After a hiatus of several weeks of a long overdue respite from Bangkok, I returned to the place I call home. And, as they say there's no place like home. Perhaps it only takes a break from where you live to remind you of this simple fact.
And it's not that I've been slumming it, with a castle in Scotland and the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane as my British retreats, but it's the small details of what is truly one's own place that one misses, and a reminder of how much thought went into making a place function exactly as you want it to do so.
Scotland provided the call of nature, and London the cultural fix. The above lapis lazuli order of columns are from the Architectural Exhibition Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum, with it's mouth-watering confection of architectural models, amongst the many treasures on display.
More anon, whilst my brain adjusts to the confused signals it is receiving about time.
The Scottish summer has turned rather wintry, and for those of us who do not spend a lot of time these days in cooler climes, it has been a shock to the system. This was exacerbated by the lifeblood of many large country houses being extinguished on Friday afternoon last week. The Aga, (above) went off, and with it the heat that is always a constant throughout the year, and the main source of hob cooking.
Unaware of the exact cause I spent several frantic hours scrabbling around to find the solution, there being no obvious source of information to assist, and those in the know not immediately contactable on their ship in the Baltic.
At least I didn't have to contend with the water arrangements previously in existence in the castle, as detailed in this instruction list for staff in 1920, below.
But it brought out the creative spirit in us as far as cooking is concerned. There are two electric ovens, in other kitchens, and an electric hob in one of the apartments, although the latter at the top of one tower, and therefore not entirely suitable.
But it's amazing what you can cook in an oven, which you wouldn't ordinarily do so: fried eggs!
Happily there have been beautiful summer evenings to take the edge off the incessant rain, and these make for delightful scenery both inside and out, preprandial.
Looking towards the library.
Looking from the library.
A change of pace in store next week, when our summer sojourn takes us to the big smoke.
Well, inglorious if you're a grouse. Happily the sound of guns popping is almost non-existent in this part of Scotland today, and the sport hindered by the moor beetle, which has removed a lot of their habitat, and therefore their numbers.
I'm intending to enjoy the namesake in its liquid form.
Hares, stoats, ducks, deer, pheasants (and probably many more creatures as yet unseen) are making for good companions in this isolated but beautifully quiet corner of the Central Highlands of Scotland. A few noises in the coming days will change all that, but it's blissful whilst it lasts.
It's tempting to extend one's stay beyond the original dates planned, but it's early days, so these decisions are best made when the rose tint has cleared a little. But a change in scenery is so important from time to time, to make one remember the good points of the places in which we live.
This morning's early rain shower has now given way to bright sunshine, so my task for the day of covering the stacked wood logs for the winter fires can be postponed, and I hope not just briefly.