Monopoly Cards

Like any multi-faceted business we have a number of different bank accounts, some of which are in a better state than others. The estate account is particularly prone to fluctuations. In the early days I used to ask my husband every so often how bad it was – never a good topic – but then I decided I would like to help. My husband is probably slightly ambivalent about this as, whilst I can think of ways to bring in money, I am also rather too good at finding ways of spending it.

The estate account is all about the unseen expenditure which supports the Castle and its workings, from staff accommodation to rented cottages, miles of fences – some wooden, some sheep fencing and some old fashioned metal park fencing, various gates, a bridge or two, roads, tracks, ditches, gutters and drains, not to mention an inordinate quantity of fairly dicey windows. The list always reminds me of when you land on the wrong property in Monopoly: you squint at it in pain but it is too late to roll the dice again.

My husband’s grandfather, the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, passed on responsibility for many of the cottages and the Parkland nearly 40 years ago. His was a personality that wasn’t really that interested in the minutiae of repair and maintenance of the cottages and houses around the estate and there had been decades of what we would, these days, call bodge jobs. Rotten window frames were mended with putty and painted in, roofs remained leaky, loos were in outside sheds and there was no damp proofing or heating. They were very basic and, over time, my husband gradually began to bring them into a more modern state.

  

These are now beginning to form a nucleus of charming cottages which we rent out which, in turn, helps to support the expenditure side. I really enjoy renovating these houses, working out how to create space and coherence: homes where people feel good, and therefore ones they will look after – with patios or gardens with corners to sit outside with a cup of tea.

Highclere has a diverse community of tenants from all walks of life which matches the diversity of the houses. Les works for the Automobile Association, Pat and Mike Withers paint the Castle and have renamed their cottage which is full of their life and a garden overflowing with plants, vegetables, arches and equipment for bees and ferrets, another couple of cottages are rented by friends from London and are used for weekends and holidays so that they can go for walks or bicycle rides.

Currently, I am trying to finish the snagging on another cottage so that it is ready to rent. It has an amazing kitchen, garages and charming outbuildings as well as an apple tree and old brick patio, although I can’t quite decide how far to furnish it. Another, more unusual project is mid-way. This is a round house called “The Grotto” which I have decided to rent out for 3 or 4 days at a time when we are open, rather than as a permanent rental. Few walls are straight so it quite tricky and not practical for everyday use but it is really charming and I think it will be fun as an experience. I rely on a girlfriend, Sarah Morris to help. She began her career at Colefax and Fowler and is wonderfully organised. So far I have spent a lot of time lying on the floor pretending I’m in a bed so see which way I fitted best. Sarah then does the instruction bit and the electricians and painters look on, rather too used to my approach. I can’t wait to see it finished.

Comments
63 Responses to “Monopoly Cards”
  1. david terry says:

    “…..So far I have spent a lot of time lying on the floor pretending I’m in a bed so see which way I fitted best.”

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    Now, THAT is a genuinely amusing line/image. Thank you.

    Oddly enough, I recently had a female visitor who did the same thing….apparently without considering how it looked (to me, the only other person in the room) and without saying what she was doing.

    We were upstairs in this 220 year-old rambling house (which is, indeed, being turned back into the B&B it was restored to be, fifteen years ago), in a mostly-empty room that I’ll be turning into a rental-room. At one point I said something about getting furniture…..and all of a sudden I had this 40-something, very attractive divorcee (whom I don’t, actually, know at all well) just throwing herself down on the rug, stretching out full-length….then curling up in a semi-fetal position…murmuring “Mmmmm, this would be GOOD……..!”……”It’s a little too bright in here…”, “Have you ever tried this, yourself? you’ve gotta do it…”…etcetera.

    I just stood there, staring at her and wondering why anyone would make a pass at middle-aged me at 4 in the afternoon. I asked “What are you DOING?”. She widened her eyes as though I were the fool, and replied “Just seeing how it’d be if there were a bed here. Why?….what’s the problem,?….. it’s all too close if you’re going to get a stand-alone tub in here, too…”

    Turns out, apparently, that she’s a perfectly normal woman who’s decorated a lot of houses, and I’m an all too-fusty bachelor who’s never “tried out” a house in my life.

