Hillsborough Castle - a carpet of bluebells, that rich house smell, and dreamboat Prince Philip

For the second time in five minutes I cringed and stomped my foot to the floor. My shoulders flinched towards my ears as the car, thankfully, jerked to a stop before smashing the crushable little Micra before us. 

The time? About 10am on Sunday morning. 

30 minutes before, there I was in my dressing gown, still at least three quarters asleep, when my phone buzzed. On the other end, my friend J chirpily announced she was outside the house and ready to roll. 

I'd totally forgotten we'd made plans. My memory, despite the infrequent dosings of Omega 3 and Siberian Ginseng, remained a pile of crap. 

Let me tell you, I was SWEATING by the time I ran outside. If you've ever tried to dress in a hurry while you're still warm from a shower, you'll know how it is. Damp skin and cotton is not the vibe.

In apology for the wait, I bought the coffee and croissants. J also grabbed a pack of the worst biscuits known to man (Rich Tea). I of course took two protein bars for us, however I did end up eating both. 

We arrived at Hillsborough Castle, and because we were early - J drove like she was piloting a getaway car à la Baby Driver - we explored the gardens first. Let me tell you, it was SO WORTH THE TRIP! 

I was stunned by the sheer amount of bluebells flowering, pretty much every patch of grass had a spread of them. It made me so excited for the Bluebell candle to be back in stock (which will be soon! I've designed new colour labels for them so they should arrive later this week). 

We smelled every single flower we came across. The Rhododendrons, while impressive, had zero scent. At one point I shouted to J (see photo below) to come smell this huge Azalea. It literally had the most heady honeydew melon scent. Incredible. In fact, I got so animated that a man walking by with his family caught my enthusiasm and rather shyly joined me in sniffing the flowers. 10/10.

The Castle itself didn't allow for photos as some members of the royal family still stayed there from time to time. But from the first step inside, we were enveloped in what I can only describe as rich person house smell. Leather, dark mahogany furniture, and the very slight odour of mildewy curtains (they could do with a few candles to be honest). 

I was super impressed that I couldn't find a SINGLE SPECK of dust, anywhere, including inside one of the open pianos. The carpets were vacuumed to perfection, despite us tourists tramping through. I don't like to wear shoes in houses, so it felt ultra strange to be traipsing through a royal residence in my tennis shoes.

We learned plenty of history, most of it promptly forgotten, but we both were sold on one important point - Prince Philip was a catch back in the day. 

The tour itself was lead by a lady who by Jesus knew her stuff. We had some kids in the group and she'd ask these questions to them like why the big table where the politicians came together was round (I had no idea - it's so no one would be at the 'head' or be perceived to be more important).

And, as we wandered around, I, obviously, kept my senses sharp for any ghosts.

My podcast list is about 70% stories about the supernatural these days (Monsters Among Us, get on it), so I figured this could be a great opportunity to note something spooky. Sadly, no ethereal figures were found on either the tacky throne or cosy settees. 

On the way home we met up with one of J's friends. I didn't mind when they lapsed back into their native language - I fired up my Duolingo and did my daily lesson.

It kind of boggles me that I've got over 130 days streak learning Finnish, a language I picked for the most whimsical of reasons (I like the rhythm of it, my favourite F1 driver is Finnish). I can just about count to ten and say "bold chicken!" - and order a coffee of course.

I don't really know why I'm doing this. Maybe being vaguely drawn to something is enough, sometimes. 

On the drive home, J mid-conversation switched from English into Polish, a language I do not remotely speak or understand. For a genuine second I thought I was having a stroke. She didn't catch herself either, her switch was so bafflingly natural I had to wonder if her thoughts could exist in one language but emerge from her mouth in another.

I haven't yet reached that point in my Finnish journey. Yet. 

That about sums up my weekend. This week I've been finalising both the return of the Bluebell candle, and also a new candle scent. Bluebell I'm aiming to relaunch on the 17th of May, and I'll be releasing the newbie 'Oasis' at the end of the month. Hope you guys love them as much as I do!!

Over and out (or should I say, yli ja ulos),

Laura x


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