Retirees Go Abroad – Kedleston Hall Derbyshire

We have been back in the UK for 5 days now and recovered from jet lag but Kerry has caught a cold and is feeling miserable. However this Tuesday morning we awake to bright skies and warmish sun so it is time to break out of our flat and see more of the world.

We have a busy schedule coming up and we have to watch our pennies as pensioners so we pull out the 2015 edition of the National Trust Guide. We settle upon a visit to Kedleston Hall.

The guide says “Designed by the famous architect Robert Adam, the hall was built for Sir Nathaniel Curzon in 1765 as a house to rival Chatsworth. Intended as ‘a temple of the arts’ and as the location for grand entertainments, the main house was never meant to be a family home, but a canvas on which to showcase the finest paintings, sculpture and furniture.” This might be worth a look.

We load up our Thistle and 30 minutes later we arrive at the front gate with its two gatehouses either side of the road leading to the hall. Beside the entrance is the Kedelston Hall Golf Club. A sign inside the gatehouses warns that livestock will be on the road. We drive for almost a kilometre with the fairways of the golf course on our left before the house comes into view. In front of us is a magnificent bridge crossing a river, black angus cattle grazing casually on the banks of the river. To our right a strange building sits on the far bank of the river and we learn this is a ladies fishing lodge so that the fair ladies did not have to get their feet wet whilst fishing, Across the river we see sheep with their lambs skipping around dotting the grassy approach to the hall. And the back drop to this idyllic picture is the hall – you cannot miss it, it is large and grand.

Our guide book had promised “As soon as you arrive at Kedleston Hall you are invited to take a trip back in time to the 1760s, when wealth and power enabled the creation of this magnificent neo-classical mansion and beautiful landscaped park.” We were not disappointed.

On arrival we booked to join the introductory tour and the Conservation tour. The introductory tour was held in the grand hall and we learnt about the history of the family which still resides in the hall today even though the hall is now the property of the National Trust. Kedleston Hall is the seat of the Curzon family whose name originates in Notre-Dame-de-Courson in Normandy. The family helped finance William the Conqueror and received 10,000 acres in Derbyshire as their reward.

Whilst waiting for the tours to commence we visited the family church and the crypts within.

The Curzon family have owned the estate at Kedleston since at least 1297 and have lived in a succession of manor houses near to or on the site of the present Kedleston Hall. The present house was commissioned by Sir Nathaniel Curzon (later 1st Baron Scarsdale) in 1759. The family ended up with two titles, the family title of Viscount Scarsdale and the personal title of Lord Curzon (an Irish title given to by Queen Victoria to a second son of the Curzon family so he could be Viceroy of India in 1898). This is the Lord Curzon I speak about in my blog on Tattersall Castle. (Somewhere different – Lincolnshire)

Our second tour dealt with the difficulty for the National Trust to live up to its motto “Forever, For everyone”. Conservation is a knotty and costly problem full of decisions around conservation or restoration and what is important. For this part of the tour we were taken to some rooms in the top of the house (formerly the guest rooms) which had not been restored and now were used as storerooms via subsidiary stair cases which were never designed for frequent use and therefore are not structurally able to handle more than ten people at a time. The tour started in the hall beneath the grand hall where we witnessed some of the deterioration caused through use (they had five thousand visitors over Easter) and the fact that the hall does not have engineered foundations as would be done today.

Even the grand hall is deteriorating quickly because of the building technique employed. In the former guest rooms we were shown the tools of conservation and the bits and bobs which are stored there for conservation. We even found a doorway in a cupboard through which we reached another set of stairs so frail that only one person at a time could view the staircase.

The guides told us that “Soon after he inherited Kedleston in 1758, Sir Nathaniel Curzon met a young architect called Robert Adam, who had recently returned from three years study in Italy and who shared his enthusiasm for ancient Rome and the principles of classical design. Sir Nathaniel had already demolished his grandfather’s house and, while he was initially commissioned to redesign the parkland, by April 1760 Adam had sole responsibility for the design of the new Hall and its interiors.”

On the ground floor Lord Curzon created the Eastern Museum, displaying objects collected on his travels in Asia and while Viceroy of India (1899-1905).

The West Wing housed the servants’ quarters and kitchens (now the offices and restaurant), while the East Wing remains, as it always was, the private residence of the Curzon family. For further information here is the link to the National Trust site.

The weather had been glorious so we strolled through the park (now only 4,000 acres) taking in the sunshine. We inspected that bridge more closely, interviewed some of the lambs frolicking in the pastures and inspected the Ladies Fishing Lodge although it was fenced off preventing a close up inspection.


