One Fine Day
There are various questions which I am often asked by visitors and journalists as they try to gather a sense of what is it like to live in, and look after, somewhere like Highclere. Perhaps one of the most frequent is to ask me to describe a normal day.
At this point there are raised eyebrows from any of the Highclere team who are listening in and quite a few grins whilst I am silent, trying to figure out some sort of coherent reply as this is surprisingly difficult to answer.
The starting point is easy as, whatever the weather or time of year, it tends to be outside with the dogs. Perhaps there is some yoga or it’s just a walk with a meeting with the gardeners to share plans. There are always natural details to observe from the dew strung spiders’ webs, to feeling and hearing the mass of beech masts crunching under foot or the need to skirt round puddles which may be deeper than I think but always a delight to the dogs.
I do not necessarily worry about timekeeping as, one way or another, the dogs will remind me it is their breakfast time, looking expectantly at me to ensure I get the message Their preferred route is back past the stables which Maggie and Sam have finished mucking out and are now busy preparing the later feeds. The dogs tend to feel it their duty to taste it too before being turfed out and Alfie always takes the opportunity to nip round the back to check if the gift shop is open and whether any lunch bags have been left carelessly within nose height.
After this, I will often take the opportunity to do some marketing photography as the weather is often kinder first thing. Recently we were trying to photograph the three yearlings who look incredibly well in order to demonstrate how good and natural our horse feeds are. They still are very young so would not really stand still and the whole project felt more than a little precarious.
Just as so much has changed in terms of how we eat over the last decades, so too has it changed for horses. Once they would have just been fed hay and oats as needed, perhaps a bran mash, rather than the compound, processed feed mixes of today. We prefer to mix natural foods together knowing therefore what they are eating. We have created a new product, Oatalin, which combines oats for their fibre content and energy, micronised linseed which promotes healthy skin through its high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids and alfalfa pellets which have a high protein content and are also a rich source of calcium.
At the same time as we were trying to manage the yearlings, the first visitors were also arriving for their guided tour. It was also the first day for the newest member of the housekeeping team and for Harriet, the new estate assistant, brought in to help James. Thus the day, like so many others before it, gradually descended into a kind of organised mayhem that is typical of so many here. The wholly unexpected element of that day was “project hedgehog rescue” when Harriet found one stuck down the drain she was checking but there is always something unscheduled and hedgehogs are considerably easier to deal with than floods, bits of masonry falling off or sudden infestations of flies all of which have also occurred recently.
It is always a joy to have a look at what Sally is up to in the gift shop but that is procrastination on my part and more fun than sifting through the emails. However, that has to be done and each day I also try to set aside time to plan, discuss and listen to what Hannah and Reuben think of the social media ideas and proposals.
Later in the afternoon I try to wend my way with a selection of dogs upstairs to write. My husband meanwhile is focusing on strategy, finance cash flows, and on the farm. Talking over the day is one thing but once it is 8pm it is better to stop and and perhaps with a glass of wine, mark the end of another long, busy day. I never know what progress we have made but hopefully a few more things are done and few less left undone.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Your day is certainly busy and unpredictable at times. Thank you for giving us a peek into your day. I do find it most interesting. I so enjoy your Monday blogs.
Have an uneventful day,
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Brilliant piece of writing, feel quite tired now after reading about your “usual” day! Your photographs are fabulous, love the Labrador happily playing in the puddle, typical Labby behaviour!
I hope you have a great new week, & I wish you all at Highclere a safe & successful Autumn,
Greetings from Alabama.
Thank you for continuing to educate people about the astounding, and varied, work it takes to keep a home like Highclere looking its best – and doing what must be done to preserve it and its grounds — and keep the doors open.
Another very nice entry of your blog. Clearly describing one of your days at Highclere. I hope you do have your lunch at some point, since that is missing 🙂
I wish I can visit Highclere in the future and if possible, get to greet you at some point. Thank you for the blog. A reading pleasure.
