorated it with multicolored, multi patterned socks.
Thank you for your efforts every week to provide us with inspiring and sometimes thought provoking sentiments.
The photos are beautiful and inspire joy! Thank you for this piece – it is a wonderful and succinct account of what has happened at Highclere in the last almost year and a half. I am pleased to hear that things are getting back to normal, and postponed events are now taking place. Carry on with joy!
Your blog brings to mind the saying, “Carpe diem.” Oh, how true this is and this past year and a half has certainly brought new meaning to it.
Dear Lady Carnavon,
I visited Highclere Castle yesterday, together with my wife and daughter – a 2019 Christmas present!
We had a delightful day, and spotted both yourself and Lord Carnavon amngst the visitors – I hope you enjoyed your day.
We spent a few minutes in the Secret Garden with your apprentice gardener Ben (aka Bert). He was very knowledgeable and conveyed his enthusiasm to us most eloquently. Well done Ben.
We also had the pleasure of meeting the real-life aunt of “Lady Mary” who had just bought a bottle of your Highclere Gin, and happened to be visiting with some of her friends. A charming lady who told us how her niece (Michelle Dockery) came to play the part of Lady Mary. We thought you might be interested to meet her, so we asked one of your staff to let you know that she was visiting – I do hope you met “the lady in the yellow dress”.
Thank you for allowing us into your world.