How time does creep by, it is truly shocking. Well 45 here I am, am I grown up, I’m not sure. I can’t climb castle walls as I once did, or run or dance or play like I used to. What do I miss the most, long summers where everyone was out to play at the same time. Or long summer terms at Junior school where we swam, learnt maths and played rounders, they were good times. A long time ago I was a parent helper in the local junior school and just before it closed down forever the teacher knowing my love of rounders organised a final game with her class for me, it was great fun.
Well my birthday, it went on for days, which was wonderful. Firstly,
Noelle came by the day before with such wonderful flowers all from her own garden. They were gorgeous.
and that night, the day before my birthday I was trying to finish of Miss Felicity’s hat. Which I did.
Notice the perfect joins at the crown. I was best pleased with those.
On my birthday we ventured off to pastures new, Hardwick Hall, as recommended to us by Lucy Worsley Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces was her favourite National Trust House whilst she was giving us a talk at Kenilworth Castle called “If Rooms could talk”, which was wonderful. I digress, Bess started to build this house in 1590 after the death of her fourth husband Lord Shrewsbury. She was in her early sixties and one of the richest people in England.
“Hi honey, I’m home..”
hubby and I and the views from Hardwick Hall.
Bess loved leaving her stamp all over the house with magnificent statues, this one was on the roof,
and tapestries. Although the 6th Duke, known as the Bachelor Duke who furnished the house as it is today, used tapestries as wall paper and filled the house with furniture and portraits.
The High Great Chamber, so huge that they say a roomy five bedroomed house could easily fit into it.
The work is stunning and the frieze was most probably modelled by Abraham Smith and his assistants. The theme is the forest, with the court of Diana prominent on the north side amid attendant deer, lions, elephants, camels and other animals. The court of Diana, the virgin goddess and huntress is probably a deliberate allusion to Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen.
Why such expense? Well Bess was aiming at putting her granddaughter Arbella Stuart on the throne. Some thought that her right to succession through her father, Charles Stuart, was stronger as she had been born in England than that of her cousin James. But alas it was not to be, perhaps as Bess was by this point too old to plot.
The Long Gallery, measuring 51 metres long and 8 metres high, varying from 6.7 to 12 metres in width is the largest (although not the longest) of surviving Elizabethan long gallery’s. And the only one to retain both of its original tapestries and many of its original pictures.
The attic was open whilst we were there and we gaily climbed the steps to the top of the house. Interestingly the floor of the attic was made of stone, perhaps as a fire break, I can imagine fire being quite a problem in those days. The view from the attic.
I love this pile of mattresses. I wonder which noble person would have slept on them. In those days the Upper Servants had their own well furnished rooms, mostly in the Old Hall, the lower servants bedded down more indiscriminately, on landings, on the main staircase, outside Bess’s bedchamber door, in the scullery, off the pantry and the hall, or in the porters lodge and the turrets around the entrance court. Often with only a straw mattress which could be rolled up and stowed away if they were lucky.
And Hardwick house from the back.
We then hurried to Matlock to find a yarn shop called The Compleat Knit, it was a wonderful knitting shop, I could have spent a few happy hours there unearthing all of its treasures.
Happily I found some Lantern Moon double points and some gorgeous Cashmere with which to amuse myself this winter.
We headed home through Leicester and rang son no.2 to see if he wanted to come out to dinner but he was cramming for an exam the next morning so we took ourselves off to Yo Sushi and a good time was had by all.
The next morning, whilst quietly chatting to Sir Lancelot I told him of my dilemma at not having a doll big enough to model Miss Kitty’s new dress and hat on. Now you know Sir Lancelot is a very kind Lion and he is also very greedy and is rather partial to bacon sandwiches, especially if the fat on the bacon is crispy. And quick as a flash Sir Lancelot said, “Well, I would love to model it for you, but at the moment I feel quite faint with hunger, I am sure a bacon sandwich would help” And so it was the bacon sizzled under the grill and a sandwich was made with just the right amount of HP Sauce and after a quick wash Sir Lancelot put on Kitty’s new hat and dress.
Sir Lancelot thought things through and decided that he liked the dress, especially the colours that were used, but next time,
he would quite like a hole for his tail.
I especially liked the top stitching on the dress, it didn’t frighten me as much as when I made my hat and it really finishes the dress off. The button holes were terrifying, but turned out well and
I love the gently scalloped edge.
I went to knitting and met up with Carie and Kitty who loved the dress,
and a piccie of gentle moments with Mum.
And then there were the presents from my knitting group.
A beautiful chocolate cake with handmade roses from Cynthia,
and yes it tasted as good as it looks.
There were gorgeous stocks, smellies from Lush (oooh nice) and a project bag from Diane, a very pretty rose bush and wine from Sheila and lots of cards, one signed from all of the girls, I loved them all.
A beautiful photograph of Kitty my God Daughter, modeling her christening bracelet and Easter present. Carie took over a hundred photos before she got the shot she was looking for.
And lastly I must show you this card from son no.2. I laughed like a drain when I read it.
And that is it,, three days of partying, and I am pretty knackered, grateful for such wonderful family and friends but absolutely shattered.