The Scent of Spring
As April approaches everyone here starts to turn their thoughts and efforts towards the Castle’s spring public opening. Josephine Vanessa, the Citroën Van which now acts as a mobile tea room, needs to be cleaned and spruced so that she is ready to offer coffees on the way into the Castle and cocktails whilst waiting for taxis on the way out. She is called Josephine because Napoleon’s desk sits inside the Castle and thus she is the other half and, given she is a van, Vanessa.
Signs need to be found and dusted down: this way in, over there for the exit, coaches, disabled parking, signs for tearooms or the gift shop or over here for the gardens. The theory, of course, is that they were all neatly put away in some shed but naturally are now neither to be easily found nor complete.
Fred has been washing down chairs and tables in the rain and, although cleaner, they are now even wetter and need varnishing. This means they have to dry out for ages so I am not sure how this project is proceeding. Pat Withers and her team have been painting but only have so much time in between the other smaller events we have held here recently and we all have different views of the priorities. By intercepting all emails I find I can usually direct most priorities but occasionally someone gets there before I do and it’s all change.
Stephanie is well ahead. The cut-out colourful hens, bunnies and piglets necessary for our Easter egg hunt are already lying in a pile on her desk ready to plan the Easter Sunday trail and she is now counting out lanyards for the Art and Architecture tours in May. Luis, Jorge and Matthew meanwhile are planning their table configurations in the Coach house for the afternoon teas which is rather like doing a giant jigsaw puzzle each day.
Another white van laden with boxes of all shapes and sizes arrives in the Castle courtyard inevitably for Sally in the gift shop. She has her own sign and arrows but in any case is rather well known to every delivery man. She has also decided to rearrange the shop showcasing old favourites and making room for new lines.
Whilst she is contemplating her themes, I have added a little project I have been developing with a girlfriend: a new perfume. Lucy lives across a few fields from us and has a studio in which she has been creating and searching for the next best scent… the one which captivates in the first moment and develops with layers and notes as you wear it.
I think we often forget some of our other senses so in thrall are we to the sight of a screen or monitor and the beep of a phone. Perfume is about elegance. It may be unseen but it makes the first impression. I clearly remember the image of my mother bending over my bed when a child to kiss me goodnight, smelling of some wonderful scent and wrapped in a glamorous coat before she went for supper with our father. That moment of time never leaves me.
Like me, Lucy has had various careers and interests but over the last few years has created La Maison Hédonïque. Now based here, she creates and sells to a number of shops in London, Paris, and further afield. We thought we would have some fun and the result is two scents. The first is based on musk roses with a dark green edge which stops it being cloying or heavy. Inspired by the old roses in the Peach House in the Monks’ Garden which cascade in colour and scent through the summer, it is close to my heart. We have called this perfume 1793, which is the date of the Carnarvon title. The other one is called LORATÔ. Full of fresh scents like bergamot, lily of the valley, cucumber, fresh grass, a hint of orange blossom and running water, it is summer in a bottle.
The bottles are hand filled with a black velvet and gold lid and come in luxurious black boxes, hand blocked by Lucy in gold. I think they look very chic and rather art deco. I am not sure what visitors will think and we have only made a limited number. Otherwise, I will simply smell delicious for a while and I think they will look very smart on Sally’s shelves.
I can already tell that I will need to expand my budget for my Highclere tour in May! You perfume sounds delightful! I am also very happy to hear of the tea van! Looking forward to seeing your lovely home on March 5th! Happy Spring!
Happy Spring to you too! The sun is out today which gives us all hope.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
HAPPY SPRING FOR YOU AND YOUR STAFF.
MARIA AUGUSTA PINHEIRO VILA ALEMÃ RIO CLARO SP BRAZIL.
And to you too Maria
Good morning. You and I have become a Monday item. Your blog is a tonic and quite a good spark to the day.
I have a suggestion/favor. I would enjoy a tour of the gift shop, all the nooks and crannies. The brief pictures leave me wanting to see around the corner. Then an added tutorial on how a shopper can make purchases with updated lists of wares and prices.
Your “summer themed” perfume sounds wonderful.
