Walking across the field to the north of the Castle, the ground becomes more uneven, marked by hollows and ridges. Perched on a fence looking around, it is easy to imagine the homes and buildings that once stood here so long ago. Thinking about how these people lived, I always feel very lucky that today so many of us have such easy access to the warmth, shelter and food which our ancestors had to toil so hard for. It really was all about the weather: shelter, warmth, protection and a place to relax after a day’s work.
Undoubtedly, in the past, a day’s work would have been more physical than it is for most of us today. Records from that time testify to projects of agriculture and horticulture, of building homes, churches, fences and ditches. We do, however, still do carry out some physical work here: last night a team of us helped set up for filming, moving sofas, plants and flowers, sorting out car parking and then laying down a veritable mammoth sized pile of mats. Rushing to get everything sorted as we try to fit everything into the schedule, the weekend has disappeared with no break from one occupation to another and, no down time.
In the normal course of events, each week should have a “Holy day” or day of rest: Sunday. Like the other days of the week, it is named for the solar system, in this case the sun. Early puritans went so far as to forbid all secular activities on a Sunday but even today its tone is somehow different. The newspapers tend to encourage a slower read with more considered articles, radio stations change pace and Sunday TV has a different type of offering whether it be Downton Abbey, Poldark or Call the Midwife. Even the pattern of our meals change whether it is brunch or a traditional Sunday lunch.
The strict observance of Sunday has, for most of us, been smudged over in favour of convenience in a nonstop turning world and the rules of what can and cannot be done on this day, once so universal, have been adapted to meet our more multi-cultural society.
However, over the last eighteen months, the whole structure of the week has been weakened and muddled. There is increasingly little differentiation between weekdays and weekends, something which has been quite difficult to live with. For many of us there were only two options: either working without end to help a business survive or being on furlough worrying about money and job security. There was little to look forward to, no pause and often no sense of reward for work well done. In the end, perhaps what it has achieved is the realisation that there was a purpose behind the weekly cycle with its five days of activity followed by two of relaxation and domesticity. That a regular pause is much needed.
Moreover, throughout the year, most cultures and societies have created other days of rest – Holy Days – on which to rest and stop the everyday in order to celebrate. The title has since dissolved into the world “holidays” with all its connotations of fun, rest and relaxation.
Unfortunately, for many of us, this concept too has been the subject of much pain and confusion recently, certainly in this country. After this last eighteen months understandably many of us want to find a pause button, to rest both in body and mind. All of us are framed to an extent by where we live and most of us need a change of location in order to change our mindset. Holidays may be about dreaming under a sunshade or more actively exploring other places, art and culture but either way they are a reset button. Unfortunately, for many families, they have simply become the subject of additional stress which has added to the emotionally upheaval already experienced this year.
In our busy lives, holidays play an important role in helping to maintain our equilibrium. They are not just a luxury. Without the ability to go somewhere else, and with job uncertainty, it is tempting for many to simply soldier on. Long term this is definitely not a healthy lifestyle and has definite health implications. We are made up of dreams and memories, of a restlessness and need to see other people and we all need something to look forward to as a reward for trying our best.
Of course care is needed, safety should be paramount and there are other considerations. As with all things though, it is equally important to find that precise point where the solution does not become more drastic than the original problem. Do you remember the lyrics:
“We’re all goin’ on a summer holiday
No more workin’ for a week or two
Fun and laughter on a summer holiday
No more worries for me or you
For a week or two” ………..wouldn’t that be nice! .
Lady Carnarvon, your blog today is one of the very best. I would also like to say that I believe you are an amazing and kind Lady. I am most grateful and appreciate all what you do. With Sincere Best Wishes, Cheryl.
Thank you Cheryl
Beautiful words and reminder of the importance of rest!!! Thank you for the gift of your wise words!
You are as beautiful as your thoughts.
That was a lovely reflection. Thank you so much.
I truly enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing your life.
There’s something about the rug in your library. I just feel like I have owned one just like it and I haven’t ever! Such a strange feeling. ❤️
How strange maybe in a dream?
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Another beautifully written article, thank you!
My daughter & I were lucky enough to enjoy a week away in a caravan by the sea at Lowestoft last month – how wonderful to breathe the fresh sea air & feel the stress & tension literally leaving our bodies with the seagulls’ cries……
Now what I’m looking forward to is another visit to your beautiful home later this year (hopefully) As I said once before, I left my heart at Highclere last December so I need to come back & get it!
