Thursday, 31 August 2017

Melbourne Hall and gardens

Bank Holiday Monday dawned bright and sunny so we decided to seize the day and visit Melbourne Hall just south of Derby. Despite it being quite close by - less than half an hour from home - we'd never been before, but my staycation project is all about finding new and interesting things to do on my doorstep, so off we went.

If it hadn't been for all the cars trying to park by the hall, visiting Melbourne itself would have felt like stepping back in time, but even with modern intrusions it's easy to imagine a bustling market town of a couple of hundred years ago.

View from Hall entrance

The Hall itself sits right on the main street but the entrance is down a small lane from which a view of Melbourne Pool opens up.

From the house terraced lawns lead to the pond and its 'birdcage' gazebo, but paths lead further away, through specimen trees to other smaller ponds, with a variety of statues and urns to discover on the way.

With plenty of seats it was easy to find a spot to sit for a while, either in sun or shade, to watch the ripples make and break patterns on the pond surface, watch the swans, or try to spot fish. It would be a lovely tranquil place but for one unavoidable modern-day intrusion - regular flights to and from nearby East Midlands airport; another time I'd visit on hopefully quieter non-holiday day.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition

The second of our days out last weekend (it's a loose sort of term, as we went on Monday) was to see the Chatsworth House Style exhibition, featuring clothes belonging to current and previous generations of the Devonshire family.

There are gowns worn by duchesses to coronations, a variety of wedding gowns and costumes from fancy dress balls, and frankly they are a lot more gorgeous than anything you're going to find in your own old clothes boxes!

I'm always amazed by the hours of work that must have gone in to creating these dresses, the massive number of sequins sown on by hand or the use of embroidery to create pattern on plain textiles.

Vivian Westwood re-imagining the dress
 worn by Elizabeth I in the portrait behind

Not everything on display was 'ancient'. There was a mix of recent and contemporary clothing in there as well, from fashion houses such as Gucci, Anna Sui, Prada Vivian Westwood, and Christopher Kane.

And this huge finale in the dining room displayed clothes from a variety of periods

another Vivian Westwood

Although it was my idea to go, I hadn't expected to find it as fascinating as I did, and stopping to examine almost every item very closely took far longer than I expected.
I haven't included HALF the photos I took (even discarding those with strange reflections from perspex display cases, or the multitude of sequins sparkling over a dress), and I think I might need to go back and see the exhibition again before it closes in October. 

Who's it for? Anyone with an interest in textiles, embroidery, the history of clothing, fashion design, social history; even my husband wasn't bored but poured over household ledgers of expenditure on clothes, and was very impressed by the Dr Who style mannequins!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The "Long Walk" at Kedleston

dogs are welcome in the Pleasure Grounds and Park
so it was appropriate to be greeted by this canine volunteer

In a combination of making the most of summer and trying to take more exercise, we headed out on Sunday to Kedleston Hall, a National Trust property just an the outskirts of Derby, not to go round the house itself, but to follow one of the walks marked around the grounds. There are several to choose from, some following the river that runs through the park, but we picked the Long Walk, just over three miles in length, and following the boundary of the Pleasure Grounds.

reflecting the sky

The walk starts at the edge of the more manicured gardens, grazed by willow-work sheep, and heads through these gates following an avenue of trees.

In the early part, the path was firm and dry, even after the previous day's rain, leading gradually up hill till views open up over the Derbyshire countryside

It's hard to believe this is barely a few mile from Derby city centre

Along the route there are things to amuse possible reluctant (younger) walkers - a restored hermitage looking like somewhere you might find Hagrid,

an area where you can build your own den,

wooden blocks to play 'stepping stones' on, and a horizontal tree trunk to test your balancing skills (I was tempted but too afraid of slipping and looking foolish!)

About halfway round the view opens across the pleasure grounds to the back of the house, and there are seats to stop for a rest, and there are paths here leading back if you fancy a shorter walk but we pressed on as after all we'd reached the highest section of path, and from here on most of the way is downhill.

