I do not really know why I am writing this (well maybe I do, but cannot put it into words) - after you have read it, you may understand - if you do, please tell me. If it interests you and you would like to be told of other "Byers Writings" - or should it be "Byers Ramblings", please click here to add yourself to my Mailing List.
First, let me set the scene with a few sharp sort points.
Before you tell me, I know that Phil Cotton has retired - but he set the standard that all others strive to emulate or follow !!
I am now going to write - more honest folk would say ramble - about a visit to my beloved Cliveden. Not all of the points (not many even) are "Rules" stated or enforced by Cliveden. They are my views and thoughts.
May I respectfully suggest that you Click on the links as you get to then - I really believe that they will enchance the picture that builds up in your mind. Imagine that we were sitting chatting face to face talking - think of them as minor digressions or asides !!
Are you sitting comfortably, then I will begin - !!
When I decide that I am going to Cliveden, I am often at my home in West London - I frequently seem to oscillate and vascillate before I decide to go there. When I eventually make up my mind, I seem to drift into a different world - I suppose that it is lightly suppressed excitement at going home !
Next follows a flurry of activity of Byers throwing his stuff in the car (as usual forgetting some things!!). Then onto the A40 Westbound, radion on in the background, listening to Radio 4 (or maybe Classical FM) and onto the M40. Cruise control on at 70 mph, minimun effort for me and Blue Lights and TwinTones just never worry me.
Leave the motorway at the Beaconsfield exit (Junction 2), first exit from the Roundabout (travelling south). Radio switched off so that I can pay undisturbed attention to the sight and sounds of the countryside. Move over into the RightHand lane in prepareation to follow the signs to Taplow/Burnham after about 100 yards from the motorway roundabout.
Follow the main road, somewhat sedately and carefully, round the bends, up the hill, through the speed restriction thing, round the sharp bend to the right, past The Jolly Woodman pub. Slow down in preparation to turn right at the picturesque Thatched Roof School. Leave that road at the first turning on your left. Follow your nose until you come to the main gate to the Cliveden Estate, opposite the Feathers pub.
Now that you have read all of this, you may wish to look at a map to see where Cliveden really is !
Now be prepared, you are entering a very special place. Respect it, use common sense, follow it's rules. If you cannot do that, you might just have come to the wrong place. I think that it may be called style !! Certainly no radio or sterio on in the car. If the weather is appropriate, wind the windows down.
There is a ten miles per hour speed limit on the estate - respect and
obey it. You might get there about two or three minutes sooner if you drive at 30 or 40 miles an
hour - remember there is all tommorrow not started -and this is Cliveden, it is special !!
And anyway - you would miss the rabbits and the occasional muntjack deer of fox if you rush (not sure about the flock of sheep, or are they goats, though - hehehehe)
In a few minutes, you will see that the road goes across a cross roads and through a gap in the hedge - you will see the stunning Fountain of Love statue If you are really lucky and if the National Trust are feeling kind, you will see water running from and over the statue. Spectacular in the sunshine. If you are arrriving in the hours of darkness, again subject to the National Trust you will see the satue floodlit. What a wonderful greeting from Cliveden and the National Trust to a very special place. A foretaste of things to come.
Then I turn left and at the end of a gravel drive stands the impressive pile that is "The House". A spectacular view that evokes a funny feeling in my heart.
I open my driving side window and put the car into bottom gear and proceed (or maybe I should say process) up the drive. The drive must be littered with "inhibitions" that I discard on the journey. My record is five minutes from the fountain of love to the front door - beat that if you can !!
You may ask why I do it - well the answer is, that I think of what used to happen in times past. I would almost bet that the Coachmen walked the horses up the drive - I cannot believe that they trotted them. It is also because it prepares me mentally for what is to come. And because I feel like it that way !!
It used to make me mad to see loonies hurtling up and down the drive at incredible speeds - well above the ten mile per hour estate limit. They used to put up huge dust clouds when they did it. As the dust re-settled, compaction occurs. As compaction occurs, dusts storms occur less. What a vicious circle !! If only people were persuaded to drive sensibly . . . . . It is all a matter of style and respect for the place !!
When I arrive at the house, I do not park the car myself - that upsets the staff and causes them problems. It would also show clearly to any observer that I did not know how such things are done.
I drive the car so that it stops right in front of the front door. Almost always staff will come out to open the door and greet me. Even if they do not, I leave the car there and leave the Key in the Ignition Switch so that they can park the car for me in the proper place.
If a footman comes out to greet me, he will use hand signals to invite me forward to the door. When I get near enough, the hand signals will invite me to swing around to me left. If I have a guest in the passenger seat, I will accept his invitation. (The guest will be on the side nearest to the House) If I am alone, I swing round to my right, so that the drivers door is nearest to the House.
When I first visited the house, many, many years ago I was advised/resquested to drive up to the Front Door (as previously described), get out of the car, leave the engine running and the door open. So I do that - even if not many others do !!!
Now, I have placed my self in the Hands and Care of the House and it's Staff. It is for the time being, my home. I treat it with the respect and in the style that I believe it deserves
You have got this far, and that probably means that you might like a break. A good way to do that could be to look at a story of a visit that took place a few years ago. I hope that you will find it interesting and maybe amusing. It could happen to you !!
You may also be interested to see a letter that I wrote to Cliveden - it will help you to get a better picture of the place !!
There is still much more to come - keep coming back to this page until you have seen the full story (and then this message will disappear!!)
Now that you have read all of this, you may wish to look at the Cliveden website to see how Cliveden see themselves !