John Keats ‘To Autumn’ – 1820
Keats’ familiar poem, written in an earlier time and perhaps more agrarian context, nevertheless beautifully sums up the season. The season when the ground is permitted a brief respite before shielding the winter sown seeds from the coming frosts; when the trees shed their summer beauty after a few brief weeks of technicolour splendour and the last of the summer fruit is gathered. The Norfolk beech woods stagger us with their glorious autumnal colour chart and here at Letton, they mingle with oak, sycamore, and horse chestnut to give us a last brilliant display before they finally drop their leaves for good. Here, we have stripped the last of the apples from our ‘moss’d cottage trees’ and harvested the last of our vegetables and the ‘gathering swallows’ have already gone. The garden rakes are out and leaf piles multiply around the grounds. In the evenings, we are often treated to beautiful sunsets, like the one above.
Today, as I write, the brisk westerly wind is doing it’s best to hasten the fall and, despite the chill, the sun is out, low in the sky, casting deep shadows across the surrounding farmland. There we have had our share of ‘full-grown lambs’ too, along with herds of beef cattle. It is quiet here today, no guests expected until tomorrow, but there is a buzz of activity! The season marks a slight change for us – quieter in the week, although still busy at weekends; and gives us an opportunity to attend to some of the practical tasks around the site, that can be difficult to deal with when the buildings are full of guests. (Or to write long overdue posts and update the website!)
The Courtyard has had a facelift in recent weeks as you can see in the image above, with the new paintwork complementing the gutters that were repaired earlier in the year. The builders are in this week to repair the flat roof over the drawing room stage in The Hall. They are rebuilding a section of the garden wall too, where an over-friendly bull leaned on it a little too heavily a few weeks ago!
In the next few weeks we will install the new fire escape staircase at The Stables, having just commissioned the new alarm. We will be working on indoor fire precautions (doors, lighting and signage) during the coming weeks; all part of the ongoing requirements of ever growing legislation aimed at keeping us and our guests safe. A few days with the buildings empty have allowed us to re-fit several windows that have been under repair.
Like most of you I’m sure, we are counting down to Christmas, looking forward to our Carols evening on Thursday 14th December and a short break for the team over the festive season itself. Then, before we know it, winter will be in full fling! Keats wrote in 1820 – and we look forward to all that 2018 has to bring!