Monday, January 7, 2008

Winding things down

Well, we woke up to our last day in the Peak district. The dogs were out sniffing around, and the owners let us take them for a morning walk. We had the best time walking around the fields and blackberry hedges with these sweet dogs.

We went down into the nearest town, Matlock. Yes, Matlock. And no, there weren't any white-haired Southern lawyers there. We found the carriage house that loaned its carriages for use in Pride and Prejudice, as well as lots of other films.

Later we took a cable car up to the top of the surrounding cliffs. There was a park there called the Heights of Abraham. There were lots of gorgeous views, and a cave tour that we didn't take.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We wound up our day at a wonderful tea shop where I got to finally find out what treacle tart tastes like. It's thick and molassesy. Harry Potter can have it. The tea was fantastic, of course, as well as the other biscuits we sampled. We survived our trip back down the A-1 to The Acorns, some minor detours here and there, but we made it. The next day I lugged my stuff back down to London and made it on the plane. God bless Virgin Airlines, they served a good meal, and poured Bailey's Irish Creme afterwards. That was the best drink I've ever had. I really needed it right then. I arrived back home safely, full of the trip of a lifetime. I'm getting back someday, just you wait.

Friday, January 4, 2008

We found Mr. Darcy!

Yes, after a long time of pining, we found our Mr. Darcy. He was a little cold and stiff, but he was still great to look at. We tore ourselves away from the homegrown strawberries at breakfast and set off for the Peak District. Mom had gotten a Pride and Prejudice package through the local tourism bureau, and we had tickets to two of the great English houses used in the films. The first was Chatsworth, the home of the Duke of Devonshire. Being Duke of Devonshire means that you own the county of Devonshire, evidently. A whole county. He was one of the wealthiest men in England, until death taxes made off with 80% of his estate. It's not healthy to be richer than the king, they take it personally. Anyway, it was every bit as grand and impressive as Buckingham Palace. It was also Garden Weekend, when all the local garden clubs decorate the grounds and inside the house, so there were 40 busloads of elderly people all examining things. It was hot and stuffy inside, and you were shuffled along in a mass of people, but it was still amazing.

The entrance to Chatsworth. We weren't asked to hoot, which I found disappointing.

The family chapel. I know it's blurry, but you get the idea. I wanted to see the area at the end of the film where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have their final scene, but it was a private family area, and roped off. Dang.

The statue garden was incredible. I loved this one.

Finally! *sigh*

So, after being drizzled on, we went to Haddon Hall, which was used as the inn at Lambton, where Elizabeth gets the news that Lydia has eloped. I love that scene.
Haddon is completely different in feeling than Chatsworth. It is much older, more serene, and you feel as though you better not fall asleep for fear it will be 500 years later when you wake up. It truly is preserved as a medieval hall, and it made the stories I've read about those times take life. There are rooms with panels carved into likenesses of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth, and the original furniture and tapestries. The gardens are beautiful and eccentric, which makes them more beautiful to me. The warden on duty there was present during the filming, so he was able to tell us about Keira Knightley, it was fun. We loved Haddon Hall, much better than Chatsworth to be honest. It was what we had hoped to experience in an English country manor.

Mistress of the hall

We Americans are so good at following directions.

Views from Haddon's tower

We had dinner in a wonderful pub called the Hanging Gate. Mom ordered iced tea. The waitress had never heard of it, so she took a glass of hot tea and put ice in it. We were amused by that, but the food was fantastic. We got back to Danna farm and fell asleep to the sound of rain on the roof. I am beginning to sense the end of the trip coming, and I don't want it to. Surely they won't notice if I don't show up for work for another month or two.