In the footsteps of the Princess Bride

And visiting the Jersey girls

Welcome to this week’s newsletter. I’m late writing this - usually I start a draft during the week. Today is Sunday. We’ve had a slow start to the day. Chris has just lit a fire in the log burner - the farmer brought us some more logs and kindling. Bamber is snuggled down on his favourite rug enjoying the warmth, and snoring gently. Chris is relaxing, listening to the crackle of the logs, and I’m sitting here, iPad on my lap, thinking what I might share with you in this missive.

I want to tell you, first, about the Mercatum at Haddon Hall. A Christmas market for makers, artisans and artists to showcase their wares, it was completely magical. A bit damp under foot when we arrived, we were fortunate that the rain held off and then, as the afternoon progressed, the light faded and the mist started rising from the river making it feel other worldly and ethereal.

Haddon Hall, a medieval manor house, dates back to the 11th century. It’s been used in many film productions including Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and the interior and exterior were used in 1986 as Prince Humperdinck's castle in The Princess Bride. It retains lots of original features - wood panelling and carving, stone floors, and huge oak doors.

On Friday it was decked out with the most magnificent Christmas decorations. The wreath on the front door was spectacular, and the enormous displays around the Hall were all fantastic. So colourful and full of lovely details.

While it was great to look at the gazebo stalls, and chat with stall holders, it was the venue itself that captivated me. The sky was epic and, as it highlighted the turrets and crenellations, I just wanted to stand there and take it all in. When dusk came and the mist started rising, I couldn’t believe how stunning it was.

Chris should have been giving a remote woodturning demonstration for a Derbyshire Woodturning Club in early February but, as we don’t yet have a move in date, we have had to postpone it as it’s unlikely that the workshop will be ready. The Club Chairman, Derek, rang Chris and they talked shop! Chris has really been missing his woodturning and, unlike me with photography, there’s nothing he can do to indulge his passion. Derek mentioned a local timber merchant, Nash Woodcrafts, to Chris. So, that same day we paid Mike a visit. Chris was like a kid in a candy store! We even had to bring a bowl blank back with us so that he can sniff it (it’s a blind thing!) until he’s reunited with his woodturning tools.

We popped to Little Paperie so that Chris could collect my Christmas present! (Oo stationery!). I also managed to get my hair cut - only the second time this year! I’ve been going to the blind barber’s workshop since March for an all over number 8. It did the job but I was ready for a bit more styling!

I’d been having Tagg Lane withdrawal symptoms so we had a drive over. A lovely latte, a piece of fruit cake, and a tête-à-tête with the Jersey girls.

I don’t really know what to call the retired farmer and head of the family. We tend to use shorthand, between ourselves, and call him the old farmer. We met him last year when we first visited Tagg Lane Dairy for lunch after one of our house hunting missions. He usually sits and watches the world go by, chatting to people he knows, opening the door, and generally being responsible for customer care. He’s part of the fixtures and fittings, and I always look out for him. During the summer when people queued outside for coffee or ice cream, I would wave madly at him when he spotted me. I did the same this week. Then, as we were leaving in the car, he came to the door for a chat. We drove back via the A515. As I do, I looked out over the acres and acres of green. And I thought how much all this makes me so happy.

In other news, I’ve started thinking about blinds and curtains! And delivery times!!

Until next time, thank you for reading.