Our house keeper, Rosemary and her regular team, Sue, Ness and Emma who have been reinforced by Janet, who helps in the office, and Sue, who does our internal catering, have just about finished the spring cleaning of our rooms open to visitors.

Although these rooms get a thorough clean every week and some are cleaned daily, there is no substitute for the annual treatment they receive when the house is closed. Furniture and brass are polished, chandeliers are dismantled and cleaned, chimneys swept, carpets lifted and vacuumed and stone floors are scrubbed. It is hard work, but Rosemary says she welcomes the chance to do a really thorough job, and the results are evident, with everything looking bright, with a good smell of fresh polish permeating the atmosphere. Occasionally, when in doubt, Rosemary refers to the National Trust Manual of Housekeeping:   which has most of the answers we need.

My job is to arrange to have a few things repaired. This year, we have had two lampshades relined, some door panels off a wardrobe re-lacquered, a chair re-caned and the two huge sofas in the Great Hall re covered with a material chosen by my wife Lucy, who luckily is an interior designer. We have also taken the chance to improve our emergency lighting in the public areas so the painters have been in, making good in the places where the electricians have been working.

It all looks very good, and I hope the visitors will come and appreciate when we open at Easter.   JH-B