I stopped in the great hall and chatted briefly with a couple of chaps I knew only slightly, one who'd been at Magdalen and the aforementioned Tollemache who'd been at Eton, and they introduced me to various sisters, uncles, and houseguests in their retinues without any of them making any kind of impression on my memory--no fault of their own, of course, but when everyone is wearing essentially the same thing, and talking about the same thing, you have to be fairly spectacular in the way of personality or looks to stand out.
Since there was nothing more interesting to do, I headed to the stable-yard, going around by way of the chapel-wing instead of the front door, partly to avoid the crush in the courtyard where mounted riders were already congregating and partly to stay inside for as long as I could. The grooms were all busy, so I saddled Samson myself and got mounted, though I asked one of them to double-check my buckles to make sure I did it right.
The stable-yard was rather chaotic, with several horse-boxes being unloaded and another several being pulled in behind battered estate vans, horses being led by grooms and horses being ridden, and dozens of people dashing about trying to fetch and carry without being trampled underfoot. Through a dark tunnel under one of the curved colonnades, I entered the forecourt where the chaos was a little more genteel but just as noisy as people clattered about aimlessly on the cobbles and chatted to each-other in voices that echoed off the stone walls.