Thank you for your consideration.
You can visit the Gift Shop website here https://highclerecastleshop.co.uk/categories/gift-shop
Another lovely sensory description of life on the Highclere estate. Thank you for all the beautiful images!
What is the meaning of LORATO. ?
It means LOVE in Tswana – the language of Botswana
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Is the perfume available to purchase online for the U.S.?
I have been to your lovely home once before and it is now lovingly referred to as my “happy place”. Hoping another trip will be in my future. Thank you for sharing all the goings on via your blog, it helps us stay close to you from afar.
We’ll just have a limited number available in our Castle Gift Shop – you’ll have to come and visit us Rachel!
Lady Carnarvon, I look forward each week to reading your blog. Even from chaos comes order! I’m in Georgia in the states and reading about a different place is so exciting. We are into spring here, which brings more rain and thunderstorms. Blessings to you and your new endeavors. The perfumes sound amazing!
Thank you. They are delightful and very evocative.
I love reading your blog and seeing your beautiful home, Highclere Castle. Love all the pictures of the grounds too! I hope to visit there one day!! Thank you again for such entertaining read! Take care from Ontario Canada ♥️
Thank you Gail
Greetings from West Palm Beach Fl, where the Downton exhibition is closing on the 22nd of this month. I’ve already seen it once and will do so again before it closes shop altogether. I’ve visited your beautiful home in July of 2017 and I was not dissapointed. It was Shelly who said ” if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” what better place to bring in this delightful season than Highclare Castle where new growth bursts into life and nature sings a new song!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
It sounds like Highclere has become a major production house. Last week there was gin and this week we have perfume. How fabulously busy and creative you all are.
On the subject of perfume and flowers (and indeed every part of nature), an appropriate quote from Georges Bernanos comes to mind:
“Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odourless but all together perfume the air.”
And on the subject of quotes and perfume, how can one go past Gabrielle Bonheur (“Coco”) Chanel.
Of course, Chanel’s quotes were directed more to the ladies than to her products – such as:
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”
Probably my favourite and definitely the most astute quote by Chanel that applies to all women is:
“You can be gorgeous at thirty, charming at forty and irresistible for the rest of your life.”
PS If the Van is called “Vanessa”, do you have a car named “Caroline”?
No, but we have a Mitsubishi called Mitsi!
Yesterday, we toured a historic home belonging to one of our Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt’s mother. While it only dates back to the 1830’s that is historic to us here in the states. We learned that many of the same standards for dining at Highclere were performed at this home. Our tour guide was a huge fan of Highclere and is hoping to visit one day. Your American friends love your blog and follow all the activities at Highclere. If we could just do something about this massive ocean between us!!!
I know – sometimes it feels a very long way away, but the flight from New York is only 7 hours.
I am enjoying your weekly blog. It’s beautifully written, and the photographs are marvelous! I liked reading about the gift shop. At this moment, sitting beneath my desk is a lovely blue and green plaid purse that was given to me by my sister after her visit to Highclere. It is very special to me!
I am glad you like it – Sally is so clever with her collections of beautiful items for the gift shop.
Hello! I am that very sister! My time at Highclere in October of 2017 was a highlight of my whirlwind trip around England. Meeting you, Lady Carnarvon, was a delight. The gift shop is a joy. A Christmas ornament I purchased on my visit was broken this past Christmas! I emailed the shop and Sally found the exact one in stock and it is on its way to me. I am so grateful to her.
Sally is great fun to work with and very talented
What a beautiful life you lead. And how amazing it would be to work as part of your staff. Everyone there seems so happy and joyous in their jobs. What an amazing opportunity ❤️
I am very fortunate to work with a wonderful – and on the whole – a very happy team.
Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. It is still cold and dreary in the Midwest with flooding and rain to add to the melting snow. Your lovely blog transports me to a peaceful place. Thank you. Kathy
Spring will soon have sprung in the Midwest too!
Good morning Lady Carnarvon,
Like Laura said (above) – your blog is my Monday morning happy time! I devour every word!
