Sunday, 27 November 2011

Chatsworth Weekend

Chatsworth House

It's nine days since my last blog and a good blogging friend even e-mailed me to see if I was okay. That is very kind sir, a considerate thing to do. Life has been hairily busy and every night out doing something or other, my weekends a slave to domesticity and hobby. Well this weekend 26/27th I was away on a coach trip weekend to get away; to declare a break from my world. I went to Derby, stayed overnight between Derby and Nottingham and spent Sunday at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, the ancestral  home of the Earls and Dukes of Devonshire.

I have noticed however, despite the mildest November since records began, it was desperately cold in the chill wind this weekend. 

 River Derwent, Derby

It's one of the few cities I can't recall visiting in my life and although I've been to Derbyshire many times, Derby has eluded me - until now. It was a pleasant place and a straight forward city centre with old and new mixed. The new is an eclectic mix of steel and concrete and some of it jars because as you drive to the city centre, it is rather more modern than old on the outskirts. We passed the twisted spire of Chesterfield during the weekend and frankly I am amazed it still stands. 

Eagle Indoor Market, Derby

Derby has a large and pleasant shopping centre next to the new bus station and a covered indoor market which was less impressive. Lunch was at a national franchise food outlet in the shopping centre which was adequate and afternoon tea was in a lovely cafe on a city centre street. The hotel was perfectly adequate and actually very good value for money - the meals were very good both on Saturday evening and breakfast Sunday morning. The hotel was the Novotel between Nottingham and Derby.

 Newly Christmas Decorated Great Dining Room

Sunday saw us visit Chatsworth House and we got there early after getting up at stupid o'clock because the coach driver said that there was a Christmas Market at Chatsworth and the previous week had seen traffic from hell. There was no market and we were first there having arrived through glorious Peak District countryside bathed in misty morning sunlight. The advantage was we were first through the gate. Disappointingly, some of the house was closed because they were putting Christmas decorations up in the upper floors so we were confined to the ground floor. In addition, because of work to the masonry, half the house was shuttered off on the outside with safety sheeting while the stone work is subject to acid treatment to clean it. We never saw the famous violin.

Great Chamber

What we saw however was magnificent. Exceptional paintings both in frams and on walls and ceilings including a Leonardo Davinci which looked as fresh as if it had just been painted and classical sculptures abounded. The decor was magnificent, opulent and very well cared for.  The house was themed and each room had different and magnificent Christmas decorations and a carol playing. Local schools had provided some of the decorations which was a lovely touch. It provided much atmosphere.

Marble Bust in the Sculpture Gallery with Christmas Decorations

The funny thing was that the grounds were so large and extensive, we would never have had time to walk round them, so we took a buggy tour for three quid (£3.00 or 3.5 Euros or $4.63) for half an hour. We were sat on the back seat looking rearward and therefore everything the guide who was driving said "...and look to your right and you will see..." was actually to our left. How confusing and sadly we missed some of the sights. But it was funny remembering his left was our right.

Part of the intricate garden displays

There is much to see and do at this magnificent house and grounds - there is no other word for it - magnificent and beautiful too. However, if I have just one negative observation, unlike the less famous Sledmere House we visited which I mentioned in the blog a few months ago which was a family home and adored clearly as a home - you could tell, Chatsworth just lacked that personal touch of a 'home' that it clearly still is with the 12th Duke still living there. It is a national treasure and all very professional but not 'lived in.' Does that make sense?

The Cascade

I would heartily recommend a visit. I did this tour by National Express holidays and it was £60 (69.95 Euros or $92.62) for Saturday in Derby and Sunday at Chatsworth. It included bed, breakfast and evening meal and the ticket into Chatsworth. This was good value for money. Other tour operators are available.

Chat soon


Friday, 18 November 2011

To Early for Christmas?

Well, I've gone and done it now. No return from the brink. Precedents set, people surprised and amazed. What on earth am I talking about? My colleague Ellie and I have put our office Christmas decorations up! Here's the proof. We both sit in an alcove at the back of a larger office so we decided just to decorate the alcove where we sit.

I went to see The Adventures of TinTin (The Secret of the Unicorn) the other night and what a thoroughly enjoyable piece of animated nonsense this is. This is Spielberg at his adventurous best with a good story, rollicking adventure - Indiana Jones style and animation to marvel at. This movie is an adaptation of the Belgian comic book series The Adventures of Tintin created by the Belgian artist Georges Rémi, who wrote under the pen name of Hergé. Who remembers the TV series that always started with a man's rather strained, dramatic and excited voice at the beginning announcing: "Hergé's... Adventures... of TinTin?"

