Cheltenham Literary Festival and a chance to row

Down to Cheltenham Literary Festival to take part in a panel discussion on the Edwardian Country House with Lucinda Lambton and Dan Cruikshank. It is a most beautiful day and I am a little jealous of the race goers for the opening National Hunt event at Cheltenham race course, but am very well looked after by the Festival and given lunch in the writers room, one of a number of festive tents in Montpellier Gardens. We have a delightful audience of over a thousand, very enthusiastic with lots of good questions – how would these houses have smelt? was my favourite. I enjoy panels because you can’t prepare too hard and it is like a conversation between friends and creates interesting cross-currents. Dan talks about Marsh Court which is a wonderful Lutyens house and Lucinda Lambton about the extraordinary characters of this period – the eccentric millionaires, industrialists and dukes. I think the Edwardian country houses hold a special place in people’s imagination because it was the last era of luxury. On Saturday, up early for more novice rowing training, and arrive by the boathouse to see a glorious sun pouring through mist rising from the frost on Midsummer Common – what a sight!

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