The perfume is a simply marvelous idea! (And much easier for me to pack and take back to the States, instead of the wildflower seeds which will get me reprimanded by customs!)
It’s so much fun reading about your “behind-the-scenes” prep at the Castle. May 12 cannot get here fast enough for me – and I was so delighted to learn that James Stourton will be the speaker. I have his book and look forward to hearing him speak.
Thank you so much for sharing life at Highclere!
Saint Louis Missouri USA
We are all very much looking forward to hearing James talk – we have some marvellous speakers lined up this year.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Good morning from sunny Scottsdale, Arizona.
I’m actually reading your latest blog while working out. Trying to type while balancing on an elliptical machine is quite a challenge – I love to multi-task!
I’m so excited to see the amazing photos you’ve posted on readying the castle for spring – it seems surreal that we actually have tickets to visit Highclere on May 28th! I can almost imagine selecting gifts for my friends! The perfumes sound so lovely I can almost smell them and we can’t wait to have tea in the coach house! Your roses are beautiful !
We look forward to welcoming you to Highclere in May – the gardens will be in abundance by then.
How lovely! We in the middle of the US are still trying to get rid of the Winter’s leftovers- the ugly, dirty snow. You have shown me hope! The field of beautiful white flowers that I can almost smell is just what I needed! Cleaning, painting, and sorting – however frustrating – seems to also be a fact of nature! (And a world wide habit whether we want to do it or not!) Say, do you have a brochure of gift items, I see quite a few very nice things that I would definitely like to purchase if it was possible?
You can visit our online Gift Shop here https://highclerecastleshop.co.uk/categories/gift-shop
I loved the gift shop when we visited Highclere. I would have loved to buy one of everything. Unfortunately we have to travel with one suitcase. And, I was with my husband and he doesn’t linger long in shops.
It was a great visit anyway!
North Carolina, USA
One suitcase is never enough for all the wonderful things we see on our travels, I always fall in love with the fashions when I travel.
Good morning, Lady Carnarvon!
Love reading your blog each Monday morning. So many wonderful stories about history, your home, gardening, your family and staff, your animals….it’s just so interesting in so many ways.
My husband and I live in California and will be making our journey “across the pond” to visit Highclere in May. We already have our tickets for a tour to Highclere on May 28th and are so looking forward to it. We are BIG Downton Abbey fans. Our love for DA plus all the things we’ve learned about Highclere by following your blog will make our visit exceptional, I’m sure.
I enjoyed learning about the new perfumes you will be offering at Highclere.
I have a suggestion. As travelers, we have limited space for what we can bring home in our luggage. We travel light so will only be packing one carry on for 3 weeks in Europe. It would be wonderful to be able to purchase the perfume in smaller amounts, like very small bottles or sample sizes. This would also make it easier for visitors who are flying to get to Highclere to pass through the airport security checkpoints with smaller bottles as any liquids have to be placed in one small, see-through bag.
I understand the packaging requirements for doing this may not be possible at this late date but it would be a welcome addition to your gift shop for those in our situation. I assume you will be have “tester” bottles of each fragrance so guests can smell how it works for them. It’s amazing how one scent can smell so different on different people, and how, as you mentioned, the scent changes over time on the skin as it interacts with the chemistry of each person.
Looking forward to our time in your wonderful home, the estate grounds, and other Downton Abbey filming locations with our tour on May 28th!
We very much look forward to welcoming you to Highclere in May. We just have a limited stock of the perfumes in 30ml bottles, but we shall think about different sizes for future production – thank you.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I will have the pleasure of visiting your lovely home for a Special Tour on June 19th of this year. As added surprise, I will also be attending the Downton Abbey concert! I look forward to the gardens you so eloquently describe in your blog writings. The new perfume sounds splendid. Will I have the opportunity to meet you at either the Special Tour or the concert? I am looking forward to seeing your home and gardens, as I have only seen them on the telephone as I have watched the entire Downton Abbey season recently for the 4th time.
The beauty and renewal Spring brings reminds us all of the hope of new beginnings.
Cheers to you Lady Carnarvon
Heather from California
I shall certainly be at the Concert and I do try to meet all the guests on the special tours if I am here.
