Opening my eyes, the early morning light filters through the partially open panelled shutters. As for most of us, each sunrise chases away any lingering worries from the night, reminding us, wherever we live, that it is another day. The birds begin to murmur and then, especially at this time of year, the volume increases with the light as they sing a glad chorus to greet the day.
Sunrise is woven into so many of our cultures and systems of beliefs and thoughts. The bible begins “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light”. In antiquity, the Pharaonic Egyptian sun god Ra captained a boat crewed by gods across the sky. He then had to face the underworld each night in order to re-emerge with the sun the following day. In Norse mythology, Sol is chased across the sky by a wolf – perhaps because in northern climes the sun is rather more fleeting.
Irrespective, whether we look out of the window or admire the hope, lights and colours of this repeated moment in time in works by the great painters – Monet or Turner, Vincent van Gogh or Pissarro for example – sunrise offers a positive renewal in our lives.
Facing south and east in one corner of the Castle is a golden room, the walls hung with antique Italian embroideries whilst the high ornate ceiling is painted with a classical scene of Athena Rising. She is the Greek Goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft and warfare and is shown here surrounded by clouds and light, almost like a sunrise Traditionally she has gleaming bright eyes and sometimes an owl perched on her hand.
Artists and allegorists have long used her as a symbol of freedom and democracy because of her associations and her image is often inherent in the concept of a republic. Thus, a statue of the goddess stands in the centre of the Place de la Revolution in Paris and the statue of Pallas Athena is in front of the Austrian Parliament building in Vienna. Alternatively, if you look up at the sky at night, Athena is associated with an asteroid.
Of course, it is the planet Venus which is associated with sunrise. Venus sometimes appears before the sun in the morning and, given it is one of the brightest objects in the sky, has been known since prehistoric times. It has been a major beacon in human culture for as long as records have existed. Venus references the springtime blossoming of trees and flowers and borrows from her Greek counterpart, Aphrodite. The epithets “smile-loving” or “laughter-loving” are associated with Venus all of which are very welcome after a year in which such things have often been absent. The language and roots of these beliefs live with us today: human emotional hopes and dreams look for the same anchors even if the mechanical means of life and travel are different today.
Thus, last week, from such myths, a ship slipped quietly out of Portsmouth harbour, named for Venus and the new dawn (Viking Venus). It was a huge treat to spend a few hours sailing on her as she was christened. Names are always crucial and the ceremony to welcome her drew on Norwegian traditions and blessings.
Sailing out of Portsmouth was a thrill, passing all the British navy ships and the old buildings, for once last week bathed in sunshine rather than washed in torrential rain. In fact, sailing anywhere was a pleasure. This new ship was taking guests of Viking Cruises around the UK, drawing them back into the world of Cornwall and Poldark before sailing up towards the great northern ports.
Highclere’s main contribution to the launch was to propose a Venus Sunrise cocktail (Highclere Castle gin of course): the colours of the dawn, the promise of holidays and fun and balance, created by Luis, our butler at Highclere.
A gin cocktail, a new perspective, the sound and smell of the sea, the smile loving Venus and the wisdom of Athene. What more could one ask.
Lady Carnarvon, As always your written word on Mondays is so very great. Today though your words really touched me. I do feel like a new person at sunrise. It is for me the starting of a new day. A day to take in new breaths of fresh air. It is new everything. Thank you so much for your words today. It really has made my day, my week. Cheryl
Delightful composition. Thank you. Now I want that cocktail!!
What Beautiful sentiments. We’re it possible, I would send you a photo of this morning’s sunrise with all the glorious color of our new day. God has the most beautiful and inspiring artwork!
Lady Carnarvon l like the pictures of Sun rise thank you for send me the email
How wonderful to be traveling again — and sharing cocktails with friends. Is the Venus Sunrise equal parts of the ingredients?
Viking Venus cocktail ingredients:
50ml Highclere Castle Gin
25ml St Germain Liqueur (an elderflower liqueur which provide the balance to the grapefruit and Campari)
25ml Grapefruit juice
Shake all together with ice, double strain and pour into a martini glass
Serve with a large ball of ice and decorate with peel of grapefruit
I made this cocktail yesterday and it is delicious and very pretty in the sunlight!! Perfect for lounging on a deck, cruising on the waters. (well at least in my mind’s eye for now!)
Lovely words for a lovely day. I love the bits of history in your writings!
Your a good writer and what about a book about what it was like living through the Downton Abbey experience, first hand.
Have you published anything yet?
Well, my grandson needs his breakfast so, have a beautiful day!
A Kindred spirit, lol, I’m not kookie I just love being in nature, it fills my soul.
What a lovely way to start my day here in Illinois! Thank you, Lady Canarvon!
