We had 13 packages to send off this morning, including two very expensive bank notes and two very cheap football cards (my labours of last week bearing fruit!).
Then I took Julia to lunch and decided to get some use out of our National Trust membership. Last year, we didn’t get a lot of use out of them. We went to Clumber Park, which isn’t far from the spot where I took the bluebell pictures yesterday.
It’s home to a number of things including a lake, which I photographed a few times last year, and a chapel which featured in a few photos.
This time we decided to visit the kitchen garden. It’s an excellent place, and very well designed. There’s a massive lean-to greenhouse up against a south-facing wall and a gentle slope to let the cold air flow away downhill. I didn’t walk all the way down, but I’m pretty sure there will be holes in the wall to let the cold air flow away. They designed things better in those days.
Stilton cheese improves with age, but knees do not. That point was brought home today as I ate cheese and biscuits tonight after a walk by the lake at Clumber Park. Fifteen years ago I visited the lake for the first time and walked right round it in an afternoon.
Today we went to Clumber Park and selected a suitable car to allow us to park close to where we wanted to be. This saved time and pain, and took us directly to the end where all the birds had clustered last week. This time, of course, they all seemed to be up at the other end.
In two visits I estimate we’ve walked the equivalent of halfway round the lake. I am reminded of the words of Roger McGough:
No, old people do not walk slowly because they have plenty of time.
We left the main road at the fourth sign (it’s a big place) and followed the network of roads through the estate. First we used the Lime Tree Avenue, the longest double avenue of lime trees in Europe. At “over” or “just under” 2 miles long (depending on where you get your information) and 1,296 trees it’s impressive, though it wouldn’t be practical for my garden.
From there we took a left turn, went through a checkpoint, where we had our cards scanned, and pottered off through the woods, where we saw a buzzard lurking in a tree on the edge. Naturally it flew off as I tried to get the camera on it.
Houses at Hardwick village
A shed in the woods at Clumber ParkPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Unused farm buildings
Finally we reached the village of Hardwick, which is slightly confusing, but nothing to do with Hardwick Hall. There are toilets here and a mobile cafe working out of a converted Landrover. This map might help – it’s better than the others I’ve used.
It’s a great walk round this end of the lake, with trees on one side of you and the lake on the other. Over the years this end of the lake has been remodelled by mining subsidence (the estate of the Dukes of Newcastle literally being built on their coal mines) and has a number of skeletal trees standing in the water. When I walked this way fifteen years ago these trees were streaked with white from the many cormorants that sat in them. These days they are cleaner and were occupied by gulls and a male Sparrowhawk. I did see one cormorant, but it flew along low to the water and carried on flying without stopping for a photograph.
Shoveler at Clumber Park
Drowned tree at Clumber Park
Right at the end, as the lake tapers to nothing, we found a group of Shovelers and Goosanders, which added a bit of interest to the walk.
We had a variety of weather on the way round, including rain, sleet and snow. At one point we even had snow that was so icy the noise of it hitting leaves was even louder than the conversation being held by two retired teachers. It appears the school has gone down the pan since they retired. We knew that while they were over 50 yards away – they must have been games or drama teachers with that ability to project their voices.
Gulls on a drowned treeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Swan and Gadwall and snow
We decided to call it a day due to the snow and call at The Big Fish at Ollerton. The lure of warmth and food was greater than a look round the Kitchen Garden in the snow. It’s a good place to eat fish and chips (actually better than some coastal chip shops we’ve been to) and there’s nothing like a nice piece of haddock for restoring the spirits on a wintry day.
Next time we’ll look at the Kitchen Garden and the 135 types of rhubarb.
We decided to use our new National Trust membership yesterday with a late visit to Clumber Park.
There is no house now. After a number of problems, including fires, declining fortune and death duties the house was demolished in 1938. A house that once had 105 rooms (and a dining room that seated 150) was brought to nothing, though statues and fountains were removed for reuse. The contents were sold – the Library sale raised £70,000 and the rest of the contents for £60,000 – a total of £130,000 (around £6,000,000 at 2017 values). There are rumours that the house as rebuilt in Arizona, but nobody can say where.
It wasn’t just a house that disappeared, a whole way of life disappeared along with the houses. It wasn’t just this house that went either. Since 1900 0ver a thousand country houses have been lost. Causes include social change (lack of servants), declining income, taxation (with death duties up to 80%) and damage from the military during the war.
Despite this, there is still plenty to see, including the Chapel (which looks more like a Church to me) and a four acre walled kitchen garden which contains a 450 foot greenhouse and 135 varieties of rhubarb.
Lake at Clumber Park
Lake at Clumber Park
How the other half lived
There is also a Lake, which is what we went to see. It’s 87 acres, so it’s a lot bigger than the duck pond at Arnot Hill.
To be honest, despite the Greek temple and bridge, the lake isn’t that interesting. The bird life was also rather dull – no Mandarin, no cross-breeds and no Pochards. The trees on the lake’s edge did, however, provide food and shelter for a flock of Bramblings, which was worth the trip as I haven’t seen any for years. They have a profile very much like a Chaffinch, and come to visit from Scandinavia each winter.
They kept flying round, making it difficult to count them, but there were about 40 of them. Despite that it was still tricky getting a good photo.
There was also a small flock of Greenfinches masquerading as something interesting.
I’m finally catching up on last year’s posts, so please bear with me if things seem a bit disjointed. After this post things should be up to date.
On our latest visit to Rufford Abbey we decided to look at some of the areas we didn’t see last time. This includes more buildings, the kitchen garden, some sculpture, another stone head (which I noticed sticking out from the kitchen garden wall) and the pet graves. Generally the pet graves are a bit dismal, though they have been done up for Christmas to make it look like Santa’s reindeer are in residence.
Sculpture at Ruffird – I will say no more…
Sculpture at Rufford
Sculpture at Rufford
This photo shows the story behind the hand sculpture.
The story of The Hand
That should really cheer the kids up, hanging name plates on the graves of dead gun dogs. They also have a horse buried there – Cremorne, who won the Derby, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Ascot Gold Cup. It’s a dismal stone so I’ll wait for a brighter day before photographing it. It seems a little out of balance that animals got better treatment in death than the estate staff, but as he was sold for 5,400 guineas when owner Henry Savile died I suppose he was worth more than the staff. (That’s £ 5,400 plus 5,400 shillings. At 20 shillings to the £ that is £5,670, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the guinea.) If you’re interested in the history of the guinea here is more information.
Pet graves as reindeer stalls
Pet Graves at Rufford Abbey
We can probably do two more visits and still show something new. There is plenty to see.
Meanwhile, there are other buildings including the craft centre, information centre and bookshop round the courtyard of the stable block (not to forget the toilets). There is a cafe, which does a decent bacon cob, in the old coach house, plus an orangery and a kitchen garden. There’s also a water tower – it’s more like a small town than a house – and other parts you can’t visit. There’s a restaurant at this end too, in addition to the cafe.