Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Christmas at Highclere . . . .


If you have been following my blog for any length of time you will probably know that I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey.  I can't imagine anyone not liking the show, but I do know that there are some who don't. I am not one of them.  It lives on in re-runs on our telly regularly as, very gratefully, my husband also loves it.  We were both so happy to go and see the new film recently at the Cinema and suffice it to say, this will also be added to our DVD collection of Downton Abbey when it comes out on DVD.  Yes, I am just crazy about anything Downton! 

If I was to write about what I was really thinking and feeling this morning, I am afraid I would bore you to tears.  It is boring me to tears.  So I decided I would write about this most wonderfully thoughtful early Christmas gift sent to me by someone I love.


Christmas at Highclere, by the Countess of Carnavon, the real mistress of Highclere Castle, the original setting for the drama series Downton Abbey.  Oh, I do hope that one day I will get to visit the lovely Highclere in person. It is on my bucket list along with Chatsworth House which is so near and yet, still so far. 

This truly is a beautiful book, filled with lots of recipes and traditions, a behind-the-scenes peek at one of the most famous houses in the world.  I believe the book is due to come out on the 25th October in the US, and I am telling you now, if you are a fan of Downton, you will not want to miss out on it!  Buy it if you can!   Its pure delight!   

From the minute I first opened it's cover I was entranced. It is a cookbook, yet it is so much more than that.  It is a wonderfully magical glimpse into how the "other half" live.  Oh, I did get a huge taste of that when I worked down South at the Manor and I could see many similarities in how things are done when perusing this book, but with a huge difference.  Lady Carnarvon has a bazillion more ounces of class than my ex-boss could ever hope for.  Let's just leave it at that! 

I was intstantly mesmerised  . . .  
"It is late September and I can feel the light changing;
 the lower sun is warming the early autumn colours like a slowly developing photograph." 

In reading this opening sentence of the introduction, I feel as if I could have written it myself.  It sets a beautiful tone for the rest of the book.  This is a cookbook that reads like a novel.  This is the cookbook I had written for my second one, and which I fear now will never see the light of day. Nevermind, I can enjoy this one, and enjoying it I am! 


"Entertaining and cooking hve always been at the heart of family life at
Highclere Castle." 

I have seen the Countesse of Carnavaron on a few documentaries over the last few years and I have always been impressed with the way she handles herself.  She seems like a person I wouldn't mind working for.  This book doesn't seem to me like it has been "Ghost written."  I think it was actually  written by the Countesse herself, which is a lovely thought in and of itself.  And even if it wasn't, it reads like it was and that is enough for me.  


Can you imagine what all goes into decorating a castle such as this for the holidays?  Mind boggling to say the least and it involves a great deal of planning from beginning to execution.  I loved reading the background of how this comes about and also enjoyed seeing photographs of how this comes to pass. 

I know from my experiences working at the Manor, ladies of the Manor do like to create their own floral arrangements. I enjoyed reading about the Countesse creating her wreathes. Can you imagine how much work that is for a building such as Highclere? So much work!  But so beautiful when done. 

Isn't it lovely?  


Interesting as well, the little bits of the history of Highclere castle which are scattered throughout the book, with lists of what gifts were given to whom, the cost of each, etc.  

Of course the main focus of the book is the food.  Food is a very important part of Castle life.  Even in watching Downton we get that impression with much of the show focusing on the kitchens, and the food prep  by Mrs Patmore, Daisy and Ivy, and the serving of it by the footmen, etc. with all of the entertaining and even every day custom that goes on. Food was very important when I worked at the Manor also and I can attest first hand to all the work that goes into preparing the food for any occasion, and especially at the Holiday time of the year.  Not that I am comparing life in a Manor house owned by Americans as to being in any way equal to life working for a Countesse in a Castle.  They are worlds apart, and yet at the same time there is a great deal of similarity, albeit it on a much smaller scale.  I can't wait to get stuck into some of the recipes in this book. 

"Just one letter makes all the difference and tranforms Fast into  Feast." 

There is an abundance of lovely recipes to try at home included in this book. What a thrill to think that I could be creating the same things with my Christmas Dinner leftovers that they will be enjoying at Lady Carnarvon's table! 

I truly cannot wait to "Tuck in!" (a most common turn
of phrase here in the UK!) 

I  just love this book, and I think you will too. I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially if you are a Downton fan. Wouldn't it be fun to do some of this together? 

Many thanks to my sweet friend for sending this to me. I hope she doesn't mind me telling you about it and that I haven't embarassed her in doing so.  It was really most kind of her, but that is her to a "T."  Kind and generous.  Friends truly are family you get to pick for yourself. 

Now on to the boring bit  . . .  I just about died trying to get out of bed this morning.  Seriously. Just raising myself into an upright position wracked my body from head to toe in unbelievable pain. I will never complain about a toothache or anything else ever again.  Yesterday I found myself messaging my next door neighbor in the hopes that she would know where I could get some Marijuana.  She lives with pain daily as she has fibromyalgia.  She gets injections of morphine from her Doctor. She didn't really know where to get Cannibis but she did give me some really strong Cannibus Oil from Holland. Didn't even begin to touch it.  All it did was make me muddle headed for a time. Maybe it takes  a few days to actually do something.  I am embarassed that I resorted to asking someone this, especially where the use of Cannibis is not legal here in the UK,  but that is the depths this experience has lowered me to.  I know that Thursday is only an appointment with a physiotherapist, but maybe she can refer me for an x-ray or a scan or something.  I cannot face living the rest of my life like this.  I really can't.

