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Cheered by saucepan and potatoes

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A saucepan - jolly good fun!



Are you well? Time has been racing on this month and I’m afraid what with the kitchen garden to dig over and plant up (I directed from the sidelines, of course, as Seth and Pierre worked up a healthy perspiration!) and Lord S’s ‘safari car boot sale’ in the drive (I insisted he reduce the antlers per room as we were losing far too many guests to stag horn snaggings on new cashmere twin sets, let alone the near miss Ethel had last month!). Golly! So the long and short of it is I’ve been rather out of touch!

Pick me up Pan

Anyway, all these comings and goings have had me rather worn out of late and I’ve been in need of a little pick me up – gone are the days when a champagne cocktail and rubber of bridge would do! No my dears, what I really needed was a new saucepan. I know some you may gasp with incredulity that a Lady should care for such a domestic related item but apart from the beautiful aesthetics of a new saucepan, I’m comforted knowing my vegtables have been boiled by Daisy in quality kitchenware.

So I nipped over to a wonderful little hardware shop I know in the next village and although they were rather shocked to see gentry in a functional place of retail business, they welcomed me wholeheartedly and I even allowed them to offer me a Woodbine which I graciously accepted. After choosing the saucepan I instantly felt cheered and decided to hurry home and tell the maids the finest way of cooking potatoes! (Which I will also share with you).

Boiling Ladies

The finest way of cooking potatoes
First of all choose a decent tuber, my absolute favourite will always be Lady Christl potatoes, not only because they are fabulous tasting all-rounder, but because Lady C was a good chum of mine at school –  she always let me copy her french homework so I would have time to muck out the stables of daddy’s racing horse (and chat to the stable boys!). Such a sweetie. Anyway she was lucky enough to have a vegetable named after her which is something others can only dream of.

Now, if you can’t get hold of any Lady C’s just ensure you instruct your maid (or cook) to choose potatoes that have a consistency that will suit your final dish. For a light and fluffy topping of, say, a fish pie use a starchy Russet or if you a enjoy firm shape, choose a waxy tuber such as a Charlotte or a Nicola (I’d love to say these were Lady Christl’s children but no relation I’m afraid). No peeling necessary for the lovely new pots so simply ask the maid to give them a good swill and pop them into your favourite saucepan with a pinch or two of salt. Bring to the boil, simmer until tender (about 10 minutes) and drain. As soon as they are done, smother with butter and pour a cold glass of Chablis. Send the maid outside to bring in the laundry and eat standing up admiring your saucepan.

Righty ho, must dash, Ethel is remonstrating Daisy for left-handed dusting – I really must send her on ‘Diversity awareness for your live in help’!

Toodle loo

Lady W xx


Non-functional gift from finishing school

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Is anyone's bottom that small?

Dearest Sweet Friends,

There has been the most frightful squabbles between the maids this week, I even had to temporarily demote Ethel from head mangler to laundry folder (and had to out source the mangling! Such a cost these days!). I’ve relocated Daisy to dusting dried flowers in the East wing all week as I can’t trust those two together for the time being (such an embarrassment to have Eton Mess as dessert on one’s dinner party menu to have it usurped by a maids scrum in the kitchen – which was most certainly a mess, although nothing Etonians would be proud of, Ethel is still picking meringue out of her hair). It turns out that Ethel is hopping mad as she “swores blind” that Daisy was “oogling” her husband at last Sunday’s ‘ Family Afternoon for the staff’ at the Manor. Daisy, of course, denies all such allegations and said she “would rather lay down with an otter that’s been dead a month and a day” than share a haystack with him, which of course didn’t go down to well for all to hear in the dining room, even over my extra loud cutlery clattering!

 Ladies who lunch
Anyway,  social standing slightly bruised I decided to nip out quietly yesterday for a spot of late luncheon with Henry Chuffington-Shaw’s niece, Merlot, such a lovely girl who is just back from a finishing school in Switzerland so is without pals at present. She was looking so fresh and fabulous I almost felt rather stuffy in my tweed suit and turquoise tights with cats on, but then I remembered I’m a style icon and can wear what I like, so relaxed and tucked in to my caviar soup starter.

Or a maid's evening cap?