I wish you & everyone *& dogs of course* a very happy safe & successful Summer, yours
Highclere looks forward to greeting you again!
Your home and grounds offer a wonderful respite from this crazy world. My wife and I walked your grounds, sat in your benches and dreamed of simpler times. May you and your loved ones emerge from these hard days stronger and filled with excitement as the familiar returns to our lives. Jon
Cheryl Thompson nailed it. Nothing else to add. Fondly Jenny Modave
How wonderful to look forward to a Summer Holiday (or in our case Autumn). A friend and I are going back to a lovely cottage in Scotland for two weeks. There is so much nature around and very few cars during the day. The peace and quiet is sublime and so dearly appreciated. Red squirrels provide so much entertainment ourside the window – who needs to pay out for a West End Show. Taking Charlie the dog for a walk at night and above us are the stars in all their glory. Something rarely seen in the towns and cities.
Sadly, not everybody can take a holiday and certainly for many years this was something beyond our means. However, recreation is so important. To get away for even a day somewhere other than your home is as refreshing as a fragrant breeze. After all if you look at the word recreation you can break it down to read re-creation.
I wish everybody who reads this a wonderful time of re-creating yourselves even if it’s only a picnic in the local park or the holiday of a lifetime. Keep safe and best wishes for health and happiness in the future.
All you touched on so beautifully said.
My families reset button is to holiday in the UK in the very near future and spend some very deserved relaxing time at Highclere Castle.
Your blog is the highlight of my week,you offer so much to think about and to take to heart
Thank you Carol
Reading your column is calming for me, as are the books you have published. Harking back to a kinder, gentler world. Giving us reminders of how it used to be, how people responded, so we do not lose our way in these difficult times. I am so grateful of all the effort you put into these columns. You are a guiding light in my days.
Beautiful beautiful ,interesting
Thank you so much for writing
Have a lovely week
I am thoroughly enjoying your blog and remember what a fun day I had years ago when you had those marvellous clothes in your barn – wish you still did those! Great memories of an ice blue jacket!
All so beautifully said.
My families reset button is to visit the UK in the near future for holiday and a most deserved relaxing vacation. We plan to spend time at Highclere Castle as well
Your blog is the highlight of my week. You give so much to think about and take to heart .
Thoroughly enjoy your blogs. Keep up the great work you do. I always feel connected with Highclere from across the pond in San Diego California. Will always cherish my visit.
Lady Carnarvon, thank you. I have been feeling so many of the things you describe. And now it makes more sense, put into the larger picture of life.
Thank you and I hope your Summer Holiday comes true!
Such a fun story today. Thank you. So much work to get ready for filming. I hope your holy days are many and restful.
Lady Carnarvon, your blog as always brightens my Mondays. One of my greatest pleasures is traveling and so these past15 months have been difficult. We finally did take a much needed vacation this past March and it was very different due to the various Covid restrictions. I am hoping that with more people becoming vaccinated, we will begin to travel once again with more normalcy . Highclere is on my short list of places to go. I can’t wait.
I hope you find a day of rest soon,
Thank you Pam you are very kind
Lady Carnarvon lovely the the holy day and the pictures and downto abbey and lovely to visit highcelere castle with my sister is 50 next year in January 28 2022she is lovely sister l have and l love her lots
I receive your blog every Monday. It’s something I look forward to every week. You and the other people at your home, work so hard for the benefit of others.
I know many Are grateful for all you do. It would be so wonderful to visit there. I can’t do it anytime soon but maybe someday. One can hope.
Thank you Karen – I hope you can visit soon too!
Beautifully written. After a bout recently in the hospital it was so wonderful to read your article- puts life in perspective. I am holding on to the dream of visiting Highclere Castle one day in the future. Keep up the great articles.
Thank you Colleen – great to hear you are out of hospital.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
You have truly captured what is difficult to express. The reset remains elusive, yet much needed. Through all of your hard work, I hope that you and your family will be able to have some reset time together, in a place that brings you joy and peace. As for this traveler from the US, I am focusing my sights on 2022. Highclere will be one important visit, and a return to my beloved Scotland. As the world becomes vaccinated and safer, there will be celebrations and renewal.
Your blog is a highlight of my week. Beautiful thought, insights and history. Thank you and be well. I look forward to the 2022 Ticket Bookings for the Castle, Gardens & Egyptian Collections! As my daughter said, “ the best scones & clotted cream anywhere!”
