And no one can take that from me! To Busvine I went for a riding habit and much admired my own figure as I turned before the mirror while it was being fitted.
Swallowcliffe Hall 1890: Polly's Story
No garment in the world showed off or gave away a figure like the riding habit of those days. And to Peal and Bartley for boots which must fit perfectly, not showing a wrinkle anywhere. Such bootmakers were geniuses, born not made, and Peal's genius was for the leg of a boot, Bartley's for the foot. I particularly enjoyed the second volume of her memoirs , Remember and Be Glad.
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Through the mists of my shyness I see the pleasing sight of honey-in-the-comb, blackberry jelly and Devonshire cream. I peer into the silver kettle at my distorted reflection to see if my nose is shiny. It is Painfully laboured rough copies left behind by mistake were sometimes found in blotting-books, and it must be admitted that certain hostesses did have the reprehensible habit of entertaining the guests of one party by reading alound unintentionally funny Collinses written by their previous guests.
The family lived in Newnham Grange, a large house on the river Cam. The book is a complete delight. My mother would have told anybody how to do anything: the cook how to skin a rabbit, or the groom how to harness a horse; though of course she had never done, or even observed, these operations herself.
It was an ordinary wire kitchen-strainer, stuffed with antiseptic cotton-wool and tied on like a snout, with elastic over her ears.
In this she would receive her visitors and discuss politics in a hollow voice out of her eucalyptus-scented seclusion, oblivious of the fact that they might be struggling with fits of laughter. The aunts sat huddled in furs in the boats, their heavy hats flapping in the wind. The uncles, in coats and cloaks and mufflers, were wretchedly uncomfortable on the hard, cramped seats, and they hardly even tried to pretend that they were not catching their deaths of cold. But it was still worse when they had to sit down to have tea on the damp, thistly grass near Grantchester Mill.
There were so many miseries which we young ones had never noticed at all: nettles, ants, cow-pats. The tea had been put into bottles wrapped in flannels there were no Thermos flasks then ; and the climax came when it was found that it had all been sugared beforehand. This was an inexpressible calamity. They all hated sugar in their tea.
Besides it was Immoral. I have reproduced the photograph of Gwen aged 12 from this post, with many thanks. So, who have I left out? What would be on your list of favourite memoirs? Well, my dears, the excitement! Last night I went along to the Society of Authors' offices in Drayton Gardens with my friend and fellow writer, Yang-May Ooi, to hear Julian Fellowes who scarcely needs introducing as the man who created Downton Abbey talk about life before and after Downton.
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Look, here we are! It wasn't a dream! Add these to the pan with the chopped or minced garlic, and stir in the sugar, vinegar and salt. Lastly, add the pickling spice tied up in a square of muslin. Fill the warm jars, screwing on the lids when the chutney has cooled, and leave for about 2 - 3 months for the vinegar taste to mellow.
Wednesday, 7 November Taking my mind - and the dog - for a walk. Brockwell Hall, the Georgian house in my local park Just now I'm in the fallow period before starting to write my next Swallowcliffe Hall book: Lady Catherine's Story , in which Kate Vye takes over the running of the Hall when her husband Edward inherits the title on the death of his father.
I'm trying to imagine the dilemmas Kate would face, becoming mistress of a place like Swallowcliffe: her relationship with her fearsome mother-in-law, now exiled to the Dower House maybe even refusing to go? There's also the fact that, after 6 or 7 years of marriage, they still have no children. And always in the background is Edward's charming brother, Rory.
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Has Kate married the wrong man? Does he still love her? Will she ever be happy with the life she has chosen? Because I've written about the Vye family in various periods of history and in fact Kate's ultimate fate is described in Isobel's Story , there are various facts that constrain me - the trick is to throw in a few surprises along the way.
Now I must try to catch Kate's voice and let her speak for herself.
I'd love to know! I don't want them to be cliches. Somehow I must find a way of bringing joy into it. Below Stairs. Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode 2. Margaret Rhodes. The Woman Before Wallis.
Andrew Rose. Anne Edwards. Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode 8.
Hall of Secrets. Cate Campbell. Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode Serving Victoria. Kate Hubbard.
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Real Life Downton Abbey. Jacky Hyams. The Unmarried Mother. Sheila Tofield. Tomorrows Past. Emma Dally. Summerset Abbey: A Bloom in Winter. Benedict Hall. Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode 3. Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode 6. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey. To Marry an English Lord. Gail MacColl. Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode 7. Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode 4. The Benedict Bastard.
Shoes Were For Sunday. Molly Weir. The Housekeeper's Daughter. Rosie Meddon. Polly's Pride. A Future Arrived. Phillip Rock. Tyringham Park. Pengarron's Children. Gloria Cook. The Accidental Empress. Allison Pataki. Four Meals for Fourpence. Grace Foakes. First Women. Kate Andersen Brower. Home is Where the Heart Is. Life in a 17th Century Coffee Shop. David Brandon. Pengarron Pride. Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode 5. All Change. Elizabeth Jane Howard. The Secret of Orchard Cottage.