Lucky girl that I am this weekend saw my 28th birthday roll in with a bang (yes! 28 – for all you chancers out there who thought I was 21 all over again…) as I took up a characteristic combination of historic and bookish activities and dragged the boyfriend to the picturesque little village of Bakewell in the wilds of the Peak District and into the crumbly old walls of Haddon Hall.
For those of you with a sense of history who ever find yourselves in the area, Haddon is an absolute must-see. With the earliest sections built in the early 12th century, this time-worn house is, of course, very old, yet surprisingly homey at the same time (probably helped by it’s manageable size). I even found myself eyeing up the place for an impossible purchase; filling rooms up with our furniture and considering whether or not to hire a gardener (with that topiary of a boar’s head in the garden the answer was – yes.)
Now presided over by Lord Edward Manners, Haddon has, quite unusually and happily in this day in age, remained in the same family for years. (Think of the problems they have keeping it in the family at Downton Abbey!) As well as welcoming visitors for some of the year it has been, unsurprisingly, used for many a period drama. Since I was so engrossed by everything around me (and also unable to take my rucksack into the hall), being a rubbish blogger I have no photos of my own but I’m confident that the below, much more high quality photography than my own, truly captures just how thrilling and steeped in history this place is:
**Sigh** Makes me want to read Wolf Hall all over again and flounce around in a velveteen dress…
Anyway, daydreams aside, a trip to Bakewell would of course not be complete without both a bookshop and a tart. Although I am adamant there is another bookshop in the village that we’ve driven past countless times, we could only find the one….thankfully it was top-notch!
The Bakewell Bookshop, proudly displaying its Books Are My Bag signs and an owner who was, incidentally, not at all fond of the Costa around the corner, was a welcome reprieve from the ravenous tourists. Although not stocking as much fiction as I’m usually fond of (though I did actually almost contemplate finally buying A Suitable Boy – don’t know what came over me) the mere fact that Bakewell has an independent bookshop left me seething with jealously that our own lovely Glossop, although well stocked for charity and second-hand, doesn’t. More embarrassingly than that, neither does Manchester. Shameful.
Finally, to lighten the mood, I gorged myself on Bakewell tart which is not, as one lady at work confused herself with, a Bakewell Pudding, which is a bit of ungainly almond pastry, rather than a lovely (and very naughty) iced nipple…
Cherry Bakewell Tart by Chris via Flickr