Walking through the archway to the offices at the back of the Castle, the Bangles song “Just another Manic Monday” often sounds in my head. Somehow Mondays always start with too many meetings, often at the same time as each other, all urgent and with small knots of bright eyed and rested staff wanting a quick word before starting the new week. The peace of a Sunday evening rapidly fades to a memory and, what’s more, sadly, there is no longer even Downton Abbey on the Sunday night to get one going.
Before I begin Mondays, I need and love to be outside for a while. To see the sheep en route to new pastures, meet with the gardeners and laugh as the puppies chase each round in circles. Then it is into the lion’s den so to speak.
Last week, there was even a queue in the office on the previous Friday evening to see who I would meet first on Monday morning. John G, the Castle Manager, refused to go home until I agreed to see him before I saw decorator Pat and carpenter Josh who, in turn, were before Maggie the groom – but she was mucking out and lost her place – with Louise, Emily and Mimi all declaring they too needed a moment. It quickly became clear that other office meetings would have to happen on Tuesday morning instead.
My office is consistently in a state of meaning to be cleared up. I always have the best intentions but somehow life takes over. Thus each Monday I begin by again apologising for the chaos as we all perch round on a selection of wheely stools, assorted chairs and exercise balls to plan for the week.
Pat from the decorating team sits on a chair, Josh from the building team and Mimi and James from the estate admin team have stools whilst Trevor the brickie and David the electrician, depending on who’s needed, prefer to stand. However, we do all need coffee and sometimes we treat ourselves to a croissant but only if my husband isn’t looking!
Whilst we have the two holiday cottages for visitors to the Castle for a week or weekend, we also have a few longer term lets as well. Just now, I am in the midst of reconfiguring a gem of a house which will be transformed into a home with space, a lovely view and the potential to become a real haven. There are various decisions to be made so I drive down to see it with James.
Standing in the new bathroom, I ask James to pretend he is in the bath. I think Ben is where the loo should be whilst Josh is in the shower. It is a practical way of seeing the space and then they can all pretend to wash their hands.
Everyone is quite used to it now and someone volunteers to pretend to be in bed and someone else to see if they can walk round the imaginary bed. We all imagine we would like a cup of tea in the morning – how far away is that? The answer was too far and we needed to find a better solution. Where is someone going to sit outside? Where is the sun? Where can they park their cars and where can they stack logs for a fire in a snug? To my husband’s immense astonishment there is rather a detailed budget (thank you James) and invoices marked off against quotes.
Abbie’s meeting was about coaches and groups, Emily’s about car parking, Maggie and Sam about horses, foals and holiday cottages. Mimi was all about lists whilst James had concerns about planning. Louise, Sally Pop, Justine and Hannah were anxious about my book deadlines – oh my goodness, they are looming so I am now writing until the small hours of the night. John wants to see me about the Downton Abbey Concert, Charlotte is checking off the Viking Cruise special tours we have offered their guests for 2020 and Stephanie has some wedding enquiries. Coffee needed again, it is already lunchtime and I need to regain some head space to write.
It really is just another manic Monday!