Retirees Go Abroad – Ordinary Lives living in the UK – Winter Wonderland in the Peak District

The Peak District is west and north – west of Derby. It is comprised of hills and valleys covered in heather and green during spring, summer and autumn but in winter it is covered in snow. Svein’s wife Diane had visited Kerry in September whilst I had returned to Australia for work and she was so taken by the Peak District that Svein needed to see it for himself.

Now Svein is an artist and lives in the old town of Brugges in Belgium. Painting landscapes is not his style but he has a keen appreciation of nature and it’s beauty. We decided we would visit Matlock then visit Chatsworth House and move onto Buxton and then home. Here in Long Eaton we had seen snow flurries and felt the chilling winds but the snow did not last and fortunately neither did the ice that follows the snow. But it was a different story as soon as we started climbing the rural roads outside Chesterfield to travel to Matlock. Upon arriving in Matlock the temperature had dropped significantly there was slush in the street with black ice and we decided it would be good to visit in spring.

I set Tommy (our gps) for the quickest route to Buxton and we would pick up signs to Chatsworth on the way. However at one point Tommy told us to turn left and clearly that was not going to happen. In front of us there appeared a narrow village street with both sides lined with parked cars both street and cars covered in snow (no snow plough here). Thistle has front wheel drive and after we had travelled about 4 metres, Thistle started to slip and slide up the hill in front of us. We had another 200 metres to go to the top of the hill when I made the decision to slide back down to the intersection and find another road to Chatsworth House. However it was so pretty I was directed to stop for the photo gathers to snap pictures.

We found our way to Chatsworth House under snow. Now I expect Diane will be envious but it cannot be helped. We have been here numerous times but we were still not ready for the Christmas card scene. The house was not open for visitors but the stables were and it was nice to get out for a walk and shelter from the wind. Inside the stables we found the local Peak District Artisans had a display. Fantastic promotion of the artisans and their work which included jewellery, silverware, ceramics, art, furniture photography and textile design. Svein was jealous that there is no similar promotion for the artisans of Brugges.

We moved on to Taddington. As we drove to Buxton through the snow and frozen trees of the Peak District a sign on the edge of the road pronounced “Food – next mile”. Svein was looking for lunch at a country pub and you don’t get much more country that Taddington. So we left the road for the track that led to Taddington and the Queens Arms Hotel.

After parking Thistle in a down – hill position to ensure we could leave we went into the hotel where we were the only patrons. The fire was alight and warm a small space in front of it. Otherwise the bar was as cold as a witch’s elbow. Sitting beside the fire we ordered lunch and it was just what Svein wanted – a large plate with lashings of chips and ale pie. An hour or so went by and still no other patrons came into the pub. I awakened the barmaid sitting prone in front of a two bar electric heater messaging on her phone. As we paid our bill the barmaid announced that the road to Buxton was closed due to snow and we may need to rethink our route.  We decided to risk the journey and set off.

The snow had stopped and we made it safely into Buxton. We had read about the world’s largest unsupported dome being in Buxton. With a diameter of 44 m (144.356 ft), larger than the Pantheon (43 metres (141 ft)) and St Peter’s Basilica 42 m (137.794 ft) in Rome, and St Paul’s Cathedral (34 metres (112 ft))it was created for the 7th Duke of Devonshire between 1780–1789 from the Great Stables formerly part of the Crescent. The Crescent was modelled on Bath’s Royal Crescent along with an irregular octagon and colonnade of the Great Stables. The Dome became the Devonshire Royal Hospital (now the Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby). The record was surpassed by space frame domes such as the Georgia Dome (256 metres (840 ft.). The building and its surrounding Victorian villas are part of the University of Derby.

After a visit to the Dome and a hot chocolate at our favourite chocolate shop we agreed we were cold enough to call it a day and headed home.

Bishops Visit – Interval – Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall is an English country house on the River Wye at Bakewell, Derbyshire, one of the seats of the Duke of Rutland. It is currently occupied by Lord Edward Manners (brother of the current Duke) and his family. In form a medieval manor house, it has been described (in Wikipedia) as the most complete and most interesting house of its period. The origins of the hall date to the 11th century. The current medieval and Tudor hall includes additions added at various stages between the 13th and the 17th centuries.

The Vernon family acquired the Manor of Nether Haddon by a 13th-century marriage. Dorothy Vernon, the daughter and heiress of Sir George Vernon, married John Manners, the second son of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, in 1563. A legend grew up in the 19th century that Dorothy and Manners eloped. The legend has been made into novels, dramatizations and other works of fiction. She nevertheless inherited the Hall, and their grandson, also John Manners, inherited the Earldom in 1641 from a distant cousin. His son, another John Manners, was made 1st Duke of Rutland in 1703. In the 20th century, another John Manners, 9th Duke of Rutland, made a life’s work of restoring the hall.