One of the happiest moments of our visit to Highclere last May was sipping Pimms purchased from the van as we waited for our bus. The weather was perfect and so was everything about that day! Thank you.
A glass of Pimms on a Summer’s day is one of life’s pleasures! Here’s my recipe https://www.ladycarnarvon.com/recipes/pimms/
Someone posted a picture of Highclere in the British Period facebook group. There were arches and lavender and roses, it looked so beautiful. Too bad I can’t wear perfume, it gives me a headache, but maybe if the scent is subtle, I could. Love all your projects, it shows how creative you are.
You are kind – thank you. The lavender bed is in the Monk’s Garden some of which is 1,000 years old.
Hello From Sunny Florida!
How I enjoyed this weeks blog!!! I always enjoy them, but today struck a cord with me. When you write about England, gift shops, and perfume you have my full attention! Then add Tea and pictures of Spring Flowers and I’m a goner!
My Husband bought a pair of sparkly earrings for me when we visited Highclere the first time. I wore them to an event recently. It was like the wearing of them transported me back to Highclere, if only for a moment. How pleasant that was.
The gift shop is a wonder! How Sally is able to pack such a variety of wonderful things into such a small space is nothing short of a miracle. It never feels cramped or overwhelming. I could spend hours in there , just browsing and feeling very English! I am, in fact, 82% English. Maybe that explains why I feel as if I have returned ‘home’ everytime we set foot in England!
I wear Shalimar Perfume exclusively, (only because it seems to mix well with my chemistry) but I am so eager to experience the new scent. I would love to try it out. As everything you do for Highclere is so well done, I’m certain it must be lovely!
When did the Tea Wagon begin? I do not remember seeing before. How delightful. I use a mobility scooter when we travel, but it would be such a great way to start a visit to Highclere! A perfect cup of Tea ! You think of everything. I admire you and your wonderful team. In my best English accent I say, WELL DONE!!!!! God Bless you, Lady Carnarvon. I feel as if we are friends.
Sue Smith in Englewood, Florida
Thank you for your kind words. We have had Josephine for a couple of years now. She has been completely restored and painted in traditional colours. As well as tea, Josephine also offers delicious cocktails to the adults and soft drinks for the children.
Good Day to you Lady Carnarvon,
I am so looking forward to my 2nd visit/tour/tea at Highclere in May. I was very fortunate to visit in May of 2016. I am returning with a dear friend who has not been to England before. We are so excited to be there! Stay well and many thanks! Leslie
We look forward to welcoming you and your friend to Highclere.
Both perfumes sound elegantly lucious. Please, please offer them in the online gift shop as soon as you ramp up production. Hope the wait is not too long. Thank You! When I hugged my adult niece recently, she shared warm memories of childhood hugs encased in signature scents. One doesn’t always realize the memories created by captivating, complimentary perfumes.
You are absolutely right – they bring back so many memories.
My Monday morning break is such a pleasant time. Here I am with #raspberry tea and freshly showered after my time on the terrace/tiny garden, and enjoying your report. The comments & your responses add to the personality of the cafe experience.
Your wide variety of experiences share with us all the responsibilities and joys of an incredible life. I most appreciate the manner in which you expose the nuts-and-bolts of management of the enterprise/facility and yet still bring the MAGIC out for people to feel in their souls.
You are too kind – we all just do our best.
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
I am so looking forward to our visit to Highclere on June 13th. I am so thrilled that you opened your home for a few dates in June as my husband and I are coming to England (from Canada) for the first time to see our son and his new bride (who live in London) and to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary. What better place to celebrate than at Highclere Castle. I can’t wait to visit the gift shop and perhaps be able to purchase a delightful new perfume. I have my eyes on the Pill Box, as I collect them, but I think a bottle of perfume from my husband as an Anniversary gift would be lovely! June can’t come soon enough! 🙂
I am very glad we are part of your itinerary.
tung oil works better than varnish, does not need sanding & dries to a hard finish. All in all most forgiving application much more so than varnish. Love your blog many thanks, Vince.