Hopefully see you soon!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Your daily commitments are lessons in multitasking. The scheduled and the unscheduled intertwine to fill the hours! It is wonderful that you, when possible, find the time for yoga and writing The dogs will always let you know what time it is! Mealtime!! It is difficult to describe the indescribable yet you have done it! As I say around my house…organized chaos!
I love the photos of the hedgehog rescue- well done! They are absolutely wonderful little animals, but not the most nimble in getting out of situations. That one looked quite plump!
Good luck with your future plans and preparations. Thanks for another terrific Monday post.
Charlotte Merriam Cole
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
your day sounds idyllic, and is probably more productive than you think. My day is more like Lord Carnarvon’s day. Wine is served at 6pm in our house, dutifully poured by my husband as we also draw a line under that work day and focus on home. Dogs are absolutely necessary to keep everything in perspective.
I find it somewhat funny now that I’m retired. When I was working, the days seemed to drag on and on and never ending. Now that I am retired, I look back on the day and wonder where all the time went, wanting more of it to finish some project I started. Not having the help (or the size of property)as you have, I start the day by doing some stretching exercises. I then climb down stairs and make breakfast. I go back up stairs to straighten the bed and bathrooms, get dressed and head back down stairs to clean up the kitchen. I plan the dinner menu for the day and make sure I have the needed ingredients. A shopping list is made and handed to my husband. He loves shopping and I don’t. I put the dogs through their morning paces. Each dog does some sit/down/sit/stand/down/sit. We then shake hand to paw and I receive a final high five. Each dog gets a little dog treat and then we head out to the gardens. My gardener moved away last year, leaving the work to me, until I find a replacement. Depending on the day of the week, the dogs and I head out to the area of the property designated for that days attention. After weeding, planting, pruning, watering, harvesting or just doing what needs to be done, we all head back to the house for our mid-day meal. Once we have all eaten, in goes a load of laundry. I then go to the area of the house that is assigned for that day to be dusted, vacuumed and overall cleaned. Following the zoned clean of the house, I start with the evening meal prepping and cooking. We eat around 6:30pm and sit talking of the days adventures. I talk about things that I found that need replacement or repair. My husband talks about his day. The dogs go in the car when my husband goes shopping. He explains how when he gets gas or picks something up at certain stores how the store owners come out to greet the dogs. Two dogs are so happy to see people while the oldest is protective of my husband and the car. She barks and barks until told these are friends. Once she feels it is alright, her tail gets wagging in time with the other two tails. This seems to be a story that is repeated daily. The kitchen is cleaned and I head off to my sewing room where I make quilts for family, friends and homeless veterans. My day ends around 11pm and restarts around 5am. There just isn’t enough time in the day to do all I want.
What a lovely day. Thank you for sharing!
Dear Micki, Loved your story about your days with the dogs, gardning and the quilts. A warm hallo from me, also quilter in the Netherlands. Petra Boon from Houten
What a wonderful routine you have; thank you for sharing it. I am retiring at the end of this year and I am so looking forward to creating new routines, structure and purpose. I love how central your dogs are to your day and life.
They are so grounding for all of us
Dear lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of one fine day did you have a nice weekend and lord Carnarvon lovely to visit highcelere castle thank you for the email
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of one fine day did you have a lovely have nice weekend and lord Carnarvon lovely visit highcelere castle nice and sunny day today
Thank you for the email
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
As every Monday, your blog is a wonderful way to start the week !
And thank you for this little view into your daily routines.
I think the larger the house, the more unpredictable things may happen, but at least life is never boring.
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit your beautiful house in 2019, and I’d love to come again someday.
Until then I enjoy your blog and your books- can’t wait for your latest book for Christmas and will start reading Christmas at Highclere again next week.
Best wishes from Germany !
P.S My whole family loves the Scottish eggs and most of all the Christmas Scones…
Thank you so much
You said 3 yearlings, but only posted 2 beauties.
Can we get a peek of #3?
I was running out of space!
I look forward to your blog. The very bottom photo of staircase. Where is this in your home? We’re familiar with the main stairs featured in DOWNTON. And I “think” a servants staircase behind a door. I’ll never be fortunate to come visit, so, I thank you for sharing.
