“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?” (A A Milne)
Despite reasonable planning efforts, my list of guests for Sunday lunch in the Castle does not always quite marry up with the “official” Castle list. Likewise the people I think I may have asked, and the friends I actually see enjoying a drink in the Saloon, are sometimes not quite the same.
Luis and his team are always wonderfully supportive of my enthusiasm and my inventive counting, whilst the kitchen team begin by coping well and can then stray (quite understandably) into exasperated chef mode.
The placement becomes a little chaotic; more chairs needed, less available space and children placed much closer together than is altogether wise. I rush around to put the name cards on the table and find I still have more names than places. Luis, our ever optimistic butler and Banqueting Manager, says “Lady C you have two ‘Kits’” which I mishear as “two kids”. “No Luis”, I say firmly, “five children not two” whilst Luis, equally firmly, repeats “Two Kits, Kits!” Luis is, of course, quite right and there is only one ‘Kit’ thank goodness, the other one is extraneous.
My apologetic attempts to shuffle up place settings are kindly appreciated but I am told firmly to go back to my guests. “We can do this Lady C”. I keep apologising, spot yet another person without a name card and rush back into the dining room again. The second ‘Kit’ has now become ‘Tom’ so I leave the place in situ and trot out again.
Luis asks, slightly long suffering, if there might be anyone else as there are now 10 more people than expected so far. I do indeed find two others and we all decide not to tell Chef. I say again how sorry I am as I cannot think how I can be so chaotic.
Sunday Lunch is normally offered “Butler service” but plating the lunch ensures everyone has a portion and is more efficient given the number to be served so we have now moved to that option. Chef has clocked the rapidly increasing numbers and is apparently now in a bit of a state, quite rightly really, but the pork is being carved with utterly delicious crackling and so I steer clear. Geordie remains wholly unaware of the current challenges and asks whether we can go through as it smells delicious. “Nearly” I reply, smiling brightly, hoping that Chef will still be with us tomorrow.
Sunday lunch also includes the red cabbage, roasted beets and yummy cauliflower which were part of my recipe book. In fact that project “At Home” – has been a very good bonding exercise between myself and the kitchen. My “A slice of butter” became a much more professional “50g of butter Lady Carnarvon”, “a glug of oil” became “a tablespoon of oil” and “ a large slurp of wine” was patiently renamed “half a glass of dry white wine” .
Part of my interest in food and cooking is to look at what we can eat to help us stay well and healthy. At this time of year I cook red cabbage with red onion, thus including quercetin as well as other minerals to bolster our immune system as well as giving a lovely warm shot of colour to the plate.
The cauliflower contains many phytochemicals (anti-inflammatory compounds) whilst beetroots are good for blood pressure which I am sure is a useful tonic for my husband.
Wine and water poured, plates delivered and conversation flowing, the lovely bubble of chatter and little faces of my nieces and nephew and other friends sitting under the great van Dyck portrait of Charles 1 – absolute perfection! Then pudding followed by coffee and the disappearance of all semblance of formality. The children are playing tag with Luis, their places abandoned; some friends are scurrying back up to London before the traffic gets bad, whilst others join me for a walk around the garden with my collection of happy, waggy-tailed dogs, the puppies tumbling over in their excitement.
Bella, the Grande Dame of my beloved dogs, takes a rest every few steps and ends up sitting like a white sphinx on the lawn until the walking party returns before meandering back with us for tea.
Oh, how I would love to someday be a guest, or at least a tourist in your beautiful home. My husband and I just finished watching Downton Abbey for the 3rd time. We keep saying, “Golly!”
