You probably won’t be surprised to hear that life has slipped several notches down the thrill-o-meter since we’ve been back home and at work. It’s ok: we accept it and were not complaining because we know how lucky we are to have such a ‘problem’! But a colleague, friend and fellow world wandering adventurer reminded me the other day that this green and pleasant land in which we live really has a lot to offer. I’m not sure we’ve really been taking advantage of this so far.
I remember our first hours back in England – travelling south-east via train, bus and car – thinking how beautiful and varied our country is. Rolling hills, fields of cattle and flocks of sheep, distant crumbling ruins, rows of stone cottages… It’s unlike anything in Asia or the Americas. Noisy howler monkeys and skittish lizards, lush rice paddies and grazing water buffalo add a certain novelty to an afternoon stroll but it’s all too easy to take for granted what’s on our doorstep.
Being away also reminded me how wonderful it is to have seasons. Sure, the weather can be unpredictable and sometimes we’d rather a bit less rain or a little more sun, but at least it changes throughout the year and there are no crazy extremes to deal with. This time last year we were experiencing the full force of south-east Asia’s rainy season and were only a few days away from typhoon Haiyan’s approach.
Given all these recent musings, we’ve resolved to find the motivation to get out and about more often. Autumn’s crispness and colour seemed as good a reason as any. Less exotic, very familiar to some of you, but wanderings nevertheless.
You may also notice that I’ve been experimenting with some photo editing for the first time; just using the Snapseed app on my Galaxy Note. I’m still learning but hopefully they look alright!
About a fortnight ago, our first weekend wandering was to Calke Abbey, a National Trust property about half an hour away from where we live. Actually, we last visited on the day we got engaged (19th May 2013) although Dean didn’t produce the Kinder Egg and pop the question until later in the day! It’s known as the ‘unstately’ home since the house and stables have been left largely unrestored.
The approach to the visitors’ centre is more than a mile of driveway beginning with a canopy of trees which are then exchanged for sweeping views over fields of sheep, many of whom will amble on and off the road, undeterred by vehicles, only meandering out of the way in their own sweet time.
It started raining as we arrived so we decided to start with a tasty cream tea in the newly-opened cafe which was a treat from Dean’s Gran to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Apt since we had Cornish cream teas in place of canapés at our wedding.
We’d not bought tickets for the house or formal gardens so we began by wandering around outside the stables.
From one of the courtyards you can have a nosy into various storerooms and farm out-buildings, set up as they would have been when the stakes were in use. This was a workshop.
Inside, the stables have been left as they were too, with a few interesting items displayed such as packing boxes and saddles.
Leaving the buildings, we went off for a bit of a ramble around the grounds, amongst the sheep. There were plenty of autumnal bits and bobs to snap away at (and a rope swing)…
Heading back out to the main road, we pulled over briefly having spotted several fields full of young rams, complete with curly horns. It seemed an unusual sight to see so many at once.
This weekend just gone, we made an enthusiastically early start on Saturday morning, hoping to get out and about while there was still some blue sky to enjoy. It didn’t last as long as forecast but we enjoyed our walk nevertheless, especially as there was a little more in the way of autumnal colour.
Kedleston is our very local National Trust property, just 5 minutes away. Home to the Curzon family since the 12th century, it also featured in The Duchess starring Keira Knightley. The grounds are another beautiful slice of Derbyshire countryside, although sadly one which is currently intending to sell off a large section of its grounds to housing developers.
I had a close encounter with some very well-camouflaged nesting pheasants who decided to flap into flight as I was passing. Terrifying! I decided to proceed with much more caution and to take up pheasant shooting after that: with a camera of course. Generally they remained too far away for me to snap them. Despite the inconveniently positioned greenery, here’s the clearest attempt.
That’s all for now. Hopefully next time I write I’ll have some more British wanderings to report upon and possible even some good news regarding our house!