Hope springs eternal.
Charlotte Merriam Cole
Chef will appreciate your kind words!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
weekends and holidays have been a dream for quite some time, working through the pandemic covering colleagues on furlough and at weekends, we are only just starting to resume normality, and life is returning to normal, off to Sussex at the weekend to see the in-laws for the first time since Christmas 2020, 2 nights in a 5 star hotel to make it a treat.
When looking back, I sincerely hope you feel pride and satisfaction in what you have achieved, we have all had to work / be patient far further than ever before, and your efforts will bring so much happiness to us Downton fans, and our other idol Highclere Castle will be showcased again for us all to enjoy, none of it possible without you.
Looking forward, I visualise a fire in the grate, gin and tonic by my left hand, and the new Downton Movie on DVD, sheer bliss…
Have a lovely weekend in Sussex!
I appreciate your reminder to be aware of the needs of many who are not able to enjoy holidays due to work or other needs. We need to thank those workers who serve us by saying, “Thank you!” every time we enjoy a meal out, a trip on a bus, a door opened for us as we pray for brighter days.
On a lighter note, we are so happy that the loveliness of Highclere Castle remains so special from all the work you and your team support! Thank you and thank all the dedicated folks who are so steady at Highclere. Your picture of Highclere in the distance framed by the lilies and azaleas is lovely.
From a devoted Anglophile who visited in 2013 hoping to come again,
I enjoy all your posts that greet me every Monday morning but this one was particularly poignant! Our Sundays growing up were church in the morning and dinner around 1PM followed by a visit to relatives. Period. We never ventured from that routine. How nice it was to connect with family every week be it down the street or off to a lake house sometimes sitting on my Dad’s lap so I could “drive” the car! The pace was so much slower back then….But when I reflect on how things began to change, the only thing I can relate it to was when society decided to relax the Sunday rule of closing all stores. When the malls were constructed and opened 7 days a week so many local shops remained open on Sundays so they could (try) and compete… That seemed to end Sunday’s being a true day off.
Sorry to be so long winded but your post made me reflect back to days gone by….
Thank you for an excellent blog today!
Holidays certainly have a different connotation for many. Getting the rest and renewal we humans need is vital. God knew best in Genesis 2: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Thank you for giving us all a “holiday” at Highclere.
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for another wonderfully written Monday blog. I am appreciative of your continuing to enlighten and entertain your readership.
Enjoyed looking at the vibrant pictures. The one in the Library was exceptional. The rug really stands out. May I ask, when did you travel to Assissi and that part of Italy?
Until next week, may you find some down time to just relax.
Oh how all so very true. Gone are the days of my childhood of lazy Sundays with a home cooked roast dinner .
It is all a rush now. We certainly need to slow down .
Wonderful article … Thankyou .
Thank you for you Holy Days blog. The worldwide virus isolation has made us appreciate important things in life. A rude awakening but perhaps also necessary for our reset buttons. As we are being released from so many restrictions I am finding all things bright and beautiful again.
Also a devoted Anglophile,
So true Nancy
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
You are Brilliant. I and many of my friends have felt so upside down since this
pandemic arrived to twist us around. No one could have said like you did. Not only did you succinctly identify the problem but you also expressed it with a sincere sympathy to those who have suffered through different hardships in the last year and a half.
I am so pleased that you wrote this on the day after the 77th anniversary of D-Day. That was a pivotal turn in the battle for freedom when allied forces joined
together. Suffering was Great but Hope and Goodness prevailed.
I am truly grateful for your wise words. Thank You.
Thank you Patricia
Thank you so much for your blog. For me a day of rest and reflection is so welcome. And of course lovely to hear about “Downton Abbey” filming! Something to look forward to for us fans.
Best wishes for days of work and peace for you & your team and family.
Dee in Illinois, USA
Thank you for such wise and caring and kind words.
Thank you, Lady Carnarvon, for your never-ending
energies and the embracement of your Monday Family.
Gratefully and with love,
Welcome to the Monday blog family
With having my own business and working out of my house it was so easy to find myself working 7 days a week. I finally decided to make Sunday the day I forbid myself to do any of my business work. I then made the decision that on Sundays I wouldn’t plan anything that I would not look forward to doing. Sundays have become my days of peace and joy and I so look forward to them. I’m trying now to figure out how every day can be a day full of peace and joy, even with working, and I’m slowly but surely getting there.
