Monday 10 August 2009

Appearing Knightley

We were in a bit of a quandary. We thought we'd have a family weekend to celebrate Ruth's 21st birthday, just the four of us, somewhere in convivial surroundings, that would be suitable for a hiking, costume drama loving lass. But where?

The Peak District seemed to fit the bill, a place that I can't say I'd visited since the Army sent me to walk the Pennine Way. Not that you'd catch me doing that again. Some of those stiles are a right faff in a bustle.

Being ever topical, we settled on a B+B near Eyam, a village where the concept of a "flu friend" never really caught on and anyone making stupid jokes like that would be sent away with a flea in his ear.

The B+B was excellent, with walks from the door, so on Saturday we set off on a 6 mile circular potter taking in Bretton, Abney, Eyam Moor, Eyam and Eyam Edge. Only one of our number is used to regular lumps of altitude (I very nearly wrote "attitude" there), so the birthday girl got the map and led the way.

The only thing that was wuthering on the heights was my stamina, and when MGLW spotted a dragonfly hawking across the moor, I was particularly keen to stop and photograph it. It was the only dragon of the weekend, but I was chuffed to record a male Common Hawker.

When we reached the village of Eyam, our route took us through the churchyard. It was a lovely day for a wedding too, though the photos with four dishevelled walkers in the background mightn't make it to the mantlepiece. I did say "costume" and "drama".

The museum exhibition showing the extent of the tragedy that befell the village during the Plague was a salient reminder of our fragile tenure on this Earth.

Sunday saw us making a beeline for Haddon Hall, a gem of an English House from the Middle Ages. It has featured in the film version of Pride and Prejudice, the Beeb's Jane Eyre and more recently The Other Boleyn Girl. Never mind all that palaver, here's the bee...

... possibly a leaf-cutter, I dunno. Incidentally, the Beeb's Jane Eyre had a wonderful scene by the river, featuring a female Banded Demoiselle (though not at the correct time of year!). Let it go, Graeme, let it go.

Whilst we wandered around the gardens together, MGLW twirling her parasol and smiling coyly from behind her kerchief, we were apprehended by, what I at first took to be, a somewhat diminutive policeman. On closer inspection, it turned out to be this Small Copper butterfly.

After lunch, we drove to Kedleston Hall, near Derby, where many scenes from The Duchess were filmed. Mind you, when you've seen one elegant neo-classical mansion designed by Robert Adam and set in beautiful parkland, you've seen them all. The costumes on display were both elaborate and exceptionally small-waisted. That Knightley lass needs to get herself off to the National Trust tea room in the West Wing for some proper nosh.

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