I wake up early. It is still dark outside. The river Severn which flows past the house is quiet today unlike last year. We didn’t go to bed till quite late and everyone is having a lie in. I wait for a while and go down at around eight. Slowly one by one everyone wakes up and we have a late breakfast.
The sun is out and it is a mild day today but a bit blustery. The plan is to visit Powys castle which is not too far from here. A medieval castle built by a Welsh prince in the thirteenth century as a fortress initially and then over the years the Herbert family improved and added on to it. Edward Clive, Robert Clive’s (Clive of India) son married Henrietta Herbert, Lord Powys’s daughter and became the Earl of Powys. He also worked for the East India Company and was the Governor of Madras. The Clive museum next to the castle houses more than 300 items brought by Robert and Edward Clive from India and the Far East, most thought to be acquired as spoils of war following the Battle of Plassey. Part of Tipu Sultan’s state tent, the bejewelled tiger head finial from his throne, statues of Gods from Southern Indian states including Kerala form part of this bounty.
The eye catching feature as you walk into the castle is the magnificent staircase modelled on the one in the palace of Versailles. It is decorated with Christmas decorations and presents to mark the festive season. We walk around the different rooms and gallery including the State bedroom, the Blue and Oak drawing rooms. The castle contains many treasures including the Pietre dure marble table inlaid with lapis lazuli and semiprecious stones brought from Italy, the twelve caeser Italian busts from the 17th century, portraits etc. Unfortunately we are not allowed to take any photos of the interior. Many royals have visited the castle and stayed here including the Prince of Wales.
We then walk around the formal gardens where evergreen trees are pruned and shaped into symmetrical arrangements. The settings are beautiful. Light decorations illuminate the gardens in the evening now that it is Christmas. Reindeers can be seen on colder days roaming the gardens but not today. We get back and join the others. A warm mulled wine later we head back home.
Back home, Katie and I take Alfie for a walk. It is late and darkness slowly descends as the sun sets. The long walk along the nature reserve path gives us time to catch up. Last time we did this walk Katie was looking forward to doing her elective posting in Sri Lanka and since then she has completed her exams, elective and started her foundation year program as a junior doctor.
We get back in time for dinner to be served. As we are going back tomorrow and not staying for Christmas Day we exchange our Christmas presents after dinner, play boards games and spend a lovely evening with all the family once again. There is so much to look forward to in the coming year. Dan and Lauren are getting married in July. Lakshmi’s great granddad will be turning 80 in February. Lakshmi has been walking around calling Alfie’s name all day, playing with him and feeding him. She will miss him and the rest of the family when we leave tomorrow evening and so will we.