I’ve been a few times before to the outer grounds and had a good stomp around, but I’d never been inside the house or looked at the private gardens so I was more than a little bit giddy to get going.
I was even more giddy when I opened the curtains and realised that the snow had followed us from Hull and given Leicestershire a little sprinkling.
Rowan the Irish Setter having a frolic.
We were lucky enough to be going during the Christmas celebrations, where the downstairs rooms are bedecked in decorations, this year’s theme being a Russian Christmas (yeah I’ve no idea why either).
The downstairs rooms are beyond anything my tiny little brain can comprehend. ORNATE is the word that springs to mind. And it definitely has to be in capitals, this isn’t just “Oh how ornate”, this is “F**k me, how ORNATE” and everything in sight is painted, carved or whittled in some way. The wealth is staggering.
The ceiling in the chapel
I don’t know if I was the only one but I did feel a little disappointed with being inside the house, there are parts of it closed at the moment I believe for restoration so you don’t really walk round that much and actually, beautiful as the Christmas decorations were, I kind of felt like they got in the way and distracted your attention from what was inside the rooms.
Photo aptly demonstrating the Christmas decorations' getting-in-the-way-ness
We did give the gardens a miss, mainly because they were a) covered in snow and b) we were freakin’ freezing so we opted to take shelter in the cafeteria which was insanely busy but the food – and I’m just talking about the wrapped sandwiches here – was lovely.
The view out of the library, don't you know
After essential gift shop browsing and buying (I can’t help it, I’m sort of more than a little bit obsessed with the Mitford sisters so I had to buy at least one book and then the other one was a signed copy so I had to get that one as well. PS Father Christmas, if you’re listening, I want the Duchess of Devonshire’s new book please thank you.) it was time to make our merry little way back home, on the way spotting stags sheltering beneath trees and deer running through the park and sheep just wandering about all over the place.
It really was unbelievably cold on Saturday and the place was absolutely jammed full of old biddies with their walking sticks, I was just waiting for one of them to go over. In the end it was nearly my Mum that fell and she did the best comedy almost-fall I've ever seen, I seriously nearly wet myself laughing and got run over by a car.
I bloody love this place you know, I want to come back immediately and go tramping through the grounds again and come and visit the gardens in the summer.
And you can totally get married there! It only costs a mere £3,500 then with £60 a head for the catering. Erm....
Excuse me, I’m just off to empty my money box...
Random photo of a stone lion. Just because. Like him? You can get him in bookend form from the gift shop.
This was the view out of our back door this morning....
Check out the chair in the middle, then you can get an idea of how much snow has fallen in the past few days...
I have affectionately christened it Apocalypse 2010.
Not that you'd know any of this was going on. The BBC doesn't really like to report bad weather until it hits London, instead it gets a vague mention - "And in other news, somewhere north of the Watford Gap there's apparently a bit of snow, but now lets talk about something London-centric."