Wednesday 6 April 2016


Hound Lodge was once a very luxurious home for the hounds of the Charlton Hunt: long before Goodwood House had central heating, the hounds had underfloor heating and every kind of treat. I daresay they even had a canine equivalent of their own butler. 
Here are the whelping kennels. Jolly nice they are too. If I had one of those in my garden, I wouldn't let the dog live in it, I'd turn it into my office.

Now that Hound Lodge has been immaculately restored and turned into a country retreat, it's the humans who live in the lap of luxury, though visiting dogs are very welcome - there are dog beds everywhere, a special dog menu (dogs are rumoured to get dog icecream for pudding - I wonder what flavour?), and someone on hand to wash muddy paws should they have had an enthusiastic romp through The Valdoe (a very pretty wood, with the requisite bluebells, and owls hooting at night). I didn't try the dog menu, of course, but dinner for people was glorious.

Each of the ten bedrooms is named after the hounds of the 'Glorious Twenty-Three' owned by the second Duke of Richmond in 1738. Mine was named after Dido, the leader of the pack. 
What a blissfully comfortable bed, possibly due to the mattress stuffed with sheep's wool from the Goodwood flock. I could have quite happily lived in that room - it was full of beautiful flowers and books 

and elegant objets. The bathroom was equally sybaritic - after a lovely trip to Goodwood House to gawp at the extraordinary art (Van Dyke, Veronese, Lely, Sevres porcelain, rather mindblowing) I submerged myself neck deep for a bathe in a delicious essence made from the pine needles from the Duke of Richmond's Scottish estates (I may have the pine detail wrong, but the jist is there), and read Elizabeth Taylor's In a Summer Season. By the time I'd gone properly lobster pink (to match the horrid Rita Ora nails), I was late to rejoin everyone in the drawing-room for cocktails.

Butlers? Oh, I'm an old hand with butlers now, she says, with a blasé shrug; When the lovely butler asks one if one would like something to drink, one simply says, 'Oh, a glass of champagne would be perfect, thank you.' and lo it appears.

After dinner, when we came back into the drawing room for coffee, I realised that one of these dogs

was looking at me from over the fireplace, very reprovingly, as if to purse its dog lips and say, 'I saw you have a second glass of Mersault, and now you've just asked the lovely butler for whisky.'
One has to get used to dogs staring at one at Hound Lodge - they're on every surface - 

even on the bookshelves - I rather wanted to settle down with the story of Bellman the lugubrious beagle. The fox gets a look in too from time to time -

This sweet china fox was in my room, sitting daringly on top of Siegfried Sassoon's Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man.
The stone fox looks out over the whelping kennels, immortalised in stone. 

I used to see Lucien Freud breakfasting at the Wolseley. He didn't breakfast on sherry. Nor did I.

Instead,  I had vast amounts of delicious bacon from Goodwood pigs, cured on the home farm. This Wedgwood china is gorgeous. I wish I could get away with it in West London, but although there are many foxes here, and an awful lot of hounds (well, French bulldogs mostly, round here, but dogs, anyway), it wouldn't do.

I came home and was rather disappointed to discover it wasn't nearly as nice as Hound Lodge - how quickly one becomes accustomed to the good life - and spent the evening assembling flat-packed furniture. The glamour.

Hound Lodge at The Kennels, Goodwood, Chichester. Bring a dog, or borrow someone elses.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

The Digital World is Complicated

Perhaps it's not so much complicated as hard to tidy. I switch on my iPhone every morning and the entire internet falls on my head, as if I've inadvertently opened a messy cupboard. 

It's not simply that I'm lured into trying to read the whole of the Internet before breakfast (heartwarming stories of pet rescue found on facebook, a link on Twitter to a - very long -  Paris Review interview with Norman Mailer, essential hunt for interesting British stone circles inspired by someone mentioning Julan Cope on Instagram, not to mention reading all my email and the Guardian) it's the writing too. I have developed an unhelpful sense that if I don't keep posting stuff on the plethora of social platforms I will somehow cease to be.

Looking at the last date I posted anything on Mrs Trefusis, you could be forgiven for imagining I have ceased to be. I realised earlier this year that The Books That Built Me needed its own internet home, rather than boring on here about all the novels I like. There is an awful lot of Internet to be done. I have discovered there are no half measures: it is impossible to be a little bit Internet.  Either one goes completely dark (imagine, what would one do with all the spare time?) or pushes one's sleeves up, grabs a metaphorical digital spade and gets stuck in.

Anyway, enough prologue, if you like the books stuff it can be found at Mrs Trefusis had better revert to what it once was, a kind of diary of a not very provincial lady. What is the opposite of provincial? Would it be metropolitan? The Diary of a Metropolitan Lady sounds infinitely more ritzy than it ought. It sounds as if I should be sleuthing round with a cigarette holder in one hand and a cocktail in the other, solving crimes. I'm not. On one hand I have a disgusting white nail varnish like tippex (it looks pale pink in the bottle but it's unspeakably naff on the nail). On the other hand I have painted a single nail bubblegum pink from a range I discover, on closer acquaintance with the bottle, is by Rita Ora, which should have told me everything I needed to know about the unsuitability of the colour. 

I panic-bought both bottles of nail varnish in Boots on my way to Waterloo, having realised my nails were repulsive in their natural state. Poor lighting must have thwarted my quest for something unobtrusively neutral. 

I particular wanted to look better groomed than usual because I'm on my way to the Goodwood Estate, to the Hound Lodge. It sounds like the last word in luxury: one has one's own butler (what will I do with my own butler? The problem with modern metropolitan life is that it leaves one entirely unprepared for having staff, even if one only has staff very temporarily). How does one make a good impression? I don't want my butler raising his eyebrow about me below stairs, like in Downton Abbey. I have been racking my brains for literary examples - one never sees the servants in Nancy Mitford or Waugh so they're no help as a behaviour guide. I can only come up Jeeves and Wooster and am now worried that my butler might remark that my evening jacket is 'rather exuberant' and I will have nothing to offer but some excuse about the style being favoured by the chaps at Drones.

Hound Lodge has ten bedrooms and sounds heaven on earth: when I arrive I have the promise of tea (I'm assuming proper teapots and good cake and so on), followed by a potter around the Van Dykes and Rubens at Goodwood House itself, or feeding lambs at the farm. I will have to keep my unbecomingly painted hands in my pockets.