It's a very busy day at the manor, the whole family is visiting because the youngest member will be baptized today. Grandmother is sitting on the couch with the little one on her lap and Filou -her spoiled doggie- is watching the whole scene envious. The lady of the house is organizing for weeks now, to make this memorable day a success. Fortunate there is enough assistance available on the moment, so she can concentrate completely on her guests.
Grandfather sits in front of the fireplace chatting with his oldest granddaughter Sophia , he is amazed over the youth of today and wonders how they will manage in the future. My Lady gives a few quick orders to the temporarily help of the kitchen, the girl leaves the room rapidly, there is still so much to do on a day like this and she has only one pair of hands to work with. Luckily she only works at the manor when they need an extra servant,
on the farm where she is working for over ten years now, the work is tougher, but the people are so much warmer. To work at the manor is nice for a change and the money of course, but she wouldn't switch of job with one of the girls here at the manor, oh no, not for the world.
Aunt Elize will be godmother of the new born, this event gives here the opportunity to wear the new dress she bought in Paris a few days ago. Her adored four years old daughter Louise is dressed up like a princes, the little girl is completely astonished when she sees the fishbowl on the table with the small yellow-gold creature inside, quite odd in these days.
They are visiting just for a few days aunty Elize says, but the number of suitcases tells something else. She loved to be pampered by and give orders to the "working-class", for sure she’ll stay for a while, to make use of the servants, despite the "poor" state they where in [aunty Elize says].
Upstairs the superintendent of the manor is doing the last administrations to keep everything organized. His youngest daughter is with him and stands on his site.
Some musical members of the family are playing the instruments just for fun. One of the housemaids stands in the doorway, listening to the lovely sound Ernst - the oldest son and landlord in future - withdraws out of the organ.
Ernst is studying agriculture, but his hart belongs to the music and if it was possible he would change today the agriculture study into a music study, specifically organ , but his parents and grandparents where inflexible on that point. By birth he was chosen to be the future landlord and so it will be.
The nursery- annex playroom is one big mash, toys are thrown all over the place and the noise they make is so loud, you should think there lives a hurdle of elephants upstairs.
The most cosily place of the house is Abbey's kitchen, she came at the manor just sixteen years old, the head of the school, who took care of her after the tragical dead of her parents, recommended Abbey to the Lord of the manor. My Lady how ever had her doubts, but her husband, who felt compassion with the poor girl, insisted to take her in for simple domestic work at the manor. For once my Lady agreed and now she must admit it was a good decision of her husband.
Abbey was a decent well-mannered a little bit shy girl, in the beginning she worked al over the house,
but things changed when the old cook Koosje became ill, gradually Abbey took over all tasks in the kitchen. Backing all sorts of cakes and pies was her speciality and on a day like today she could give space to her creativity, she just finished the last one. My Lady in person came this very morning into the kitchen and made her a compliment, maybe that was the reason Abbey found herself softly singing since a long time, the last time she sang, her parents where still alive and she had no worries at all, but unfortunately fate decided different. On a very cold winter night over two years ago now, there was a terrible devastating fire in the house Abbey lived in , both of her parents died.
Accidentally Abbey was not at home, she was in town for a few nights to look after her grandmother, the poor souls health was going downhill since she suffered from a pneumonia. Over the winter Abbey took care of her frequently, but if it was not enough yet, a week after the burial of her parents, grandmother passed away .
So it happened Abbey stood instantly completely alone on the world.She was only child and so was her father, maybe her mother - English by birth - had still some relatives, she seldom mentioned them. The only thing Abbey knew was that her mothers family strongly against the relation with her father was, so they excluded her out of the family.
The just married couple left England and went to Holland where Abbey's father accepted a job on a primary school in a small village, there was never any contact with the English relatives. Abbey however learned a lot from her mother, for example the English language and many English songs while she played the piano, baking cakes and pies, but above all here fine manners. Yes everything was completely different then. After the loss of her parents and grandmother, the head teacher of the school her father worked on, took care of Abbey and a few month later he arranged a job for her as full time servant at the manor. And now Abbey was softly singing an English song the way mother educated her.
Cat Mies - situated in the cupboard –snores, she lies on a nice soft and warm small blanket with her new born kittens, as long as she gets her needs ,Mies will be very content.
Doortje - a niece of Koosje the old housekeeper - helped Abbey to get all the groceries she needed for this event and as reward Abbey made the girl a delicious meal.
The as usual exceptional dressed warm wholeheartedly aunty Christina went straight into the lounge, she loved it to speak with the servants of the manor, she was in everything the opposite of her sister the Lady of de house, Amelie the second daughter of the manor family takes a lot after her aunt Christina, both didn't like de high-handed attitude the Lady and grandmother displayed in front of the servants.