Following onward along the tree-lined route, we were soon back down to the level of the house, and for the last section the path led through meadows alongside the river. Next time I should like to explore along here more, and remember to take a pair of binoculars - even without them we spotted swans (above) and maybe half a dozen herons (one is sitting very still, probably watching for dinner to come along, in the left hand photo).

We'd taken longer than expected for the walk (the NT leaflet suggests 80 minutes) but we stopped a lot to look at things along the way so I wasn't surprised. The downside was we were a little late to sample tea and cake back at the cafe - maybe something for another trip.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Great Northern Greenway

 The last of my jaunts last weekend was the closest to home, but the most strenuous - a walk, about 4 miles in total, to and along the Great Northern Greenway, just outside Derby.
From the name if not the pictures you can guess that this was once a railway and has now been surfaced as a route for cyclists, joggers, dog-walkers etc.

We live in a suburb on Derby's northern edge, and the old railway arcs round us a little further out into the countryside, so it's always seemed like it ought to be a good place to go walking, but it's a bit tricky to reach, and somehow I'd never got round to walking along it.

We started by cutting through the housing, crossing the A608, and heading steeply downhill to meet the old tracks by Breadsall village. This point is probably halfway along the length, and from there we headed out of town, uphill back to the A road - yes, uphill, despite the fact that railway lines are generally flat!  We'd joined the route at a point where a bridge had either collapsed or been demolished for safety, so the path was lower than the original railway line and gradually rose to reach it. Then the track rose even further to the point where it crosses the A road, rather than risk the old tunnel under it.
On the far side of the main road, the route stays up above the old line for quite a while before re-joining it briefly then climbing out again as the original track enters a cutting,then stops short at a road. For now the Greenway stops there too, and we had to make our way home down small, but not quiet, roads.

To be honest it wasn't a very interesting walk. A lot was down in cuttings with no view, it was nothing like as flat as I expected, there was a tricky A road to cross twice to make a circular walk, and the noise from the road seemed to follow us most of the way. It's possibly a better route for a bike ride than a walk, and eventually it will extend to join Derby to Ilkeston which might make it useful for enthusiastic cycling commuters, but I don't think I'll bother again. Still, it's something I've intended doing for a while so I can mark  it off my 'bucket list', and it all adds up to getting out, about and taking more exercise.

We DID find two interesting things - firstly this rather nice bridge seeming to merely lead from one field to another ...

.. and (by the roadside, not on the old railway) this intriguing gate which we've driven past hundreds of times without noticing at all!

Adventures from earlier in the weekend; - Haddon Hall;house and garden, Haddon Hall exhibition, Shipley Park, Darley Park Hydrangeas

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Darley Park Hydrangeas

My adventures last weekend continued with a Sunday morning trip to Darley Park in Derby to see the hydrangeas there. Most of the park is of the trees and grass sort, with space to walk the dog or play football, but in one corner lies an old walled garden, filled to overflowing with hydrangeas of all sorts and styles, and a distant view of Darley Abbey church spire.

Originally set up by Derby City Council and now maintained by Hydrangea Derby volunteers, there are over 500 varieties in the collection, though to the untrained eye (like mine) many look alike.
I also believed that colour was more affected by soil than by breeding, but these were in shades from white through lilac to deep pinks, growing side-by-side.

Most were the huge floppy-headed shrubs you expect, but I was surprised how varied the flowerheads were  - from round pompoms to cone-shaped horse chestnut-style bunches, on some small flowers were ringed by a circle of larger ones, others looked more like a branch of lilac, some had leaves shaped like those of an oak tree. If asked to identify them from a single flowerhead, for some I'd have been at a loss!

hydrangea aborescens "Bounty"

A border of cone-shaped flowered paniculatas

Hydrangea or lilac?
Hydrangea Involucrata "Hortenis"

Oak shaped leaves on quercifolia "John Wayne"

 The only type I didn't spot inside the garden but out in the park, was this blue - maybe it is all down to soil type?

You can find more information about the collection and the work of Hydrangea Derby on their website here