The cedars of Lebanon look magnificent and statuesque in winter: evergreen branches stretching against the stark brown trunks and branches, dusted with frost or snow. They are fascinating to photograph. They do not grow as tall in their original land of Lebanon where there is less water. There are also pockets of the cedars in Syria. It is easy to forget the higher cold plateaus of land in Syria, the snows cloaking the land and trees as they are doing now.

The catastrophe in Syria can be masked by the big political debates, but it is essentially a crisis for its people: for all of those fearing danger and without homes. At this time of year they face cold and hunger and many are grieving for those who have died. Trying to help Oxfam and Dubai Cares, we have just auctioned the chance to stay at Highclere. The money raised by this apolitical charity will help a little bit – paying for 58 families for 3 months.

We are lucky, we get to fly back to our families, hot food, Christmas and Downton Abbey on the TV. The depth of this crisis and challenging times faced by Syria provide us all with some sobering reflection.