A couple weeks ago, I posted about some things we thought everyone should know. Scratch that. I posted practical ho hum things. Sher came up with fun filled dinner party facts.
As you know, when we are not living our thoroughly average lives with husbands and kids and the whole bit, we live in our pretend English Manor, The Heatley Cliff. Obviously the things that you need to know as a Grande Dame of a heavily staffed Manor house are very different than those of your average every dal gal. This week, with our tongues planted firmly in our cheeks, we give you a nice little list of totally pretentious knowledge which is bound to come in handy when you inherit, buy, marry, grift or make believe your way into a Manor, Chateau or Villa of your very own.
- One must always dress for dinner. Black Tie, darlings, gowns and all. Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time to get ready after your busy day of reading and receiving visitors. It might sound a bit over the top, but you have a maid to do your hair and make-up. It’s not like you have to do much but just sit there really and listen for the dinner bell!
- At the Heatley Cliff, every dinner becomes a dinner party. Because we never invite people we don’t like to the Manor, we don’t adhere to the rule of maintaining an equal number of men and women at our gatherings. Besides, it’s fun to have an all girl weekend, no? We don’t seat people boy/ girl. Really, how gauche. We seat people according to chemistry and common interests. We also separate people we know aren’t going to get along. We don’t like the dramz. We always invite one or two people we consider to be the guest of honor (Jane Austen, Tom Ford, You.) Those esteemed personages will walk into the dining room with Sher and I. They will always be seated to the right of one of us. Sher and I don’t sit together because we would just end up talking about Sons of Anarchy and knitting all night. Not fun for everyone. We also use place cards. So just look for your names, darlings!
- It is not okay for the staff to fraternize with one another. That way. All of their focus needs to be on Sher and I. How can they anticipate our needs and whims if they are thinking about each other? Goodness.
- We have spectacular stables, did you know? And Joe Manganiello is our Head Groom. Oh yes. We ride out on the moors quite often. In real life, I can barely ride. But such is the magic of The Heatley Cliff. Once you enter our ironed gates, you are a champion equestrian. But you must have the proper riding attire. No jeans (period, ever at the HC.) You will need a starched white wrap shirt with a tall collar and a smart tie or cravat. You will also need beige breeches with suede patches at knees, a tweed riding coat for a more casual ride, and a fitted navy, black or red blazer if we are going out on a hunting party. And by hunting, I just mean we all ride together in a group and follow barking dogs and horns but don’t ever actually kill anything. You will also need a helmet, crop, gloves and boots. Hermes..Why not?
- Obviously, we love entertaining and having our friends and some (specified) family around us. But as a Lady of The Manor, one must know how to politely turn away visitors. It’s true. You know how everyone has that friend that you’re not sure how you became friends but you kind of dread having to see them? No need to deal with that person at The Heatley Cliff! You can do the same. Simply inform your housekeeper (in our case, it’s Helen Mirren) who you would not like to receive that day. If that individual happens to stop by, they will be told you are not at home (yes! lied to!) and that you only receive visitors on Thursdays. So if it is indeed Thursday, they’ll get the message. Hey, it’s how they did it in the old days and who are we to buck with that kind of tradition?
- You will be expected to get your staff Christmas gifts. They work hard for you, they deserve a little treat. Their room is their sanctuary so try to think of something that will add to that feeling of cozy and comfort during their time off. A nice work basket, slippers, shaving kit, stationary, a pretty lap blanket. Whatever it is, the goal is to make them feel as if you really know them. Then, they will work harder for you.
- Cycling is something we quite enjoy here at the Heatley Cliff because it offers exercise and a chance to wear a jaunty outfit. Of course, one can’t be expected to get off and on the bicycle on one’s own. You will need a cycling master. Sher has employed my husband, Matt. I’m fairly certain it’s because he has to touch her bum a little to get her off and on the bike.
- Of course we have an extensive library here at The Heatley Cliff. You probably have one, too. Anderson Cooper does all of the purchasing at the Manor for us, including books. He does a bang up job. You may be wondering how to organize your library, and the key is not to do it alphabetically. Organize it by genre and then by author. This makes it much easier for your guests to find something that will interest them. That said, it’s always a good idea to put a book on your guest’s bedside table. Because you are so smart, you probably know what kind of reading they do. They will appreciate the gesture and like I said, how smart you are.
- As I mentioned earlier, about the horseback riding, the most wonderful thing about the Heatley Cliff is how accomplished you are from the moment you step inside our home. After our dinner party we might screen a movie (not yet released in theatres, of course), but more than likely we will ask our talented guests to entertain us. Can’t sing? Not a problem – at the Heatley Cliff, you’ve got Celene Dion’s chops and Gaga’s flair for the dramatic. Can’t dance? Sure you can – at our place, you are Ginger Rogers or that cute blonde guy from Dancing with the Stars who looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. Is your piano playing atrocious? Please - you are Mozart here, or maybe Fiona Apple if you want to keep us on our toes. At the Heatley Cliff you become the best, most talented, most effervescent version of yourself and you are awesome.
- Finally, NO ONE at the HC expects you to have a job. Nope. You just have money. So you will never be asked (nor should you ask, either) what it is you do for a living, how your week was, what’s going on at the office/restaurant/store/school. You are a person of leisure. Oh sure, you probably volunteer or go to the odd lecture, but for goodness’ sake, you don’t actually have to work. In fact, to quote Downton, ‘What is a weekend’?
Come visit us this week at the The Heatley Cliff. After all this, how can you resist?
Featured image taken from Mrs. Dow Ward’s Neigborhood