Chatsworth House


Does this give you a warm glow?

Does this give you a warm glow?

It does me!  But I admit that a large part of that is memory.  I took it at Chatsworth House last year in the company of my daughter.  The visit made my Christmas special and I still feel a warm glow thinking about it.

I rarely see my daughter at Christmas but the lure of Narnia brought her to Chatsworth and I managed to meet her there.  That represents warmth to me.  How about you?

This is Lisa, 'keeping warm'

This is Lisa, ‘keeping warm’

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Warmth.”

Six word Saturday


If you wanted to see Alice?

If you saw my posts about Castle Howard at Christmas this week, you’ll know I’m quite fond of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire too.  I noticed that they’ve extended their opening hours into the New Year.  Here’s a peek at their video if you think you might be tempted?

It looks fun, don’t you think?

This was my second shot at Six word Saturday this week.  I was Nordic walking on the beach on Thursday, playing with my phone camera (the others were not amused- it was way too cold to linger!)  A big black cloud swept in, showering us with hail and sleet, and the camera point blank refused to work.  Remember my ‘let it snow’ post last week?

Be careful what you wish for!

Still, I quite liked the photos the camera took.  Here’s just a sample (with WordPress snow!) :

Here comes that cloud!

Beware  that cloud!

However you plan to spend the run up to Christmas, I hope you won’t get too stressed.  Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to visit Cate at Show My Face to share your six words.


The Award Fairy is simply worn out!


I have to admit it.  I have been so naughty this year, I really don’t think Santa will be coming to call.  What should I do to make amends?  I could start by acknowledging a few kind people who have bestowed awards on ungrateful me.

Women's skirt awardA good place to start, don’t you think?  It made me smile and pretty well sums up my attitude to writing.  Sandcastles in Portugal– isn’t that a lovely image? Alicia loves crafting so I’m sure many of you will enjoy her blog.

Whilst on the subject of Portugal, I’m long overdue a visit, and delighted to say that I’ll be back there on 2nd January, in time for Epiphany.  Alyson Sheldrake of Algarve Blog is a powerhouse of activity, and the creator of the Blog of the Year 2013 award.  If I don’t speed it up I’ll be just in time for 2014!  Aly’s artwork is legendary in the Algarve and you can visit her at either of her blogs.

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

Now you might wonder why I have awarded myself one of the six stars that go with this award.  Pure laziness is the answer!  I did warn you that Santa had crossed me off his list, didn’t I?  Michelle at Kidazzleink shone on me twice, giving me a star and the WordPress Family award too.

Like this cute snow fox

Do you like this cute snow fox?

I’m sure you all know Cee!  She is an amazing lady who illustrates Cee’s Photography with a rainbow of colour, and produces challenge upon challenge.  I owe sincere thanks for being included in her Sisterhood.  And Valentina, a fashion concious lady at  Low Rise, High Hopes kindly gave me the Best Moment Award.

And his companions

Cuddly snow bunny companions

In the true spirit of naughtiness I have no intention of fulfilling all the rules in the above awards.  Why should I bore you when you’d rather see another photo or two from Chatsworth House?  But if you follow all the links you can introduce yourself to the people you don’t know, and surely that’s the point?

All quite happy together!

Happy together, like the blogging family

My awards all appear in my sidebar, or on my Awards page.  Thank you very much to all concerned, and I do hope I haven’t missed anybody out.  So now that poor old Award Fairy can have a nice rest.  She must have earned some time off for Christmas!

A Chatsworth Christmas

IMG_1939Can you imagine spending Christmas in a stately home?  Chatsworth House in Derbyshire would be the one for me.  With the house beautifully themed and decorated all through December, wouldn’t it be wonderful to close the gates on Christmas Eve and have it all to yourself, just for a little while?  With a select few friends, of course.

Ideally I suppose there should be a carpet of snow, so you could hop, skip and jump your footprints into the lawns.  Which fire to drink your mug of hot chocolate by afterwards could be a big decision.  Of 126 rooms, almost 100 are never seen by the public. Think of the game of Christmas hide and seek you could play!

Come on!  Let’s go inside, shall we?  The house has been the family home of the Cavendish family since 1549.  A lady called Bess of Hardwick determined to settle in her native county, with her Suffolk born husband Sir William Cavendish, Treasurer of the King’s Chamber.  The riverside house was Bess’ project, carried on even after her husband died and she remarried.

Of course the house has changed greatly since it was first built, and, in the manner of all grand mansions, has a colourful history.  Mary Queen of Scots is known to have stayed here, whilst a prisoner.  In 1608, when Bess died, the house passed to her eldest son, but was purchased from him by his brother, William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire, for a measly £10,000.

Where to look first?  Christmas trees or ceiling?

Where to look? Christmas trees or up at that ceiling?
I mean, seriously- who lives in a house like this?

