"Osborne! The very name is still a joy. It meant summer holidays, it meant the sea and the seashore, it meant wonderful shells to be found when the tide was low—shells of every color and shape. It meant glorious bathing when the tide was high, and drives in the big "wagonette," as we called our brake, through the sweet-smelling woods, past hedges full of honeysuckle.
And it meant dear old Grandmama Queen in the background. Grandmama Queen at breakfast under her ecru, green-fringed parasol, surrounded by dogs, Indians, Highlanders, and also an aunt or two in nervous attendance, or occasionally a curtsying lady in waiting in correct black, all smiles and with the mellowed voice usual to those who served or attended to the great little old lady.
It also meant the beautiful terraces in front of Osborne House where the big magnolias grew against the walls, those giant magnolias which had a lemonlike fragrance and in which you could bury your whole face, but which you never dared pick because they were far too precious and exotic for childish plunder. Even when faded and their petals turned to a sort of leathery brown, they still kept their delicious scent, and then their curious hard-pointed centers became very prominent; they really were mystery flowers, as also were the passion flowers with their cross in the center and the many stamens laid flat in a perfect circle like the wheels of a watch. There was also jasmine on those terraces, and jasmine has always filled me with a sort of ecstasy."