It had been a long day.
The school holidays mean that a sunny day is often a long day. It is wonderful having so many visitors and it is lovely to see happy families picnicking by the moat and enjoying the walks. It really is. No, it is. Really.
It's just that lots of children in the house means lots of extra care has to be taken to ensure that they are entertained and that the precious things are unmolested. The two states do not naturally exist together. On the typical family intensive day I will find the pot pourri liberally sprinkled around the place, rubbish in the leather fire buckets, stickers on the furniture, devastation in the Family Room, and situations you really don't want to know about in the lavatories.
It was at the end of just such a demanding day that a final family came through the doors a couple of minutes past closing time. They knew they were a little late, but could they have a look round? "Of course," I replied. "Do come in".
I could hear the sound of the early 20th century typewriter in the study having its keys thumped enthusiastically from downstairs. I climbed the stairs and found three children clustered around the - admittedly tempting - typewriter and explained that it was very old and by bashing all the keys at once it would simply jam and break. At this point their parents, who had been in the adjacent room, came through and I engaged them in conversation too.
At one point the fact emerged that the part of the house not open to the public was still lived in, and from there it was a short step to being identified as the fortune favoured person in residence.
The usual "Oh, you're so lucky," conversation ensued, but then the woman asked me "how do you get a job like that?"
I sketched in the sort of background needed.
"The thing is," she said, "my husband will be retiring in a few years and I can just see us in a place like this, pottering about."
Pottering about? Pottering? It's not their fault, I know. They obviously think that standing in the house, talking, is the job in its entirety. I debated telling them about the fact you can't leave the house without arranging cover, the three nights in a row I'd been awoken by the alarms sounding at 4am due to an errant bat, the working every weekend and Bank Holiday, the lack of privacy, the fact that if someone does crap all over the toilet seat then it's down to you to clean it up, and so on, but then thought better of it and simply explained how these jobs are advertised in the local press and can be searched for online, on our website.
They'll find out.