Good Afternoon Lady Carnarvon,
Greetings from Boston Massachusetts! I very much enjoy reading of your beautiful home not to mention being a fan of the show Downtown Abbey. I hope some day to visit your most beautiful home. I have admired it and many other beautiful English country estates. Happy Spring and a wish of mine to come true and visit. Warmest Regards Ralph Ronan
Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy Monday morning blogs !
I named my car “Carson” because it takes very good of me, Mary. Just like Carson took care of Lady Mary in Downton.
I’m looking forward to my visit in June, not only to see Highclere in real life but for the chance to meet you too. I love your stories, I love your blog, I love when you post pictures. Thank you for sharing this with us.
I will be at the concert in June, and I can hardly wait for this once in a lifetime experience.
Thanks for sharing! It’s my favorite time of year! I just took pictures of my lavender that is blooming much to my delight!! . It’s so pretty and smells just as beautifully. Take care
Your note reminded me of our visit last year. We sadly missed the refreshments by the gift shop, as they had just closed down, so we dejectedly headed to the parking area. Hooray, “Vanessa” was still open for business and we had a few minutes until the bus left. We enjoyed the Pimms and a lemonade and gazed back at the castle. Just then, a beam of sunlight broke through the clouds and added some special lighting to my favorite scene. It was marvelous. My wife managed to capture it with her camera and we look upon the image fondly. We shall return someday to visit and hopefully re-create the magic in the car park!
Josephine Vanessa is very beguiling !!!!
I am excited to hear about the fragrance and can’t wait to purchase it–of course, I be getting both!! Will it be available online at the gift shop, if not, please indicate whether it will be available else where?
Thank you very much.
I start with enthusiasm and hop it may sell at various point of sales.
How beautiful the flowers at Highclere, Spring is here! You have once again shared the busy life of the castle with all the preparations for the “open house” visits. You and your staff do such wonderful work to make us feel as though we are going home to a most familiar place. It would be great fun to be able to come in May and snatch a bottle of that new perfume, but it is not this year for me. Perhaps the lovely scents will be a big hit and more production will be available come September, or next year even. And though I still plan a second visit to Highclere one day, perhaps the perfumes will be available from the gift shop online soon? All the best of success with this new endeavor!
You are kind – I have learnt so much about scents and their layers of scent and memories or perhaps I start from ignorance!!!
I hope some of the perfume will still be available in July. We are fulfilling a life long dream of mine to visit Great Britain in celebration of our 35th wedding anniversary. Thanks to Viking Cruises, we are visiting Oxford and Highclere Castle as part of our trip!
I look forward to seeing you and thrilled that you might try the perfume!
Dear Lady Carnarvon, I so wish I could spend Easter Sunday with you on the 21st of April. As if Easter isn’t special enough, I also share that birthday with your amazing Queen Elizabeth. Spring here is mostly melting snow and mud so it would be wonderful to visit a lovely green countryside studded with flowers wild or not. Thank you for the dream!
Will the perfume be available in the online gift shop for purchase in dollars and shipment to Tennessee, U.S.A. ??
I have a feeling we need to find a distributor is the USA as we cannot export oils/food or something, more research needed!!!!
I have never seen more than a few moments of Downton Abbey, but I discovered there is a Netflix video about Highclere. It was made a few years ago and your beautiful Arabian mare is featured in it. She was beautiful and I see why you adored her so much. I loved the way she turned her head very slightly away from the cameras, a very ladylike gesture! I am in awe that you only have 20 people working the whole estate. A lot of work for everyone, so I hope your visitors understand the great effort that goes into making them feel at home. Many blessings from an expat in Texas where the Redbuds are blooming… but the tornadoes and hail (the size of cricket balls ) are around. I hope they don’t ruin the Viburnum which is about to flower after two years of hot, dry summers.
Thank you – Viburnums do well here too.
I love spring and fall.
Wish I could sample the new perfume, the scent sounds lovely.
I am an a lover of all things Egyptian also.
Thanks for sharing your behind-the-scenes chores
We were thinking of that time – I have been researching perfumes and how they were created in Ancient Egyptian
Well – another reason to get there in September – a new book and a new perfume. I suppose a smell test by blog doesn’t exist yet!