    As for multiple accounts?…….presumably, you have an accountant who can answer to your children once you and your husband have gone on to your reward. I and several of my good friends (we all have parents who, in their late 70’s and 80’s, increasingly need assistance) keep returning to the topic of “Why do they have at least 12 bank accounts?”. I should emphasize that none of our parents owns anything the size/complexity of Highclere (to say the very least). Perhaps it’s an American thing……but we haven’t been able to avoid noticing that the number of bank accounts increases exponentially in proportion to the decreasing-amount of actual money in them. Personally, I wouldn’t assume that, as my funds/supplies diminish, they’re made safer by squirreling them away in twenty places.

    One of my friends, who’d spent an entire weekend trying to minimally untangle her parents’ finances, said “Is it this some kind of ‘war-childhood’ thing?…..put everything you have in different places, so that, if a bomb hits, it won’t all go at once?”

    In any case, thanks as ever for the invigorating, practical, and genuinely interesting posting, I can readily see why folks enjoy your blog so much.

    David Terry
    Hillsborough, NC. USA

    • Natalie Graham says:

      David, i enjoyed your comments as much as I enjoyed Lady Carnarvon’s post. 😀

      I would have done the same as your friend and thought nothing of it until it was also pointed out to me. I enjoy remodeling houses and get just as involved in the details… except I usually just stand and stare at things with a frown on my face vs. laying about on floors.

      Have a great day! – Natalie from Summerville, SC

    • Kris Mitchell says:

      David – I also enjoyed your reply to Lady Carnavon’s blog as much as I enjoyed hers! I hope you do some writing – blog or articles or something! You have a most enjoyable way with words. Thank you.

      Kris from Florida

    • Linda Keller says:

      David,

      I’m with Natalie, I loved your comment too! What an engaging story. Thanks for sharing!

      Linda

    • Stacey Brown says:

      “Apparently she’s a perfectly normal woman who’s decorated a lot of houses…”

      What an amusing story with a hilarious conclusion! Thank you for making me laugh out loud.

    • Kristyl says:

      Certain accounts govern certain things. A way of budgeting for different aspects of the house and the people who live in it. 🙂

    • Catherine Splane says:

      You write books probably? Many books?

  2. Dear Lady Carnarvon,
    I, too, love the idea of lying on the floor to see how a bed would fit. The next time I move, I’m going to try it. 🙂

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Thank you for you comments – just to let you know, if I am thinking about a kitchen, then electricians and painters temporarily become fridges or ovens or tables…someone else has to walk in through a door and see if it will open!!! A squawk would suggest not. We all discuss it and get a sense of space. Humour and practicality make for a good life…

      I am a boring accountant so I would agree that an account needs a purpose, i.e. to save for taxes, or everyday life or savings. I also suspect that the legacy from the recent banking crisis would suggest that it is wiser not to put all your eggs in one basket.

  3. Linda Keller says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    Reading this post has made me smile. I can definitely appreciate this post and what you describe. We live in an original 1880’s Victorian on a small horse farm in Ohio. The house is marvelous in some ways (long Victorian windows, heart pine flooring and bay windows are a few), but it seems that everywhere I look I see projects and that includes on the grounds as well (currently converting a cattle barn into a horse barn). So, I am always heartened when I read one of your posts about the work you are accomplishing at Highclere. They let me know I’m not alone in these endeavors!

    Thank you and I’ll continue to look forward to your next posts.

    Linda

  4. Kris Mitchell says:

    Really enjoyed this read! I cannot imagine the expense and upkeep of the castle let alone all the other buildings. It did remind me of the episode in D.A. where Lord Grantham is showing Matthew around the property and he says, “You see gutters and windows that need repair and I see my life’s work”. And then the scene where they are viewing the cottages being mended.
    Thank you for sharing these things with us. It allows us to be a part of the real D. A.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Ps I keep old gutters and mend and reuse. Tiles, bricks, pipes, I never knew I would be so keen on them!!!

  5. Geoffrey Bounds says:

    That bathroom is amazing, you are giving me ideas. I live in a house built in 1904. It seems that when one thing goes out it all goes out. Great Post Lady Carnarvon.