This is the Georgian Staircase – it is beautiful
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Greetings from California. Thank you for another beautifully written piece, giving insight into what is such a different life than my own. Yet there are similarities that I find connect us all. Your work ethic, commitment to your responsibilities and perhaps most importantly, love for your dogs reminds me of my own day. Although on a very different scale! Our border collie, Athena never fails to let us know the time and I’m tempted to ditch my watch for a day and let her run the show.
Oh and that hedgehog, what a chubby little guy! Nice work with the rescue.
Have a lovely week,
He was a lucky guy!
I am feeling renewed with knowledge. I never knew much about hedgehogs….had heard of them from some nursery rhymes but had no idea what they looked like. Such a cute little guy.
Thanks for the pictures.
He/She was a lucky hedgehog!
Greetings from Hamilton,Ontario,Canada. Really enjoy your Monday blogs. Hoping to visit one day. I have a couple of your books and sift through them looking at the incredible grounds and daydream….some day! Do take care,
Good morning from Arlington Heights Il. North of Chicago.
I look forward to Monday morning to read your blog. It’s a view into your life and job of caring for Highclere. Your descriptions are lyrical and beautiful.
Hope to visit sometime.
Hopefully see you soon!
Hello Lady Carnarvon
Great pictures capturing the Autumn colours.
Stepping into a puddle is not the water feature you wanted after visiting Chelsea.
Carry on Highclere.
It is lovely in autumn
We here in NW Montana are nearing the end of a glorious Fall. The wonderful first photo you posted reminds me so much of the recent days. Love the seasons throughout the year, but Fall here is often my favorite. Snow is coming!
Thanks again for your Monday Blog – I do enjoy it every week. I’m looking forward to your latest book – I have a pile of Highclere books just waiting for another……
Happy week to you…
How very kind
I am so excited! My copy of “season’s “ arrives tomorrow! I so look forward to reading it cover to cover then trying some recipes as well!! Thank you again for sharing your world with the rest of us. Almost feels like home
Thank you so much
My favorite of your writings is when you include animals. Precious little hedgehog. Brought back a childhood memory from Tanzania, East Africa of a hedgehog we “rescued” but set free. Can you tell me when is a horse called a “yearling” – age is 12 months( a year old)?
They will be two in fact next spring but by tradition they become two year olds on Jan 1st!
Although in the Northern Hemisphere horses birthdays are taken as being on the 1st January, in the Southern Hemisphere, the birthday for horses falls on 1st August.
After the first time a horse is alive on August 1st it is considered a yearling.
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of one fine Day and get your blog
and lovely Downton abbey
What a lovely fall picture of Highclere, and the synopsis of your day left me thankful for my small piece of the world…I’m tired and ready for my afternoon nap and it is only 11:30 here in Tulsa,Oklahoma
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of one fine day and reading your new book of season highcelere castle and lovely to visit highcelere castle
Lady Carnarvon, a great story as always. I can imagine just how busy you are through out the day but it must be so rewarding. With Kind Regards, Cheryl.
Oatalin— sounds like something that could be re-packaged, and I’d eat it! [<;
You do write so eloquently. Thank you for such a vivid description of a day at Highclere. The photos are wonderful and provide us with a window into your life at Highclere. However, so too does your writing which creates its own word pictures.
Of course, the camera merely uses a lens that delights the eye, whereas your writing invokes the power and wonder of the English language that arouses the reader’s mind. And what an amazing language it is.
By way of just one example, early in today’s blog, you refer to “skirting around” a puddle. What a delightful description; so much richer than merely saying that you avoided a puddle.
One can similarly ‘skirt around’ a town, yet the word ‘skirt’ itself usually means a garment extending down from the waist, worn by women and girls.
So we have a word, when used as a noun has a very different meaning to when it is used as a verb.
Also, as a noun, the word, ‘skirt’, has multiple meanings and usages. For example, there is the colloquial (& undignified) use of the word ‘skirt’ to refer to a woman. It also describes a surface that conceals or protects the wheels or underside of a vehicle. As an adjective, there is a “skirting board”.
