I spent the day standing in beautifully furnished 17th and 18th Century rooms watching the priceless artifacts and paintings lovingly collected by Baron Ferdinand. Trying to help visitors enjoy their time in this amazing place. It was hot, 28 degrees in the house, and crowded. Outside children were screaming with delight as they ran about, rolled down hills, clambered up the new "Alpine" climbing frame, and tormented their brothers and sisters.
In the courtyard of the Stables at least 3 people fainted in the heat. Chinese tourists photographed absolutely everything in the house, but unfortunately rather rudely barged other visitors out of the way to do so.
At one point I had to stop a Canadian tourist from sitting a tired old Teddy bear on top of the Louis XVI desk and leaning it against a piece of priceless porcelain to hold it up! Teenagers with offensive tee shirts lurked about heads down, 'bored'. One girl had a sugar pink tee shirt that said "See me bitch, Wanna be me ?" she was about 10 years old. Another one just had the slogan "I'm better than U - don't you wanna be me?" She was about 12 years old. What is that all about? I just don't get it. Trying to build self esteem?
To top it all at 4.15 the last of the visitors were still walking round, I was in the West Gallery then, "And who's this by then?" an old lady asked snappily.
"Watteau." I replied. She walked on a bit.
"Who's this by then?" She pointed to a different oil on the wall.
"Pater." I tried to walk back to my station, I wasn't going to walk round the house with her.
"You do know the house closed at 4 o'clock?" I asked.
"Yes. But I like to take my time." She answered.
"What time did you come in?" I asked.
"Three." she said wandering off to ask another House Host "Who's this by then?"
She had walked through three rooms in a hour and fifteen minutes!
I was hot and exhausted and my feet hurt as I walked down through the trees to the staff car park after a very busy and challenging day.
Then I had the most beautiful moment. It was suddenly silent apart from a few birds chattering in the trees. A warm wind blew through the yews, pines and laurels and rustled the leaves of the taller oaks, limes and ashes. I felt the breeze lift my hair, and a beautiful perfume filled the atmosphere, fresh and flowery, mixed with pine fragrance. The trees waved and danced around me, the sky was startingly blue with white fluffy clouds, the world did not stand still. It moved. It reminded me I was alive! I was so lucky to be alive and in that wonderful moment where everything living was moving, the clouds the trees, the birds, and the perfume drifting in the air. I felt young and optimistic again.
Thank you, I said to the world, thank you so much for that gift.
The walk to the staff car park seemed shorter after that.