Our visit started on an indifferent day as we travelled up the M1 to Chesterfield and past the Oasis Café (this is a café in a layby on the side of the road with porta potty dunnies but from the advertising you would expect an oasis) and on through Bakewell. Now our Tommy had a different idea on how to get there and unexpectedly told us to turn right into a rural lane headed up a wooded hill. We were travelling over a rough dirt track rutted from water with exposed rocks and questioning if Tommy knew where the hell it was taking us. The rain started to fall, the road deteriorated and we agreed that Tommy had been smoking something weird when an old Land Rover came over the hill rocking and rolling along the path. We hailed the driver who pulled up beside us. He was a local farmer very amused that we were well off track trying to find the Hall. He gave us directions which meant we had to turn around and go down the hill. Not good for our Thistle.

Once back on track we made our way to the carpark which is across a busy road from the original gatehouse. Once you pass through the gatehouse the grand old house appears before you. You cross over the bridge (of course it has its own watercourse in the front yard) and walk up the hill (it is a fortified manor house) in through the large gate in the house walls. On the way you pass the gate keeper’s house with the topiary in the front yard in the shape of a boars head the heraldic symbol from the Manners coat of arms.

In the court yard you are immediately aware that this is rustic with uneven paving and not the place for someone with a walking disability. And it continues to drizzle. We are looked at by grotesques from every direction (I am referring to the stone ornaments on the down pipes and spouts not the other tourists).

I visit the chapel whilst the others head into the manor house. The chapel floor is uneven and very worn but I got the feeling that everything was very original and was unchanged for centuries.

I went up to the manor house and on entering you either went left into the kitchens or right into the main hall or straight through to another courtyard. I caught up with Kerry and we went through the kitchens and the rest of the house. In the Long Gallery the table had been set for Xmas dinner. This is where the Lord and his family would have their Xmas lunch. The family does still live here and I hope the family apartments have been updated as this was cold and breezy. Everyone wanted to be close to the fire.

There were peacock feather garlands around the walls and on the tree. The real deal from real cocks. A miniature piano (not its correct description) stood in the gallery by the tree. It all seemed very homely. The door hinges were weird with the bottom hinge extending beyond the wall at the bottom possibly to hold the weight of the doors.


There was a tapestry room and a back door with what must have been the fore runner to the viewing hole in doors today. I ventured out into the gardens but no other brave soul would do so due to the rain and the cold. We then visited the internal courtyard which also showed us the family vehicle entrance. The courtyard was filled with vendors of coffee and confection but we had our thermos in the car so we bid adieu to Haddon Hall to partake of a cuppa. On the way out we visited the old washrooms where there is a small museum of bits and pieces discovered during renovations and restorations including a picture of the last supper.

The Retirees go Abroad – Bakewell Derbyshire


We have been fortunate over the years to have good neighbours and the same has happened here in Long Eaton. John and Pam are a retired couple who have lived their whole lives in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and know the area well. So when they suggested we go to Bakewell Markets we jumped at the chance.

Bakewell is a small market town and civil parish in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire, England, well known for the local confection Bakewell Pudding. It is located on the River Wye, about thirteen miles (21 km) southwest of Sheffield, 31 miles (50 km) southeast of Manchester, and 21 miles (34 km) north of Derby; nearby towns include Matlock to the south east, Chesterfield to the east and Buxton to the west northwest. The town is close to Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall.

We drove in Thistle guided by Tommy winding in and out of country lanes. John commented he had never travelled to Bakewell in the direction guided by Tommy so he guided us home. You have to wonder what goes on in a GPS sometimes because John’s directions were far more straight forward.

Anyway we had a pleasant drive and visited a “chocolate box” village. When parking John and Pam were surprised at how close we were to the village (we had made an early start). When it came time to go home the car park was full and where we had parked 7 or 8 rows from the Cattle Hall cars were now parked 30 or more rows from the Cattle Hall.

After walking past the cattle sales we crossed a small stone bridge and I got very excited to see a good size trout in the crystal clear water. We proceeded further to cross a second larger stone bridge beside a weir. As we crossed Kerry noticed that there were hundreds of padlocks of various kinds and sizes attached to the rails on the bridge. These are known as “love locks” attached over water to represent eternal love between lovers. However I was more interested in a grey crane wading in the river and tens of these trout lazing in the current all around two kilos in size. John identified them as brown trout and very delicious.

We proceeded on into the market stalls which crawled through the village. Everything from farm products to craft and some “antiques”. We stopped for a cup of coffee and purchased Bakewell Puddings to sample. Very sweet and greasy.

After about 1 hour we had seen the markets and the village had a cup of coffee and it was time to go home. So we wound through the markets where a very Muslim looking vendor charmed Kerry to purchase some new bath towels. John was greatly amused saying that this chap was a fixture at the markets and was always putting on a show to make a sale.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the pictures.