This property dates from 1809 and was the family home of Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone
(© Copyright Richard Slessor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)
...and in '95, was home to Dad's friends, Lord and Lady Gladstone.They were closer to my age than my father's and could not have been more mannerly.
I honestly don't recall if they lived in this manse OR the 1800 shooting lodge. It has been 15 years. But, I digress. THE SHOOT. I was instructed on what is proper attire for "the shoot" and had to borrow wellies from a local. Shooting Dress was NOT my look, especially as I was 15 or 20 pounds heavier! Yowsa! But Dad and L. were dashing as ever!!!
I've always been an Anglophile and here I was in my own dream!We met early morning in an "out building." VERY old and plain with an old refectory table laden with coffee and cookies. Sir Gladstone (or "Charles") told us the plan for the day. Tears welled up as I was feeling an outer body thing going on. Out we went...to a sea of Land Rovers. We piled in and the caravan of Rovers drove through the estate, in the midst of the most stunning scenery.
We'd stop and pile out while the men (only) got their guns and walked a ways from us. The "beaters" were out in the forest - the trees, and would "beat" the pheasant out of their safe environment. And the shooting would begin. It was up to the beaters to collect the birds. That phase ended and on we'd go.
Mid-morning we again stopped but now the autos divulged treats for all. I was asked if I'd like consomme "with or without?" Vodka, that is. At 10 a.m.!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I declined.
We returned to the Gladstone ancestral estate, Fasque, for a 4-course luncheon with claret. Caroline Gladstone prepared the meal. She was so down to earth, so gentle and kind.
Tea at 3:30 in a much smaller building. We were seated when the "Head Beater" walked in. I kid you not, said he: "Hear ye, hear ye. 1,025 shots fired, 125 birds." Then The Gang: "Hip, hip, hooray." And toasts were made and drinks went down the hatch.
Everyone retired to their respective hotel rooms until we dressed for dinner and went to Fasque for the finest, most elegant, etiquette-enhanced dining experience I've had. "Sir" Gladstone met us in his kilt holding a board similar to a chess game. On it were tiny silver place card holders. He had spent a lot of time placing each guest at just the perfect spot at table.
Dad and I were next to one another and again...I'm in my dream. It was set magnificently, course after course, wine after wine set before us. In the background was a roaring fire with several labradors lazing around. The perfect movie set or chapter in an Edwardian novel.
As lovely as the trip was, there is no place like home. Texas and my men were waiting and I couldn't wait for them.
(It was a trip of a lifetime and ya know, it pays to journal. I retrieved these details from my scribbles from 15 years ago.)