Like an artist, the skill of the author is to carefully choose from the rich and colourful palate provided by the English language. And to know when (and when not) to use a word or phrase.
The author must chose the words wisely from his or her knowledge of the language. And there certainly is a different between mere ‘knowledge’ and actual ‘wisdom’. All of which reminds me of the old saying that “knowledge is being aware that a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom rests in not putting it in a fruit salad”.
Last week you referred to an ‘eddy’ of wind. How graceful is the language that captures in one simple word, the movement in a stream of air, water, or other fluid in which the current doubles back on itself causing a miniature whirlwind or whirlpool.
As for your ‘mucking out’ of the stables, I will venture there another day.
Thank you! I chose words very carefully writing “Seasons” Jeffrey – I was even more aware of it..
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
GOOD EVENING MILADY,
VERY WARM IN RIO CLARO ,28°CELSIUS ,16H14M. SPRING.
I’M RETIRED 14TH YEARS . I’M A TEACHER .OF PORTUGUESE AND FRENCH. I LOVE THE SCHOOL BUT HERE MY LIFE IS WONDERFUL, LOVELY ABSOLUTELY STUNNING.
MAYBE SPEAKING THIS ITALIAN : “UN DOLCE FAR NIENTE “. SUN ,SALT AND SEA.
ONE FINE NIGHT MILADY.
RIO CLARO – SP
Dear Lady Carnarvon
I always look forward to your blog (Tuesday for me) and especially love the photographs you include. Lovely yearling, will it be sold or kept? I often wonder what has happened to the horses we bred and sold on, hoping they are all doing well and being well cared for. There is nothing more sad than seeing an animal in poor state because of some inconsiderate person who could not be bothered to properly groom and feed an animal.
Lock down has gone and our state has an 85% vaccination total which is great. People have all realised that getting “the jab” is very important and have stepped up to the plate to get theirs. We no longer have to wear masks outside but precautions are being taken inside shopping venues, restaurants etc. My lovely neighbour told me that it is almost impossible to eat with a mask on! Almost? That lady is a laugh a minute some days and is a wonderful friend.
We have had a very wet spring which is unusual for us and as a consequence everywhere around us is green, flowers are blooming early and already my vegetable patch is looking delicious. I love this time of year when the garden shows me how alive it is by giving glimpses of beautiful things to come and the promise of sweet fruits and plump tomatoes.
Christmas will be upon us soon and this year has simply flown as it seems to do as you get older. When I was a child it seemed an eternity from one Christmas to another but now it goes in the blink of an eye so it seems. I think I am going to start counting backwards from 84 in the hope that I look and feel younger and can experience more of this wonderful life. In the meanwhile I am thinking about buying Christmas presents, what I will cook especially for our few vegetarian friends, who is coming to share with us etc. etc. It is going to be an interesting few weeks and I love every minute of it.
Best wishes to all of our chatters wherever you live. Keep your lovely blogs coming Lady Carnarvon, I do enjoy them and I hope you and Lord Carnarvon are both well.
Thank you Joy, yes time goes faster as time goes on … I cannot quite get my head around Christmas!!!!
It would be such fun to shadow you for a day! That would be a dream come true!
Right now my days are spent in my husband’s hospital room hoping the doctors can find the right answers to his recent very serious drug interaction and letting him come home. I’ve missed reading your blog the past two Monday mornings as we’ve tried to deal calmly with these unusual events.
I am so looking forward to our ‘usual lives’ coming back to the breakfast table soon.
Thanks so much for giving so many people amusing and uplifting things to read!
I am so sorry and wish him and you well!
Martha, praying for events to turn around for you.
Thank you both for your very kind words. He’s 81, and his meds have been changed as of today, Thursday. He is expected to be released today from Duke Univ Hosptal, and I long for Monday to read your next blog sitting at my breakfast table with Steve, reading your next post, and enjoying a cup of coffee! Thanks again, Lady Carnarvon and Jill Huerter!