  6. Charlotte Cole says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,
    Thank you for your beautiful writings and photographs of the details in and around the Castle. I am always intrigued!
    Great pictures of the renovations, and I particularly love the round house and the blue door. Perfect!

  7. Linda says:

    Love the pictures of the renovations. Thank you!

  8. Karen Golden says:

    When I first saw the title of this blog post, I thought you were going to say that you were developing a Highclere / Downton version of the board game Monopoly. If that ever does happen, I will certainly be in line to buy one 🙂

  9. Stacey Brown says:

    Lady Carnarvon,

    A game of Monopoly, multiple bank accounts and cottage renovations at Highclere. It sounds like the perfect pilot episode of a new Home and Garden TV show!

    The bathroom renovation picture is just stunning. The elegant white soaking tub and grey and white stone tiles are just gorgeous. The green and white fabrics are a lovely choice. What a beautiful transitional design (My personal favorite!). Do you incorporate your color preferences into each cottage or ask Sarah to choose a color scheme and design? I can’t wait to see the “big reveal” when your renovations are complete!

    Kindest Regards,

    Stacey Brown
    The Woodlands, TX

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      When I stand in and potter round a cottage I just give myself time to switch off and figure out the flow. Then it is the art of the possible with electricians and plumbers and where to best spend money, the key choices to make to give tenants a sense of home and cosiness. Everything I do is a collaboration and Sarah helps me choose for the house or cottage also thinking about where it sits in the landscape. It is, in some ways, quite complex. I find greens, greys and off whites very peaceful and do have a few favourite colours so I hold less paint stock!

      That bathroom is in a cottage I will rent out more long term, I hope,as an easy refuge from London work, where the tenant may spend weekends and holidays and I organise the garden etc. It has a great kitchen and Aga too, along the same dark grey theme.

    • Stacey Brown says:

      What a peaceful retreat from the hectic pace and demands of city life. It’s a lovely home away from home.

  10. Christine says:

    Do tell how we enquire about renting the Grotto? My best friend and I are planning a trip for 2018 specifically to see Highclere and staying so close by would be a dream come true.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      I hope to finish the Grotto this Autumn and then set out rental dates for next year. It will be just really cute with the best views…

  11. Sandra Cook Carpenter says:

    Once again, Lady Carnarvon, another fabulously written story.
    I too love the moss green with the grey.
    Did i dream, or did I read that you have yet another book soon to be published?
    I LOVE❤️your writing.
    Sandie Carpenter, Whitefish, Montana.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Writing “Lady Almina” which was such an experience – I still find the letters and stories behind it move me to tears, then “Lady Catherine” which was different yet again so sad… if uplifting as well and my latest is a book full of photographs and stories “At Home” which is now on sale both sides of the Atlantic. I wanted to tell you a story about Henry James, another one about Prime Ministers, or Royalty, and what it is like to live here. It is the first book with photographs we have ever done! I think the plan is to promote it through the Autumn – I hope you might like it – I think it has the same voice.

  12. Rita says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    Thank you for your beautiful writings and photographs of the details in and around the Castle. I am always intrigued!

    Great pictures of the renovations, and I particularly love the round house and the blue door. Perfect!!

    I would love to Rent the Round House with the Blue Door if I Ever Visit London. The color Red is for Prosperity. So, maybe the next one will be with the Red Door.

    Thank you very much. Would LOVE to have a response from you on earlier request on the Hearts but I understand that you cannot do it.

    Have a Great Tuesday!!

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      The blue door is because there is traditionally an estate colour which demarcates the property. It was all a bit of a muddle when I started off and I have tried to bring it together. I painted different options on a stable door and one of was a colour I Iiked: an older grey and faded blue which I thought worked some of the blue grey shades within some of the bricks. My husband didn’t like various options so I was able to elect that colour!!! So that colour is around the courtyard doors behind the Castle, on cottages and some drainpipes.