It had been chill in the morning and in the hall but by 2.00 o’clock the day had reached its full potential. And so we bid farewell to Kedelston.

The Retirees take a holiday – in Australia – Maleny.

Dear Reader

At first I was going to tell you how hard it is to look after two boisterous boys on a farm stay holiday but I got over it so I won’t bore you with that but I can show you some of the pretty sights around Maleny and the farm which we all enjoyed.

I will tell you that the trip to Maleny was one of – “Are we there yet”, French songs sung by William and Matisse at the top of their voices, and constant chatter as each of the boys contested the right to be heard over the other. It was Kerry asking “Are we there yet”. The trip was uneventful for an Easter holiday with the weather a mixture of showers and grey skies.

We arrived at Solothurn Farm just in time for the 10.30 wagon ride. After travelling in the wagon towed by the tractor down the rough farm tracks we arrived at a corral – not for the cattle but for the people to stand inside and hand feed to the cows on the outside. Matisse would not leave the safety of the wagon but William was not afraid of the cattle and spent most of the time raking the fallen hay under the rails to the cows. He was not so sure of the farm dogs though. Feeding over, the tractor travelled oh so slowly back up the hill. Fortunately the scenery was outstanding. Our cabin was ready after the tractor ride and after settling in I strolled around to the Chapel. They do weddings  there also.

The next morning we made our way up to the cow shed for the milking of the cow. The weather was threatening rain so raincoats on, umbrellas raised off we went. Once we got to the milk shed, Lilly lined up to milk the cow – three or four times and Matisse clung to me saying “not the tractor ride no tractor ride”. So I hiked down the hill to the horses then the goats then the chooks then the pigs then the sheep and back up again to the emus and back to the milking shed. The rain stopped shortly after the feeding of the animals and the day warmed up. We took a drive to nearby Maleny, followed by swimming with the kids in the farm pool and then the kids ran around madly until dinner time when we had a BBQ and a glass of wine.


Over-night it rained incessantly so that the next morning all the puddles that had dried up the day before were now brimming with muddy water. We did the animal feeding again and William and Matisse were more familiar and more adventurous. We did the rounds then got ready for the tractor ride. But once again Matisse said “not the tractor ride” so I stayed behind whilst Kerry and the others went off on the tractor. After feeding the animals, Cassandra and I took the older ones on a walk to take some photos and Matisse napped.

After the walk we went to the pool. The water was not as cold as the previous day and I was able to do some swimming before becoming a surf board, a diving board, a punching bag and wrestling mat for Lilly and William. Kerry and Matisse arrived after his nap and of course he wanted to go in the pool. Exhausted I had just climbed from the pool and I had just dried off. But back into the pool I went to chaperone Matisse. Kerry lowered him into the pool and a tantrum erupted – he did not want Grandad in the pool. Indignantly this two year old swam to the ladder and climbed out of the pool. So we moved to the playground where the kids amused themselves in the playhouse with Mr Tantrum throwing a wobbly every now and then.

Monday morning and I took the boys off to the animals while Kerry packed the car. We departed around 09.00 and by the time we got to Mary Cairncross Park turn off the kids needed feeding and a break. So we went to the park, the kids went wild and we realised how exhausted we were. After returning from Maleny we moved from East Brisbane to Carina to baby sit Lilly Jazz whilst Cassandra visited Sydney.

I managed to sneak away for a day of fishing in the bay with my brother in law Ian in his boat. We left his house at Capalaba and arrived at Redland Bay launched the boat and we were at the yabbie bank at 7.15 am before the tide had turned. We got our bait then hopped in the boat and anchored off the bank to fish the incoming tide. It worked perfectly. We caught 24 bream (11 legal size and therefore keepers and 13 went back to grow some more). In addition Ian caught two sting rays one of which would have been 3 ft across its back and broke his line and his rod. I caught the only crab, a male sand crab with 1 claw which we also released back into the Bay. After returning to Ian’s home as I washed the boat and cleaned the gear Ian filleted and skinned the fish and we all enjoyed a feed of fresh fish that Friday.

We have now returned to Long Eaton. A busy calendar of travelling awaits us. We will travel to Villiers Bretonneux for ANZAC day, host a visit from Kerry and Rod, host a visit and trip through France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland with David and Veronica, host a visit from my brother Greg, visit Edinburgh for the Tattoo, visit Sue and Joe in the Lakes district and meet up with Ivor and Shanelle in Prague. I think that’s about it for now.

The Retirees take a holiday – in Australia – Brisbane

Our visit to Caloundra had come to an end so we returned to Brisbane. Carly had asked Kerry to manufacture some new ball gowns for Glitter Designs (now under the management of Carly) new fashion label Urban Prima, in time for the “Dancing with the CEOs” ball fund raising for the Women’s Legal Service. The ball was a success, lots of glitz and glamour and photo opportunities for Carly and her fashion label.