Functional gift?
Well, being such a darling, she gave me a little gift (probably as mark of respect) of a pair of silky undergarments! I was rather taken a back at such a bold gift, but of course deeply flattered that she should think I would cavort about in such items! I hasten to say that I have since donned the garment in question and can safely say no cavorting will be actioned. Although they are exquisitely pretty and would no doubt whizz up to make a nice eye mask, I’m sure she has given me ‘non functioning’ underwear by mistake! I queried Merlot on this and she said “Lady W, just pop them on for a few seconds at the end of your anniversary evening and then whip them off once the lights are off!” Well, I had to have a double homemade Sloe Gin shot to recover from that suggestion, I haven’t mentioned it to Lord S yet, he’s only just recovered from witnessing Ethel’s upper thigh when she took a plunge in the hall carrying a blumonge in to the larder and slipped on a glace cherry (health hazard!). So the silky bloomers are functioning after all – but just no good for a ladies indoor champion bowls night!

Anyway, must dash the bantams have escaped into Seth’s shed and Lord S is rather over reacting with the 12 bore!

 Much love as always

Lady W xx


Shoes can send you to the top of the class!

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These can change your IQ!

Dear Chumlets,

Goodness me how delightful, it’s been raining sunbeams this week! I noticed Daisy dawdling between jobs so I kindly requested her to organise my wordrobe ready for the Spring season (it was her monthly 2 hours off but didn’t think she’d mind) and she found some frightful old exercise outfits! Good Lord! They hadn’t seen the light of day since I was courting Lord S, I think he still wears his (he insists on playing in the under 30’s lacross team just to test the validity his recent face lift, I’ve told him his bald patch will give him away, but you know how determined our boys can be!).

Jog on!
Anyway, as I rather overdid it on the fondant fancies at Lady Rutherstone’s feather display dance last week, in addition to my usual brisk walk in the grounds with the black lab, Rudolph, I decided to don the sweat bands and trot around the lower woods! Lord S wasn’t too impressed at the time versus distance but in fact just wearing my pumps and a high ponytail made one feel thinner and fitter, so I added on an extra mile to my achievement calendar!  

The intelligent shoe


Shoes for the mind
This led me to a new way of thinking, is it possible that footwear can influence one’s state of mind? I decided to attend the most high brow meeting I could find in the village – ‘French polishers discuss Chess and politics group’ and wore my most sensible shoes – see fig 1.

Well dear readers,  I was amazed, with this pair of sensibles I came across as a grounded, knowledgeable lady with something to say about the Mayor’s Flank Opening – most surprising! Also, on the way back, I nipped into the latter half of tractor club meeting and gave them a few tips on keeping a shiny bonnet! (dual action buffer – to those who are dying to know!).

Cocktail heels

It also works wonderfully over the phone, next time you need to sound a little silky to your long distance lover, pop on your favourite cocktail heels, or you need to wish your dear mother a good day, I suggest a comfy pair of low slung slippers. Be careful not to get thes e two mixed up! Goodness you could end up single with an astonished parent.  

Comfortable voice

Gosh, must dash, one of Lord S’s stag heads has fallen off the oak panelling and pinned Ethel to the floor, hope she hasn’t damaged the parquet

Toodle pip!

Lady W xx

Decanting ones bubble bath

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Springtime Felicitations!


Sir Susan – also jigsaw addict
Goodness me what a busy week it’s been in the Woodski Manor this week – hence the delay in my scheduled correspondence – frightfully rude I do apologise. Seth and Pierre appear to working so well together, the somewhat overgrown kitchen garden has been dug over beautifully and I even over heard Pierre saying something about enjoying large ones, so I am looking forward to his entry into the ‘most impressive vegetable’ section at this year’s fete ( gosh that reminds me, I must whizz up Lord S’s old pyjamas into a string bunting – I was forced to sew the last lot into makeshift underwear due to Ethel accidently giving away my best cotton undies to the rag man! Mind you he has given us a hefty discount on dusters since then, so every cloud…)


40 years old and only two pieces missing, delightful!


Attic puzzles


Anyhoodlations, the other day after tea and cake in the orangery I decided to nip up into the attic and fetch down Aunt Niblets’s doyley collection for mending as they are beginning to come back into fashion favour and as I was there batting away ghastly spider webs I spotted a whole horde of Lord S’s old jigsaw puzzles! As I was at a loose end between rose pruning and rug arranging classes I thought I’d try one. They are such fun to do, almost addictive! I have completed one of the Walt Disney’s and refused luncheon to finish the second yesterday. Lord S doesn’t seem hugely impressed but does utter a few enthusiastic murmurings in my direction. I might start a support group for puzzle addicts!
Decanting time is fine!


Think beyond claret – fill them with anything!