Cindy! I’m in my 36th viewing of Downton Abbey! I’m addicted! It’s like a favorite book that I can’t get enough of!!♥️
What an absolutely perfect, lovely day you must have had. Delicious food, wonderful company, and a beautiful setting for the entire occasion. I cannot wait to return to your beautiful estate next year. It was the highlight of my 2 week visit this past summer. Thank you for sharing. I love your blog entries 🙂
Wonderful pictures, thank you! My dog and I would wish to be there again!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The luncheon sounds absolutely delicious, and I can hear the laughter after coffee. A walk around the garden with tumbling puppies ties it all together, and your sweet Bella has reached the point of just observing the commotion.
Roasted vegetables, with their beautiful colors and aromas, is a perfect addition to autumn meals, and I love some leftovers as they are quite delicious the next day. I shall look up your recipe! A generosity of spirit guides your guest list, which is why I am quite sure the staff will always be loyal. Plates can be tweaked to serve more, and what is more important? The love of family and friends sharing a delicious meal…albeit somewhat squeezed together!
Thank you, again, for your wonderful writings, and the gorgeous photographs. November is around the corner, with Armistice Day and the holidays merely weeks away. Autumn is in full-bloom here in the northeast US. Have a happy week ahead.
I have been cooking regularly from my copy of “At Home at Highclere”. What a joy and such great fun! Marvellous recipes, stunning photography and intriguing anecdotes, from notable historic visits to the Castle, abound. A Sustaining Book. Well done, Lady Carnarvon: “It just shows what can be done by taking a little trouble,” said Eeyore. “Brains first and then Hard Work.”
Thank you, I am so glad you are enjoying it.
Thank you, Lady Carnarvon
The picture you paint about your Sunday lunch with your words had me laughing.
Your pups are adorable!
What is the picture of the wall of arches? Have you shown it before and I missed it?
It’s very similar to a walkway/breezeway I have on my own home. It’s connected to the now converted washroom playroom, which was once a garage, and goes as far as the front entry. The owner builder/contractor built it in 1975ish.
Here in California, it gives it a look of our California “Missions” motif or a Spanish decor look.
I’m sure your “Arches” have a significant explanation of their beginnings.
That is the monks garden to the south east of the Castle. It dates back to when Highclere was the Palace of the Bishops of Winchester. The Church owned it for some 800 years before my husband’s family acquired it in 1679. We have records dating from 1218 which list 61 fruit trees and the monks would grow medicinal herbs here too.
Lovely account of a pleasant and convivial experience. Thank you for bringing that to the forefront of our consciousness during this time of unrest and upheaval. It was a respite that has brought me a moment of peace. Thank you.
Love your posts. Have to get your cookbook!
I hope you do and that you enjoy cooking from it. You can get it in most good bookshops and of course on Amazon.
Oh my gosh, your descriptions have me imagining I am there! And I love how the formality of the lunch ultimately descends into informal fun and a walk through the grounds. I also found it interesting that you mentioned the pork with crackling…my mother and I visited England in May and learned about how the English roast pork in this fashion so as to create the crackling. It is not something that we knew of doing, although maybe they do in other areas of our country. As always your writing takes me out of my daily grind to a place that is quite lovely. Thanks again for a lovely piece.
Crispy crackling is one of life’s simple pleasures.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
How wonderful for you to share Sunday lunches with us. What fun we have with our loved ones. The puppies look so adorable playing on the grass, so cute and innocent. Sundays are special indeed.
A lovely Sunday afternoon at Highclere… thank you for sharing. And I think that despite the challenges to make sure there is enough food to go around, everyone ended up well satisfied and happy. I hope Chef had a relaxing, (large) glass of wine when luncheon was completed in the kitchen… 😉
Love to read your posts about little and big happenings at the Castle. I hope you, Geordie, and the Castle crew have a great week. Cheers!
There was plenty of food and we then try to use all leftovers which is something I am focusing on in the next book.
Thank You for sharing. Someday I hope to visit your beautiful home and maybe pin a heart on Bella and Alfie. I hope you have some Diabetic food choices for People who are Diabetic. Thanks again and hope to hear from you.
