Sunday, 28 July 2013

A guide to the real England.

So many times I have spoken to people I have met here in Jordan and when I tell them I am from England their assumption is that I am from London. Most times I ask them about their visits to the UK they also exclusively talk about London. London is a beautiful city, but it's not England. If you stay in the capital every time you would miss the true heart of the country. So I am posting a series of  features about all the places I think you should visit if you have a holiday in the British isles. As I am the author my first post will be my own favorite places. But as there is so much to add I will have to have more than one post on those places too as there are a lot!!. I will try to add information of interest as well as the beauty of England is in the stories behind the landmarks. So lets start because there is a lot to see.


Now this part of England is especially close to my heart as it is where I was born. Its romantic wild countryside has been the perfect setting for the heart stopping novels of Jane Austin. The Kira Knightly version of Pride and prejudice was filmed in Derbyshire  and its not difficult to see its appeal for both the writer of such a wonderful piece of literature and the director who wanted to capture the essence of its charm. Its a great place for bookworms, for those who like to create their own romantic story, for sports men and women, writers and poets, and even collectors of antiquities. There is something for everyone.


Defiantly a jewel in  the crown of Derbyshire only comparable to the queens residence in London for grandeur. With its vast gardens and beautifully preserved house which are both open to the public you can imagine yourself transported to times long past and the elegant past times of high society.

There are many organised events during the year which are advertised locally and at the house. One of the most famous is a series of concerts with fireworks which are really worth seeing. They also have a shopping hall with wonderful gifts and a farm shop which sells dairy, fruits and vegetables, meat and fish which are farmed and produced in and around the Chatsworth estate. They also have a lovely restaurant . Chatsworth is a great place for the family as it also has a working farm which is open for visitors and little ones can go and see the animals and watch milking time. There is also an adventure playground which is set in a woodland area with tree houses and climbing ropes.
One of the most famous scenes of Pride and prejudice was shot overlooking the great two story building high fountain which stands in front of the house.
On a personal note There is also a garden centre which has memories for me as its been there for a long time. I remember as a child going with my parents to meet my grandparents. I have no idea why but every time I remember its always raining. The car park is surrounded by thick leafy trees and vegetation and I remember the earthy smell and the smell of the wet leaves. I used to visit my grandparents there as it was half way between our homes. I remember going to the café there and having a hot chocolate or a cup of tea and sitting watching the rain or looking around the shop which not only sells plants but clothes, bath stuffs and books. Will defiantly be going there next time I am back in the UK as its really beautiful at Christmas. I am posting a link below for the official site for more info-



Now this beautiful little village is just a stones throw away from where my grandparents lived during my childhood. This is one of the only places in the world where you can buy the precious gemstone Blue John. Its quaint building are a wonderful forefront to the ruins of Peveril Castle ( pictured below)

There are also several caves which are open to the public and you can go on a guided tour of one of them which is a great experience as there are many tales told about life in bygone times. There is a road that goes between two of the hills of Castleton called Winnit's pass which has a spooky story about a newly married couple who come by Castleton on their way and are ambushed and killed on the pass. Legend says their ghosts still roam on the pass and relive their final moments every night. Which is why the near by cave has a special Halloween tour which is spooky and not for the faint hearted! Castleton is in the Peak District National Park so its a great place for walkers and hikers everywhere. If you have stamina its great for Bikers- I say if you have stamina because of the many hills lol. Castleton is a wonderful place to buy gifts and get a good lungful of British fresh air. Here is a link for Castleton and the National Park-

Haddon Hall

Now this place is a little older than Chatsworth and is another location  of a  film set but this time for Jane Eyre.  Its a rugged wild setting which is absolutely perfect for the passion of this classic ghostly tale of love and adversity. Its a beautiful place to visit and has guided tours and a restaurant. Its well worth a day trip, especially for those who are interested in seeing a real life Tudor home. What I have always love about its deep wooden paneled walls and stone floors is the pungent smell which I dream is the same as when It was first built. Thus I am able to time travel just a little as I walk through its rooms and when I leave I have felt what it is to stand in the same time  as Henry the eighth just for a moment. Again here is a link for Haddon hall-



Down the road from Haddon hall is a local town called Bakewell which is the original birth place of one of the most delicious puddings in the midlands the Bakewell pudding. Its authentic recipe is kept a closely guarded secret but it is really worth a taste. There is also great shopping there and lots of little nooks and crannies In which you can find the most amazing bargains. As well as a fantastic local farmers market . Again the link is below-


Tissington is a great place for those who love biking as there is a trail on which you can ride for free as far as you like. On the trail ever so often are Peak district stops and car parks and shops so there is a safe place to park your car and also refreshment stands so you have everything you need! The countryside on the trails is breathtaking there are also bike renting buildings so you don't even have to take yours with you. They also have infant carriages available to fit on to adult bikes so your little one can have a lovely ride along with you.

Further on at the village of Tissington there is the lovely local hall which unfortunately though not open to the public has a very good restaurant which offers a hearty lunch to visitors. There is also an absolute gem of a shop there called Akanthas which is a bit like Aladdin's cave. Its a beautiful little shop crammed with  interior décor and little trinkets which are crazily cheaply priced. Its one of the places I always have to visit whilst in the Uk as many of the new fashionable items which carry quite a hefty price tag on the high street are found here at a fraction of the cost. Now the next bit is for non Muslims - at Christmas they have a special event every year of several evenings in which they stay open and serve mulled wine to customers so that they can mill about at their leisure whilst deciding what to buy for loved ones. There is also a really great shop just around the corner from Akanthas which is devoted to vintage and retro sweets and a small collection of vintage home wares. The whole shop is in the theme of post war England. I love the fact that I could get some of the sweets I used to hoard during the school year plus their ice creams are to die for!!!!
Not forgetting the ford which is a low stream which runs over the road. I remember as a child my father used to drive into the middle of the ford, stop the car and tell me that is was broken. He then always used to get me to tell the car to start three times and then he would turn the engine on as we cheered and drove into the village. Here is the link-
I did a bit of extra research and found that apparently Tissington hall is open 28 days a year so you can see it. Yay!!!
Will post more of my favorite Derbyshire sights in a second part later so keep posted. There is something for everyone!!!!

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