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.
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?
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.