Thanks for your lovely posts and amazing photos.
Lady Carnarvon lovely the holy day and the downton abbey and pictures of highcelere castle and the sunny
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of holy day and l love history and love downton abbey and did you enjoyed your spring bank holiday Monday and l lovely get your email thank you
lady Carnarvon the weather is lovely sunny to take pictures of holy day and lovely pictures and downton abbey
, Thank you for another Monday morning up lifting blog.
Yes I do remember the words to the song, Summer Holiday.
As a teenager in England I had a crush on Cliff Richard and watched the movie, Summer Holiday wishing I could go on an adventure like they did.
Now the song is stuck in my head and I will be singing it all day cheering me up.
As usual, a wonderful, thoughtful post, with always some background of familiar words or a piece of history, thank you. I love being part of the “Monday blog family”!
You have captured my sentiments exactly! As Violet Crawley said, “ What’s a weekend?” The days did blend together. We were so disappointed to have two Viking cruises cancelled and had to reschedule to 2022. As many people, we are anxious to explore the world again, and to re-establish our weekends and especially holy Sunday. Watching Downton Abbey, Poldark, and Call the Midwives certainly gave Sunday an added importance!
With aloha and blessings,
After all, “What is a weekend?”
Where it all begins !!!
Absolutely thought provoking and beautifully written to cause us all to “stop and smell the roses.” Human survival depends on the natural rhythms of work, rest, relaxation, and spiritual enrichment. Thank you once again for these insightful weekly reflections.
Blessings to you, your family, and staff.
Rev. Daryl C. Higgins
Greetings from across the Pond again Lady Carnarvon,
Sorry for responding to your wonderful Holy Days Blog so late in your day as I have been in our gardens since 6:30am trying to accomplish as much as I can prior to extreme heat settling in out of doors again today.
You are so right to make the point of how hard our ancestors worked 24/7 just for basic daily survival of shelter, warmth, nourishment etc. These days many of us are blessed and fortunate to have easy access to each of those daily life needs as our structures are sound, our markets are full and our choices are beyond ample. Sadly, many throughout the world are not so fortunate and still toil daily to survive each day of basic needs. I am so grateful and thankful for those of us who do what they do to fulfill our daily needs.
I am also thankful you have such a dedicated, willing and able team to support your creativity, goals and dreams for Highclere Castle and it’s future given it’s amazing and glorious history and of course your husbands family history too! Hope you can find time and day to make your Holy Day and once again will be free to take on whatever holiday you have on your list to do.
Take care and do remain well, thank you again for an entertaining, uplifting and beautifully photographed blog, looking forward to next Monday morning!
Lynn of CT & FL
How very kind – you know it is healing to work and use our hands…
What beautiful sentiments. Sunday’s we all look forward to and the last year was so very strange. Here in the USA we were able to go back to church once again and the enjoyment of seeing our friends again I am at a loss because it was so fantastic. Your blog was wonderful as usual. Thank you.
Perhaps this past 18 months has made all of us realise how important rest and recuperation is to each and everyone. Whether employee or employer, retired or un-employed, student or child, a break from everyday activity is restful, therapeutic and re-generative to all. After a period of R&R, we all return to a higher activity level with increased productivity levels. There may be a good outcome from this Covid emergency, I hope so, that results in a change in attitudes to work and rest, and workplace and home working. Thank you Lady Carnarvon for highlighting this issue, and I really enjoy your blog being a local in Pangbourne.
Good morning Lady Canarvon,
Today’s blog was a reminder that 18 months of uncertainty has passed and hopefully I’ll be soon rebooking my trip of a lifetime very soon. I’m so excited to meet my youngest grandson who will be 2 in October, do all the tourist attractions in London. The second most exciting part of my itinerary is to meet you & visit your beautiful home. Your weekly blog and Instagram posts have warmed my heart and make me when I think about what awaits me in the future. Thank you so much for bringing sunshine & hope to so many.
Lynne from Australia
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I always enjoy your posts. Thank you for helping to lift us up in strange and difficult times. Please, just know how our family appreciates you and what you share with us.
