It pays to have British friends in high places.
Several weeks ago my friend, Alison, called and left an exciting message on voice mail. There was to a be a Downton Abbey party, period dress encouraged, and I was invited.
I knew immediately which character I would represent. I had taken the highly scientific PBS quiz: Which Downton Character are You? and Anna Smith was the girl like me.
Alison had decided to dress as Lady Sybil in her wartime garb, and we both needed aprons.
I did some Downton research via the internet, sketched out a couple of designs, and dusted off the sewing machine.
Soon, I was giggling along with Lady Sybil...
Her faithful Carson by her side.
We walked across the street to Lord and Lady Grantham's Estate.
We were immediately greeted by the Dowager Countess, who was looking quite youthful in her fox fur.
Soon Lavinia, Mary, Edith (who played the theme song on the piano!) Cora, Sybil (in dinner attire) and all the gang arrived.
Carson began serving drinks in the drawing room, and we nibbled hors d'ouevres until called to dinner.
Our first course was a lovely mushroom soup. (It was REALLY good.)
Second course: shrimp with lemon and sauce, also delicious.
(Full confession, I ate the shrimp with my fingers. You can bring the ladies-maid Upstairs but you can't take the Downstairs out of her.)
Third course: included pork tenderloin with mango chutney, tea sandwiches, quiche, salad, scones and chicken salad. The only thing I am sorry about is that I didn't take pictures of the food. I was trying not to draw attention to the fact that a servant was seated at the upper class table.
There was a fourth course of amuse-bouche, or palette cleanser, of fermented grape and gelatin that was quite brilliant. Very tasty, indeed.
The fifth course, dessert and tea, was lovely, as we had our choice of assorted sweets. I had the vanilla cake with strawberry filling and white frosting, made by the young Lady Mary. It was her first from-scratch cake ever, and it was yummy.
Soon, it was time to end the soiree, but not before all Downton analysis, trivia and prediction (for season three) had been made.
For a mere 600 pounds (or $1054) you could visit and dine in the real Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle), but you won't find the fun and friends such as the ones I had last night.
Now its time to put the costume away and get back to the business of Monday morning in the Little Yellow House on the Hill...