6.04.2006

Of all this I might have been mistress


Yeah. I go there.

Since I'm supposed to be taking "every opportunity to enjoy myself" and I knew the weather on Saturday was supposed to be 70 degrees and sunny, I brought up the idea of a stately homes trip and before you knew it a carload of us were off to Derbyshire to see Chatsworth.

Of course it was gorgeous. Weather like that would have made a trip out back to look at the compost heap a blissful adventure. It made a legitimately beautiful place like Chatsworth kind of sublime. And even though I didn't come across any Colin Firths wandering around in wet shirts asking if my family is in good health and could he please kiss my neck, I had a lovely time.

Here were some highlights:

The area surrounding Chatsworth is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, with hills and valleys and woods and this little village with an old church and all these stone cottages and baby lambs. (Banana: "Do you not have sheep in America or something?" Me: "No, not wandering around all cute like this. All we get is the odd deer on the freeway.") As Goldilocks and Finnish Friend and I cooed over how beautiful everything is, the two Brits on the car laughed about what it's like taking foreigners places. So Goldilocks and I pointed out that we don't have stuff this old, and FF pointed out that all the old stuff in Finland was made of wood, so they don't have that stuff anymore either.

Chatsworth is working the "Hey! We're the house from the new Pride & Prejudice! That's us! Keira Knightley was right here!" card. In the Sculpture Gallery they have a "Jane Austen at Chatsworth" section with glass-cased editions of Austen, the dress Kiera wore during the "visit to Pemberley" scene, and, yes, the bust of Mr. Darcy (not the bust of Keira, on account of she doesn't have one). Goldilocks and I took pictures of each other looking pouty and pensive at the statues like Lizzy in the film, but I'm not going to inflict those upon you. Sorry.

The Carriage House restaurant had some amazing-looking food and an even better dessert selection, with things like chocolate torte and berry cheesecake and egg custard cake and chocolate ginger cake and walnut tea cake. Since I am poor and cheap, I went for the packaged sandwiches. I approached them with much trepidation and despair, on account of English packaged sandwiches and I just don't get along. I expected the usual selection of "prawn shavings in mayo" or "soggy Ploughman in mayo" or "grated cheese in mayo." Imagine my delight when I found a beef sandwich with dark leafy greens, pickles, and this amazing coarse mustard with whole mustard seeds. The bread had bits of sundried tomatoes in. I'm telling you, not to sound like Joey Tribianni or anything, but that sandwich was great. The rest of the trip could have sucked my big toe and I would still be a fan of Chatsworth for life.

In the gift shop, a book called No Nice Girl Swears by Alice-Leone Moats caught my eye. It's an etiquette book written in 1933 and is absolutely hilarious, so I bought it. A few gems:

The technique of warding off passes is one which every girl should perfect.

It is sad but true that the more amusing the young man, the less apt he is to telephone a girl after their first meeting. For some reason the dull are always bolder.

[You] needn't make an effort to appear brilliant--brains are a handicap to a debutante.

Going home in a taxi with an inebriate also has its perils. Not only is your virtue at stake, but you are sure to get your newest Chanel torn to ribbons.

There is no doubt about it, the life of a working girl is a hard, hard one. But if you've made up your mind to embark upon a career, we can't stop you. All we can give you are the rules.

I received a lovely flower from a man I met there. And yes, in my book a 5-year-old is still a man. We met up with a friend of Banana's and her four cute kids, and they helped liven things up. Hedge mazes are more fun with kids, I've decided. Also they give you flowers and hold your hand. Which, admittedly is different than when they're 20 years older and doing it, but is still very sweet regardless.

The Cascade fountain was great. It was built in 1703 and each step is a different height so that none of the splashes sound exactly the same. Also you can wade (UK translation: paddle) in it. A man in a cart sold vanilla ice cream cones (why just vanilla, England? Seriously!) at the bottom. Only they do this fun thing where they stick a Cadbury Flake into the ice cream scoop before they hand it to you. I like that, even if Cadbury Flakes are not my favorite. If I wanted airy crumbly chocolate I would just eat a chocolate bar that's been left to sit somewhere for three years.

There were lambs everywhere. There were even big signs by the road which read LAMBS.

Turns out Chatsworth is a very dog-friendly place and actually won some sort of dog-lover award a few years ago. There was even a spigot by the entrance marked "Drinking Water for Dogs." I can get behind that.

It seems that they make good use of the money that comes into Chatsworth--there were renovations going on in the Conservatory and it looks like there's always some kind of restoration or preservation work in process. The only bit that threw me was this spot on the back side of the house that had these huge weeds growing up through the pavement. That seemed a bit out of place with how groomed everything else was. But maybe they're planning to do something different there and so aren't bothering about the weeds.

That's all I can think of right now. But it was pretty much perfect. We were there all day and there were still so many gardens we didn't get to see. We didn't make it to the Farmyard or the little village across the street, either.

Rather than dumping all my pictures in the post, I'm putting them in the dotphoto album (the link is on the sidebar). Go check out the baby lambs!

10 comments:

The McCulloch Family said... [reply]

Wow. So pretty. I want to see hills and forests full of trees!

Panini said... [reply]

the statue room was my favorite--how lovely and neat...only, lets still pretend it's real and the Darcy's were just out. ok?

The Walrus said... [reply]

"he bust of Mr. Darcy (not the bust of Keira, on account of she doesn't have one)."

Best. Line. Ever. :)

Lady Steed said... [reply]

How beautiful! I want to go and play in that step fountain and then chase some lambs. What fun!

Tim, Katie, and Marcus said... [reply]

Remember me? Katie, Jen's old roommate. Anyway, I love your blog and I know you are currently in quest of a job, and I was referred to a website called tutor.com. I've been considering doing a few hours of tutoring from home. As I was looking around I stumbled across some of their more serious job openings. Here's the link. I specifically thought you might fit well as the Client Services Manager. Check it out.
http://www.tutor.com/company/jobs.aspx#librarian

Tim, Katie, and Marcus said... [reply]

Grrr. The link didn't work. Just go to www.tutor.com. It's under bullet 10. Good luck!

Miss Hass said... [reply]

Gorgeous!

Nemesis said... [reply]

Jen, do you want to see skies full of stars and raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, too? It made me think of that.

Sure thing, Panini. We can pretend that. :-)

Aww, now I must blush modestly. Thanks, John!

It was really nice, Lady Steed. I wish you were there too! I would've bought you an ice cream.

Hi Katie, of course I remember you! I check out your blog from time to time to see what you're family's up to. :-) Thanks for the link!

Yes, Miss Hass. It is. Even one who does not love the P&P can recognize that. Sigh . . .

Claire said... [reply]

Hi, I found your blog from Miss Hass, who is a friend to my husband. I've been stalking around the last few days and you have a great blog. I did a Study Abroad in London and I love that you live in jolly 'ol England and that you're traveling all over the place (extreme jealously setting in). The pics of Chatsworth are top-notch. Good luck with your job search. Enjoy the UK!

JaneFan said... [reply]

Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing your experience at Chatsworth. I'll have to go next time I'm "in the area"

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