What is a weekend then?
Far removed from the decorous characters elegantly reclining on the sofas of Downton Abbey, weekends at the Castle tend to be a whirlwind of activity, rushing around madly in several directions all at once. Saturday was its usual busy self but Sunday was particularly special. It began at 7:30am with the set up for the 10km Highclere run in aid of Multiple Sclerosis.
We have hosted this for perhaps 12 years and it is a great community event. As well as firing the starting gun, my husband usually runs in it as well, although in recent years this decision tends to be made on the day, followed by grumbles about how stiff he is the next day! I prefer cycling or riding so it’s an easy decision for me to opt out but I was delighted to hand out the prizes. The best one was to an 84 year old man who completed what is really quite a tough course, with a fair number of ups and downs, in only 1hr 10minutes which was amazing. However, congratulations should go to everyone who took part and for a very good cause.
Afterwards I took Geordie back home, finished cooking lunch for the 15 people we had as guests that day and then got ready for our annual puppy party. This consists of various friends arriving with their yellow Labradors, the sons and daughters of our bitch Bella (they are now 3 years old) along with the recent cocker spaniel puppies and their new owners. Trying to get all the dogs to sit and stay posed for a photograph proved impossible but hilarious. Watching the owners lined up in a row all begging their dogs to sit almost made a better photograph than the dogs themselves. Meanwhile, Winnie the spaniel (who has previously been commended in this blog for being the naughtiest dog) hoovered up the cucumber sandwiches. My sister Lucy’s dog Peggy was found with her paws and her nose delicately sniffing out and tasting some pate, three of the Labradors took an executive decision and headed off to play elsewhere and the Labrador owners realised that none of them could recognise their own dog, so alike are they to each other.
I took the opportunity of the party to launch the latest of the children’s illustrated little books about the dogs that live at Dogton Abbey. This one is called Afternoon Tea which I wrote for fun in conjunction with Karine Hagen and Viking River Cruises who give any profits from them to their education foundation. It has the sweetest illustrations and recipes for tea… scones, cucumber sandwiches and gingerbread, with Paul, our chef here at Highclere, taking the lead role in the narrative.
It was an exhausting but enormously good fun day. The good news was that not much tea was left over and everyone left with the correct dog.
Lady C….looked like a fantastic opportunity for a good family get together. …..hope all enjoyed their day…
What an amazing and fun-packed weekend.
And that was just one day of the weekend!
Also, congratulations to you, your husband, Ms Hagen l, Viking and all involved in your many charitable endeavours. You all are very inspiring individuals and deserve to be commended for your efforts.
Also, the sheer joy you conveyed in your blog has left a broad smile on my face. (Hopefully it will still be there after Australia plays England in tomorrow’s Rugby World Cup match.)
Best wishes to all for a wonderful weekend.
Ps which side were you on in the Rugby ????
Loved the puppy party! What fun! Just curious as to when/where we can buy ‘Afternoon Tea’? Will it be available online in your shop soon?
Love your blog and very much look forward to each post from here in NC in the USA!
Wondering the same thing!
I am sure The Afternoon Tea book is available from the gift shop – if not yet on-line, please do email [email protected]stle.co.uk – and they will forward it to Sally in the gift shop. The next one is out for Christmas. All the illustrations take some but are charming! We have tested the recipes!!!
Now that’s a “dogged” weekend! How wonderful that Highclere has such events, like the run for Ms, etc. Bravos to all who make all your events and projects so inspiring. ‘Love the photos of all the “pups”…and I, too, am hoping to order your Dogton Abbey boekies…who does the fun illustrations? Still smiling after reading your heart-warming blog!
Suzy Jane Tanner does the illustrations and came down for the party – she has a great feel for it all.
Oh how I wish I could have been there. I have the same question as Mary about your Afternoon Tea book. Will it be available soon? I have a number of friends that are Downton and dog fans and I would like to give it as a little gift.
