A Jane Austen fest in Derbyshire

Plus a lot of reading and a bit of writing!

Welcome back to the newsletter. Thank you to you all for reading my little missives. I really appreciate every bit of feedback.

I’ve had some really nice conversations on Instagram about our move to Derbyshire. It’s nice to know you’re enjoying hearing about our new life here too.

It’s been a quiet-ish week here, by necessity because of lockdown. We’re chomping at the bit to visit some of our favourite places, to travel a bit further afield but are making do at the moment with me reading aloud from Derbyshire Life. There’s an article this month about Haddon Hall, which I think will be one of our first ports of call, come December 2nd. If you love Jane Eyre or Jane Austen, you may have seen Haddon Hall used as a film location.

One of our walks this week was around Carsington Water, only a stone’s throw from here. It’s a site with the ninth largest reservoir in England with a maximum capacity of 7800 million gallons of water. It’s a beautiful area with bird watching, walks, cycling paths, boating and, of course, a cafe (closed at the moment).

We came across Stone Island, a mound with modern day monoliths, found the bird watching hide, spotted a few sheep and a wood carved Merlin and dragon.

We’ve had a few dog dangling kind of days here. (That’s Chris’ term). We started watching House of Cards and are working our way through an episode or two a day. Chris has become a Jane Austen convert* so we’ve found various book adaptations and films on Netflix, and been listening to Jane Austen at Home on Audible. We’ve had a Wallace and Gromit spree this week too. (* I think it’s because she spent a lot of time in Derbyshire too, potentially wrote part of Pride and Prejudice in either/or Bakewell or Haddon Hall, and is said to have based Pemberley on Chatsworth).

I’ve enjoyed the downtime of being in between properties and have recaptured some of the voracious reading habit of my childhood.

I had The Salt Path by Raynor Winn already downloaded on to my Kindle and part read. Once I picked it up again, I couldn’t put it down. I read at night until my eyes wouldn’t stay open and started reading as soon as I woke up.

The story of Ray and Moth, how they lost their home after a bad investment with a rather unscrupulous ‘friend’, which led them to decide to walk the South West Coast Path. Living on £30 a week and subsisting on noodles, and wild camping anywhere they could pitch their tent, the book is set against the backdrop of Moth’s terminal diagnosis. It’s the story of a life changed after several pivotal moments and I’m a sucker for tales of overcoming the odds and the elements. I really enjoyed the writing too.

As soon as I finished The Salt Path, I started on The Wild Silence, the follow up book. This is about life after the walk. What becomes of Moth, finding a place to live and how the first book came to be written. I enjoyed The Wild Silence but it is a very different book. It’s about readjusting to a more normal life again, coping with the progression of Moth’s condition, and being changed by their experiences.

I’ve now started Jane Austen - A Life by Claire Tomalin. The book was mentioned in Jane Austen at Home. Although I know Austen’s books very well, I knew little about her life and it’s a fascinating read, digging into the family, and their peripatetic lives.

We’ve continued walking a lot locally, popping into the farm shop every couple of days for provisions. And generally, recalibrating and catching up on sleep. I’ve been pheasant spotting although not managed to photograph any of these elusive creatures. I saw four in the adjacent paddock but too far away. I waited and waited for them to duck underneath the hedge but they never did!

At night when I take Bamber out for his pre-bedtime ablutions, I stand for a few moments staring up at the sky dotted with stars, and enjoying the blackout created by an absence of streetlights.

My conversation with Melo Calarco starts with a solo mountain bike ride around the world and ends in Rwanda with silverback gorillas. Melo shares how he met his wife on the back of an orange truck during his travels.

Melo is a High Performance Coach who advocates meditation and mindfulness. We discussed what he learned on his journey, cycling and trekking, and how he combines the best of both East and West traditions in his teaching.

Melo talks about his eBook, Mindfulness Put Simply, and his free Teachable resource, and how we can each approach day to day tasks more consciously, as well as refilling the well by doing something for ourselves every day.

Some of Melo's meditations are also available on Insight Timer.

This is a fascinating episode exploring Melo's pivotal moments and how these continue to impact his life and work today.

Click here to listen

We had a drive by of the new house this week. Work continues.

The weeks are whizzing by and it won’t be that long before I’m writing these missives from my new study. We’re so glad we are here and can enjoy the local area. I’m compiling lists of places to visit, our favourites so far, and we’re gradually finding our way around.

I’m jotting down notes for Explore the Peak Park until I can get out and about again to start the podcast interviews. I’m working on ideas for a Living at a Gentler Pace eBook. There are already lots of books out there about Hygge and slow living (many already on my Kindle) so I’m pondering how I can make mine different.

In other news I wrote and posted all my Christmas cards this week! There was method in my madness - I wanted to let people know we had moved and share our temporary address with them! I’m still loving our Post Restante/mail forwarding set up and, although I miss daily post, it’s fun to see what’s waiting for us at the Post Office every Monday!

Until next time, thank you for reading.