Right must quickly let you into a quick tip of what to do with your left over decanters ( we have boxes of them left to us by the Duke of Carrington in his will – I told him I loved to canter, vying for his thoroughbred, but his hearing has always been a on ropey side so I should have known). So instead of paying your maid to dust them in a pointless fashion, make use of the decanters by using them for your bath oils and bed side water jugs, or fill with your homemade bramble wine and give to happy friend to make happier!
Goodness – time is flying and I must do Sir Susan’s show reel, he’s been headhunted for the next ‘Meow Munchies’ television commercial – so talented!
Coal bunkers of love
Lady W xx

p.s Oh completely forgot to mention Lord S’s team triumphant win at the bridge finals last Sunday! I must say I was most relieved as I had been giving him the goose fat rub downs all week (as instructed by the old bridge wives tale) but it certainly must have done the trick! Poor thing had to play with old busty Bunty from Upton Chaleston though – apparently she regularly looses the odd ace of spades in her cleavage chasm and some unlucky player has to fish them out – most unsavoury!


Fizzy Flask Freshners

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Take one pongy thermos

Broken butter dreams

Sincere apologies for my somewhat delayed correspondence this week, I’m suffering with maid difficulties! First of all, poor Ethel, due to an unfortunate accident whilst blacking the grates, was laid a-bed with a nasty case of skivvies elbow and couldn’t refill my fountain pen, and I had some terrible news yesterday. The new maid , Daisy, who I thought was an absolute gem, is in fact unspeakably clumsy ( I’m also beginning to doubt her vol au vent filling skills as merited on her curriculum vitae). I came home from ‘Correct your posture to appear more alluring (interactive workshop)’ to find my most favourite Lurpak butter dish in seven pieces in the butlers ceramic sink! She even had the audacity to try to blame the incident on Sir Susan the cat, the very idea of a cat using a butter dish! I gave her extra hard dusting duties and a reduction in her Friday sherry rations as punishment.

Anyway, as the maids are otherwise engaged and I decided to take advantage of this most glorious of weathers we are experiencing at the moment by unpacking the travel-lunch hamper from the summer trunk, with the notion to dine outside. Lord S was most baffled at the early season picnic proposal, but was soon won round with suggestions of post sandwich, picnic blanket activities.

I must quickly pass on this useful tip Ethel shouted down from her attic room while nursing her sore appendage. If you have any alka seltzer left over from new year (or indeed last time you had too much French brandy and not enough French fancies), and your picnic flask smells of your gardener’s forgotten undergarments, simply fill them (the flask not the smalls) with water, drop in a fizzy tablet or four and leave for about an hour, it will freshen up your thermos delightfully! Apparently you can clean all sorts of things with these fizzy friends (I’ve tried it on Mrs Humpington-Shaw’s diamond necklace after that terrible incident with the over spiced eggnog last Michealmas – came up a treat!).

Pop the fizzy freshers in here
Anyhoodles, must dash, Lord S has a gouty leg which needs releeching on the hour

Love and warmth,
Lady W xx

What to do with Maid’s Mistakes!

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“I was once a polo neck jumper”


Good news at the Manor this week! Lord S found a bundle of notes in his old saville row plus fours which he hasn’t worn since last shooting season, Ethel boil washed them and shrunk the silly things to a clothing size Lord S certainly hasn’t seen for a while! (In fact, I overheard Ethel referring to him ‘Lard S’ to our new maid, but that may have just been her west country accent I’m still getting used to). Anyway – yes you did hear correctly, we have a new house maid, Daisy, (financed by the new found cash, such a good investment!) and she is proving to be rather a whizz at cleaning in fact she’d finished Ethel’s chores by noon, must remember to be more untidy, can’t have her standing about.

Was slightly concerned with Ethel’s behaviour last Wednesday though as I strolled in early from my ‘Interior fireplace flower arrangements for the winter season’ class and caught her red-handed taking one of my cigarettes! Well, I wasn’t best pleased as you can imagine, she claimed it was for her sick father who says “puffing on a ciggy” eases the coughing fits! I was shocked, I was always led to believe she was brought up by squirrels in the Forest of Dean, but there we are. But I did feel sorry for her so gave her a packet of Lord S’s old cigars, slightly crumbly, but I thought that was more than generous.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing is to share with you a perfectly brilliant idea of how to make use of ‘Maid’s Mistakes’ namely shrinking your favourite knits (see above).

Many of my dear friends are popping out babies like there is no tomorrow and I have been at rather a loss of what to give on a visit and also faced with a pile of unbearably small woollies – so I combined the two! 

100% Wool friend resting with Chirpy

I found this darling of a pattern in Homemade gifts vintage style and it really is so simple, just cut out a bunny or cat shape from your shrunken cashmere or alpaca, sew round, stuff, stitch on a smile and there you are! I made this little one last night half listening to Lord S practise his lecture on how to walk correctly in brogues – fascinating!

