ROSEMARY HARRIS: I'll admit it. I gave a little yelp of delight as our car continued up the long driveway and I caught my first in the flesh look at Highclere Castle, the stately home that is used in the PBS series Downton Abbey. I swear I heard the theme song and expected to see the white dog (Isis) wiggling her way to Lord Grantham's side.
Let me explain. Unexpectedly, my husband needed to go to London for the London Book Fair. I've been to London many times and had no legitimate reason to go - in fact I should have stayed home to cathc up on the tons of work which I still haven't caught up on. And that includes everything from writing to getting the window in my bathroom (which hasn't closed properly for 15 years) fixed. And then there was the sheer joy - sorry honey - of having some time alone. With no one to talk to but the dog. These days that's a real treat for me.
But Downton Abbey's second season had just ended. And on a flight to Dubai in February I watched the entire season again. How would I last until next January when season three is to start? I ordered three books from Amazon including Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey which I enjoyed immensely. There were pictures of Highclere. There really was a Bates (although not a valet.) The lady of the manor really did turn her home into a hospital during WW1. I googled the home. Yes! They did give tours and they were less than 2 hours outside of London. I could take a day trip.
But they were sold out for the day we arrived. And I couldn't leave earlier because mof a work commitment. And that was the last day until June when the house would be open to the public. I emailed four times. No ticket brokers. No packages. No hotel packages. No waiting lists. I was as plucky and as optimistic as one could be in an email. I dropped "the London Book Fair" as if to suggest I was the more famous Rosemary Harris. To no avail. I reported each failure to my husband
And then he surprised me. "I got the tickets. Do you want the house, the gardens and the Egyptian exhibit?"
I was flabbergasted. It wasn't clout or a close personal relationship with Prince William.
He emailed the director with the subject line "A Husband's Plea." He told them it was our anniversary - actually it was the 29th - and all I wanted was to see the place where Downton Abbey was shot. And they said yes! And the director sent us a lovely email saying that they hoped it would make beautiful memories for our celebration!
If you love the show, you will love a visit - I can't wait to go back.
In keeping with the post-WWI time period, today we are giving away a copy of A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd.