When I'm sixty-four, I will live at Chatsworth Estate, Peak District, United Kingdom.
Elizabeth and I were planning to go cycling in Bath this weekend; however, we received an unfortunate e-mail on Wednesday afternoon. Apparently, the cycle shop in Bath does not hire bicycles. I mean, why would a bike store sell its own product? It makes complete sense.
With this new information, we were forced to form a new plan, inspired by our Wednesday excursion to Jane Austen's house.
Pemberley, the home of Pride and Prejudice (ft. Keira Knightley). We say Pemberley, of course, because Janeite Americans always refer to locations by their fictional (as opposed to actual) names. After an intensive google search, we found that the home is lesser-known as Chatsworth Estate, located 3 hours away in the northern countryside. Determined and bubbling over with girly-girl excitement, we hopped on Saturday's 7:12 train to Chesterfield.
Our layover in Derby ran 10 minutes behind schedule, but our taxi driver in Chesterfield was an absolute beast, getting us to the bus station approximately 10 seconds before its arrival. Phew! The 170 bus took us to Baslow, the closest town to Chatsworth. Although we could have taken a bus directly to the estate's front door, everyone recommended walking it. More dramatic, you know. More authentic. More Austen-y.
It's also more sheep-y.
I have never seen so many sheep in my life. They were all over the road for our entire 30-minute walk to the house, but we loved it. Sheep are so dumb and hilarious, that we just had to laugh at them! When we finally took the time to pay attention to the scenery, however, we were able to appreciate the beauty of Chatsworth gradually appearing over the hillside, beyond the trees. The weather was perfect (about 70 and partly cloudy), more conducive to walking than any other day we've been here.
At Chatsworth, I paid 9.50 for access to both the House & the Gardens. If you ever get a chance to come here, don't be dissuaded by the cost! You get what you pay for. We spent from 11-2:30ish exploring the grounds, gasping in total awe at almost every turn. What's really fascinating is that the lawns and "wilderness" of homes like these are completely man-made. I can't begin to imagine how much time, how much effort, went in to constructing this natural setting.
After getting lost in the maze; taking pictures in front of The Cascade & Emperor's Fountain; enjoying a picnic lunch of bread, cheese, & craisins; climbing over rocks and through tunnels; and walking through the flower gardens; we finally made it into the house itself.
Wow. If "grand" had a picture accompanying its entry in the dictionary, it would be a picture of the Chatsworth Estate. Really, it's almost sickening. One of the rooms was completely a mural, including the ceiling and all four walls, and others were so filled with random artifacts from Egypt and the Middle East that you could swear it was a museum. What's even more amazing is that people (the Cavendish family) still live here!!
After perusing the various rooms, we found our way - of course! - to the cafe, where we had an afternoon tea before spending the last hour reading our Austen novels on the lawn. Elizabeth left before me, so I was able to hang around and see the arrival of a wedding party (how extravagant must you be to have a wedding at Chatsworth?!). My bus took me to Matlock, from where I had a quaint and lovely train ride home. It was a fulfilling day, so beautiful that you just have to see my pictures to understand (in part!) what it was like: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2274421&id=12721557&l=5f4bb03432 .
"It came on so slowly I hardly know, but I believe I must date it from the time I first saw his wonderful grounds at Pemberley . . ." -Elizabeth Bennet