Thursday, 21 March 2013

12 go mad in Derbyshire

"Wait. So you've never actually met any of these people that you're going away with?" went the conversation with my sister a couple of days before I went away.

"Nope. Not even once." came my reply.

Whilst my sister was worrying about my sanity (oh bless these people who do not understand the interwebz) I had bigger worries on my mind. For yes, I was about to go away with 11 people that I had never actually met in the flesh, but of much bigger concern was the fact that most of these people are Fashion Bloggers. As in actual, real-life, take photos of their outfits and post them on the internet Fashion Bloggers. People who know about layering and the art of accessorizing. People are so good at fashion blogging that people come to them asking them to blog about their stuff.

The roll-call being:

Lucy from Tete en l'air
Gemma from Fat Frocks
Char from t*rexes & tiaras
Sarah from A Million Dresses
Rosie from A Rosie Outlook
Sarah from essbeevee
Maria from Frills 'n' Spills
Chloe from Chloe Likes to Talk
Alice from An Alien World

I was out of my depth.

A hop, a skip, and a bus and train ride later I was in Derby ready to meet actual internet people out in the real world.

The first exciting thing?

Getting to hear people's voices.

So strange to think that I've been reading Alex and Lucy's blogs for about 3/4 years but have never heard their actual voices. Thankfully it wasn't like when we all heard David Beckham's voice for the first time and wanted to pull our ears off our heads.

Our base for the next 4 days was Norbury Manor, a National Trust property that has recently been renovated and let as a holiday cottage. These were surroundings I think we all could get used to, and despite the proximity of a graveyard freaking some people out, being Ladies of the Manor suited us very well.

Norbury Manor highlights from L-R
1. Our neighbouring sheep  2. The graveyard next door. 3. The only man on the trip, Rosie's dog, Bodhi. 4. I took a photo of Alex taking a photo of Lucy taking a photo. 5. Norbury Manor 6. The Winner of the category for Most Secret Garden-like Door 7. One of the beautiful bedrooms 8. The summerhouse    9. Our garden.

With 12 people all in one place there is more than a little chance for people being on top of one another and feeling the pressure. Not this weekend - the Manor was more than big enough to have everyone in it without feeling on top of one another - a quick walk through would find people in the kitchen, people in the wood-panelled drawing room, people in the snug, people getting lost trying to find their way to the toilet or capering about in the garden.

I wonder what the previous residents of Norbury Manor would have thought if they could have seen the extent of the outfit photos taken in the house and grounds over the space of one afternoon, much less what they would have made of the series of photos we took of all of us together...

From L-R
Rosie, Char, Maria, Sarah, Alex, Lucy, Chloe, Sarah, Me, Alice, Gem, Sophie and Bodhi
(Photo courtesy of Rosie)

Whilst bona fide fashion blogger photos were being taken back at the Manor, Sophie, Lucy, Maria and I high-tailed it to Chatsworth House for a look around the House and Gardens. I've been in the grounds quite a few times, but never the gardens and I'll do anything for a good snoop around someone's home.

Chatsworth highlights (maze not included)

Highlights included:
  • Learning to listen to the Sat Nav lady when she tells us to bear right
  • Attempting to find the middle of the maze in the gardens and coming to the conclusion that there is no middle...
  • the same time discovering that Lucy doubles up as Ray Mears in her spare time
  • Discovering that one of the bedrooms in Chatsworth has a bath in a cupboard
  • Picking up new tips to lay the table next time I have some mates round courtesy of the knowledgeable Guides at Chatsworth - from now on I will be laying my forks with the tines pointed down so people with massive lacy cuffs don't catch them on their sleeves - a potentially mortifying situation I'm sure.
  • Practicing my lunging and photography skills taking photos of Maria in the Gardens (both are excellent I might add.)
  • Finding my new favourite crisps - Pipers Crisp Company. (Crisps are important to me, 'kay?)
  • Buying another book to add to my growing Mitford collection - a collection of letters from Nancy Mitford
Stained glass windows in Norbury Manor

The four days could have been awful, it could have gone all wrong and there's still a little part of me that can't believe it didn't. I mean there were twelve of us for god's sake - where were the arguments and the tantrums? Where was the person that I hated? (Although apparently everyone should have an annoying friend and if you don't have one, it's you.....erm....)

I can't think of 11 people from my "real" life that I could have gone away with and been chilled out the whole time, with no pressure to do anything but be happy. And full of cake.

Other highlights of the weekend included:
  • Playing a brilliant game of Articulate where we learned that Mallards can be male or female and that there is just no easy way to describe "joining" or "The Aga Khan"
  • Re-watching Clueless for the first time since I saw it at the cinema (I know)
  • Being almost killed off by the sheer volume of cake that came to the Manor
  • Marvelling at the wonder that is Chloe, who can cook for 12 people without throwing things
  • Watching Embarassing Bodies in the snug on the last night with Alex, Lucy, Sophie and Alice - a bonding experience that will never be forgotten.
  • Going in search of alpacas, not finding them and being chased off by two farm dogs whilst trying to take a picture of a tractor with a face.*
  • Just being in somewhere called a 'snug'
  • Sampling the delights of marshmallow vodka courtesy of Alex
  • Introducing Pooh Sticks to members of the group - but not being able to work out who actually won
  • Being saved from a total meltdown by Char who managed to find my embroidery scissors after they were eaten by a sofa
  • Trying to guess just exactly what Sophie does for a living (international spy can be the only option)
  • Getting tripped up by the stairs - every. single. day.
  • Watching Bodhi actually fly through the air at one point - the dog is a Champion Show Jumper
  • Emptying the charity shops of Ashbourne of anything that was worth having.

