Slept soundly on our first night in Mellerstain. Strong blustery winds blitzed riotously through the plentiful trees but it actually seemed to lull me to sleep.
The Pickfords van arrived at 9.30 next morning and the unloading of our stuff began. It was not a simple operation! The entrance to our first floor quarters was via a stone spiral staircase. This east wing was built by William Adam, father of Robert Adam, in 1725. The ancient stone spiral was well worn. Each step was concave in the centre eroded by hundreds of shoes traipsing up and down over the centuries.
Romantic it may be, but strenuously difficult for the removal men to negotiate. Heavy work and not something I'd enjoy doing day after day. They completed their task efficiently and without mishap, either to our furniture or the building!
With bags of space in the flat we were soon sorted out. There is a large living room in the centre of the flat, about 24 feet long by 16 feet wide. We never used this room! The grandkids would have it as their playroom when they came to stay later on. We chose a cosier sitting room, about 17 x 18 feet. This had a lovely fireplace as well as oil-fired central heating. The kitchen/diner was a very good size too.
The main bedroom had all the necessary alarm sounders installed, intruder and separate fire systems. All of the bedrooms had handbasins with hot and cold water.
Lovely views from each window - so waking up to see such abundant beauty was a totally new experience for both of us.
So far, so good. The Countess, Lady Jane Haddington, came to introduce herself that first afternoon. She insisted that we had dinner with them in the west wing later on which we gladly accepted. She is a genuinely kind spirit; a hard working mother of three children too.
Dinner was great, and a couple of glasses of wine made it perfect. We made our way back to the east wing, tired but very pleased with life.
Soon we were in bed. I was fast asleep almost immediately.
I got up at 3.30 a.m. Not by choice, but by the wailing and shrieking of an alarm! It was excruciatingly loud. I didn't know if it was the fire alarm or the intruder alarm. I felt a bit like corporal Jones in Dad's Army: "Don't panic..don't panic".
Dressing gown on I found the control panels: it was the intruder alarm! Then the phone rang; it was the police. "Your alarm has been triggered" the police kindly informed me - as if I didn't know! "Officers are on their way - please wait until you see their headlights. OK?"
OK it was. But I wondered whether it was really OK...