The weather which had been hot and humid improved changing to hot without the humidity. Whilst in Brisbane I  caught up with many of the people in my business network and friends as part of the adjustment to our ongoing travels.

I am back to walking in the morning. I have a really great circuit – from home I walk down to Mowbray Park on the river with views to the CBD, Kangaroo Point and the Storey Bridge (correct name is the Bradfield Highway but no one in Brisbane uses its correct road description). My circuit includes the Churchie Boat Shed, the avenue of large fig trees in the Park the Ferry Terminal where workers appear from 5.00am to take the trip to work, the sights and sounds of Brisbane. It takes about 1 hour but I walk through and see some of the best sights in Brisbane.

There are some great opportunities to take photos of some spectacular sunsets as our home overlooks Brisbane CBD and we a have a 280 degree vista of Brisbane from the east.

Doug and Nerida live on the opposite side of Brisbane and have spectacular views towards the city but from the north.

Whilst we are home, the Lorikeets (a small brightly coloured  and noisy parrot type bird) are feasting on the flowers on the trees in our driveway so it is easy to awake with the Lories for my walk. Even though Brisbane is a large city we still enjoy some of the native wild life – spiders, water dragons, white cockatoos, as well as the common butcher birds, currawongs, magpies, crows and mickey birds all joining the lories to make quite a symphony.

After the farm stay and before returning to the UK we had a gathering of friends at home and I took some photos before it got right out of hand.


The Retirees take a holiday – in Australia – Caloundra

For those of you who don’t visit the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane, Caloundra is the first beach area north of Pumistone Passage and Bribie Island. It has been an institution for Brisbanites with young families to holiday at the beach and whilst probably not as trendy as its neighbours to the North (Mooloolaba and Noosa), it suits us down to the ground. Our holiday unit is 300 paces through a parkland to the foreshore, Kings Beach, the Surf Club, the sea pool, the restaurants. cafes and boardwalk. The Surf Club has been modernised in the last few months and has views of Kings Beach through to the northern tip of Bribie Island.

There is a very pleasant walk along the headlands around to Moffat Beach which takes a little over an hour return which I try to take every day I am at the beach. Apart from the vista of the beaches (Kings, Shelly, and Moffat), and the traffic in the boat channel to Moreton Bay, you can stumble upon some wild life like bush turkeys and sea eagles riding the air currents.

Our old neighbours Rod and Kerry came for an overnight visit later in the week. They have land at Peregian Beach about 1 hour north of Caloundra and are exploring building on the land. We spent one morning checking out building designs and having lunch at Peregian. This is an area well known to Kerry and me as this is where we tried our hand at being developers, entrepreneurs and publicans, developing the first non-accommodation hotel at Peregian.

Sunday it rained thus spoiling our planned get together with friends in the park. Instead it was canapes in the unit and lunch at the pub (Kings Beach Tavern) three doors down the road.

The Retirees take a holiday – in Australia – Canberra

It’s early March and we have returned to Australia for a number of reasons. It was cold but fine as when we left Long Eaton but the unseasonably high temperatures, high humidity and lack of breeze made Brisbane just as unbearable.

My first Saturday back in Brisbane and I am off to Canberra (two hours by plane) to see our son Adam. He is loving living in Canberra. I have never been impressed by Canberra the few times I have travelled there but this time was very different and I can see why Adam has chosen this as his home. Adam introduced me to one of his neighbours by telling me to check out next door. So I poked my head above the fence and to my surprise his neighbours included a large male eastern grey kangaroo standing at least 5 feet tall. The neighbours don’t mow their grass and the roo hops down from Mt Ainslie park to graze on the grasses.

Sunday I forced Adam to take me on the grand tour of Canberra which included the following;

Mt Ainslie to view the city and surrounds and to photograph the War Memorial through to Parliament house.

Then onto the War Memorial. Despite visiting a few memorials around the world – Arlington in Washington, Les Invalides in Paris for example I still believe the War Memorial in Canberra is the best.

Then to Parliament house, the House of Reps and the Senate,

then to Kingston on the lake for lunch (new residential unit strip with cafes and bars)

then to Black Mountain and the Telstra Tower which is obvious on the Canberra skyline no matter where you are, and finally

to Mt Pleasant above Duntroon.

Monday I catch my taxi to the airport then pick up my car. I am at Caloundra by 11.30 am in time for our lunch engagement with Ivor and Shannelle . Only thing is I have picked up a gift – a cold.