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 Chatsworth

I had promised myself this trip to Chatsworth House and their Christmas market for months, it didn’t disappoint.

 Chatsworth Market

The House, Chatsworth

Chatsworth House began in 1549, what you see today is a much later rebuild, set in the Peak District it’s grounds cover 35,000 acres, it’s big. As you come down the snaking roads, the Devonshire Family's home, glows, and with a huge fountain welcoming you.

Chatsworth

Part of the market at Chatsworth

The whole event was superbly organised. On arrival, a 'meet and greeter' gave all of us a fold- up map and guide, there were good signs everywhere and, because we know how important this is, hundreds of loos, and lots of seating areas.

Chatsworth

Market at Chatsworth

We had an admission to the house time of 3.15. This gave me plenty of time to look at all the market, and there was a lot of it. Set in a standard U shape it looked good, then you saw the double rows of stalls and realised just how big it was, and people had turned up to spend money.

Luscious smells came at me from everywhere, if it wasn’t food, then candles, wine, cakes, coffee, almost too much.

Talking of lunch. People in the know had booked tables at the main restaurant in the stable block. It was fully booked, but he did apologise beautifully. I went on to the other 'cafeteria ' type restaurant, which was being managed very well. Only short pauses to allow people through and out. It was this sort of attention to detail that caught my eye.

Chatsworth

The Laurent Perrier on site bar

I needed lunch. I just happened to pass the Laurent Perrier champagne bar, and I cracked. I eschewed the fabulous aroma of the mulled wine and went for a glass of Brut. It was excellent, and I deserved it. I was then waylaid by the roast meat wagon, and a hot salt beef sandwich was mine.

Golly it was good.

Chatsworth

Dogs and mobility scooters allowed!

By the way, it was a very cold day, but thankfully dry. I found a welcome table and chair in the stable block and felt quite smug looking at the food queues. I did a quick time check.

Chatsworth

The maze, Chatsworth from our buggy

I had spotted in my guide, that there were guided buggy tours of the grounds. I knew that I wouldn’t make it round on Shank's Pony, my own two feet, so I made my way to the garden entrance.

Chatsworth

The drumming hare, one of the bronze sculptures at Chatsworth

David, the guide and driver greeted me, we waited for a few more people and we were off in our buggy. He was superb at the 'just enough' information for us. From the gravity fountain, to the amazing bronze and stone sculptures. Stories of the Family and how long he had worked there. 45 minutes of superb tour of these fabulous grounds for £4. Bargain.

Chatsworth

The entrance to the Dickens themed tour, Chatsworth

Chatsworth

The chapel at Chatsworth

Now to the house. Dickens was the theme and it was breathtaking. Room after room, themed on Dickens books and characters and the wow factor of 25 fully decorated Christmas trees, some 30 foot tall. Staff were in costume and placed discreetly, very clever. Even Miss Haversham was there.

This really was the highlight for me.

This route was set over 2 floors and many rooms, again, superbly managed. A lift was available for people who couldn’t manage stairs and chairs everywhere. I loved it.

Chatsworth

The waterfall at Chatsworth

My trip cost £45 including coach and admission. It was well worth it. Garden Tour £4 a must, £20 food and drink. Looking at the bags people staggered on with a lot of money was spent.

I loved it. A small word of warning though. The market itself is set on a slope. They have covered the grass in non slip plastic interlocking plates. It does take the toll on knees and feet, but there are asphalt main pathways.

Chatsworth

A superb day brilliantly organised. Perfect. There is still time to go. Admission is FREE to the market.

See Chatsworth Website here for more details.

Meet The Author...
Carolyn Soutar
Who Am I?

A born and bred Londoner happily settled in the beautiful Scarborough. I love music. Since I was 6 , when I started to learn the piano, this love has stayed with me.

At 3.a.m. when you just have to write, then music is the key. Along with the inevitable writer's cats, 2, who allow me to use my computer, the desk, the flat. You know.

My background is in theatre. I started in opera at the ENO, as a lowly Assistant Stage Manager. What a dream. Serenaded at 10.30 each morning by world class singers 8 years later I diverted to straight theatre, and worked with Peter O'Toole, Alan Bates, Janet Suzman, and a long list of amazing people. In 1981, I was given the chance to Stage Manage the Rudolf Nureyev seasons. It was a roller coaster of 5 years of ballet with Rudi. Dave Allen was a completely unexpected opportunity. This followed two tours with Peter O'Toole. I am and was star struck. I don't believe that any of us old theatre folk lose the ability to feel very nervous in front of a dressing room door containing one of our heroes.

I am very proud to have an event for the National Trust on my resume. It was for their centenary at West Wycombe, and it was, "The Battle of Trafalgar". I wrote and directed this, and felt very privileged that I was the first person to be commissioned to create an event for them. This was 1995. More events followed, then in 2004 either I had had enough of events or they of me, and writing called. I have been lucky enough to attend the Edinburgh International Literature Festival and a book signing in Cannes, France, and many others.

I have written two biographies. My motivation Mr de Mille? I knew them, worked with them, and though not by any means an academic Biographer, I knew I had a lot of insight to offer. Maybe the next one will be backstage tales, and there are a few of them. Hollywood starlets who cannot cope with 150 year old London dressing rooms, to wannabees who can't go on because their nail polish wasn't dry. I wonder how many volumes?

But my work in progress has to come next. It is my biography on Peter O'Toole, 'Hell Raiser', maybe. So many ideas, so many dreams.,/p>

So love of reading has to come next, or equally. How can you write without reading?

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