My last post was all about how I wasn't sure where I fitted in the blogging world at the moment. And I still don't know. I'm not a fashion blogger or a craft blogger or any other kind of blogger but I'm a blogger that is thankful that she took the plunge and went away with total strangers for a holiday. 

Except they're not total strangersThey are my new friends and this is where I belong.

(Photo courtesy of Rosie)

Corny. But true.

*See below pictures for said tractor and farm dogs


You know what it means when 12 bloggers go away? Potentially 12 posts about the same weekend. For other people's words (and much better pictures) you should read the following posts from;

Maria (plus a bonus Chatsworth post)
Alex (where you will see the funniest gif known to man I tells ya)


  1. It looks, & sounds like you all had a great time. Love that first pic!

  2. Argh, wish I hadn't started reading other people's posts before writing my own, feel like I'll be plagiarising now! This made me LOL a few times, I think you've really captured the essence of the trip.

    I think the Scissor Scare was *almost* that moment where it could all have gone awry but luckily Char saved the holiday. And YES to the voices! I read blogs aloud in my head in my own very Northern voice so it was a surprise to hear people talk about the "roll-top barth"!

  3. haha, YAY I saved the holiday!
    Ahhh, we had such a good weekend, and oh my goodness thank you for the tip - I am ALWAYS getting my cuffs caught on forks. My sleeves end up like a cutlery mobile if I'm not careful. (ahem.)

  4. Hurrah for good times! The internet is awesome. You're awesome. (Lucy, I have a barth and I mow the grarrs despite living in Yorkshire. Surrey born and Northamptonshire raised I'll have you know!)

  5. Wow am so envious. It looks as if you had an awesome time. Great photos. Love the group shot :) xx

  6. That looks like a really fun few days. I am also fascinated by the Mitfords, I'm currently re-reading the Letters between 6 sisters book, edited by Charlotte Mosley.

    1. Oh I've read that one too. I love it. Big fan of the letters books, hence this latest purchase. I can definitely recommend In Tearing Haste which is the letters between The Duchess of Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor.

  7. It was the best weekend wasn't it? It was lovely to meet you, gone back and read most of your blog last night and it's so funny, you really make me laugh.

    My blog is just about stuff, sometimes music, events, cafe reviews and mostly clothes. It's nice not to have a strict blog theme. More interesting that way.

    Also, there was a bit about Chatsworth on the Culture Show last night which you can catch on i player.

    Really want some cake now and I had to have a bath last night in a normal bath, ladies only have them in roll top baths xx


  8. This post almost made me late to work reading it this morning, it was so funny, I just had to get to the end. So many great moments at the weekend - I too got worried that you were going to flip when the scissors vanished!
    Great to meet youuu :) x

  9. It was so lovely to meet you and I had SUCH a good time! I am now getting some very funny looks at work as I am laughing out loud at my computer! Hope to see you again soon :)

    Maria xxx

  10. This is awesome. The internetz are well cool, innit.

  11. Imagine me doing a Ludo impression. FRIENNNNDDDDSSSSS. You are AMAZING in real life. I knew you would be.

    I've cried laughing at this post twice now. I tried listing some of my favourite parts of the holiday when I was writing my own post but I knew it wouldn't be as funny as this so I gave up.

    Wish we were all still back there, lunging away merrily and eating our own bodyweight in cake. I'm no use in the real world now. I just want to swan around being Lady of the Manor all of the time.

    ps - I missed the Great Scissors Search. Where on earth was I during all that palaver??

    pps - Sophie is definitely a spy. It's the only possible answer.

    1. I totally forgot about another good moment - Lucy's face when her Ratty Patty burger turned up in Ashbourne. Brilliant.

      I think you may have been in the kitchen wen the Scissor Search took place - I'm surprised you didn't hear me, I was veeeeeery slowly losing my temper!

  12. Oh gosh - you are making me laugh so much just reading this back and you know I will be laughing the entire evening...

    I really do think the sofa had some mystical magnetism when it came to stealing your scissors! And that episode of Embarrassing Bodies was particularly grim in all sense of the word! Yet we were all glued to the screen in pure intrigue.

    Fabulous weekend, amazing people, stunning location. A big well done to us - for taking the plunge and enjoying ourselves. xxx

  13. It sounds like you had an amazing time. What a fantastic place to stay and the graveyard next door would've been my idea of heaven, I love me a good graveyard. Oh and I want that cute dog.

  14. Loved this post! I actually only realised AFTER coming home who you were (I remember reading a post from Hayles ages ago where she talked about her favourite bloggers and you were one!). Doh. But anyway. I really loved meeting you, you made me laugh a LOT. I hope the fashion bloggering wasn't TOO scary. :)

  15. I've thought Sophie was a spy for a long time too (MI6 for sure!) - but I think it might be a family business!?!!
    Crisps are important to me too! Loud and proud and not in small letters!!!! oh how I miss them (given up for Lent!)
    You are so funny! I adored reading this post!!!x

  16. Ah looks amazing! So glad you had a good time - looks so girlie and fun! I want girlie and fun! It has been too long! You all look so funky and happy! :) xxx

  17. Derbyshire is such a beautiful place :) feel very lucky to live here!

    Life of a Vegetarian Girl


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