Spring Chronicles, Part 3

Lumping together days three and four today:

Day 3: Derbyshire

Another day, another practice, another breakfast, another trip to Ashbourne. This time, however, our final destination was to be a bus and taxi ride away–the Chatsworth estate.

There is a reason that Robert Zemeckis decided to put the ever-original Forrest Gump at a bus stop. Bus stops, I am convinced, are the equivalent of waterholes in Africa. They draw all sorts of people of various shapes, sizes, and walks of life; as such, you meet some of the most… interesting people at them. This is not because these eccentric people all naturally flock to bus stops, but rather because they, like you, must utilize them sometimes–just as hippos and zebras and lions alike all must visit the waterhole. As a zebra, I don’t spend much time hanging around hyenas, so the only encounters I have with them are at the waterhole: the bus stop.  While waiting for the bus to come to take us up to Buxton, the first stage of the way to Chatsworth, we met a very interesting man.

He was probably in his later fifties, had the tips of his otherwise silver fohawk bleached blond, and wore a navy pin-stripped suit and a tie with rows of cartoon sheep, all a fluffy white except for one, lone black sheep. Pointing to the black sheep, he said “That’s me,” and that was his introduction. We laughed, and he continued “They call me Dancing Roy. That’s because I dance.” One of us replied “that must be interesting” and that it was “nice to meet you, Dancing Roy,” and then he picked up our accent, saying “Oh! You girls is from America! Well you just mind the telley (the British word equivalent to our T.V.), because they’re going to be broadcasting me big over there. You just wait and mind the telley–Dancing Roy is going to be the next big thing.” He then proceeded to demonstrate the dancing skills that were bound to make him famous: a quick shuffling of feet mixed with slower, interpretive dance-like arm movements, all the while calling our attention to his “ease of form, even without any music.” With nerves like that, Dancing Roy should have taken up the French horn.

Chatsworth Estate is rumored to be the model Jane Austen based Mr. Darcy’s fictitious Pemberley estate on. It’s one of the largest estates in England, still owned today by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and passed down through the family. Had it been located in America, I’m sure by now it would have been bought over by the government and opened as a historical site, but because it is in England, it has stuck with tradition. It’s owned by whoever holds the title, and those who work there, be it as maids, cooks, gardeners, or otherwise, all live in housing that lies on the Duke’s estate. It has its own church, school (for the children of those who work there), butcher, and farm shop to make the entire estate function as a tiny town.

The building itself is beautiful. Although I’ve never thought much of being rich (obviously–my career path is either teacher or musician), if this is indeed the model of Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley, I can understand why the stubborn Elizabeth Bennett started to reconsider her rejection of Darcy’s proposal once she visited. It was immaculate and had everything from a music room to a chapel to a ping pong table (stored inconspicuously, I noticed, under the grand stairwell at the main entrance), yet it did not feel cold in any way. The Duke and Duchess do live there, and the house definitely feels lived in. There are current family photos on the wall and rooms with cushy and obviously used reading chairs and tables. Also slightly strange, but cool, is the fact that those who live in the house continue to decorate it as their house–the same as you or I or anyone else would. So you stroll through these high vaulted rooms with portraits of royalty or biblical scenes, past satin-covered walls and antique oriental furnishings, and then, all of a sudden, there’s a piece of modern art right in front of you. Something cold and black and metallic stands right in the middle of the parlor, or a glass bowl that looks much like the bathroom sink would if multiple people were to all spit out their different brands of toothpaste after brushing, sits on an end table in the reading room. It was a strange blend of old and new, but I think that’s one of the things I liked most about it, and it definitely helped it to feel like somebody’s home.

My favorite part of the estate, however, was the gardens. There were spacious lawns, where visitors sprawled out and enjoyed a picnic in the sun, and numerous fountains and streams, including one very large waterfall fountain, and a giant reflecting pool out front (something Austen shamelessly copies in her own Pemberley estate). There were wooded areas, and rocky areas, and there was even a hedge-maze for those daring enough to try it (we did, and it wasn’t particularly difficult, because we made it out almost as quickly as we’d gone in). Had we more daylight, I would have loved to spend at least another few hours out there, as we really only scratched the surface of everything there was to see–the estate was just that large.

While it had taken quite some time to get there, we were all glad we had gone, as it had been an absolutely incredible thing to see. The last night we spent in Derbyshire was another quiet one. We went for a walk on one of the nearby footpaths, witnessed a Shakespearean episode between two lambs of different folds who had come together at the gate between the two to make friends and possibly become star-crossed lovers like the legendary Romeo and Juliet, had dinner, and packed and readied ourselves to head out the next morning.

Day 4: Travel

Rachel and Jacleen left Derbyshire to return to Brighton, but I had decided that while I was up north, I was going to continue on up north to Scotland. Go big, or go home. So once I checked out of the inn, I had about seven hours until my train to Crewe and then Glasgow. Because I had all of my things, adventuring wasn’t the easiest, but I did take a look around the center part of town before finding a quiet park to sit, write, and watch the people go by. While people watching, I witnessed an interesting event:

An elderly man and his wife were taking a stroll around the park, when they stop to sit a few benches away for a smoke. The man finishes before the woman, and stands up from the bench when immediately the woman chides “Don’t you go leaving me here; people will think you’re an American.”

I could have found this offensive, but I mostly found it funny. It is true that the boys and men alike tend to be much more chivalrous here than in the States, which takes a little getting used to at first, but can definitely be nice, as well.

After a rather laid-back day, I was able to get my night train and was on my way. Tomorrow, Scotland!



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