Watching and Waiting
The group of horses silently pricked up their ears, their bodies and gaze focused on something they had seen in the far distance. They stood quietly watching and I followed their eyes, trying to see what had alerted them. They were quite calm however, and whatever had concerned them did not initiate a decision leading to flight so, in a few minutes, they dropped their heads and began to graze again.
Animals tend to spend a lot of time watching, listening, observing and waiting, their patience usually infinitely greater than ours. Much of the last year so many of us have had to learn to watch and wait and it has often not been easy.
We have not merely had to wait at home but have had to put much of our mental and social activity into hibernation. Curiously enough, in earlier centuries, people in northern climes stayed “local” in the winter, lacking the modern comforts to go out “whatever the weather”. However, a series of festivals from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Epiphany, St Hilary’s Day and Candlemas, for example, were social reasons to celebrate and ensured that everyone was busy. Our hibernation this past winter has been somewhat stricter.
Last Spring, the weather was glorious and we all biked and walked with gusto, observing the exquisite details of spring. During this third lockdown such enthusiasm is waning, perhaps not least because the weather keeps us trapped inside more. Life has seemed smaller and almost certainly more sedentary.
We probably all have been watching more television – I know I have been. For me, some of the most engaging programmes have been those created by Sir David Attenborough. In order to gather the necessary footage, the cameramen must spend a huge amount of time simply watching and waiting for the right moment. Highclere was lucky to welcome one of the key members of his team, cameraman Gavin Thurston, to share some of his stories on our media here just after he published his book “Journeys in the Wild”.
It contains a wealth of stories. For example, he describes going into an African forest and, unable to see anything amongst all the greenery, his guide, however, would point out what was there. Slowly, over a few days, his eyes and brain acclimatised and became able to see what was really there all along. In order to bring us the documentary, he had to train himself to sit, still and silent, for however long it would take to get the shot he wanted, for the animals to feel safe enough to act naturally.
Most of us have tried to be patient this past year but it has been, and remains, challenging. In between it all we are bombarded with news. We wait for news, seek out news, compare figures and, depending on our personalities, find it upsetting or resign ourselves to it. Now, at long last, it does seem as if the world is beginning to turn a corner and that there is a hope that life might resume once more. It will be interesting to look back and perhaps consider what we might have done differently.
Watching animals, they are always ready to anticipate danger but otherwise they stay calm. If they are unsure they prefer to be safe rather than sorry. In most cases they need to be fit and they often work as a team.
In the early days of the first lockdown we took heart and succour from nature and we could probably learn a lesson or two from her along the way too. There is sometimes a value to watching observing and waiting which it would be good to remember.
I am not sure where to ask a question for your Friday session of questions and answers, but I thought I would ask here. Would you consider doing a quirky corner in the servants quarters? How was their living situation? What were their work hours? Where did they come from? What was their salary? Thanks!
Oh I would love to know this also. Photos from back in the day?
Absolutely fine to ask on this platform
I would enjoy that as well. I love hearing about the castle and life there. Things seem to be improving in England now. I do hope you can get back to normal life soon. You’ve had a terrible time over there. Warm wishes
Thank you Marilyn
It is my understanding that people consequently focuses or as my grandfather used to say”What are you studying?” When I would sit and look out at nature for a period of time. I think sometimes people are living too fast. I love to listen and wait when I’m in nature.
Have you or your groundskeepers embraced “rewilding” the property to invite new species like beavers to inhabit it? Love your videos and podcasts. Thank you! Ellen
We have been offering space to animals and nature for the past 18 years
Dear Lady Carnarvon, thank you for another brilliant blog – I agree with you 100% about staying safe & observing & being patient – even though I sometimes feel like screaming & climbing the walls! Thank God for Netflix, I’ve watched films & Series for hours on end, taking me out of my lonely solitude & escaping into other peoples lives. Stay well & safe & I send good wishes to you & everyone at Highclere….I’m working on coming back there as soon as we’re allowed to travel!
