As you may know from previous blogs, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is my favourite room at Highclere. I can never quite make up my mind so my answer is not always the same. Sometimes I veer in favour of the top of the Tower for the extraordinary views of the Castle looking down onto the surrounding cedar trees and into different landscapes; another answer might be the cosiness of my untidy study with books piled everywhere (it is Geordie’s too but the mess is mine).
An alternative is the peace of having a bath in a huge Victorian enamel bath with masses of hot water and relaxing oils in a high-ceilinged room in a corner tower.Forgetting about the day, my mind wanders and every so often returns with “a bright idea”. The key to bright ideas is to discuss them and to remember that I have two ears, two eyes and one mouth. Thus I should listen, and observe reactions, roughly in the proportion of 5:1, rather than plough on regardless. One bright idea came from contemplating (in my bath) the books in the Library.
Highclere’s Library has about 6,500 books. They have been collected over the centuries, handled, read and absorbed. Even now I might well open a few pages in appreciation of the beauty of the book itself. Sadly, in today’s world, reading has to compete with so many other mediums. Inspiration to read and from reading however can compliment TV programmes and films. Stories and characters step into our lives on the screen.
I’ve watched actors from Downton Abbey practising their lines whilst walking up and down the Castle and how, from that, they became “real” fictional people with whom viewers fell in love, discussed over supper and re-watched. Thus, in this way, the idea of a week of events entitled “From Script to Screen” tripped out of the bath and headed towards the website.
The bright idea became words on a web page. Bubbling away to my husband about my wonderful alliterative skills, he rather more prosaically asks me who is actually speaking? That particular line of “script” resounded with me as Lauren (from our office team) and I set off to gather some wonderful speakers.
I was very lucky and by chance, at a literary festival I sat down next to a fascinating lady with a wonderful story: Shrabani Basu. I had already seen and thoroughly enjoyed the film “Victoria and Abdul”, after all who does not love Judi Dench? Other speakers include Andrew Davies, with a myriad film and TV productions under his belt, and Paula Byrne, celebrated for her work on Jane Austen and the film “Belle” The hit TV series Poldark became de rigeur Sunday evening viewing after Downton Abbey ended. Caroline Lowsley Williams, whose family own Chavenage where part of it was filmed, will be taking us behind the scenes as she welcomed the crew and actors such Aidan Turner, Heida Reed and Eleanor Tomlinson.
Poldark was adapted by an outstanding script writer, Debbie Horsfield, who is joining us on the 23rd May. Nigel McCrery has written a number of crime novels and will be familiar to the fans of the TV series “Silent Witness” which is a favourite of my husband. Sarah Parish has starred in a range of hit TV shows and returns to the screen soon in ITV’s series”Bancroft” and Adrian Lukis will discuss his work (Pride and Prejudice, Peak Practice, Black Mirror, The Crown, Downton Abbey, Toast of London, The Bill and Spooks)
Location manager Sue Quinn worked on all the Harry Potter movies. I met her when a few minutes of “The Legend of Tarzan” was filmed here. On the Saturday Kit Hesketh Harvey will share his talent for words and music before amusing us all in the evening, whilst on Sunday Anne Diamond, who remains one of UK television’s most famous faces, will share her current project in turning a book into TV.
Thus thoughts in the bath have become a week in which to share ideas, books, scripts and TV: a chance to sit down, listen and talk. I always like a good quote and Shakespeare can be relied on to sum it up: “Words without thoughts never to heaven go”. Sinking into a long bath in a lovely home is a bit of heaven and it is amazing what it can produce!