Must dash, Ethel has just tinkled the bell for luncheon and I simply must knuckle down to some work on my ‘think positive, think thin’ course.

Warmest of regards,

Lady Woodski xx

P.S For those of you who simply read my household tips just to learn of Seth’s comings and goings, I do have a small update – Pierre (the assistant groundsman) has fallen on bad times and Seth being such a kind man has allowed Pierre to move into his tiny room, and for those of you who may have taken a fancy to him, I did see a valentine card to Seth in his woodshed last week so I’m afraid he may be taken!

Vive la Valentine!

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Dearest of the darlings

I do hope you’ve managed to recover from the romance whirlwind that was St Valentine’s Day (Lady Frederique – I do know how Lord Freddie likes to treat you to a new ferret muff each year, I only hope you were able to delicately redirect him to the jewellery department this time? I’m sorry to be so outspoken, but vermin hand warmers are so terribly last season!).

Love Flag
As many of you know, Lord S tends to go off track the few times he has tried to venture towards the kitchen to make himself a welsh rarebit, I have raised it with him that he regularly manages to find his way back home from an East African safari with nothing more than a paperclip in a leaf, but he insists the architecture of the house is flawed and I end up calling for Ethel to rustle him up a crumpet. So well accustomed I am to his ineffectuality, you can imagine my surprise and delight when, on the morning of St Valentine’s, he presented me with my cup of green tea complete with a love flag! Absolutely charming! Whoever said romance is dead should really get out more and find themselves a new partner in life! So thoughtful.

Think outside the chocolate box!
Would suppose that inventive idea needn’t be restricted to the day of love, indeed, you could quite easily adapt to any other occasion – even just a Monday morning surprise of love could do wonders to a ‘flagging’ relationship.

In touch with his floral side

Well of course I felt it was necessary for me to repay the favour therefore I decided to whizz up a toiletries bag so Lord S wouldn’t be without his razor and cologne when on jaunts with his chums. I used a delightful pattern I picked up in Sewing and Self-Esteem class last week (felt wonderful afterwards!) – it’s simply a square, folded into an envelope – fabric origami if you will! As this was such a spur of the moment decision I had no time to purchase any masculine type material or design a bag of the manly persuasion, instead I used what I had in the sewing cupboard along with a couple of slightly used tea towels– I’m presenting it to him tonight, do hope he sees past the florals to the practicalities of such an item!

Oh sugarations! I’ve just remembered I need to ask Seth to hook out my pearl earring from behind the Aga, I dropped it while I was taking the pheasant casserole out last night. It might be a lengthy job so must dash!

Lady W xx

A quick scrub makes all the difference!

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Dear Trusted Friends,

Deepest thanks for your heartfelt enquiries regarding Ethel’s french verb endings and for offering tuition, so kind, however she has rather lost interest in the language of love since the inspiration for her new hobby (Seth’s new friend and assistant groundsman, Pierre, who was so fabulous at choosing curtains) has turned his attention to designing Seth a winter spade cover (more on this next week!) and has quite lost interest in their weekly sessions, poor old thing. She convinced herself it was because all she could say was “J’adore le mopping”, but I think it may have been her new house coat, the static from nylon is terribly distracting. In fact he and Seth have been spending an awful lot of time together recently in the raised vegetable beds, so sweet! So enchanted they rub along so well together – one cannot underestimate the importance of staff cohesion.


On to business, I’m rather excited about sharing two wonderful tips for households with you this week, the first one is – scourers. As you may be aware by now, I only have Ethel to help me run the Manor and she is terribly busy this week polishing the stuffed pikes, so I have decided to do my bit. Anyway, I trekked all the way over to the guest bathroom in the yellow room on the south wing, musing over how to coordinate the tea towels on the aga, and clean forgot to bring any cleaning soaps with me! To this end, I was forced to begin the task with only a scourer – but dear readers, would you believe, it brought everything up in a gleaming shine! Limescale? Gone! Soap remnants? Gone! A wonder! It was a dream (well a dream Ethel may have). Giddy with excitement, I decided to have a go at the floorboards too, again, came up a treat, although I think I may have taken off the varnish as well. So please do pass onto your maid – or indeed have a go yourself if you’re at a loose end.

Look at the difference it made in Ethel’s room!

Blanket coverage

The only other quickie I wanted to share was a fun little idea I had around tartan – instead of hiding all those wonderful, warm picnic blankets away until Summer, why not use them as a table cover? A lovely wintery, cosy look! Lord S did complain of itchy arms at breakfast though this morning so you might want to wear sleeves when eating. 