Yours, Caroline x
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
You raise a very important point- to learn from the lessons of challenge. From restrictions to additional lockdowns, our patience has been greatly challenged. Two steps forward, one step back at times. Nature has the ability to bring us back to what’s important if we are open to the lessons. Watching and waiting with compassion and kindness, and patience. Life lessons.
In time, the vaccines should free us to a more normal world. Until then, as we turn the corner, I hope that you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy. Thank you for your beautiful photos and writings.
Charlotte Merriam Cole
Your writing is exquisite. Reading it is like listening to a fine piece of music. Thank you for sharing your world with us.
I would love to learn more about the staff. Were the Downton Abbey stories about the servants accurate? Thank you, Celeste Carrasquillo for the terrific idea.
I will add this to my list of questions for Friday
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I’ve been so enjoying all your videos. The grace with which you speak is mesmerizing. I love your beautiful dogs and horses.
My question is, have you ever considered opening the castle to limited overnight guests and/or afternoon tea, or dinner.
Thank you for your reply.
We have two lodges (London Lodge & Grotto) on the grounds that guest can stay.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
your horses are lovely, I liked Ollie on your Instagram post this morning. Just a few more months hopefully, and as the weather gets warmer we will be able to get out and back to normal. Despite it all, I really do think that every cloud has a silver lining, and that we will have learned some long lasting and meaningful lessons from this experience. To appreciate more, and as you describe, to have more patience and appreciation for the beauty around us. In particular to appreciate the freedom to be able to visit wonderful places(such as Highclere, and I’m nearly out of gin, lol). It has been amazing seeing all the posts and blogs, and I hope that they continue after real life resumes.
Lady Carnarvon, your story today in so many parts of it was like it was me. Patience, watching and waiting for more news, something uplifting maybe. Something not mentioned by you, going to the frig for an extra snack! I am no Twiggy! I can see that little bit of light coming through and I must be patient for it to arrive. With Best Wishes, Cheryl
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What you have written today is true on many levels. It was nearly a year ago that everything it seemed was shut down instantly because of Covid, but the coming of spring made it easier for an outdoor activity, especially walking, to become a social activity within a family group.
The new shutdown (in the Chicago suburbs) last fall was necessary. Now that we are in the last days of winter, with an accumulation of snow on the ground and a series of days below freezing temperatures, we are in the doldrums of February.
I like the way meteorologists refer to “meteorological spring” as starting on March 1. It makes it easier for them to compare records from year to year, but I enjoy knowing that spring is a little closer.
Excellent thoughts! So true for all of us no matter where we live! Thank you, Lady Carnarvon!
Stephen from Mississippi, USA
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Very good advice. Our animal friends can teach us a lot and help us through the most difficult of times. “We have to help each other keep going.” Lord Grantham
Thanks for your encouragement. With all best wishes for a safe and healthy year.
All best wishes to you and your family!
Thank you for your glimpse into life at Highclere. If I had to be locked down, I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be but I am sorry that you have to go through that again. As I watch some of my favorite TV shows from Britain and Australia on PBS in the States, I can’t help but wonder about how my favorite actors are also doing through all of this. I am fortunate to live in Iowa in the US, where we do not have the population density like some of the States, and our governor decided to take the road less traveled by doing as little to intrude on life as possible, while still maintaining safety, so we in Iowa were never mandated to stay home and, except for a brief period when things got bad, mask requirements were left up to individual businesses and restaurants and churches were closed for about 6 weeks, then were allowed to open with capacity requirements which have now been removed. That is not the case in a lot of states and our governor has gotten her share of criticism from those who wanted more restrictions, but as of now, our rate is low and we are getting vaccines. The trip we had planned last year to Scotland and England, is again scheduled for July, so fingers crossed that this will pass for you as well and soon. I am guessing we will be wearing masks for a while, but I miss getting to visit your lovely country.