May 24 at 6:48 am
I live in Bolingbrook IL ! This was a great read today.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for your inspiring words, & for sharing your awesome photographs – Venus Sunrise is truly beautiful, how lovely for you to be on board sharing her maiden voyage – please say “cheers” to lovely Luis from me
Wishing you & everyone @ Highclere a very safe happy new week, yours
How can one be in a bad mood when looking at a sunrise? A sunrise to me fills me with gratitude, it is refreshing, it fills me with wonder of what the day will bring and makes my heart happy. A Venus Sunrise cocktail sounds like the perfect exclamation mark on your day!!
Thank you, Lady Carnarvon for you beautiful words! Oh, how I love St. Germain elderflower liqueur and Viking cruises.
As always your written word on Mondays is so very great. Thank you. I can spend all day on your web page.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
My mother used to say, “Things will look better in the morning”, and she was right! The sunrise does chase away the uneasy thoughts of the night before. Gorgeous photos, incredible history, and the glorious return to travel and new experiences….absolutely wonderful. Love the cocktail and Highclere Gin is our family favorite. We have Friday night cocktails with Highclere Gin & it harkens back to your cocktail parties from the Castle during lockdown. A positive tradition started during challenging times.
Thanks so much for another wonderful post, be well, and all good luck!
Charlotte Merriam Cole
Cocktails on a Friday night sound a wonderful idea!
What a wonderful tribute to Venus! Your words inspire and make me seek the dawn. And a Viking Sunrise.
And that music room ceiling is just stunning.
Cheers from sunny New Hampshire, USA
It is beautiful!
When you say “balance” of … in you Venus Sunrise cocktail do you mean equal parts of each listed component? The ingredients sound delicious and I want to make sure I have the correct recipe when we try it at home. I’m also looking forward to a Viking cruise sometime in the near future. We visited Highclere in 2019 and enjoyed every moment!
The recipe is correct and by balance I meant of sweet and sour, the St Germain is a really useful bottle to have as a contrast to in this case Campari and grapefruit
We have our very own gigantic Athena here at the Parthenon in Nashville, TN.
What a joy to be able to cruise a bit! And the Venus sunrise gin cocktail sounds heavenly, refreshing and so perfect for on a cruise. I remember the beautiful painted ceiling in your music room, so Greek! Thank you for starting this week with a very nice “classical” blog. Sending you some summer sunshine.
Highclere is in need of sunshine!
Monday mornings in Texas are special as I sit on my Loggia and read your special gift of writing something beautiful and lovey. I especially enjoyed this morning and envisioned myself on that cruise. Thank you so much for sharing your special gift of writing each Monday. You are a gift to us all. Joyce Coleman
I loved all of the connections and symbols associated with sunrise. It was a lovely and engaging read!
We have beautiful sun rises here in the south Jersey shore in the US. You words spoke to me and I know exactly how you feel because when I stand on the beach watching the sunrise words fail me. Thank you for your Monday mornings.
Thank you and the sound of the waves and sea…
Thank you for another thought Provoking Blog Lady Fiona. Monday is indeed a good day for reflection as we start the new working week.
Beautifully written as always. Absolutely gorgeous picture of the Sun Rise.
Hello from San Francisco,
Aaaaah – how wonderful to have had a few hours on Viking Venus! Your report of sailing out of Portsmouth past Navy ships brings back very fond memories of our last trip there in May 2019. For my 60th birthday we visited your beautiful home. We ended the trip 2 weeks later in Portsmouth. We continue to hold on and dream of returning when travel to UK does not first require a 10 day quarantine. No sunrise visible here this morning. WA state is under low cloud cover and a light drizzle.
The weather is so changeable here rain, sunshine then hail stones!
Can not begin to say how much Highclere Gin is by far the most deliciously crisp. Would love to see how it’s created.
Very best to you, Karen
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
lovely words about sunrise, and if by magic, the sun has just come out! Enjoy your cruise!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a thrill to peacefully sail out of Portsmouth harbor aboard the Viking Venus on her maiden voyage! Quite an experience, I’m sure, and much enjoyed after the isolation and restrictions of the past year. The soothing sound and salty scent of the sea beckon with a fresh new perspective. I wholeheartedly agree; who could ask for more?!
Wishing you lots of sunshine and a week filled with laughter,
As always, thank you for the pictures! It gives us the opportunity to pretend for a moment that we are actually there seeing these things for ourselves. I know for myself it adds to the hope of being there some day soon!! The drink looks refreshing also!!
I can just imagine the fun of sailing on the Viking Venus with the sun, the breeze and a special Highclere gin cocktail-just putting last year behind. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to such adventures again.