Atmospheric table covering

Must dash, I’m simply gasping for a nip of sherry to keep the chill off!
Lady W x

Lady W’s Casserole Workout

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Dearest friends,

Thank you, as always, for your kind correspondence this week and so wonderful to hear Duchess Beech-Candles has been elected, once again, for Chair of the Tidy Lawns Mean Tidy Minds committee, such a worthy and noble standing (I’m looking forward to some insider tips on dandelion removal!). Once again we have been plunged into exquisitely cold temperatures these last few days and I’ve requested game stews from Ethel all this week, with extra dripping, just to keep the cold out, however this might not be so favourable for my corset! Hence my new workout plan.

Winter layers
All this chit chat about the winter chill had me thinking about our summer hols and decided this week was a perfect time to review my swimwear collections (before you protest, I am painfully aware that fashion houses are fickle and the pin-striped all-in-one may indeed be back in popular favour by August, but frankly I’m not willing to take that chance after Mrs Gushingshaw’s lady in waiting had the very same outfit on the Algarve last season– took me months to recover, socially). So, once I had ensured the dressing room blinds were down and the door firmly closed, I stoked up the fire and stripped off to try on the suits….

Don’t stew – just get on with it!


Following this rather depressing activity (overhead lighting can be rather cruel on the upper arms) I have come up with two solutions, firstly – a whole new range of one-pieces with sleeves are in desperate need (I’ll have to flog a few jars of Ethel’s sloe gin jam at the next whist drive) and secondly, I have devised a rather cunning exercise regime which I am, as ever, keen to share! I’m sure once this catches on, ladies from all over the country will be clambering past cook to get into the kitchen in order to limber up. The beauty of my idea is that it’s completely free although it does assume a good taste in casserole dishes.

Add variety with a griddle

Step 1: Choose a couple of Cassoulet or Le Creuset casserole dish lids

Step 2: Take one in each hand

Step 3: Lift the lids alternately

Step 4: Repeat until painful, then stop.

I’m sure, given the weight of these stoic pots, we will tone up those blancmange arms in no time! I’ve decided to name it – Lady’s Casserole Workout – I’m planning to commit 5 minutes each day to the lid lifting – hope you do too!

Anyway, must dash, my new course on ‘Occasional tables and how often should they be used’ is starting any moment and Sir Susan is meowing for his luncheon. Do let me know how you get on with the casserole lifts.

Stewdle loo!

Lady W xx

How to hot wire a car in Chanel

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Warmest of greetings,
Once again all manner of activities have been taking place this week, and that’s not counting Lord S’s gout and Seth being chosen for the front cover of Woodchoppers Weekly (so proud). The East wing (which I haven’t been to in weeks!), needed a complete dust and polish which took much longer than usual as Enid has taken to learning french and insisted I instructed her en francais, which would be fine if I knew the translation of “wipe down the skirting boards in a soft cloth and untangle the lampshade fringes”, but she had to make do with “chambre sans cobwebs, merci”. 
Non starter
Following the assistant groundsman’s guarantee that the new rose chintz curtains were ‘all the rage’, I decided to drive into the village and purchase an additional yard or two to whizz up a WC seat cover ( I don’t know about you, but I can’t abide a bare toilet seat) and maybe a toilet tissue disguiser if I had enough time. Our trusty old Merc was going along fine until on the way back she began to chug and vibrate, quite uncharacteristically, until I was forced to pull over and decide what to do. Having recently completed an afternoon’s 121 session with Duke Growmore and his classic engines, I was eager to try out my new tinkering skills! Alas, I remembered I was wearing my vintage Chanel two piece so this was out of the question, instead I thought I’d try and make it back to the Manor but alas once more – the car refused to start! What to do!? In Chanel?! I had a quick talking to myself and said ” Lady Woodski, have some pluck!”. All I can say is thank goodness mummy insisted I went to finishing school in Switzerland where survival skills come as standard.
Two zinging nuts
Rummaging through the boot of the car I found enough items to fashion myself a ‘Lady’s starting stick’. By simply opening up the bonnet, using the wire to touch the two nuts… and zing! (Lord S loves that part of the story), and the car was fired back into life. So apart from a few concerned looks from ladies in the tearooms, all was well.


 Anyway, must sign off, I can hear Enid has finishing off the spanish vermouth I had out ready to  to clean the candlesticks (another handy tip – will indulge next week).

Toodle pip!
Lady W xx