Thanks for another well-timed reminder to take advantage of the beauty of our natural world, and to give thanks for the Covid vaccine from the experts of science. We have so much to look forward to in both worlds, but nature and its wonders will always fascinate us as well as our intuitive animal friends. Another thoughtful look at our world. Thanks.
Beautiful, patient and quiet horses, and light through the Cedar of Lebanon! Just wonderful images to observe and reflect upon this Monday, thank you for yet another fabulous blog. May you and all at Highclere be well and stay safe until we turn-the-corner!
Stay save too!
I so enjoy your blog, but this one really hit home. I believe we have lost touch with nature, and what a teacher she is!
Thank you, for reminding each of us that there are lessons to be learned in every season of our life.
Hello from Minnesota,
So happy to have found your Blog! Thank you for sharing the beauty of your surroundings.
Where do I find the Friday questions/answers?
On my Instagram Highclere_castle or send them to my blog
I’m vaguely remembering that there are “Cocktail Zoom” chats relating to Highclere Gin, which, by the way, is incredibly delicious. If I’m correct about the Zoom chats, would you please kindly share the links so that one may participate? Thank you very much.
John on my Instagram highclere_castle
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of Highclere Castle and grounds
Hello Lady Carnarvon
Reading some of the replies re servants, I think that life at Downton Abbey for the servants would be most accurate considering that Alistair Bruce was on hand to advise on historical accuracies etc.
Would recommend to all, to view the DVD Bonus features. Hope the movie sequel makes progress.
Yes, animals and birds do sense danger, especially the birds should a storm or earthquake is anticipated.
Nice to be fishing on the river bank and then see a young deer stroll along unknown that I am opposite The joy of seeing a robin on the fishing rod is delightful and given some food, a short friendship follows. This time of the year, plenty of snowdrops and daffodils to enjoy.
Fishing is just not about catching fish but just being there adds to the experience.
Perhaps your horses were spooked when your lost mobile phone started to ring!
Carry on Highclere.
and when Downton Abbey stories got told
Thank you for reminding us that this pandemic is touching all corners of the world and that we need to draw comfort in the things of nature.
Your thoughtful and thought-provoking blog this morning reminded me of my German grandmother, or “Oma,” who spoke no English. While she was the dearest woman ever, her constant admonishment to me was “sei Geduld,” or “be patient.” Things have come full circle since
“sei Geduld” has become my mantra with our grandchildren. Thank you for bringing back a wonderful memory today.
Lady Carnarvon where Downton Abbey stories and had the picnic in the grounds
I have seen pictures of your personal riding horse. He/she looks a lot like a horse I once had, Sweet Sahara, Sahara was an Egyptian Arab and had a similar coloring. Do you have riding tours at the castle? That would be one thing that would definitely interest me (and others).
Dear Lady Carnarvon
A very interesting blog and I agree patience has been very much a virtue in recent months. I met Brendan Coyle a while back and found him very engaging, I had to confess at the time to not having seen DA. My husband and I have now watched the whole series twice over since the pandemic hit and it has given great escapism in these very dark winter months. It is encouraging to look at the first signs of spring slowly rear its head telling us all to remain calm and enjoy the new life coming through. May I ask please were the Labradors used in Downton your dogs? They looked very ‘at home’.
Thank you for all your interesting blogs/instagram coffee breaks. They are just what we all need.
No, my dogs never appeared on the Downton set
Monday greetings Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you again for another insightful blog. Agree, Sir David Attenborough is such a gift to us all. So much of nature can be beautiful and a means of relief during stressful times when Mother Nature cooperates. When the two collide it can be a very challenging element of life. So grateful March is only days away as then Spring will soon follow. Winter here in the States has been so consistently devastating & challenging both for humans and all grazing animals. Both groups are experiencing devastating loss on top of the challenges of the pandemic. Glad there is hope going forward given vaccinations going out. Patience is the key to getting through these challenging times.
