Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Downton Abbey or Highclere Castle: the Seeming and the Real

Britta Huegel


"As Hamish talked, it all seemed very far away - the image of the castle (...) like something remembered from a film at the cinema."
"Death of a Gentle Lady"  M.C.Beaton

Dear You, 
maybe you know the book "Frederick" by Leo Lionni (published in 1967, which I discovered only in 1986 when I read it to our son). It is for very young children and tells the story of some field mice, who work hard to collect hoards for winter, and the mouse Frederick, who doesn't - he collects sun rays, colours and words - "because winter is grey", and he uses them, when the provisions are eaten up, and the mice become discouraged, to give them hope.
It is a wonderful parabel about the insight that not only practicality is useful.

So: Anne and I collected sun rays (and were lucky to find so many) and colours and words.
I will show you a few photos, speaking for themselves:

Three nights at Marco Pierre White's The Carnavon Arms (grade II listed), the former coach house to Highclere Castle:

Britta Huegel

Beautiful landscape: 

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel


The vast gardens of Highclere (The Secret Garden, The Walled Garden, The White Garden etc):

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel



Long, long walks (we were the only ones who walked - everybody else came by car or by bus). Surprises: three times - at different occasions - English women talked to us in German! (Always excited about lovely Munich). We were not allowed to take photos of the rooms in Highclere Castle - but those interested will have seen them in full splendour in 'Downton Abbey'. 

Britta Huegel

Here you see Anne, who is a teacher at a grammar school (English and French): she has four lovely daughters, renovated a huge mill, where she lives with her husband, created a beautiful garden, has now written her thesis on a German poet, owns a marmelade cat - and: 4 sheep! (That was my first idea, as 'Highclere' also found on Rosemary's blog  http://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.de/: I really tried to buy a special English sheep for her - but that was too difficult). Anne and I are often taken as sisters - here she is looking at a piece of art, the sculpture of a sheep's head (one item in The Carnavon Arms). 
We saw Newbury and Hungerford (I spare you lots of photos from there) - then back to London, where Anne left for Germany - and I stayed another 9 days. 



22 comments:

  1. The gardens are lovely, the sheep are pristine, and having a friend mistaken for a sister is a tribute to each of you.

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    1. Dear Joanne,
      thank you for your kind words! The English gardens are always a treat - many years ago Anne and I made a private tour staying in B&Bs announced in "Bed and Breakfast for Garden -Lovers" - also so beautiful!

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  2. Beautiful images Britta ….. I am, at this very moment, watching a documentary with the writer of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, all about another beautiful stately home, Blenheim Palace….. I love anything about these spectacular houses. XXXX

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    1. Dear Jackie,
      thank you! On the above mentioned tour 'Bed&Breakfast for Gardenlovers' Anne and I visited Blenheim Palace too - there I saw the first "Haha", which to that point I only knew through literature.
      By Julian Fellowes I only know the novel "Snobs".

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  3. You came as close as Hungerford to me, and did not visit? Anyway, it all looks very beautiful. Sorry I couldn't come to London.

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    1. Dear Tom,
      due to my (normally well hidden) illiteracy in geography - (I hide it by consequently keeping my mouth shut - a very rare behaviour of mine...), I didn't know that Hungerford was so near to Bath, sorry. We might have made it to the Bell, I think.

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  4. It is wonderful that you were able to spend some time with your dear friend. The sheep look so white in the picture. Out sheep tend to look a dirty off-white.

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    1. Dear Emma,
      thank you. Yes - the sheep were model sheep - Anne told me that they have a quite regular schedule which they follow - we saw them for most of the time lying in the shade under huge cedars.

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  5. Britta: I love your blog and I am now your newest follower.

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    1. Dear JJ,
      I am very glad to welcome you here! I'll put you on my blog list so I will always see the recent post.

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  6. Dear Britta - I am one of those who has never wandered around the grounds, big mistake, as they look charming. The Carnavon Arms must have been a lovely to stay at, was the food good too?
    Anne does look as if she could be your sister - both of you, keep your sun rays close, and let them carry you through the coming winter.
    You could have visited Mrs. Black at the Emporium in Hungerford.

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    1. Dear Rosemary,
      I scrolled through your whole (!) blog archive to find your excellent post about Highclere - couln't find it. You are very welcome when you post it here: it will give my readers deeper insight.
      As to the gardens: they are worth to stroll around, really. And the huge surroundings - a model English landscape - I was happy that I had sneakers on my feet (wanted to write "Plimsoles", thinking of a statue of (another) Mr. Plimsole at the Thames... The food in the Carnavon Arms was - ok. And one should not be surprised that it lies in this wilderness between a quite big street in front (quiet from 10 to 7), and an even bigger one behind.. So: lots and lots of green, but not solitude :-)
      So sorry: I hadn't realized that Mrs. Black has her shop in Hungerford - would have preferred it to the arcade of 'antique' shops (there a lot of things were either to heavy - as the Spode I collect - or to 'young', as many earrings etc).

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    2. I did several posts Britta - do you mean the one I did about Tutankhamun? or Downton?
      This is the Tut one:- http://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/the-curse-of-tutankhamun.html
      The Downton ones were done in January 2014

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    3. Ah - thank you, Rosemary! It was the Tutankhamun post - it gave me the idea for Anne, who is a fan of Downton Abbey. (Remember me announcing the search for a sheep, also on a blogpost of yours? Couldn't get it).

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  7. I wasn't familiar with the story "Frederick," but I love the idea of collecting "impractical" colors, sunshine, and words, and of the comparison between that and what you and your friend did. It sounds (and looks!) like you had a glorious time.

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    1. Dear Susan,
      thank you! The very simple and thus impressively illustrated children book is a wonderful answer to all those people who say the "art" is not as valuable as possessions.
      Yes, we had a wonderful time - we are on the same wavelength, and I think one learns very much about a person when you travel together. (That was my Mom's advice: "Before you marry, travel together - and if he wears a beard, let him shave it off for once." Hahaha).

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  8. My daughter and I used to make 'Frederick' out of construction paper when she was very young! I remember fondly the paper mice we hung on our refrigerator with magnets.

    Thank you for sharing all of these lovely photos, Britta. The landscape looks so verdant and full of health! I love to see it.

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    1. Dear Suze,
      I see it, the paper mouse - she is so sweet! And yes: green it was, everywhere - and the hills so mild, painted against a misty sky, far off, but mellowed with sunshine.

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  9. What a lovely time you had. You remind me, with your collecting sun rays, of Sibelius's diary note that he is "harvesting sunshine and warmth for use in the winter." Beautiful photo of your friend, too.

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    1. Dear Sue,
      thank you! There is a saying of the poet Hans Christian Anderson: "Has you lived your summer well? Then winter will be kind to you." Let's hope it!

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  10. Britta.. I am so happy to have such a well-travelled blog friend...allows me to live vicariously through you! I would have taken you and your friend to be sisters, as well. At first glance, I thought the picture was you! Frederick was a favorite for me and my boy, too. Is their anything better than a child on your lap sharing a wonderful book? Glad you had such a grand trip! Happy weekend...Susan

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    1. Dear Susan,
      thank you so much! Yesterday I remembered reading to our son very vividly: it was his birthday. Now we can wish for grandchildren (though that will still take some time, I think.) It is so nice to be able to read children books again (which I do still now, just for myself :-)

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