During the summer we host about twelve cricket matches on one of the prettiest grounds in the country here at Highclere. (A little bit of bias perhaps on my part!) Downton Abbey used it as the setting for the finale of the third series which was fun for us but rather stressful for Thomas the footman at that point in the story.

My father-in-law thoroughly enjoyed the cricket, playing first of all and then, later in life, captaining the team vigorously from the side lines.  Now my husband plays and also gets terribly annoyed if we lose. Thank goodness we won last Sunday.

We had some friends staying this weekend, including a wonderful American friend. We sat down near the cricket pavilion and from the disadvantaged position of being a female spectator I dutifully tried to explain the rules of the game to her. The other team were batting and we were fielding so she understood that they were in trying not to be out. Of course every so often the fielders all move position and she would just have spotted my husband’s position before he moved place again. When one of the batsmen was caught and the next batsmen went in at least they were identifiable by their pads as playing for the other team.  Every so often the fielders leapt into the air in excitement thinking the batsmen was out when actually they remained in which added to the confusion.  I thought I would compare it to baseball but I am not sure that helped as I have not yet seen a baseball match: even more guesswork!


Lunch however was excellent on tables around the pavilion. It was truly English with a beautifully presented poached salmon, salads, a crumble and cheeses for pudding.

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We spent the early part of the year restoring the cricket pavilion and it was lovely to see and use it in all its new glory.  Terry and Sid have cut larch from the estate to clad the building again and I have enjoyed using a good traditional cricket green for the window frames and themes inside the building.  As usual the painting is the fun part and most of the building work is never noticed by the teams as it is supports for the roof, re-wiring, kitchens and loos. I was on much safer ground discussing decorating projects with my lovely American friend and, even better, she had noticed many of the details. So we lunched in happiness and gave up working out where mid-off was.

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