KBO just seems to be rolling around in my brain again and again when I start to feel that this Pandemic will never end. Could be my Grandparents came through not only WWI ( grandfather on both sides sent to France) & then both Grandparents/ Parents came through the Great Depression/ WWII as both observers and participants. So their lesson was we could come through anything. So like you in a way we find ourselves waiting in anticipation of Spring – To really get down in the dirt in cleaning out along with planting. Walks to renew our spirit. I love your blogs and the fact that we are all a bit alike. Have a lovely week.
What a lovely post today- thoughtful and instructive. And that tree with the light steaming through it is stunning!
I’d be curious to know more about your horses- we’ve seen Olie and the adorable Shetland. It looks like there’s another big horse in the first photo. Are these working/ riding horses or rather pets? I can see that they’re pets regardless and that you love them and it’s reciprocal.
Thank you for another brilliant blog.
Lady Carnarvon l like the grounds of Highclere Castle my favourite tv was Downton Abbey l love history
What beautiful, soulful writing Lady Carnarvon – You have such a talent and inspire so many people!
Indeed we can all learn a lot from our friends, the animals, about watching, listening and observing.
Warmest Wishes to you and your family
My Great grandmother worked on an estate in England and I would love to know more about how she lived and worked. Upstairs/ Downstairs and Downton Abby have given me a glimpse but I’d love to have your perspective .
So beautifully written Lady Carnarvon. Have you written any books? If not, you should. I absolutely loved reading this.
Hope you and your family are well and safe.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
GOOD EVENING MILADY,
VERY WARM IN RIO CLARO-35°CELCIUS- 13H38M
IN MY COLLEGE YEARS THE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS WAS AND IS VERY FAR FROM THE CITY LIMITS IN THE FARM FIELDS AND THE SUNSET IN THE WINTERS OF BRAZIL ARE WONDERFUL AND I REMENBERING IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY AND I SAT QUIETLY WAITING FOR THE SUNSET TO PHOTOGRAPH IT IN ALL ITS SPLENDOR. I STILL HAVE THE PHOTOS 42 YEARS AFTER THE REPORTED FACT AND EVEN TODAY LIVING IN AN OLD VILLAGE FAR FROM THE COMMERCIAL CENTER OF THE CITY I AM LIKE THE ANIMALS WATCHING, HEARING, FEELING,SMELING THE FLOWERS AND THE DEWY GRASS TO FEEL GOOD INSIDE HER HABITAT. IN PEACE AND IN HARMONY WITH THE ENVIRONMENT.
RIO CLARO – SP
Thanks for reminding us of the need for patience. We Americans are known for a lack of it. This forced patience has renewed the essence of life. Horses seem to intrinsically know that.
Wonderful reminder of the most productive method to get through this Pandemic time. I’ve just survived another disaster in Texas: “TexasDeepFreeze”. This is the 1st blog I’ve had time/access to read in months, it seems. Best wishes for continued good health and safe environment for everyone at Highclere.
Staying safe & waiting on Vaccination #2. Very much done with Disasters!
Celebrated my father’s Yarhzeit on Zoom. Very different than previous years. Everything’s different.
Dear Lady Carnarvon, thank you once again for the beautiful pictures and the beautiful words you put with them. We are all in the February doldrums but I know I am very fortunate to live in Florida where we can enjoy warm days and be outside without layers of warm clothes.
Your very thoughtful words help us all to take a step back and ponder the way animals are so tuned into any sign of an intruder be it good or bad.
Whilst lockdown is a major disruption in all our lives wherever we live it does let us ‘ come up for air ‘ and just stop and watch, away from the demands of our ‘ normal’ lives. I have actually enjoyed it and seen things that I would normally have just gone by but now I see the whales out to sea, the pelicans flying in formation looking for lunch or a snack, the sandpipers playing chicken with the waves and so much more.
Taking a slow break from our crazy world is so up lifting as is your blog which keeps me going every monday with plenty to think about through my week. Thank you for painting with words I love it as apparently so do many many others.
