IN search of butlers and Osbert Lancaster

Had a quick visit to my old friends at Castle Leslie, Co Monaghan and to interview Sammy Leslie about her unrivalled collection of Victorian wcs, for my column in The Field magazine, out next month. It turned into quite a party with friends and neighbours piling in, conversations about ghosts, Afghanistan, nutrition, and one fellow over from Cannes, playing songs on the guitar late into the night; I slept in the bedroom which once formed part of the governess’s flat in the attic, with wonderful views over the lake. Its such a peaceful place and the gardens have been improved and the old billiard room and library restored since I was last here. Sammy has done wonders.

Also called in at Mount Stewart to get a flavour of the place where famous butler Arthur Inch worked as a footman. Torrential rain but the grandeur of the palce and the glamour of the Londonderrys palpable. Back home to work on the servants’ book, making wonderful discoveries all the time – I only wishing I could find a way to be in five different places at once. See my article on Rycote published in Country Life which is gratifying as I enjoyed writing about it and found out one or two new things. See the new watercolour exhibition of paintings from the Cecil Higgins collection in Bedford, some real gems, and catch up with various friends. One of the greatest treat of the week is being asked to preview the Osbert Lancaster show at the Wallace Collection, pure joy: I am in awe of his talent and wit which still seems fresh today.

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