I hope you will visit – some of the Highclere team are diabetic …
We just loved it 😉 S+JL
Good! Ganz toll…xxx
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I am afraid I’d be in the gardens with the dogs both before and after lunch! Could you please have Luis fetch me and serve from one of the dos cocinos? LOL. xo K
Sounds just lovely. Would be even better with accompaniment from my piano playing just quietly in the background. Would love to play at one of your events. Please contact me [email protected] Rachel Burland Piano Teacher/Performer.
I was having an overwhelming morning at work, and your story made me smile. I can picture the chaos going on at the castle, and yes! husbands are usually unaware of how hard wives work to have things go smooth.
You are so right and nor are husbands sympathetic!!
But what was the pudding?
Lemon Meringue Pie and raspberry sorbet (a favourite of my husband’s)
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a lovely, hectic and fun filled day. Love the food pics too!
I am especially enjoying your book, “At Home at Highclere.” I am absolutely addicted to your chocolate pots! Lol
The Woodlands, Texas
What a wonderful Autumn Sunday lunch with family and friends! ‘Love using the recipes in your “Entertaining at Highclere”, and next Sunday must do the “crackling”, mmm and with yummy red cabbage! Your blog is so inspiring, thank you for sharing. So lovely to see the grounds this time of year, and the fun that the pups are having!
Dear Lady Carnarvan,
I so enjoyed your entry today. ….Starting with the photo of your ever so comforting fireplace setting! I love the carpet and chairs and saved the photo to use as a guide in my living room, although our Arizona Casita seems a far stretch from Highclere!
The luncheon, sounds lovely and your descriptions fairly transported us to a bustling kitchen and delicious aromatic offerings and healthy too! I’ll purchase your book with recipes this week.
My husband and I were planning a trip to England this summer and a visit to your estate on the itinerary. Just this morning we determined to postpone another year, so you see your writings must sustain me till then. Many thanks! Oh, the sound of crackling in the oven, especially when roasting leg of lamb, and the scents wafting in the house, a sweet childhood memory.
I so look forward to reading your blogs. Makes one feel welcome and at home in your stories. I have yet to visit Highclere on my trips to England, but one day I shall. Thank you for bringing laughter and love to our lives.
Laughter is key
Great sense of humour
Thank you for sharing both your strengths and vulnerabilities. I’ll take comfort when I do things less than “perfect”, knowing that other women do similar things.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a wonderful picture your words have painted for us to enjoy. How BLESSED are those who are welcomed into your home for a Sunday lunch. How I would love to be with you all!
I had forgotten that the subject of that Van Dyke painting is King Charles I. My ancestors were well known by King Charles I and King Charles II. My 10x Great Grandmother helped smuggle King Charles II out of England and into Paris. The records say she saved his life…I will pay more attention to the painting the next time we visit Highclere! My ancestor is Lady Jane Lane. My maternal Grandmother was a Lane, so it is a direct lineage. How interesting!!!!
I cannot tell you how I look forward to your blog. It is the highlight of my day, and a wonderful way to start the week. This week’s was like being wrapped in a soft, warm blanket! I enjoy your descriptions. I was blessed to meet Luis on one of our visits. He was SO kind to me…he showed such interest in me and my love of Downton Abbey. Please pass on my kindest regards!
Laughing out loud – I can totally see you going back and forth with your staff saying ” We got this”. And your husband being totally unawares of all the goings on behind the scenes. So now I will go out and buy a pork roast and cabbage to come home and cook a wonderful fall dinner – think I will add some apples also….Love your pics of the doggies ALWAYS!!!
I love the apple with it and we have so many apples this year!
Have always enjoyed your articles, but even more now, since visiting Highclere this September. Walking up the path to the Castle, took my breath away. Each room was so warm and cozy. A grand house but lived in and loved. Hope I return some day.
I hope you do too!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
thank you so much for your blogs this did make me chuckle. I have to say the Bailey family seem to have the same issues at Christmas lunch.
Love “you being you!!”
