Friday, 18 September 2020

Kedleston Wilderness

 As part of my get fit campaign, I'm trying to go out at least once a week for a longer walk. This week saw us back at Kedleston, heading for the Wilderness walk.
Schools have now opened for autumn term but even so I was surprised how few people were out and about, especially on a warm sunny day. As always, most were near the gardens and as we headed across the park we almost seemed to have the place to ourselves.

From previous walks by the river and through the wilderness, I've decided the riverbank nearest to the house gives better views, so that's the way we took ... past the boathouse, alongside the lakes to the stepping stones and bridge at the edge of the park.

Heading into the Wilderness, trees brought some welcome shade, but despite the sun there were lots of signs of autumn around - leaves changing to yellow or red, berries ripening, acorns filling.

After a while the path passes from under the trees to a more open park-like area, and here I spotted another sign that autumn was on the way - fungi.

From here the walk leads back under the dappled shade of the main drive.

For once I'd finished my walk with a little time to spare, so instead of heading straight back to the car  we wandered a short distance alongside the lower lakes, and found an almost complete fairy ring of mushrooms.

By now all the picnic tables by the hall were empty - and so was the car park! Time perhaps to head home.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Good Life Experience, at home

Over the weekend I was 'out' at another festival -The Good Life Experience.
In better times this would take place at Hawarden Castle in North Wales but this year the real life event has been postponed and re-formatted into a social-distancing-friendly online event beamed straight to festival-goers living rooms.

I first heard about it quite a few years ago, when, having dipped my toe in the festival scene at Curious Arts, I wanted to rush out and experience more. The Good Life Experience seemed a good fit for me - a celebration of all the things that aren't fast, commercial and 9-to-5, from crafts and cookery, to wild swimming and star-gazing.
Life got in the way back then but it's still on my 'festival bucket list', and if anything this year's at home taster session has deepened my desire to go.
For this year though, the Good Life Experience had to move online; free, but only for those who already have tickets for next year, or, like me, have our names down on the waiting list. In advance I received a package with info about events, vinyl to to take part in a creative workshop, recipes for the campfire cookery, and badges and stickers. Putting plans together it almost seemed like heading off to a real life festival.

I didn't try to do everything. I often arrive at festivals with plans to do and see a hundred things, but they never work out. I did have a busy, fun day though.

I started at 10 with a stretch and exercise class led by Leighton Sharpe.  It's not normally my kind of thing, and even less likely to be at a festival after a late night and erratic sleep in the tent, but sitting around with a cup of tea after breakfast I thought I'd look in via Zoom and discovered that the early part of the session looked do-able even for me, though I did drop out quite soon.
Later I caught a variety of Good Life Experience 'regulars' talking under the banner of Reimagine Your Life about how they'd coped through lockdown - the affect on their businesses and daily lives, what they'd learned, watched, listened to. It made me reflect on my year, what I've missed, and what I've oddly enjoyed about this time. Perhaps I'll stretch these thoughts into a post later.

Cerys Mathews read poetry.

Romy Gill demonstrated things to make on a campfire that were a far cry from toasted marshmallows and burnt (but still sadly uncooked) sausages.

In his Reasons To Be Cheerful event Mark Shayler introduced three people who via diverse paths have found their special 'thing' in life - for Kingsley Walters that was leatherwork, for Yvonne Telford, designing vibrant clothes to make women stand out, and for Amanjot Singh Johal it was running a specialist 'gin joint'. Mark's idea of 'have less, buy better' is something that I realise I've been practising for many years - buying individually produced craft pieces or clothes instead of high street mass production. I think my life is enriched by it, and anyway I like to have things which are a little bit unusual.

David Setter led a vinyl art workshop. It's a little like cutting out shapes of ready-gummed paper to create a collage - but trickier and demanding much more dexterity. David made it look so easy! I'm pleased with my finished kingfisher, adding some leftover scraps to make water, and might try to make another picture from the leftover snippets.

After demonstrations of campfire cooking and how to mix a perfect G+T, I decided to try both, bringing my day to a close cooking in the easier environment of my kitchen while the festival disco track played in the background. My attempt at roti flat bread wasn't a success (both burnt and undercooked like campfire sausages), but both courgette sabzi and the G+T were excellent.

All in all I had a really enjoyable day (although my daughter rather laughed at me attending an on-line festival). There were other activities I could have taken part in - joined a dance workshop, learned how to whittle a spoon, or watched a dog show held on Zoom (possibly the best use of that platform that I've heard of). One day I'll get along to Hawarden itself (perhaps next year with luck) but for now I have something to occupy me ...

Included with the information pack was The Good Life Handbook; fourteen activities for fourteen weekends - a preview of a book to be published later this year, full of challenging and engaging things to do. I firmly believe that despite my age there are new things to experience and discover (and, no, not a trip to Bali. That's never been my style), so I'll be trying some of these activities, and maybe adding some of my own.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

A Damp Day Out at Chatsworth

This week has been glorious weather-wise - apart from Monday which was the day we'd booked tickets to visit Chatsworth again. It was actually raining as we arrived, and because of the timed entry slots to the garden we couldn't wait it out in the car, but I'd taken my cagoule and had a huge (bright pink) brolly in the car so a bit of damp wasn't going to stop me.
First we headed to the wildflowers in the former rose garden. With grass paths dividing the flower beds, there's a sort of maze-like feel to this area. At least here you can tell if anyone is walking towards you; the actual Maze is closed as there's no way to socially distance in it.

Fortunately the rain stopped quite soon so we had a pleasant afternoon ambling round, finding new paths through the linked flowery glades along the slope above the more formal gardens.

This new planting scheme is enchanting with drifts of natural-feeling flowers in a range of whites, pinks and purples. I'm spending a lot of time identifying things, and wondering if these plants would work on a much smaller scale in my garden.

There are even stepping stones across a pond.
I possibly should act my age, but I do love quirky features such as this and can't resist walking across.

 Zig-zagging back and forth brought us downhill to the canal pond, and the famous view of Chatsworth House appearing to float on the water, with the Emperor Fountain before it.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Evening walk at Locko Park

As the evenings start to draw in I want to make the most of the remaining sunshine, and Locko is ideal for a short near-to-home walk.

I didn't go far at all this time - just down the drive as far as the lake. 

With the last sunshine bathing the water and surrounding trees, it's a lovely tranquil spot - till something spooked the geese, and they flew off honking noisily.