My only grumpy thing is it makes me a tad homesick but as always I will move on and enjoy all the nature around me although not a fan of the snakes!
Here’s to lockdown going away and us all getting out and about again even if we have to make fashion statements with our masks !
Dear Lady Carnarvon
“Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, Seldom in a woman and never in a man”. I cannot quite agree with that old adage because I believe we have all had to learn patience during the pandemic. Some of us have learned the virtue of patience whilst some of us are struggling with it, watching and waiting for better days ahead.
Here in Australia whilst we have had a few lockdowns of late mostly because of incoming travellers, in New South Wales we have not had a case for 35 days and we are starting to roll out the Covid Vaccine as of last week. Our front line workers (nurses, doctors, police officers, the armed forces) and aged people are the first to get the jab followed by workers necessary to keep the country running. I will bare my arm willingly to get my dose and be thankful that I have weathered the storm.
There is always someone who has to go against the tide and we have had a few demonstrations by people who say they are being “forced” to have something they don’t agree with!!! I am flabbergasted that people could be so stupid to refuse the vaccine and as for being “forced”……hello……..get real…..nobody forces Australians to do anything.
I love your photos of Highclere seen through the mist and I have watched animals stop grazing and become inquisitive then head down and eat again. It is like watching sixth sense in action and sometimes on the farm we have had good cause to take note of their behaviour.
Last day of summer here today so you must be coming out of winter. Stay safe and keep watching and waiting I think Covid could be on the run 🙂 God Bless our chat family one and all 🙂
Thank you so much!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Splendid observation and will be taking a moment to look closely at nature through her eyes. The photos above are stunning as well. I have recently finished both of your books and loved them! Hoping and praying we are able to see Highclere Castle this August as booked with our Viking River Cruise ❤️ Do you ever do book signings ?
Hello – thank you – yes I do sign books ..
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The picture of your horses reminded me of horseback riding as a child. As for TV watching, you got it in one! My husband and I just finished binge-watching “Silent Witness,” and are working through “Midsomer Murders.” To give a break from the dark side, we are watching “All Creatures Great and Small.” What do you and your husband like to watch?
My husband is more “forensic” that I – a good story is the key
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Watching, waiting and being patient has surely been a central part of our lives this year. I must be honest and say that my patience is beginning to wear thin. I have been watching “nature” and have noticed changes that are evident of spring being around the corner here in North Carolina. If it would only stop raining, I could get out in the garden and begin to ready the soil for all the new shoots that are rearing their heads.
Your posts here and on instagram have made the waiting more bearable. Thank you for your constant communication with all of us.
Have a good day,
I agree I think all our patience is wearing thin!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I don’t have horses but I do have a lovely cat, Sir Tobias Fassnidge, aged 17 years old, as old as me, that keeps me company now that my son is back in the UK to do a PHD at Edinburgh University. We came to live in Chile in the 90’s and my dear husband died here, so here is where I am now, still working remotely for a law firm where my English comes handy. And Tobias too, just like your horses, looks at me with infinite pondering, so wise, and is alert when I cry a little, and comes closer to comfort me when I feel a bit lonely. We are beginning the vaccination process and we only are 17 million people, so we might get there before the UK, but people are so desperate to go out. Not me, it has been a curious time for self-introspection and love. And observing the world. And a few months ago, I decided not to watch the news, or maybe only twice a week. And surround myself with lovely music, silence sometimes, and Tobias company. Very peaceful indeed. So now, like your horses, I will put my head down to graze again, in a manner of speaking so…thank you for your words.
How nice to be able to read your Blog again!
We have had only sporadic electrical service for the last week, due to the unprecedented Polar Vortex in Texas With temperatures of -2 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, it surely helps one appreciate the basics of life.
May it improve soon for you – hope you are ok
Lady Carnarvon, you are an inspiration to me. The way you put words to paper and your calming videos have a very special way about them. Thank you so much. Cheryl
You are very kind Cheryl
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for your on-point Monday blog and the great photographs. Simply stated, I agree with you.