Nothing new in the kitchen today.  Maybe tomorrow.

A thought to carry with you  . . . 

° * 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
•。★★ 。* 。
° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門 ★

At my age one must
ration one's excitement.
~ The Dowager Countesse of Grantham
•。★★ 。* 。•。★★ 。* 。 

Don't forget

 ═══════════ ღೋƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒღೋ ═══════════ ⊰✿░G░O░D⊰✿⊰L░O░V░E░S⊰✿⊰░Y░O░U░⊰✿
═══════════ ღೋƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒღೋ ═══════════
And I do too!  


  1. What a sweet early gift, how sweet of your friend! Highclere is definitely among the man gems of the grand English houses. How pretty it looks in winter and dressed up for Christmas. I'm not a Downtown fan. I was at the beginning, but after they killed Matthew off, and some other quirks with storylines, we weren't as enthusiastic, though it IS very well done with all the costumes and such--no doubt about that! ;) I'm sooo terribly sorry you're in so much pain! I hope you someone may be able to help you find some better relief soon. It's a pity that in many place marijuana-laced pharmaceuticals aren't allowed, as they do help many people cope with all sorts of dis-ease. It's funny what is cracked down on, and yet what is allowed... :/ Thinking of you, and praying for you, my friend... LOVE YOU!! ((BIG HUGS))

    1. It saddened me when Matthew died as well, but I guess the actor wanted to go on and do other things! You are right, it is funny what is allowed and what isn't. Love and hugs. xoxo

  2. A lovely thoughtful gift indeed..
    It's not easy Marie..and years ago I stopped having any compassion for people who complained of colds or toothaches albeit temporary hell..a toothache can be..in most cases they are cured.
    Once you know hell on earth pain wise..complainers are just a bore.
    True ill health..or true constant pain..is downright awful and no amount of you must look for the silver lining..get up each day w/ a grateful heart..can cure it.
    The pain has to subside to see the sun again.
    I hope someone gets to the issue soon for your relief.

    1. You are right Monique, it is soul degrading. I am not sure how much longer I can cope. But I'll do what I have to do. No, not everything happens for a reason (below) but I do think that we have the capacity to cope with whatever happens, good or bad. Its not what we are handed that counts so much as how we handle what we are handed. I don't think any trouble was ever made better by moaning about it too much. Its okay to have a moan, but then we need to find a solution or a way to live with whatever we have to live with or life just would not be worth living at all. Just my thoughts. Love and hugs, xoxo

  3. Oh..and everything happens for a reason crap? No.I would never say that anymore.

  4. It sounds like that book came at the perfect time. Just when you needed a lift to brighten your day. I will have to look for that book and add it to my collection . I too love Downton Abby and watch it over and over. Hope you begin to get better soon. This is gone on way too long. You need some relief. Praying it's soon!

    1. Thanks Pam! I am hopeful for tomorrow that there will at least be a plan to go forward! xoxo

  5. Long-time reader here. The exact same thing happened to my mother. She had to go on prednisone and Celebrex in order to have any sort of mobility and pain relief. Physical therapy helped quite a bit, too. She did end up in an assisted living facility. I think it's time for the emergency room. Hugs!

    1. Oh my, that is not very encouraging. :-( I certainly don't want to end in an assited living facility if I can help it! xoxo

  6. Hi Marie, I think Melly is right. If you go to emergency, they can't turn you away and they will see how much agony you are in. I loved your delightful review of "Christmas at Highclere Castle". It's a lovely book to read even if you don't make any of the recipes but I have already made one recipe from it - "Fish Pie" on page 304. It made six generous servings for my husband and I. And it tasted every bit as good on the third day as the first. I spent a little over $40 on the fish but that works out to a little over $6.00 each per meal - not too bad. And we had lovely homemade apple crisp for dessert. Your day is winding down, Matie. Are you able to sleep with the pain? Hope so. Prayers and hugs, Elaine

    1. If there are no answers for me tomorrow Elaine, I will go to the Emergency room for sure. I just hate to go because you end up sitting for hours and hours and hours. Last time I went with chest pains and it was still almost 5 hours until I was seen to. Love and hugs. xoxo PS - your meal sounds gorgeous!

  7. Hi Marie~

    I have to agree with all the other readers...it's time to go to the emergency room. In this day and age, there is no reason you should ever have to be in that kind of pain for as long as you have been.

    Your review of, Christmas as Highclere was really beautiful, what an amazing place! Downton Abby is one of my favorite shows, and yes, re-runs are just as good!

    Praying for some relief for you, Marie XOXOXOX

    Hugs and Love,

    1. You would love the book Barb, and thanks so much for the prayers. xoxo

  8. Oh Marie...something dreadful is wrong for you to be in such pain!! I agree...do go to the emergency...take someone with you, hubby if he can do so...it just plain helps them be more concerned if someone is with you!! I am very worried for you!! Please do get some help...maybe next time you are in such pain, call for the ambulance to come get you there...that is also a way to be seen more seriously!!
    Elizabeth with prayers, xoxo

    1. Just waiting on tomorrow Elizabeth and praying for a miracle. Love and hugs, xoxo


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