Thank you for your words and sharing your Castle! This may sound hokey, but watching Downton Abbey enriched my marriage.
My Husband and I grew up in different cultures. We grew up in America – I with tea parties and my Mother often hosted events at home; my Husband was raised by Japanese Parents soon after internment. Something about DA, when the two “classes” helped one another and had kind words, “magic” happened in the House. This was special to watch. We especially liked the kitchen and dining room scenes, since we like to cook and bake often friends and family.
I giggled at your post; I am sure your Guests are grateful for your attention. A month ago we accidentally bumped into you while we were visiting; you and your husband were picking flowers. You graciously thanked us for coming and said we should come again. In my opinion, words matter more than details. Thank you!
Such a gracious, welcoming hostess! Your guests are truly blessed indeed!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Your writings seem to come from deep within you and paint such a lovely, peaceful picture of your daily life. My husband and I, our two sons and two dear friends are flying in to see your lovely home on May 6, 2018. It is a dream come true! I am equally excited to view the Egyptian exhibit. I am so pleased that we are able to get tickets. I look forward to finding your latest book in the gift shop and I am praying there will be autographed ones. I just wanted to thank you for allowing us the opportunity to see such a beautiful piece of your heritage. I am forever grateful. God bless you and your family.
The books are all there !
Thank you for sharing. It sounds so perfect.
Like swans but madly paddling underneath!
Dear Lady Carnarvon, this whole picture, reminds me of an episode on Downton, when Lord Grantham was having dinner guests, and Mr Carson, and Mrs Patmore were in a tailspin. Lol. Where is Mrs Hudson when you need her. Smile. So glad everything worked out in the end. Onward to many more brunches. Sincerely Desiree.
You are always full of creative ideas to entertain your guests.
Thanks again for sharing your life at Highclare Castle.
Visited your lovely home with a great tour in Oct. 2012.
What a delightful Sunday for everyone, minus the harried kitchen staff. But, hopefully you were forgiven and now all is well below the stairs.
We had hoped to visit England again next spring while our granddaughter is studying abroad there, but plans change rapidly and now we are not sure. Someday a visit to your beautiful home will hopefully be forthcoming.
I hope you will come – but I also hope Highclere will be here for years to come ..so this year, next year!!
Lady Carnarvon, you have so many varied talents writing, designing, planning meals with health-wise ingredients and cooking. You are surely as asset to Highclere.I enjoy your blogs and picture you there.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I thought Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest!!! Your preparations are a BIT frenetic. However, I know it is all perfect in the end!! Your Sunday lunches sound lovely. Next time, pull up your chair relax and raise your glass and toast another perfect luncheon party. I’d never doubt you, Lady Carnarvon, and your entertaining style is one anyone would love to emulate. After all, a happy host makes for a happy party and it is obvious you love the “controlled chaos!!”
Have fun with your seating plans,
Ann Catherine Flood
It was marginally frenetic..
The lunchin dishes look amazing. I can almost smell how wonderful they must have been. My husband and I just made a rabbit stew in our fireplace last night. I have made numerous recipes from your At Home At Highclere Entertaining Book that I had perchased when we visited last spring. It was just Magical. I feel you should have another book in the making. Have a great evening. BethAnn
The veggie and the pork is mouth-watering!!.. I guess, getting overly excited before an event such as the one you describe is normal: it is a part of wanting everything to go well!!!
I have a question, I have been reading books written by an English author and she uses the word “pudding” a lot which I figured is interchangeable with desert. Is that correct? At first, I thought it was a typo, thinking that they were having pudding desert, but it was used often enough that I thought otherwise.
Thank you for another lovely post.
We would use the word pudding today – not desert – pudding is the (old) English word. Desert is I assume from the French word of the same but of course the menus here were written in French until the 1960’s…
It sounds like great fun. To assist in keeping count, I expect it would be safe to assume that no one would miss the chance to enjoy your hospitality when invited. Every response will be a yes!
