Haddon Hall at Christmas

haddonhallWow the last few weeks have been busy! My kids seem to positively collect Christmas events and every year there’s even more places they need to be. We’ve had parties galore, dance recitals (the rehearsals were constant!) plays, sleepovers and more! So when a rare non booked day presented itself last weekend I grabbed the opportunity to visit the wonderful Haddon Hall at Christmas time.haddonhall7

For those not in the know (I like to pretend that I am) Haddon Hall is a fortified Medieval house in Derbyshire owned by the Dukes of Rutland. If it looks familiar to you though that’s probably because it features regularly on film and TV. It’s used for just about every production of Jane Eyre (they might as well rename it Thornfield at this rate) and it even featured in the cult classic The Princess Bride!haddonhall3

For the festive season however Haddon has been celebrating the year of the bard with Shakespearean themed decorations (we now have Will Shakespeare hanging on our tree thanks to the giftshop). haddonhall9

haddonhall5Even more festive is the fact that their chapel is dedicated to good old St Nic himself. You can even spot the big man (looking more svelte) saving babies from being eaten in a time of famine amongst the outstanding paintings that adorn the chapel walls. Some of his other laudable (and perhaps slightly less gruesome) deeds are represented as well.haddonhall1

The hall while lovely at any time of year really comes alive at Christmas thanks to the decorations and general jollilility (made up festive word there) that seems to abound.haddonhall2

In between chatting to staff about stunt women throwing themselves off the battlements and just how polite Micheal Fassbender (or Micheal ‘Gorgeous’ Fassbender as they refer to him) the kids had some lovely festive poems read to them while seated on a genuine Tudor bench. haddonhall4

We even caught a performance by the Royal Northern College of music.


One lovely little addition this year was the opening of the normally shut gardener’s cottage as a Christmas pop up shop, I love the topiary outside 🙂haddonhall10

It’s such a fabulous place to visit and I hope my pics do the hall justice at least a little bit. I definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area next year.haddonhall8

Go on an adventure in the rain to find a Fairy Door

FairydoorLast week we were blessed with fabulous sunshine and amazing temperatures, this week we weren’t (unless you’re a duck or plant starved of water). But rain doesn’t have to mean the end of outdoor fun and games if you have some wellies and a decent waterproof coat. There’s nothing better than getting out into the countryside and experiencing some nature close to home. Sure you might need a shower or three when you arrive home caked in mud but getting outside is good for the whole family. You could even add some magic to your trip and go on an adventure in the rain to find a Fairy Door!fairydoor5

We did just that a short time ago and found this amazing fairy residence nestled in a pretty little woodland quite near to us.

Inside the fully working door there were instructions on the kinds of gifts the fairy likes to receive. These messages change throughout the year depending on the seasons and the fairy’s mood!

This particular Fairy Door is located in a private woodland in Derbyshire which the landowner graciously allows the public to visit all year round. Thanks to all the extra touches I’m convinced the owner must love housing this magical little cottage and seeing just how much pleasure it brings to local children and adults alike.fairydoor3

Aside from fairies though we found a wonderful small stream and had a great time looking for birds and squirrels hiding in the trees. We’ve been somewhat inspired by watching Springwatch!

By far the muddiest member of our family was our pet Dalmatian who turned almost completely brown after he rolled around on the ground, but muddy footprints aside he had a great time too 🙂

There’s actually quite a few fairy doors located across the country, so why not ask around and see if there’s a local one you could visit for a magical rainy adventure!

Visit Heage Windmill to Keep the Sails Turning

windmillheageOne of my favourite things about living in this area is the abundance of history, from Mills with ground breaking inventions to ancient sites or the beauty of houses like Chatsworth; Derbyshire has a lot to offer the history enthusiast. Today I’m going to tell you why you must visit Heage Windmill. This easily overlooked attraction has a wealth of history and unfortunately it’s currently under threat!millstone

The Grade II listed windmill was first built in 1797 and is the only six-sailed tower windmill in England! Sitting proudly on a hill overlooking the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site, it offers amazing views and the perfect location for photographers and walkers alike. It was completely restored in 2002 and now offers guided tours and freshly milled Heage flour.windmillsail

My son and I took one of these tours, climbing the stairs (I say stairs loosely, while solid, they are quite steep) to see the inner workings of the mill. Our guide wore a full miller’s costume and encouraged my son to help him with various tasks (like pulling the flour between floors).windmillweights

Unfortunately this beautiful attraction is under threat thanks to the discovery of wet rot. They are looking at a 90K bill! While grants are being sought they still have a 50K shortfall and currently the sails can’t turn until these repairs have been made. This means they need the support of the public to keep this lovely little Windmill alive.windmillpulleys


How can you help?


The most obvious way is just to get over there and visit the mill! They are going to be opening every weekend 11am – 4pm until October. Adult admission costs just £4, and children £1.50.cog2

Or if you’d like to make a donation to the repair fund then cheques made payable to HWS Trouble at Mill can be sent to:

Danny Ashley, Treasurer, Heage Windmill Society, 12 Woodland Way, Old Tupton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S42 6JAwindmillheage2


This little (it always seems quite tubby to me) windmill is a gem hiding away in Heage and is well worth a visit if you’re passing. I can also wholeheartedly recommend their flour for baking.


Further info:

To read all about the history of the windmill visit the official website here.

Take a virtual tour of the windmill by clicking this link.cog