Monday morning started bright and early with calls of “happy birthday sunbeam” and a special breakfast of bacon croissants and pancakes with orange juice and coffee. After he’d opened his presents, many of which he hadn’t expected and were different and varied, some edible, some useful and some simply decorative.
When the food was eaten and cleared away we loaded into the car and headed for Castle Howard. It’s somewhere that Dan particularly likes to go so it has become something of an annual family pilgrimage for them, visiting on Dan’s birthday.
We stopped on the way because there was a Koi place and Ted and Dee are big fish fans (4 ponds in the garden big fans!) and couldn’t resist the chance to look around. Dan and I sat in the car and rested a bit. We were pretty tired after all the travelling we’d done over the last few days, so the chance to sit still was always welcome.
We went on and arrived at castle Howard and walked around the gardens before eating. They have posh pigeons there you know? A peacock and a troop of ducks hung around us while we ate. Seats in the area were at a premium and had to be held on to at all costs if you didn’t want to stand! It was quite a warm day and everyone seemed to want to sit and eat outside.
Food eaten and trays left tidy, we went into the house and walked around. I won’t attempt a running commentary, but it was supremely beautiful. High ceilings and staff that were eager to answer questions and talk about the history of a particular painting or object, or talk about the ongoing restoration.
There is very much two feelings that prevail as you walk around the house. The first is that the house is like a phoenix. There was a devastating fire, but the place is being restored to it’s original beauty. The second is that the place is a living, working home. The Howard family still lives there, and the current family photos are dislayed alongside the 250 year old paintings of their ancestors. It didn’t clash at all, oddly enough, it gave just the right feel of “this house is not a monument, its a home and we live in it.”
Having been around the house and seen the hidden jewel that is the Anglican chapel, Dan and I went up to the Temple of the Four Winds. The place is very good, set where it is away from the house up a slope, but I remember thinking that I should really have seen it before I saw the chapel, because the chapel had blown me away.
All that done, we trooped back to the car and made our way home again. Unfortunately, on the journey home one of the most vicious colds ever flared up. had to be very boring and non-glamourous and head straight for bed as soon as we got back to Dan’s.