The film, quite rightly is rated PG for some violence (nothing graphic), the drunkenness of Captain Haddock and someone lighting a cigarette. This is thoroughly recommended and the whole show was stolen by the wonderful animation and character of Captain Haddock superbly voiced by Andy Serkis. Daniel Craig (007) is excellent and nasty as the villain Ivanovich Sakharine.

My weekend is partly planned because with my 'business' partner Linda, we have our second Angel gift ware stall 'Touched by Angels', this time at the Royal Station Hotel in Hull on Saturday in support of Dove House Hospice, a wonderful organisation.  

Have a great weekend

Chat soon


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Grey Weekend

It's been one of those grey raw days today - sky never clears, no sun but no rain either.

Never-the-less, it's been a busy day considering I was intending to rest and do not a great deal. I did the paper review on BBC Radio Humberside Andy Comfort's Sunday Brunch (this link lasts seven days only) between 10.00 and 12 noon today. This is just relaxed fun and a chat using the papers as a prompt. I got three out of five in the weekly news quiz he gives all his Sunday guests and despite some real technical problems the station was having, the programme went ahead using old fashioned DJ skills rather than the electronic all singing all dancing technical approach to modern broadcasting.

The BBC have an initiative called Britain in a Day. I've submitted a time lapse video to them (above), no doubt one of many thousands using a snapshot of my day. Have a look at the site, the result should be very interesting.

Have a great week ahead.

Chat soon


Saturday, 12 November 2011

It's all Context

It's the 12th November 2011 and it's only my second blog of the month - not good enough. Mind you it has been been busy and I had to take time off in the middle of the week because I wasn't well but all is back on track. So much to tell so I'll try to do it chronological order.

After my arrival back from my Mediumship course on Saturday last week, I went to the pictures on Sunday night to see Paranormal Activity 3, the prequel to the first two films. I'm not going to do a review because unless you've seen the films or are interested in the genre, it would be fairly meaningless, but if you have, it's worth seeing.

I don't like first day back at work on Monday after time off - I never have although rather surprisingly I only had 50 e-mails which is good and no surprises which is also good.  I had a memory flashback on Tuesday at work. Although I was starting to feel the first inklings of unwellness, sore throat, spinning head and can't concentrate on anything, like a martyr, I stayed at work. I made a cup of tea for my colleague Ellie and I and I opened a fresh tinfoil pack of tea bags and the smell that came out of them immediately reminded me of opening quarter pound (100g) packs of loose Brook Bond PG Tips tea at home when I was a kid looking for the collectors cards that sat within them. Great memories.

Wednesday came the crunch do I go to work or not? I guess it was all decided when I couldn't get out of bed because my head was spinning like a top. I took a day off. This was not what I am used to. My sickness record is excellent but when it comes to not being able to physically sit up - there's no choice. Anyway, my sickness record is intact because I took a day's leave instead which is ridiculous, but there you go. I cancelled my dental appointment for Thursday because I couldn't face having my loose crown stuck back, not because it's painful, because there isn't any pain, but the keeping open of the mouth with a rasping sore throat and a cough wasn't something I thought I could cope with.

Finally, my son John and I have a photographic exhibition at the Hull History Centre entitled - Kingston-upon-Hull: History in Context

This exhibition presents a series of photographs which combine original black and white photographs from Hull’s past and modern digital images taken from the same vantage point as the original photographer. This was one of the most challenging and enjoyable aspects to this project in finding the original location upon which the photographers of yesteryear stood in order to make it possible for the photographs to be combined.

The photographs taken in 2011 by me were manipulated by John using Photoshop to show elements of what remains of the old city of Hull and combined them with today’s more familiar images. It looks really good and today there are a couple of examples which, if you click on them, will expand for a better view.

It lasts all of November and if you are around Hull - pop in and have a look.

Chat soon


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Gunpowder Treason and Plot

"Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot." If you've had a bonfire party or been to a display - hope you had a great time.

I'm back home from my Mediumship, Training and Development course at the Arthur Findlay College in Stansted, Essex refreshed and educated having met and enjoyed the company of some wonderful people from around the world.

Just a couple of pictures for you for the time being as I have some catching up to do. The top one is the imposing south facade of the college, Stansted Hall and the one below is just a view of a fraction of the grounds in glorious autumn colour taken this morning before our departure.

I can hear fireworks going off continually outside but our two cats don't seem in the slightest bit bothered. Good to be home.
Chat soon