Wednesday, 2 January 2008

IP Address.08 – a week at Ingestre Pavilion: Part the Eighth

Thursday, 30 August 2007

In which Change of Personnel occurs, a Stately Home is revisited, a Peasant quizzed on Politics, and Tea is Taken.

This was our last full day at Ingestre Pavilion. It was a day of change and a day of sameness, a pleasing mixture.

The change was in staffing: the Infanta Marfs had to sign up for sixth form on the Friday so, being bad parents to the poor child, we just stuffed her callously on a train and left her to go back and suffer alone. She seems to still be at school now, so I guess it worked out. I try not to trouble myself with these matters.

Actually it was sad to see Martha go as it had been nice to be fully staffed on a holiday for a change. We hardly had time, however, to wipe away our tears when, railway stations being handy for this sort of thing, another train chugged up and delivered a new member of our group, albeit for a rather short stay, this being Lottie's (and indeed nowadays the family's) friend Katerina.

It was very nice that Kat's visit could be so well fitted in. She, a young person of the German variety, is quite into English history and culture (well someone has to be) so it was pretty irresistible to get her to visit us in a Landmark. Indeed the Landmark Trust has that effect on me generally: it makes me want to invite American/Canadian/French/German/Kiwi/Whatever friends to visit us in one 'cos I think they'd like it. On the other hand I have contradictory advice from Sprengel, Imp of the Left Shoulder, who points out that what you really want to do with this kind of holiday is to keep it to yourself and not share it with all those people. Hmm tricky. I feel that the obvious answer is to double the number, or length, of your Landmark holidays in order to accommodate both viewpoints. Yeah baby.

Anyway anyway there we were with five of us again and a day out to plan, so after returning to the Pavilion and impressing (I hope!) Kat with its, er, historicity and Englishness and eccentricity, we eventually fell upon the cunning plan of a return to Shugborough. It was close by (with a longish drive home tomorrow to bear in mind) and easy to reach and already known to be good, and those of us who'd seen it earlier were more than happy to go there again as there's plenty to do. So that's what we did.

I've waffled about this place at length so I'll only mention things that were a bit different:

  • The dog needed a half-decent walk so Deb and I took her on a rather wonderful circuit out through the Essex Bridge end of the estate, along the Trent & Mersey canal to the junction then along the Staffs & Worcs through Tixall Wide and eventually back into Shugborough at the main entrance. It was then a surprisingly long, but rather nice, walk back through the estate to meet the others for tea at the very nice café. You get much more interesting views of the estate and its woods and follies this way.
  • In the meantime the others had explored some buildings. The main house had been pretty much inaccessible for Becca: they have some terrifying stair-climbing tank thing which ruled itself out on several grounds, though apparently something easier is planned for next season.
  • Becca, however, had found other places to visit which were accessible (cheese-grinding workshop? apple-vectoring bench? the loafhouse?) so had been wandering around in 1805-land being chatted to by rosy-cheeked tub-aligners and chaff-delineators.
  • Apropos of whom, I did try asking one of the 1805 gardeners if they thought anyone would mind if they knew that one of our visitors was German. She was obviously not a student of history so she mainly fell back on "oo Oi wouldn't roightly know, that be Lunnon talk Zur" but I thought it was quite resourceful of her to point out that nothing could be quite so offensive as being French!
  • Lottie and Katerina had also explored the main house, though my memory doesn't record their views. Perhaps the Iarlles will oblige with a tiny reminder?
  • Tea was indeed pleasant. I could spend a lot of time - and money! - in this rather classy caff.

I think that's pretty much it for this visit. Again, this was an extremely good and interesting place to spend some time. Oddly, the timing of her arrival and departure meant that Martha missed both our visits there. This is a bit sad and should be put right one day. I've seen its signpost often enough from the motorway: it's not like it's hard to find!

Near-Shugborough Viewing: I'm also noting here in passing, mainly for my own benefit, that the 1035 Manchester Piccadilly train from Euston passes the near-Shugborough canal place at about 1157. For some reason I find it hugely exciting that you get a great view of it all, including the very pretty Essex Bridge - though it's brief and you do need to be prepared. Nerdy or what? Oh well. I am not yet sure whether you can see the house itself or just the tail end of the estate. But it's very nice anyway.

It remains for me only to thank Shugborough for another excellent day out. I'm like, yay, woo Shugborough, awright. Ahem, yes indeed I am.

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