  13. Althea says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon. What an amusing bunch of responses to your very interesting blog about the juggling of estate finances & some of your practical solutions. I can definitely picture someone lying on a floor to see how best a bed will fit, etc. My preference is to lay a duvet cover on the floor to work out how to furnish the bedroom. You have so many challenges in running a huge estate & working farm like Highclere, that it would make most people’s heads spin. Refurbishing estate cottages for rent must be extremely satisfying and I can only imagine how beautiful the round house will be once furnished. I’d love to see the end result & hope you’ll create a blog about it.
    Althea, Auckland, NZ

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      A duvet cover sounds a very good idea, I have got paper template as well now but it does help thinking about where you are in bed and if you can turn the light out…

  14. Susan SAID says:

    Through all that you’re going through, I sense that it is a labor of love. I’m sure it gives you a sense of purpose.

  15. peter kelly says:

    Hi Lady Carnarvon,
    I just bought two books on ‘Downton Abbey’ aka Highclere Castle.Really looking forward to reading them.I love reading and watching documentaries on the different manor houses.
    Best wishes on your decorating,
    Peter Kelly,
    Wexford,
    Ireland

  16. Nancy says:

    What a fun blog this is.
    One reason a beloved older family member left so many bank accounts was he received a gift whenever he opened an account. Years ago it was a toaster but recently it was a small cash deposit to start the account.

    By the way we have a panini maker a friend got when she opened an account in NY.
    We smile when we use it.

  17. Ann C. Flood says:

    Dear Lady Cararvon,

    I so enjoyed this blog post that described your renovations at Highclere!! There must be so much work to do in making improvements and renovation to a “not so new” estate. I admire the gusto with which Lord Carnarvon and you have tackled the job. You remind me of a modern day Lady Mary Crawley and Tom Branson. Life imitates art indeed! Don’t worry about the outflow of “monopoly” funds. Just think of it as necessary expenditures in making Highclere even more beautiful. I don’t personally think another thing could be done. However, I am glad you both are such excellent stewards of your estate. It is lovely to see how the estate keeps growing and changing. Keep up the fantastic work!!!

    Kind Regards,

    Ann Catherine Flood

  18. Lynne Hess says:

    I love that Highclere is so multi-faceted and that you have all sorts of interesting and practical projects happening around the estate. Those rental cottages should be a great investment. But the best part of this blog is the picture in my head of the Countess of Carnarvon lying in the middle of the floor contemplating where the bed should be. I just loved it…although, as a friend would remind me – “Granny would never approve”. I guess we watched DA for too many years. 😉

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      I think Maggie Smith’s character was at heart practical. She was a survivor and therefore adapted, even if her comments underlined a point of change

  19. Ruth Rennie says:

    Thank-you Lady Cararvon for sharing the wonderful photo’s and stories of the renovations that take place in your home, at Highclere Castle.
    Do you know what ‘The Grotto’s’ propose was? It appear from the photo due to the cross above the door and the shape of the windows and the blue door
    (Doors on church’s, if named after Mary are this blue/grey). That it was a place of worship?

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      It was built as a Lodge to one side of the estate – it was Victorian romance and I will put some of its history on the walls and perhaps do a video tour? What do you think?

    • RUTH says:

      Thank-you Lady Cararvon, I think now I can see It’s architectural importance in history.
      I take it that ‘The Grotto’ is not it’s final name, in light of the above?!
      The history on the walls is a great idea. I can see already It’s history in the above wallpaper!

  20. Linda Flegal says:

    It sounds so inviting. I can’t wait to see photos of the Grotto finished! We just may have to fly over from the US and rent it for a few days!
    Love this blog post.

  21. Ruth Goebel says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    I love to see how you are so involved in the upkeep and improvements of the Castle and estate. Too often people just assume you would be sitting around giving order to the servatns to do this or that. Times have changed and in order to keep that precious gem of an estate living and breathing, you have stepped up to the plate and jumped right in. I just love seeing these historic places get the attention they deserve so they can be enjoyed for many years to come. Someday, somehow, Imwill cross the pond and visit these glorious places….

    We are cheering you on from the States!!!

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Thank you – I think my predecessors also rolled their sleeves up but in a different way.The only way I have found to make it work is to be there.

  22. Catherine in Greece says:

    Another wonderful REAL tale from the Castle! I so enjoyed seeing what is happening to the cottages and the round house: the Grotto! Keep us up to date about the when and where and how much for renting the Grotto for a few days, along with a tour of Highclere, it would be perfect! I’d make the trip again to see it and stay there. What marvelous stewards you are giving such love and life …and funds, to the preservation of the estate, bravo!

