Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ghost story

Today has been mostly drizzly, what a perfect excuse to lounge in the drawing room, writing, reading and relaxing. There are plenty of options for reclining, comfy squashy sofas, elegant high backed chairs and even a piano stool if so inclined. The fireplace has the extraordinary feature of an eight-sided window cut through the enormously thick wall above it. The chimney is thus split to run either side of the window though sadly this makes it somewhat impractical as a fully-functioning fire thus rendering it more a decorative feature than a warming one. But it is undeniably very striking and the Priory Bay is so toasty warm I wished I'd packed something more spring-like so not be able to light it works for me. As well as heat this country house has a lot if something else, Christmas trees. There is a veritable forest of conifers all decked out in their festive finery, different toning colours for each room. And there are very few pine needles about, either they have obliging trees or else the Christmas tree elves are busy hoovering them away.
I've also learnt to my delight that there's supposed to be a ghost here, the legend goes that a young teenage girl used to run around lamenting of her lost dog. A life-size portrait of her used to hang in the Priory and she was depicted in a blue dress with her favorite King Charles' spaniel at her feet. A dog, possibly hers, had been stuffed and used to reside by the stairs. When many years later new owners (the ones that introduced the eight-sided windows) cleared out some of the old items they didn't require the hauntings began. The newly installed staff were resigning in their droves and on enquiry claimed their desertion was due to the baleful cries of the desperate blue dressed girl bemoaning her missing dog having so very much disturbed them. The new owner keen to not let any more of her faithful retainers slip through her fingers resolved to get to the bottom of the matter and thought the dog might be the key. When the astute American woman managed after placing notice in the paper to eventually track down the moth-eaten dog in an antique shop, the restoration brought peace once more to the Priory. I'm sure her portrait is long gone but there's a black and white photo of the girl and faithful dog in the drawing room. I can't vouch for any evidence of the ghost however!

I didn't feel like lunch after the excess of recent days but fancied a glass of mulled wine and a little savoury something in the afternoon, I didn't really want afternoon tea so had some Duck Liver Parfait with Toasted Walnut Bread and Soused Sultanas instead. The parfait was smooth, rich and velvety and just what the doctor ordered, the walnut bread toast sadly was a tad too dry and just kind of shattered on contact with the knife. I'd had walnut bread at dinner last night and found it verging on hard also, I think I'm missing the straight-from-the-oven bread I've been enjoying recently. But actually, considering my next meal is looming on the horizon (story of my life on this trip, but hey next year can all be about lettuce!), just having the parfait and salad is a wise idea!

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