It’s a beautiful Spring Tuesday here in Kinglake, Victoria and once again I’ve enjoyed your Blog, thank you Lady Carnarvon. I am enjoying staying with some of the family as my lovely husband of 59years has passed to be with his Saviour. Our life has been wonderful and now I am beginning a new and very different life. Perhaps it is time to learn about and enjoy a canine friend, my husband never had time for dogs!
Thank you once again for the fascinating insight into life at Highclere, it is kind of you to share.
Heather Mills, Marysville
Hello from Highclere – I think dogs mean a home and life are never empty….they help us in the down moments..
Heather, you will love your doggie! My husband says that “dogs are happy, goofy little boys in dog suits!”
Best wishes to you in your time of sadness…. My 81 year-old hubby is leaving the hospital after almost a week from a very bad reaction to several drugs….
Hope and peace to you,
I found it interesting that as I was looking at the picture of your beautiful yearling, I commented to my husband how healthy your horse looks! I had not read about your new feed yet haha. So obviously it works! Thanks for always sharing your amazing pictures, they add a brightness to our day.
We are what we eat! Horses too….
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you so much for sharing a day in the life of you. I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey and have always admired the work you are doing to preserve such a wonderful building. One day, i will come and see the place and hope to see you too. Photos are also wonderful, pls keep sharing.
Thank you – it is a team effort…
So beautiful is Highclere in the Autumn! Your photos tempt us to make plans to visit soon. ‘Love seeing the horses, the yearlings, they are beauties as are your dogs. Thank you for such a fun blog to lift our spirits for the coming week!
The yearlings are beautiful!
I am so excited to be visiting in early November with a Viking tour. I do enjoy your blog so this will add to my future enjoyment.
Sincerely Carole from CLT
Thank you – See you in November
It is so wonderful to find each of your days are marked with mayhem, new adventures, unexpected events and just plain fun. It sounds like our home, just on a much grandeur scale. Both of us being retired allows us to have a similar, typical day (well maybe not!). I care for 9 rescued kitties and 3 pugs and one mixed breed small dog. The house is a zoo with some crazy barking or hissing going on all the time. They say cleanliness is next to Godliness, but our house is just a cluttered mix of dog and cat toys, water and feed bowls, pet beds here and there and if we’re lucky reading material for us. My husband tries to play chess but is often interrupted to settle a pet fuss of some sort! Ah, all in a typical day. Thanks for the joy you give us by sharing your personal lives with us!
That sounds noisy!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I love the picture of Hiclere! It looks golden!
I always look forward to you entries. Thank You.
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of one fine day and big fan of Downton abbey and lovely to visit highcelere castle lovely to see Downton abbey 2 film went it out
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of one fine day and got your book they are good and fan of Downton abbey calendars and lovely to visit highcelere castle
Lady Carnarvon, I just finished listening to your latest Podcast #43 with Julian Fellowes. It is truly amazing. So much information about Downton Abbey and Highclere Castle. It is a must hear for everyone. Super! Cheryl
Thank you Cheryl
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of one fine day and lovely to visit highcelere castle and am fan of downtown abbey
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for your Monday blog. As usual it is a good breakfast time read with great pictures accompanying the story. You certainly have a busy day and schedule.
for the coming week, may you accomplish everything you set out to do.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I’m not even a smidgen English; by my maiden name you can probably guess I’m at least half Dutch. I was born American though and ever since I first learned to read roughly sixty-four years ago, I’ve been fascinated with the British Isles. A frankly unapologetic Anglophile!
Your comment about your Labs really resonates with me. I lost my husband three years ago. I live in a village in Lexington, Michigan (tourist town on Lake Huron, busy summers, quiet autumns and winters. My house is very small, about one-hundred years old and obviously nothing like yours! Nonetheless I have a faithful hound half Shepard, half golden Lab. Teddy is my companion now and makes my life and home complete. His coat has absorbed a few tears; dogs are a great help in times of sadness. I’m glad to have this in common with you! A house is only a furnished box without the warmth of a dog.
Thank you for putting it so well