I mean, seriously- who lives in a house like this?

It is extraordinary!

It is quite extraordinary!

And that applies to almost everywhere you look.

Over time the house was added to and altered.  After World War II, the upkeep proved impossible.  Debt and death duties had accrued, and in 1946 a trust was established to administer the estate.  Today the house has a separate trust, and visitors pour through the gates, especially at Christmas.  The current Duke and Duchess of Devonshire are happy to be able to maintain and share their family home in this way.

How about this for a dining room?

How about this for a dining room?

Opulence doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I haven't even shown you the Painted Staircase yet.

And I haven’t even shown you the Painted Staircase yet.

The White Queen was here, but she's gone now.

The White Queen was here, but she’s gone now.

Just a small clue left behind.

Just a small clue left behind.

I expect you guessed, I came here to see “Narnia”.  And now I’m waiting for Boxing Day when “Death comes to Pemberley” will be screened on TV.  It was filmed in part at Chatsworth.  Based on the novel by P.D. James, it is a fictitious continuation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”.  Fittingly this year is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s novel.  I find that quite amazing.

It may not be in a stately home, but wherever you spend it, I hope your Christmas is beautiful.

A Grand Day Out!

Looking out from the Cascade

Looking out from the Cascade

I suspect that whatever your criteria for grand might be, Chatsworth House could fulfil it.  I honeymooned in the Peak District almost 25 years ago, and the memory of its grandeur and the beauty of the surroundings remains with me. The house sits in extensive grounds, with a wooded hill rising up behind it.  I returned, with my daughter Lisa, on a day unbelievably lovely for December.

I noted from Wikipedia that during World War II the house was occupied by 300 schoolgirls, for six years.  The Duke felt that they might be easier on his home than the soldiers who would otherwise be billeted there.  I’m not so sure!  In any event, they grew vegetables in the Kitchen garden to contribute to the war effort, and skated on the Canal Pond when it froze over.

Eventually you arrive at the top of the Cascade

Eventually you arrive at the top of the Cascade

Bewitched by the dancing fountains

To be bewitched by the dancing fountains

And the suitably disguised Pump house

And the suitably disguised Pump house

Onwards and upwards to the Grotto next, where you can sit in the bandstand, mistress of all you survey.  A lady visitor was obviously much pleased with her surroundings, and I tried, in my halting French, to exchange a few words.

And if you’re very good, you just might try

A cream tea!

A cream tea!

I don’t feel that I’ve really done the gardens justice.  Maybe it’s because I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the house.  The “Narnia” Christmas theme made it very special.  I’ll be writing more about the house and its occupants later this week.

In the meantime, I hope you feel you’ve had a grand day out? (yes, I quite like Wallace and Gromit too)  I’m linking this post to Cheri’s Weekly Photo Challenge. Join me there?

Christmas in “Narnia”

Russet leaves for a russet lady!

Russet leaves for a russet lady!

My first surprise of the day.  Lisa swept towards me- “Mum, I’m here!”  The flowing locks were a dazzling tangerine orange.  “It was just time for a change. I was tired of the red!”  And it suited her.  She looked radiant and happy- a look I love to see.

The venue?  Chatsworth House in the beautiful Peak District.  Every year this glorious home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire is themed for Christmas. This year it’s “Narnia”and totally irresistible.  My daughter has been a lifelong fan of the book by C.S. Lewis and the numerous films, so I planned a Christmas treat, for both of us. It’s quite a distance from home and I’ve never been inside the house before.  For Lisa it was about an hour’s drive from Nottingham.  Me- I hopped on the coach!  After the hugs and kisses it was off to see the spectacular grounds.

Sumptuous afternoon tea next, then the best bit!  Come with me to “Narnia”.

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There were dressing-up clothes for children in some areas, and of course, Lisa couldn’t resist!  A Christmas Trail, finding cuddly Aslans and clues along the way, was also meant to keep the children happy.  Guess who else enjoyed it?

Are you ready to be scared yet?  It’s time for the witch!

I was joking- she's much too pretty to be scarey!

I was joking- she’s much too pretty to be scarey!

Note the small Aslan, keeping her company.  Another clue for the Christmas Trail.  But now for the really sad part!

He's still breathing!  It's going to be ok.

He’s still breathing!  It’s going to be ok.

Time for a feast!

Time for a celebratory feast!

All's well that ends well!

All’s well that ends well!

I hope you enjoyed my little trip to Narnia.  It was the best Christmas present I could ever have asked for.  And now, I really must get on with my Christmas preparations.  I haven’t even bought the tree yet!  But I’ve made a list.

Chatsworth House is the most delightful setting and I will be posting more about the house and gardens.  If you are anywhere in the vicinity, “Narnia” will be available till 23rd December.  The link will give you directions.  I can absolutely recommend it.