  23. Lady Carnarvon says:

    Wonderful news!!!

  24. Jo says:

    Please do post how one goes about getting one of the cottages for short-term rental. Along with myself, I know many persons who would be interested in a rental.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Just send us an email…. estateoffice@highclerecastle.co.uk – I have a great young intern who has been working with me – James – and he will pick it up. He is starting back at university but it has been fun working with him and I hope earning money here helps as he sets off – he will be back! I have another help for 2 or 3 weeks and then I am not sure! I enjoy the diverse ages and energies…

  25. Diane Clavareau-Vandenberghe says:

    So interesting and funny is this post! I read it all over and over! Of course it has always been said that you must keep your “eggs in different baskets” and several bank accounts must have a good reason somewhere. Especially with the surprises coming along nowadays! I enjoyed the “lady laying on the ground” and that reminds me of my granddaughter sitting in the middle of a room and saying “douchka, your armchair should be over there because you can see the TV and the entrance door plus the flowers on the window sill then”… My son is preparing a small apartment for me as I am getting rather old and I will probably have to move to their place in France. Their house is very large and they have plenty of space… but only one bank account… I would like to visit Highclere next year. And this way I could have a look on the work and the cottages you are talking about. Great ideas, great program for your family house and lots of people enjoy your blog. I certainly do. Thank you for the witty lines and the photos. I appreciate and participate in your efforts in reading this!

  26. david terry says:

    P.S……Thanks for the compliments regarding my posts, folks, but?……..I hope you won’t mind my regarding them as a sorta-relayed compliment to Lady Carnarvon’s OWN writings.

    She writes well, is actually very interesting, and is (OBVIOUSLY) genuinely engaged with her daily work and audience. That’s a rare combination in this world. I wish her the best of luck, of course.

    And, for now?…..back I go to figuring out how I’m going to deal with a huge-ass limb from a 220 year old pecan tree that’s crashed down on a row of old boxwoods.

    I’m lucky, I suppose….this joint is only 220 years old………wish me, also, luck…….

    I recently told my 78 year old father “When bad things happened, and I was young, I used to think ‘; How in the world will I emotionally survive this?”. These days?…I just/immediately think ‘How am I going to PAY for this?….”

    Welcome to owning old houses (I should emphasize that I love mine and am pretty-much married to it at this stage of the game),

    And thanks to Lady Carnarvon for her obviously evocative writings,

    David Terry
    The Webb House
    Hillsborough, NC

    P.S……did you know that if you type “Carnovon” in the USA, Microsoft immediately and bossily tells you that the correct spelling of her name is “Carnivore”?…..and automatically “corrects” it???????? Weird but true…..

    • Catherine Splane says:

      Are you trying to take over Lady Carnarvon’s blog? You write so easily.

    • david terry says:

      “Are you trying to take over Lady Carnarvon’s blog? You write so easily.”

      Dear Catherine,

      The short answer would be “Of course not….”.

      The facts are that I’m markedly old-fashioned. Lady Carnovon (and, yes, American Microsoft STILL keeps auto-correcting her name to “Lady Carnivore”) writes well & interestingly…..and I sorta regard obviously-well-written blogs like well-regulated cocktail parties……..if you’re present and appropriately appreciative of your host’s efforts, you need to contribute to the conversation in some way that’s minimally charming/helpful.

      I’m from The American South. My grandmother and great-aunts would refer to this practice as “making your manners”.

      I do write easily…perhaps just glibly. I’m 57 and have, surprisingly enough, made my living at the business (in various venues and with surprising success) since I was 25 or so. Otherwise?…I just sell paintings (go to: davidterryart.com). I don’t, these days, do much at all towards self-promotion. At a certain point (and if one’s lucky) things just become a sort of self-propelling juggernaut. And that is my “story”.

      In any case, I enjoy Lady Carnarvon’s blog, think she/her work are remarkably interesting …..a productive & entertaining mixture of Lucy Worsley (google her, if you don’t know her name) and Martha Stewart (who’s a good writer, businesswoman, and has never been a slouch). Both are extraordinarily and above-all, refreshingly PRACTICAL women…..as Lady Carnarvon seems to be. It’s quite gratifying to encounter this in an age of “aspirational ‘lifestyle’ coffee table-books” (as they’re called in the trade…and does anyone ever REALLY “Bring a taste of Tuscany (!!!) into all aspects of your Home & Living”?).

