At the moment, my teen seems barely back from one adventure before she's planing another, and to be honest it's making me feel a bit stuck-at-home. I don't really think this early in the year is the time for holidays but it's nearly March and Spring should be with us soon, tempting me with thoughts of seaside and paddling. I can't plan anything far in advance because my parents are both in their nineties and their health isn't good; for the same reason, if I do manage to go on holiday, I can't be away for more than a couple of days.
Anyway, I've been thinking, plotting, and making lists - of where I would like to visit if there no restrictions, of the cute, quaint, quirky places I'd like to stay (mainly this involves a long time scrolling through the websites of the Landmark Trust and Sawday's Canopy and Stars), but more of these later. The first one is the Ultimate Staycation - not just staying in the UK (which is what I do anyway) but staying at home and behaving as if I were on holiday. Although we often go out at weekends it tends to be to the same places - Shipley Country Park, Carsington Reservoir, Cromford, Chatsworth. I think this year is time to try somewhere new ... so here's ten places I'd like to visit within an easy drive of home ...
Firstly, something I will have to do within the next week or so - a snowdrop walk. OK I've already been to my 'regular' spots at Shipley and Calke this year, but other snowdrops ARE available. I'd love one year to be able to see them at Walsingham or Anglesey Abbey, or visit the Shaftesbury Snowdrop Festival, but for now somewhere local will do. Both Hopton Hall in Derbyshire and Hodsock Priory in Nottinghamshire open their gardens during February for the snowdrops displays, and I'm determined to see one of them, at least!
If snowdrops mark the beginning of Spring, bluebells mark Summer's arrival. Our local wood is carpeted with them and at Lea Bridge in Derbyshire there is an amazing bluebell-covered hillside, but, although I'll be going back to both of these, I'd love to find more. As yet, I don't know of any within a reasonable distance, but there must be somewhere.
Sticking with the flowery theme but in a more general way, I'd like to visit at least one of the private gardens open for charity as part of the NGS. I always pick up their yellow booklet, always say I'll go along, but never do. So there's a late resolution - pick one, and visit it.
Then there's a number of historic houses within a reasonable distance of home that I'd like to visit -
Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire, home of Lord Byron. A place I often visited as a child but now I live further away it's not so convenient. Dogs are allowed in the gardens so we can possibly make this a full-day trip and go walking in Sherwood Forest too if there's time.
Eyam Hall - a manor house, now owned by the National Trust, in Derbyshire's famous 'plague village'
Another National Trust property, this time near Leicester, Stoneywell is a much newer house built at the end of the nineteenth century in Arts and Crafts style. I've been intending to visit since the National Trust took the property over a couple of years ago but having to pre-plan and book in advance has stopped me getting round to it.
Bromley House Library, Nottingham - a subscription library set up in 1816, and hidden behind an anonymous door. It's open to the public for booked tours but, you've guessed, I've never been organised enough to book! This year I will.
Peveril Castle, Castleton, Derbyshire - I love exploring castles so I don't really know why I've never visited Peveril. Fortunately dogs are allowed in, as this is one of the furthest 'staycation' jaunts and I wouldn't be happy to leave our dog home alone too long.
In much the style of the open gardens, there are a couple of schemes which open private houses and other buildings to the public. Among those included on Heritage Open Days is North Lees Hall near Hathersage, the 'model' for Thornfield Hall in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, yet another place I've been intending to visit for years but never have.
Last on this list is a trip to somewhere, anywhere within the National Forest. It's a huge area to the south of Derby that's been gradually forested, adding new plantations to older woods and copses, and with walking trails and picnic areas. Although the opposite side of Derby, I can't quite think why we've not explored it before. It's just the kind of place I'd look for on holiday away from home, and ideal for taking the dog along, so it ought to be perfect for holidaying here.
So I have a list - all do-able with a bit of planning. The important things I feel to make a day or two out and about feel like a holiday are to get up early, ignore household chores and the lure of the internet, and try to not spend the evening in front of the TV (although I've had plenty of wet autumn holidays when I've done just that!). Hopefully a day or two spent this way will feel as refreshing as a weekend away from home.