Friday, October 30, 2009

Half-term; Halloween and holidays!

The mild weather has given us a very strong half-term week with many visitors enjoying spooky Palace tours; ghostly trails around the Pleasure Gardens and (most spectacularly) the amazing autumnal colours and hues throughout the Park. We hope the dry mild weather will last through to the end of the weekend but the forecast implies rain + gales are on the way - of course they are as the Hoy Family heads off to Cornwall on Saturday for a week's holiday!

On Tuesday we "celebrated" the completion of the extensive works surrounding the Blenheim Dam and Cascade and we had a photocall with the press so that the Duke could thank the contractors/project team and so that we could announce that the area is open again and visitors can complete the walk around the lakeside and see the "new" cascade. I say "celebrated" but that may not really be the most appropriate tag as we have had to sink around one million pounds of our hard earnt money into ensuring compliance with the wonderful Reservoirs Act 1975 - with no government support or grant money available for this world heritage site - shameless! Roger File - our property guru - has led this project with great skill and all of our on-site teams (particularly Chris Keeler and his maintenance team) have supported brilliantly. The area looks fantastic and well worth a visit - and it came in under budget - phew!

Wednesday morning saw a crew from GMTV on site doing some live links from Blenheim Palace to showcase the mild weather and the stunning scenery - well I say 'live links' but it actually became a 'live link' (singular) as any slots between 7am and 8am seemed to get lost in the ether and we ended up doing one extended piece/interview at around 8.40am. Those that saw it say that Blenheim Palace looked amazing - strangely silent about my appearance - maybe it was my wrong side!! Always fun to get a chance to do "live TV".

Yesterday it was over to Broadwell (near Stowe-on-the-Wold) to give a talk to the North Cotswold Probus Club - a mixed "Ladies Day" gathering and a very full room to entertain. I hugely enjoy giving talks to Probus Clubs as the members are almost without exception absolutely charming - and in most cases they have had fascinating careers and they remain very interested and willing to learn/explore new things. Yesterday was no exception as they were a lovely audience but I am kicking myself that I was unable to stay for lunch due to meetings back here at Blenheim Palace as they had a mobile Fish and Chip Van delivering them their lunch. I had to walk out of the Village Hall past the Fish and Chip Van parked up outside to get to my car - the smells, the wafting aroma of fish and chips; the hint of vinegar - yum yum - it did smell delicious! I drove back to Woodstock feeling very very hungry.

And so I need to get my desk and inbox reasonably clear today as we are off down to Cornwall on Saturday morning for a week - bizarrely my girls get two weeks half-term holiday - and we have rented a lovely house on the south coast and a couple of other families from school are joining us - 6 adults and 6 children in total - should be fun! Lots of long walks and sightseeing - hopefully the weather will not be too unkind.

Tomorrow - halloween - is our wedding anniversary! 11 years ago Tracy and I got married and we had a very special day despite the fact that it rained cats + dogs for most of the day!

Here we are and 11 years on and our wedding anniversary again lands on a Saturday - lots of memories from that special day - not least Tracy arriving 30 minutes late for the service because she forgot her flowers and had to go home to get them! Not sure what the vicar thought as Tracy and her father in a vintage car drove into the church car park and (without stopping or saying anything!) drove out again to return to our home to get her flowers - whilst inside a nervous groom plus 200 guests were waiting patiently! The vicar kept his silence but he must have thought "she's done a runner!"

It all ended very happily and we will celebrate tomorrow!

Have a good weekend and I will write again after our short break in Cornwall.

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