I know I need to return, it is a practical approach of Viking to offer us all a chance to sail round Britain thus a holiday but no quarantine!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a treat to read this lovely piece. It’s so rich with life-affirming symbols. Near my bedroom window this Spring, the sun is enthusiastically sung back to life each morning by an insistent robin. Your Venus Sunrise cocktail sounds refreshing. I may need to shake one up this evening before dinner. A wondrous new week to you.
With all possible graces,
James Wells, Toronto, ON
How very kind thank you
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Of all your writings this may be my favorite post! It is simply delightful and so very encouraging. ☀️ Thank you for sharing your prolific talent and life experiences with us. The new cocktail sounds heavenly and I look forward to enjoying one soon. ❤️
Oh my goodness, thank you –
Hope springs in us as we see the sunrise! Beautifully written and touched me masterfully! Thank you Lady Carnarvon! Once again you captured beauty in Creation and your words!!
I so love your blog and look forward to your posts! I would love to come to Highclere one day and also take a Viking cruise and river cruise. All of those are on my bucket list. Your sunrise picture would make a gorgeous cross stitch pattern! Thank you for your blog!
Beautiful , interesting , transporting ,
Each time I read my Monday letter from you Lady Carnarvon
Thank you for sharing pictures
Such a privilege :))
Thank you for the picture of Highclere in the morning, and the beautiful ceiling painting of Venus. We are looking forward to next summer when my husband and I sail, too, from Portsmouth to the Normandy beaches and then back again around southern and western England to Norway to see old Navy installations. I wish we could be on Viking Venus! ANd had your gin to join us. Maybe at sunset!
Thank You, Lady Carnarvon.
I love your deep and colorful reflections.
Love Luis! How nice you were able to “Sail Away” – thanks for making Mondays a great start to the week!!!
It was just for day in my case but longer for all else -but it was magical
I will be emailing the luscious-looking Viking Venus cocktail recipe to everyone who received Highclere Castle gin for Christmas!
One friend’s husband held a post-Christmas gin tasting and Highclere Castle gin won!
I have been “traveling” with Viking Cruises this past year via their newsletters and Viking TV.
Adding Highclere Castle via your weekly newsletters has been such a special addition to my “itinerary”!
Lady Carnarvon l love the sun rise and have lovely long weekend to you and lord Carnarvon
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a wonderful article! And, I will have to make that cocktail!!! Yummy!
Bolingbrook IL USA
Thank you for the history lesson!
I think a bottle of Highclere Gin is going to be my Christmas present to my ninety year old sister who lives in Hadleigh, Suffolk (I live in Kingwood, TX) and enjoys her g and t every night!
I do enjoy your weekly blog, brings back so many memories of the country of my birth.
What a great plan
Thank you for this lovely reminder of how important sunrise is! Also, the lovely remind to look up when you are in a room. When I visited Highclere Castle I didn’t look up enough! I need to return!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Congratulations on the beautiful sunrise cocktail created by Luis? Is there a publication of other recipes featuring Highclere gin?
We are just creating a little booklet which I hope you will enjoy
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
We were supposed to be on the the Viking Venus right now for the Viking Highlands cruise, but due to COVID it was cancelled. At this point we are rebooked for next year June, and any Viking ship would do! How wonderful that you were able to sail on her maiden voyage. I’m looking forward to sampling Highclere gin cocktail, even though I am not a gin drinker, on our cruise next year. Haha Cheers!
My dear Lady Carnarvon,
Wonderful and glorious way to start the day with a sunrise!!
Whether on land or at sea.
And adding Venus to it!
Thank you for sharing.
Phyllis Simpson, USA
Lady Carnarvon, I found a quote by Jhiess Krieg on the beauty of sunrise that I would like to share with you. ” Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone’s day”. It is short but so meaningful. Cheryl
Lovely quote thank you Cheryl
Lovely reading for a Monday! Your words are always calming and joyful. I may have to try that cocktail…for our cocktail hour in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Cheers!
Lady Carnarvon and like sun rise pictures and have never come to highcelere castle visit and have a lovely spring bank holiday nice long weekend
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
At this late date, I enjoyed reading your Monday blog. Great pictures, especially the Castle’s Music Room ceiling! (Incidentally, I watched your Instagram last weekend, and saw it there, too).
Thank you for the art history lesson and the gin cocktail recipe. Might give the drink a try this coming Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Until next week, Cheers.
your writings inspire! i am bringing 10 ladies from Yakima WA. for the Movie and Magic day on Sept. 11. All Downton fans and they are all so excited to meet you and see your home. it will be a true dream come true for us all!!!!! thank you for always being positive and sharing your life!!!! You are a true lady in all ways!!!
Oh my goodness – what fun! I will see you then