Saturday, February 9, 2013

Downton Addict

When a friend first posted on my Facebook page and chided me for not yet writing about Downton Abbey on my blog, I was a bit perplexed. I'd never even heard of Julian Fellowes' Downton Abbey or its premise. What's the big deal about this soap opera?

Now I know. The opening bars of the theme are enticing and then comes that view of Downton Abbey that immediately draws you in. I've now immersed myself in the life of the Crawleys.

The show is set outside of York, England but in reality it is filmed near Winchester, England. After watching a few episodes I thought that the countryside looked familiar. A bit of searching confirmed my hunch. The countryside looks so familiar because I've actually lived nearby! (Can you tell I love these strange connections that life throws my way?!) Downton Abbey is actually Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England not far from Winchester, England where I studied abroad back in the late 1980s. The castle was built over the foundations of a medieval palace once owned by the Bishop of Winchester. For all of my King Alfred's College readers out there . . . this place was right in our backyard!

Best of all you can actually visit Highclere Castle in Hampshire. So if you find yourself south of London you can stop by and take a tour. A few walk up tickets are available but it's probably smart to book a ticket in advance for the summer. I believe they are blaming us Americans and our Downton Abbey viewing habits for the sudden increase in Highclere Castle's popularity.

I don't think I've been gotten quite so sucked into watching a television series since Knots Landing back in college. That was a Thursday night ritual. Now that I've burned through the first two seasons of Downton Abbey I'll have to get caught up on season three on PBS.com this weekend. With a snowstorm on the way I cannot imagine a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon. If you've not yet started watching Downton Abbey maybe this snowy weekend is a good time to give it a whirl!

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