      A good friend of mine has to edit those expensive and pretty-useless books for a living. Lady Carnavon’s blog is a really gratifying, let’s-get-down-to-work alternative to them. But I happen to be of a practical turn of mind/temperament….so perhaps I’m prejudiced.

      With all compliments,

      David Terry
      Hillsborough, NC
      http://www.davidterryart.com

  27. Lori says:

    Like always I always enjoy your blogs.They bring me to the castle with every read. It also makes me feel good that I don’t own it,with the upkeep and the money that comes with the cost of the upkeep.I currently own a 1930 art deco bungalow with two bedrooms and one and half bathrooms,as well as a closed in small porch. Although my house is 87 years old, it too has many needs to keep it still standing.
    Like I have always said please don’t ever stop with your blogs, as I enjoy reading them.

  28. Lady Carnarvon says:

    Houses are fascinating – homes, refuges and endless repair work .. it keeps me going!

  29. Chantal Leblanc says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    I loved this post too! Being creative to run and maintain a property like Highclere is a full time job, but it must be fun and challenging in a good way.

    When we visited this summer and left the estate, we came across a sort of temple with a dome on the way out. I was wondering what it was and what is was for. I guess it is not in used as the doors where closed, or maybe it is, I don’t know.

    I would have liked to stay on the estate this summer, but I was too late to reserve, everything was already booked. Maybe next time, so keep adding! (c ;

    Regards,
    Chantal Leblanc
    Montréal, Canada

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      You drove past the Temple of Diana – it sits above Dunsmere Lake and was a key part of Capability Brown’s design for this area of the Park. It is not used although we have repaired it! I hope the Grotto will have two double bedrooms and be a great experience!

  30. John Johnson says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon

    Another interesting blog. I do hope that you publish a book of them. I find the workings of these big homes interesting and your blog certainly does show how they are run.

    I had the pleasure of visiting Highclere a while ago and I’d like to visit again. I gave a packet of the wild seeds to a friend and she loves them. I’d love to stay in The Grotto as I love round rooms.

    Looking forward to your next blog.

    Johnx

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      That is why I struggle with fitting in beds!the roundness…that is why I love writing and that is why I have done the photographic book , early photos of the Temple, photos of inside bedrooms..

    • John Johnson says:

      Dear Lady Carnarvon

      I forgot to ask where would have the Dower House have been? When I find I and Visited a few years ago he thought it might have been London Lodge?

      I must but a copy of At home at Highclere. I have your other books.I have a signed copy of books one and two.

      John x

  31. Kristyl says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    That was a wonderful blog! Relating, I have always found it better, if you can, to rent out part time instead of full time. Full time tenants don’t always allow you to get in there and take the time needed to repair items …so tend to get more run down and patched quickly . This way, you have all the time you need. 🙂

    RE laying around the floors to test the spaces…you may rather get the dogs in for that 😀 I’m sure they’d be willing! 🙂

    Love, from SoCal.

    • Catherine Splane says:

      Full time tenants, depending on who they are, can be persuaded to tolerate lengthy repairs if done properly. People are different. I myself as a tenant, would prefer high quality repairs and a lengthy waiting period.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      The dogs head straight for the builder’s sandwiches …

  32. david terry says:

    P.S. I’m completely aware (having just hit “send”) that I keep mis-spelling “Carnarvon”. I’m from the mountains in East Tennessee……and “Carnarvon” is as foreign to me as “Cholmondley” (which American microsoft aut-corrects to “Chocolatey”)….and let’s not even get into how the actual English pronounce the names….

    —–david terry

  33. Lady Carnarvon says:

    Don’t worry and I think Cholmondley is far harder..

  34. Linda Olds says:

    Lady Carnarvon,

    You are a lady of many talents! I love your blogs and pictures. You’re also a practical accountant, gardener, house designer, and author of fascinating books about previous Countesses of Carnarvon. I’m sure there are other talents that you don’t reveal in the blogs. Thanks for what you share with us!

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