Best wishes from Sunny Sidmouth.
Good Morning Lady C,
I enjoy reading your blogs and following along with all the busyness of Highclere. Your photos make me wish I was there now but just knowing we will visit this summer is so very exciting!!!
Happy Spring ~
Dear Lady Carnarvorn –
Oh how I love reading your blog . . . it make me so, very happy and sets my imagination in motion. Should I ever decide to runaway, I shall cross the pond and beg to become a member of your staff. After your entry this week I want so badly to poke around the gift shop and admire all the treasures therein. I only hope the shop will be open the day of the Downton Abbey Concert in June. By some stroke of luck, my nieces and I were able to secure tickets to the event. Needless to say, I am over the moon about visiting your lovely estate and attending the concert.
Thank you for once again giving us all a glimpse into life at Highclere. May you have a lovely week.
I hope it will be as lovely on June 22nd as today, it just makes everyone feel good!
Isn’t this exciting? Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson Receives an Honor from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace
Giving names to things, ah! my kind of thing to do too!!!
Seing images of the boutique reminds me that I need to go back to buy cookies!!!!! And now perfume… (c ;
See always a reason to visit…
Salutations and Happy Spring, it is almost here in Montreal!
I am very much looking foward to visiting Montreal
I’m sure you will love it!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Perry and I won’t be visiting you again until September, and I want a bottle of each of your new perfumes! At the risk of creating another American bribery scandal, I’m seriously thinking of trying to entice someone at Highclere to set aside a bottle of 1793 and a bottle of Lorato for me … just kidding.
We read that scent is the first memory creator in a baby and recognition of scent is the last of the five senses to go when one is about to “shuffle off this mortal coil”. I’ve worn the same perfume since our first grandchild was born 10 years ago and all three of them associate that fragrance with me, just as you do with your mother.
Still, I fervently hope there will be a bottle of each of these perfumes available for sale at Highclere in September. Just hide one of each way, way behind some other items on the shelves until we get there …
With even greater anticipation,
I will of course make sure there is a bottle of each scent for you – I too revert to old favourites and then strike off looking a for a new favourite scent. They are made with the best ingredients and perfume not eau de toilette so they last and develop and grow with you- they will be £60 each which I hope is a fair price and with the dollar conversion they look even better!!!!!!!!!!
Mmmmm – how delicious – I LOVE roses and orange blossoms (orange blossom honey is my favorite). I want to order a bottle right now.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I was so impressed by all the hard work being done to make Spring at Highclere Castle so special. It is just amazing how all your efforts are synchronized and it must be gratifying to all to know you have presented Highclere in the very best light for you and all your visitors to enjoy. I was also excited to hear of the new perfume that has been developed by your friend (with your help). It sounds absolutely gorgeous and redolent of the scents of Springtime and Highclere in a way as well.
In all that was mentioned in the blog, I would say it all had the sweet smell of success. Hoorah for all at Highclere!!!
Ann Catherine Flood
The thing is to try, don’t you think?
Lady Carnavon It is always a pleasure to read about the day-to-day or special occasions routines of your magnificent home!I have received your wonderful books recently and after reading and admiring both of them,It is difficult for me to imagine how can you find the time to research and write about the history and the very lively stories of persons related to Highclere…You have indeed a very special talent to captivate your readers around the world!Please,continue writing your Christmas book!As I see, you have many goodhumoured Highclere friends and workers around you,so please enjoy some quiet time,surrounded by the beautiful sceneries,and make your now already faithful readers happy again!I hope to visit you next year and can’t wait to try the castle’s parfums… Thanks for bringing fun,history and nature to our Gomes with your weekly comments!Best wishes from Brazil!
Wow complimenti per le cose meravigliose che fate…prima o poi riuscirò a venire!
Saremo lieti di darti il benvenuto a Highclere.
Happy spring! ! Your new perfume bottle is beautiful. Scents do evoke memories. To this day, I always remember my aunt when I smell lemongrass.
How lovely – thank you