Thank you to everyone who came to Hartland Abbey last Saturday and Sunday and supported our Snowdrop Weekend. We were exhausted but very happy as over 1000 of you turned up with nearly as many dogs of all shapes and sizes; they were the sweetest collection of North Devon (and further) dogs imaginable! If only it was a warmer time of year as a Family Dog Show would be such fun but sitting around watching in February would not necessarily be very comfortable! We also held our inaugural Hartland Abbey Treasure Hunt which had taken ages to plan; I was very worried that it would be chaos with everyone getting lost but it did seem to work and was fun (and hopefully slightly educational)! We had some very worthy winners in Emma and Harry Marshall from Landkey on Saturday and Will and Callum Baker from London on Sunday (photos to follow when I am back from Scotland)! They all looked delighted with their prizes of biscuits and chocolates.
Saturday was such a beautiful day and although Sunday wasn’t sunny, at least it stayed dry after the overnight rain. Sir H announced at breakfast on Sunday, at his most pessimistic with head in hands, that “everyone will get stuck, I will have to push everyone out, I have got a bad back and I won’t get in until midnight; we will just have to shut the gates when the gravel parking is full up and not let any more in”! I pointed out that if people have driven miles to get to Hartland that they would not be very pleased to find the gates shut especially with the cost of petrol so high and in this time of tweeting I doubt anyone would have visited us ever again! By nightfall, when the last car was leaving, only a couple of people had needed pushing and he looked very happy (and relieved)! The grass parking is fine later on but this early in the year the sun hardly gets in the valley to dry it up.
Thank you to everyone who helped out both in the house and outside during the weekend: to Colin and Mick on the gate, to Mary for sustaining us all with non stop coffee, soup and pasties, to her husband, John, and mine for parking everyone and to all our stewards in the house. Also to Carol, Dave, Leighton, Joanna and Nigel for getting the house and garden back into shape after the winter. Also big thanks to all the local media for helping us to get the message out to the big, wide world, your support is hugely appreciated.
Nancy and Sue run our fantastic tearoom in aid of the church and they really did do well keeping everyone well fed; they have wonderful helpers and produce scrumptious home made scones and cakes. This year Sam and Em from Barnstaple brought their barbecue too and cooked up delicious home made burgers and bacon sarnies; the smell was tantalisingly delicious and we hope they will do the same at future events.
What a difference a day makes. Early on Monday I caught an aeroplane up to Edinburgh. I left a cloudy and cold Devon behind only to arrive in Scotland to a warm and sunny day; spring has arrived up here! As I looked out of the aeroplane window I was reminded of our wonderful friends, Les and Maggie Ginger of Kelland Signs, who have always done our signwriting for Hartland Abbey but much more famously make all the Flybe regalia which I could see on the, luckily, working engine! Now I have a few days off visiting our daughter who lives near Peebles; it is such a joy to see the grandchildren and have time with the family. I say “days off” which is a bit of a misnomer but we both feel so lucky to have grandchildren, nine at the last count!
It won’t be long until Daffodil Sunday on 18th March which is always lovely with all the masses of historic daffodils out; this year it falls on Mothering Sunday so hopefully lots of families will come along. We are thinking of having Daffodil Weekend, the Saturday as well as the Sunday, but will keep you posted. We think it is better to spread these events over two days to give people a choice of day (and weather)!
There is so much coming up this spring and summer; all the dates and events are on our website. Our new leaflets will be out soon too. Don’t forget to watch The Antiques Roadshow on Sunday night at 7.30.
Thank you so much for coming here last weekend. Your support is invaluable. Keeping this house going for future generations and for everyone to visit is like painting the Forth Bridge – never ending, but a challenge we relish! Angela Stucley