There is a funny story in a biography of Julia Child about her dinner parties at home. They would always start out the appropriate size, and she would make a roast chicken, something like that. Then the crowd around the dining room table would grow, and sometimes there would be a huge crowd crammed around the table…but only that one roast chicken. That particular guest said he kept looking hopefully at the kitchen door, hoping another chicken would materialize through it. Anyways, in the end he and everyone went away remembering more the conversation and company around the table instead of the food (although who wouldn’t have minded being treated with a Julia Child feast). Sort of reminds me of your story, although your Luiz must be a master of pulling chickens and roasts out of a hat at the last minute! I’m sure your guests come away with fond memories of your gracious hosting and the conversation around the table, as much as Luiz’s feast!
How lovely – I think, because I grew up in a large family with tables that elongated, we always made allowances for more guests as does everyone here. I do always however like to use up the leftovers and I am working on another book with recipes and stories and one chapter is about what you can do with leftovers, from stews to colcannon…curries, frittatas
I’ve only just now stumbled across your blog and it is utterly delightful! Particularly those adorable puppies. 😉 I am visiting Highclere for the first time this February, and I must pick up your cookbook! I am a lifestyle and food photographer, and my fellow foodie creatives would love to style a meal around your recipes. Than you for sharing!
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
I JUST READ IN ENGLISH YOURS TWO LASTED BOOK BECAUSE IN MY COUNTRY BRAZIL ONLY WAS TRANSLATION THE BOOK ON LADY ALMINA GREAT READING VERY LEARNED CONGRATULATIONS I AM WAITING FOR READING THE NEXT BOOK .
MARIA AUGUSTA PINHEIRO VILA ALEMÃ RIO CLARO SP BRAZIL
Dear Lady Carnarvon
What a wonderful treat for your guests……to spend a day on such a magnificent property. I love the pictures of your home and especially the grounds…..the trees are especially interesting to me. There are some that look to me almost like tamarack? But I can’t really tell. They look like conifers but almost…. not quite…..whatever they are, they are most impressive. How many acres are the lawns? I do hope to travel out there one day to see it in person.
All the best,
Please do come. We have 1,000 acres of parkland which was designed for the 1st Earl of Carnarvon by the famous 18th century landscape garden designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. We have a wide variety of trees including magnificent Cedars of Lebanon along with a more recently planted woodland area with 38 native British trees including beech and oak.
Ah….! Pictures of dogs are always a winner with me! (c ; but food is nice too!
Salutations from cold and raining Montreal on this Halloween day!
We have not had much rain which has been such a treat – so far!
Lady Carnarvon, Thank You once again for sharing your beautiful home with the World! I plan to visit during my next UK trip! ♥️
I look forward to seeing you!
I rember cousin ivy bringing left overs to the farm cats at johnnys i even have a picture of cats ive written on the back after taking photo the cat strached me my dad and tania that wa my sister laughed at me those were the days when you had long wait for photos still also remember lovley fresh milk
I remember collecting lovely fresh milk in Cornwall where we spent our holidays – it tasted different
Yummy! My mouth was watering as I viewed the photos of your Sunday menu, especially that delicious roast! I love your blogs, and would so like to return to Highclere after touring your home a few years ago. I was so in awe just being there I cannot remember the details of each room as our ladies’ group passed through. I only remember going up the stairs and looking down at the view from the balcony. Thank you.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I just went to The Downton Abbey Exhibition two days ago in West Palm Beach, FL and I loved it. I actually got teary upon entering the first room. I felt like I was seeing old friends again and it brought back so many memories. I particularly enjoyed the kitchen display which you aptly describe in your present blog.
Someday I hope to get to Highclere. It has been on my bucket list for so long.
We seem to have visited numerous other large country estates in England, Scotland and Wales over the years but have never been in your neighborhood. Maybe this year.
Many thanks for your humorous writings. I look forward to them so much.