Each day I try to take some exercise and today I set off on my faithful bicycle down the hill away from the Castle with 6 of the dogs more or less near me. We go carefully as cars are coming up, arriving for work. We coast past a group of cottages, where James the Farm Manager lives and then past Don in his Gardener’s Cottage, I then whizz past the old farmyard where the dairy herd used to reside and turn the sharp corner by the Gothic Cemetery Chapel, checking behind me that I am still accompanied by the dogs. Half a mile later I turn down a muddy track and cycle part of the way before leaving the bike to walk down to Red Pools where the Labradors jump in to swim and chase each other whilst the Spaniels enthusiastically patrol the muddy edge. It is a wonderful sight and all other troubles are forgotten. The return part of my exercise is past the cricket field and then back along the top drive which has the long distant views of the Castle, I love to stop and observe its extraordinary setting never tiring of it,  “Downton Abbey” have used this view across the Park for several scenes already. Bicycling up the main drive is always harder than it looks and I am pleased I make it through the black gates but sadly with 5 dogs as one Labrador has sloped off to inspect picnic bins for left over sandwiches! Deaf to all entreaties I carry on with the ones I have before I lose them too. I then return with my husband, who is most unimpressed with my dog handling skills, to comb the picnic area. Eventually we find the much loved and wholly unrepentant Labrador. Visitors are starting to arrive and I disappear to change my muddy clothes.

Me with Clemie, Winston and Rosie