What breed are the horses? In addition to you riding them, are they shown in any events?
I hope to have some time this evening to online search for the book “Journeys in the Wild”.
May your forward plans for re-opening become a reality sooner than later.
Until next week, stay healthy.
The only way that I have and continue to be patient during this turmetilious ( excuse me for the spelling)time is to watch videos of how people are dealing with this craziness. They make me laugh really hard, which is good for the soul and mental status. Most of all I enjoy spending more time with my Red Heeler aka Australian cattle dog. She makes me laugh,as well as brings peace to me and my husband. Because we’ve had animals throughout our growing up,as well as during our 21 years of marriage. We know how vital it is to have animals around your house.
Please don’t stop writing your blogs, as I enjoy reading them.
This weekend on Masterpiece Theater we saw (after many years) the Agatha Christie mystery, “4:50 from Paddington,” from the series starring Geraldine McEwen as Miss Marple, filmed in 2003-4. What a pleasure it was to recognize the Highclere saloon and grand staircase as the key interior setting. Though the exteriors they used were elsewhere, the combination worked well. Highclere played its role very well! We delighted being in a familiar setting! Thanks for sharing Highclere with us all in so many ways. (We have snowdrops now peeking through this week’s snow in Pennsylvania.)
Good Morning Lady Carnarvon
I thought I must tell how much I am enjoying Lady Almina I started reading having finished Rosina Harrison’s book about her life as Lady Astor’s Lady’s Maid.
Last year we staying with some lovely people in hills above LA and their 18 year old Daughter was made about Jane Austin and in her own modern way was living how she thought she would have lived today. She also adored Downtown I have able to recommend your books to her.
She was very pretty, sweet and gentile her mother was a lovely painter and her father was a session musician and had played on so my classic pop songs of the 70’s /80’s .
I do hope all is well with you and your family, her in very wind battered Cornwall we are making the most of a Very Quite half term.
With Very Kindest Regards
Its comforting to know we are all in the same “boat”. If you get Netflix there is a great series Locke & Key – hopefully you will enjoy it! Thanks again for another thoughtful blog – take care, Chrissy
Dear Lady Carnarvon, My note comes from across the pond, America. Again, apologies for my tardiness. This website you have created is remarkable, enjoyable, a positive distraction from the grey of the day. You might find me late to the Downton Abbey Party as I only just started the TV series a little over a month ago for the first time. I am in love and so much so I bought a few books found on your website and look forward to further indulgences. I have to admit I watch at least 4 episodes a day and can honestly admit every character is a favorite. During our lockdown watching & waiting is the exact way to describe time. I started a hobby of bird watching and learned the best birdhouses for the yard and their delicate pleasures. We are coming into the tail end of Winter and can’t wait to enjoy the sea, the warmth, & the new books. Stay well & thanks again.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I decided to hold your Blog for a couple of days before reading. I am glad I did as I feel like you in so many ways that this year has been trying, to say the least, and yet there is now Hope that our trying times may be coming to an end. For myself it starts with the fact that Today I will get my 1st Jab of the Corona Vaccine. This at least gives me tremendous hope that in 2022 I can again travel. Let alone being able to see the Family. Thank you for the beautiful Blog.
Lady Carnarvon, I found a quote by Louie Schwartzberg about Nature. Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude. Thank you Lady Carnarvon. With Kind Regards, Cheryl.
Lady Carnarvon, with your days being so very busy, I hope you are getting some restful time for you. Walks with your dogs must be such a joy, being outside with them and nature it must be so peaceful. I wish for you excellent health. I send you my sincere appreciation for all what you do for your admirers. Cheryl
Hello Lady Carnarvon, Is there a waiting list to stay overnight in one of your lodges . I am so looking forward to a visit to your beautiful home .
With kind regards Linda .L
You can book on line – not all the dates are published as we are transferring guests !!! Do have a look and do email