Wednesday, 30 May 2018

A Walk Around Hardwick Hall

Sometime in December, we stamped our car "middle-class" through a National Trust sticker that is now stuck at the back of our car and on a Bank Holiday weekend, nothing could be more stereotyped than going for a walk around Hardwick Hall's surrounding estates.

We got there before ten o'clock but alas, there were other early birds before us. From the car park, we followed the earthen path that hugged the edges of the lake which was beautifully littered with lotus flowers. A lone swan was followed by a few ducks and soon after, by an excited little boy.

Away from the water, we followed the signs that took us through the woodlands where Isaac walked on top of fallen trees, counted molehills and ticked off the list of forest animals we observed.

Once out in the open field, we encountered an herd of cows and a flock of sheep lazily grazing on the green grassy hill. The pointy cow's horns was enough to make Isaac step back but it was one of those moments when we were presented with a chance to impart an essential life lessons that would serve him well in life: that instinctive animals will not hurt him unless they feel threatened. So slowly, quietly we walked, far enough to respect their personal space, until we could breathe again.

Just before going uphill we found Hardwick Inn, a 15th Century sandstone building that has been a public house for generations but it was still closed when we got there. So onward and upwards, we trekked a few more minutes up the hill to go on a long queue inside the cafe that was already buzzing with the typical term-break and bank holiday traffic, all for a cup of coffee. We ate our packed sandwiches in one of the picnic tables then walked inside the walls of the house, passing through the ruins of Hardwick Old Hall.

I will write about these ruins and the imposing Elizabethan country house where Malfoy Manor was modeled from some other because its impressive history warrants one.

The clouds have finally parted when we got there, the eerie feel that most historical buildings evoke on cold wintry days are replaced by the sound of laughter from happy children playing inside the garden walls. We found ourselves drawn to those sounds too and in a quiet corner under some cherry apple trees whose blossoms have now been blown by the wind, we took a nap. 

After a while, we exited the gardens and retraced our steps back to the car park - down a hill, through a field with cows and sheeps, along the lake and under row of ancient trees.

We don't spend anything on days like these but we always manage to get a lot out of it. The best things in life are free after all. 

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