In the library the Lord of the manor speaks with his younger brother Ewald about business matters, it is a very difficult conversation between them. Ewald likes to withdraw for a long time from the family property, especially now an old study friend - who became archaeologist - asked to go with him to Egypt. Ewald considered to grab this opportunity, he loved Egypt archaeology as long he remembers. Years ago when he became a student, he had to study forestry because his father insisted , they needed him in the family business to manage the timber section,
but in his heart he always wanted to be an archaeologist . Now his friend told him about the most fantastic excavations in Egypt and asked to come along with him to "the land of the pharaoh's". Ewald simply had to go, finely his dream came truth.
The location of the servant rooms was on both sites of the attic, the large space in the middle they use for all kinds of housekeeping jobs like sewing, washing, ironing, polishing etc.,
besides that it was a storage for al the unnecessary and season restrained things like sledge and Christmas decorations . It was also "the place to be" to discus and analyse the gossips , scandals and other events that took place at the manor and in the small village, but when there where problems with one of there own, they stick together like a very close family.
A good example is what happened to Alida - one of de servants - she developed an alcohol problem after she was left by her fiancé on the very day of her wedding. There she stood in her lovely dress, she felt so humiliated, the same lovely dress and every single thing that remembers her of that horrible day Alida stuffed in a big trunk, far away behind all the old junk on the back of the attic.
For weeks the poor girl was broken-hearted, in her desperation she grabbed to the bottle, that habit is going out of hand now and then, everywhere in the house there are hidden bottles, from the shoe polish box until under the cradle mattress of the youngest and God knows where else in the big manor. The other servants try to avoid at all costs the discovery of Alida's alcohol problem by the family of the house, so the staff members are watching over her, they will all help her to survive this dreadful story.
Recently there has been a few changes at the manor. Sometimes my Lady thought she was in "urgent need "off a nanny for the youngest members of the family and when she last week spoke about her so "urgent need" in front of the headmaster, who she met by chance on a reception to celebrate the 25 anniversary of the school, he pinpointed her on the fine qualities of Abbey and told her a bit more about her background. My Lady already noticed how dignified the girl was in her language use , so well educated and civilized, sometimes she even heard her sing English childhood songs. The headmaster also told her about Abbey's knowledge of the English language she spoke fluently. English was not the same as France of course, the language the upper-class use to speak in these days, but slowly My Lady developed the plan to sent Abbey to Lausanne in Switzerland for a solid education to become a real nanny.
It was a very expensive school, meant for members of the staff whose duties where to serve the European aristocrats, on that school Abbey will be trained to the highest possible "nanny-level", so she can make herself submissive to her " high regarded" employer and family and given the fact Abbey was aggravated whit the education of the youngest members of the so "high regarded" family , it was "extremely important" Abbey knew about the high standing aristocrat "morals" my Lady considered, she also realised the influence of Abbey's "up-bring" methods on her offspring in the earliest years could be a benefit for later.
Now there raised an other problem: where did my Lady find a new cook for the manor who could suffice her demands?
But if it had to be so, grandmother told her that Marie, the outstanding France cook of her great-aunt Henriëtte, looked for new job, great-aunt Henriëtte wanted to spend the last few years of her life in Florence, because of the mild climate over there. Marie who was nearly 40 now, hatred the kitchen in that terrible ancient house in Florence, there hadn't been a change for over a century, the kitchen was situated in the muggy wet basement of the old building , not to mention the scary creepy beasts who seems to crawl from everywhere. So when Marie got the opportunity for a job at the manor, at -in her eyes-such a young family, she thought it over and after the Lord of the manor promised her to adjust the kitchen to her needs. Marie grabbed this chance with both hands , after a short while she settled in and fully enjoyed her important position at the manor. So Abbey literally made a promotion from "downstairs to upstairs" so to speak.
After completing her "nanny-study" in Lausanne, Abbey returned to the manor. Her first "feat of arms" was to install a cabinet to storage the toys who wandered around in the nursery, this was an act of necessity to keep the overall picture. The second rule she established was that every child was allowed to play with only one item, when they wanted to play with something else, they had to return the first chosen item back in the cabinet, that rule is catching away the chaos on the end of the day.
And last but not least she introduced regularity,
believe it or not, the children transformed completely, the language use and behaviour improved almost daily , through singing English and French childhood songs, they learned the basic words in these languages. So the youngest of the manor where international raised, at least what concerned the languages, my Lady could be very content, for the moment everything was going smoothly and she likes to keep it this way.
If you want to see more pictures from the inside of the manor