I look forward to timing another trip to England to coincide with your opening hours, I didn’t have much chance to spend time in the gardens on my last visit and your like to wander about a bit.
Thank you for sharing all the interesting events that take place at your home.
Dogton Abbey! What an adorable children’s book idea.
My interest in modern castle life grows daily and I enjoy your posts very much. I’m planning a visit to the area next month. The surrounding area sounds equally charming!
Sometimes a day that “goes to the dogs” can be a very happy and exciting time. I, like Mary, would be interested in the “Dogton Abby” books. I would share them with my Granddaughter’s 1st grade class of disadvantaged children, some of which have no family or home life.
Thank you – that is the aim. I am doing the ones around home and Karine explores the world. We thoroughly enjoy it, it is oddly restful in busy worlds
I am not seeing any of the Dogton Abbey children’s books listed when I click on the Gift Shop. The latest book, Afternoon Tea, looks REALLY CUTE! How does a person purchase one, especially a person having access to dollars, not pounds?
looks like a great bit of fun. you should think about having a puppy run for charity, with the winnings going to your favorite animal charity. think how cute the contestants would be. you could call it the dog’s of Downton to the rescue. cannot wait until the next update. Desiree.
I think that would be wonderfully chaotic!
Looks like a lot of fun had by all. I hope I will be able to purchase your books for our library. I will check in the castle’s gift shop when I finish my letter to you. Good for Lord Carnarvan, running a marathon! I hate running! I’m with you, give me a horse or a bicycle, preferably in that order! I bet the dogs and puppies had a great time…it seems to me you run a “marathon” every day, especially weekends….one of my favorite phrases from Downton Abbey..”What is a weekend?” Have you ever had the chance to speak with Dame Maggie? I think she’s one of the greatest actresses ever!!
Maggie Smith is a great actress -I agree with you.
PS I thought I might ride the 10km run on a horse and see what time I could do it in.
What a fun time! I commend your works of charity, especially the book, Afternoon Tea! So funny to read about all the dogs doing their own thing, especially the comment about the Labradors! What a beautiful setting for a wonderful day! I too am curious about where to purchase Afternoon Tea. Aside from the engaging story I also has recipes! What fun!!
The book is here and I will check up on the web site – easy to post!
I just love your blogs – it always puts a smile on my face, and today I was laughing out loud! So much going on in the world and you and your people are making such a great contribution – my kind of people! Keep on trucking on….
Loved the story about the puppy party. My yellow lab, Bailey, had a 1st Birthday party with her litter mates. It was also pretty hysterical. Your story made me laugh and brought back memories of Bailey’s big day. Can I purchase the books from the US? They sound wonderful.
Your comment about leaving with the correct dogs made me smile. 🙂
Your blogs about your dogs are always so entertaining and delightful. We love all of the photos of those wonderful dogs. Yes, many of us are wondering how we can purchase the Dogton Abbey books, especially Afternoon Tea?
I will definitely be buying the puppy book during our next cruise on Viking. We saw the books about the bears on our Danube Waltz cruise. They are darling.
What a busy and fun time you all had and what a worthy charity to help. We had animal blessings this weekend where I live. I was out for my walk at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and saw groups of people all going in the same direction with their dogs. They were on their way to the Church for their dogs (and other animals) to be blessed. A lot of the dogs had on their Saturday best kerchiefs and looked so cute. One black lab was bucking and straining on his leash I expected his owner to put a saddle on him to try to break him. I met many nice furry friends Saturday who were more then willing to be petted and slobber on my hand!
What a wonderful weekend indeed!
Our area generously supports MS with a two day bicycle ride.
Last April the riders and donors raised over $20.3 million .
Can’t wait to read Dogton Abbey!!
Have another wonderful weekend!
I would like to order the Book of Afternnoon tea with the Dogs at Dogton Abbey.
I did not find it on the giftshop website.
Thanks! Martha Teague