Vero Beach, Florida was a marvelous place to visit – lovely weather, some incredibly generous, community spirited people and delicious meals including perhaps ironically, one of the most delicious English Sticky Toffee Puddings I have ever tasted.
I am now back at Highclere. As usual I got a particularly warm welcome from all the dogs who are always kind and enthusiastic, even in the early hours of the morning when perhaps one’s family is less so!
They are friendly to all our visitors and I am lucky, since there are so many of them, that they rarely bark except in the excitement of a walk. They love it when the Castle is bustling with people and I am sure they look forward to the film crew who are here on and off for six months at a time. I tend not to allow all the dogs into the main State Rooms at once.
They are a lively bunch and it would not be fair to the film crew to be falling over them all the time. Bella, our old Labrador, is the gentlest and quietest of them and loves being on set because everyone pets her and makes a fuss of her. All three Labradors, (Bella has two sons) are naturally very fond of the catering trucks and the tea station, and play deaf when I call. Andy, Downton’s security man, is used to their wiles and tends to have a pocket full of treats to try to tempt then away, so it is all a good game for them. However, at one point, the two young Labradors stole some cake from a table in the Library during the filming of part of a tea scene. Perfect continuity became difficult and they were not popular additions that day!.
Perhaps less usually they also enjoy playing with other dogs and because they have grown up with lots of friends (dogs) are in fact very social! Paul the Gardener brings his dog to work and he adores one of the Labrador’s endlessly chasing him and leaping up to kiss his nose. Not perhaps my idea of fun but they have a good time.
It is rather sad that Downton’s dog, Isis, died though inevitable, I suppose, given the time line. Maybe though it is a chance for the TV series to bring in a new dog. It’s a nice thought.