I'm getting back to cycling to work after the cold snap, and it's a real relief to not take the tube in the mornings anymore. I can't quite believe that January has flown by already...
I had another kind invitation to Belvoir Castle from the Duchess of Rutland last month. We are planning a collaboration with Her Grace (that I must keep under wraps for now!) so I brought my designers Stacey and Ruth along too so that they could soak up the atmosphere and take in the immense beauty of the castle. We arrived on a very misty and cold evening so the castle looked very eerie like it was from a horror movie! Actually the film The Haunting was filmed there a few years ago. We were greeted by Harvey who gave us a tour of just a few of the 365 rooms, although some of the wall colours and decorations looked so different in the darkness. After a quick change of clothes and smooth down of the hair we were offered a glass of wine and sat down to dinner with The Duchess. Unfortunately The Duke had been taken ill so it was a shame to not meet him again.
Stacey and Ruth were particularly taken with their rooms, the ceilings must have been nearly 30ft! Stacey slept in a large duck egg blue room which was favoured by the Duke's mother, and Ruth slept in the Brown Room – famous previous occupants of that room include the Beckhams. We were a little spooked by ghost stories after dinner and when I returned to my turquoise room later I was convinced there was something in the bed as one side was warmer than the other – then I noticed the heated blanket!!
We were treated to another tour by Harvey in the morning after a well-needed breakfast. Stacey and Ruth took photos of nearly everything they saw in every room! A favourite was one of the drawing rooms that featured in the film The Young Victoria – the castle is of the same period as Buckingham Palace with most of the buildings dating from the 1800s. Much of the wallpaper in the bedrooms is Chinese painted silk that outdates the rooms: it is thought that some rooms were decorated with paper over 300 years old. It's incredible that such artefacts still exist and in such wonderful condition. The castle is so well-maintained, thanks to the Duchess who has taken over the task of renovating the building and making it into their home. I think one of the greatest things about this castle is the fact that it is lived in – it's a working castle that looks like a museum, yet The Duke and Duchess have a relaxed and refreshing attitude to their duties.
It was such an honour for me and my team to be guests of The Duke and Duchess again and a fabulous opportunity to be inspired! Getting back on the tube to an evening meeting in London that night seemed strange after a night of such luxury!
Email Tim: firstname.lastname@example.org