Greetings from Louisiana! This beautifully written blog is one that touched me deeply. I think this is one of my very favorite ones, among my many favorites you have written. Thank you for your beautifully shared sentiments about life at Highclere.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Not only during the past eighteen months of pandemic, but indeed every week, we do need a day of rest, a day to change pace and recharge our batteries. A day different from the other six. A day to pause from our regular work and focus on worship of our great Creator, the God of heaven and earth. God himself created this special day out of the week, a Holy day, set aside for our worship of Him. God himself rested on the seventh day after his great work of creating, setting the example for us. A day of rest from our work, prayer, thankfulness for the many blessings we have received revitalizes our spirit, improves our outlook, and takes the focus off of ourselves and sparks our interest in discovering more about Who and what we are created for in the first place. “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy…”. One of the Ten Commandments.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
GOOD MORNING FROM BRAZIL,
“SOMETIMES INSPIRATION COMES FROM A SINGLE RAY OF SUNSHINE.”
SUMMER IS COMING AROUND. HAPPY DAYS FOR ALL.
RIO CLARO – SP
I agree – sunshine makes us all smile!
Very thoughtful and well written piece. One of the first lines made me think of a story my father told me about one of the first more permanent jobs he had. Some of the older workers would grumble about upcoming holidays for in their opinion it was not right for them to get paid for not working. It demeaned the value of their effort and felt like stealing. While the world itself is pretty much the same as 100 years ago the mindset of the people sure is different. I wish you a smooth season as I know you and the staff put in plenty of effort to make the guests experience memorable- ours was.
Thanks for emphasizing the importance of resting days. Of the short days at the office, I plan ahead on Tuesday for Saturday, my sleep day. Little by little, we are getting back to normal. Thanks for always lifting our spirits. God bless.
I envy you, I would love work there and live there, thank you for keeping it real. greetings from Cornwall, Ontario Canada
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I live in the mountains of Southern California in a little town called Running Springs.
Like you, I have a business to run that at times is seven days a week depending upon the time of year; so it was until Covid hit. A blessing that came from out of Covid was a wale up call to me to stop and take some time to recognize that life so quickly passes by and if I don’t stop from time to time to see it, that poof, another year will be gone by with me still saying, “I will take time to rest and see the beauty that life has to offer”.
The beauty of sipping a cup of tea on a summer morning while looking upon a sentinel of majestic pine and cedar trees; to hear the rush of a raven’s wings through misty air and having the memories come rushing in of past days spent on the seashore along England’s southern coast and hearing the sound of a seagull’s call on a foggy morning.
To rest in the adventure of visual change, to breathe in air of a different place, is to embrace rejuvenation of the heart and soul.
Thank you for your continual uplifting words! They in themselves are a “holy” moment of rest from the daily grind of life!
Thank you Caren
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I am from Argentina. I love your blogs. I have been reading them since 2019 when I read an article about you and your castle in LA NACION magazine.
I love being part of the Monday blog family.
Your messages are always elegant with the gift of the past, present and future reminders to treasure. This year everything blooms a bit brighter, tastes a bit more delicious and the air is fresher, and I appreciate the reminder of how fortunate we are! Thank you.
Thank you once again for your inspiring message! Do take care,can’t wait to visit one day…
Dear Lady Canarvon,
This comment is a little after the fact as I spent half of June in the Wyoming wilderness (aka Yellowstone National Park) which suffers from poor internet service, to none, depending on the volume of people at any location at a given time, so I am just catching up on your lovely blogs. We are pretty opened up over here and life in a lot of the US, is back to pretty much normal. As ever, thank you for another delightful insight, but what struck me most, and why I am commenting so late, was the photo of the green chair being carried out of the saloon. In 2016, I was able have a private visit with a group from Iowa with reception of coffee, tea and I believe cookies in the saloon. As we could not take photos, I set about to remember every detail I possibly could and it is funny what things stand out, like the clear covering half way up the wall paper and being able to leave my bag under the large table since I did not need it for the tour and we were the only group in the house. They said we could sit on the furniture and I thought I remembered sitting on a large circular multi person green piece and was sure the furniture was green, but in subsequent published photos, it was mostly red. So seeing the green chair made me realize, my memory was not so faulty after all, because, I am sure the furnishings change by what is happening, although I keep looking for a photo with the piece I sat on, and so far, have not seen it again. Thank you for sharing life at Highclere. Hope to visit again someday, hopefully when it is not pouring rain outside.
I hope you will return – yes things do change! There is a tapestry hanging video I have just posted on Instagram which might amuse you!