In this region summer doesn’t ever take a firm hold, and it’s already losing the tenuous hold it had and soon will be fully supplanted by autumn. In practical terms this means that now there’s almost always a good chance of rain, but we don’t let that keep us from planning and going on excursions. Often there’s a mix of sun and rain, and we just have to be creative and flexible. So far things have mostly turned out better than expected.
It must have been a year ago that I promised to take Elena out in a boat, but only fulfilled the promise a few weeks ago. We had seen a place that rented out rowing skiffs big enough for the whole family and finally made boating a priority activity, even with possible rain in the forecast. I did the lion’s share of the rowing, but Roman tried to help some, Elena took an oar a few times, and Jenny took over for a while and handled the vessel quite well. After the boating, we had lunch on the castle grounds and did some shopping, where our big score was a new set of fairy magic books for Elena.
Sometimes the rain starts and stops every five minutes, but Elena and Roman just need to get out and run their wiggles out before bedtime, so we take our chances with a little walk in the park. Recently we were rewarded with beautiful evening rainbows two days in a row.
Last Saturday we rented a car for a major excursion that Jenny in particular had been looking forward to: a visit to Pemberley. More precisely, we planned a trip that would take us to Lyme Park, which served as Pemberley in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and Chatsworth House, which filled the part in the recent film version and is mentioned by name in the book as being another house that Elizabeth Bennet toured while on vacation with her aunt and uncle. We planned our route so that we could drive as much as possible through the scenic Peak District in which they are placed.
Chatsworth House was our first stopping point. Like many of the grand houses and castles of England, it is now a bustling tourist site with paid admission and a variety of activities, but that wasn’t part of our plans for the day. We went for a walk through the fields in front of the house, threw rocks and sticks in the stream, took some beautiful pictures in the morning sun, and imagined what it would be like to be the Duke and Duchess that live there. I theorized that the original inhabitants built the house so large because it was the only way to keep from having to hear crying children in the middle of the night.
It wasn’t long after we left Chatsworth that we encountered a rain shower and were thankful to be in a car and not out in the open. Even better, the rain ended before we had made our way across the Peak District and reached Lyme Park. The house was amazing, although touring it with Roman and Elena was somewhat stressful. They just aren’t ready to spend so much time around delicate, centuries-old pieces of furniture that could disintegrate the next time someone touches them, with no protective barrier at all. There were some kid-friendly touches, including a room set up as a nursery where the kids could play with the toys and a stage and dress-up costumes.
We had read that there was a piano somewhere in the house there was a piano that visitors could play. Elena really wanted to do that, but we hadn’t seen it by the time we reached the end of the tour, so we asked the volunteers staffing that area, and they directed us to the entrance hallway. The piano in there was beautiful, and the intention was probably that it be played by real pianists, but when we asked the volunteer there about it, he was happy to let Elena give it a try. She was appropriately gentle with the keys, and so happy that she got to play it.
We waited for another rain shower to stop before venturing into the gardens. The grounds were well cared for and the flower beds were beautiful, but we mostly wanted to take photos of the facade made iconic by the conversations between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. We were not disappointed in our photographic ambitions.