Sunday, 7 December 2008

My new thing for today is... being amazed

Remember those lucky stars I was thanking? They came through. Just over two weeks ago, an email came to tell me we had won the Mumsnet competition prize of a holiday at Chatsworth in Derbyshire.

Can you believe it? I couldn't. Even as we drove up to the cottage, I expected the real winner to be opening the curtains and peering out angrily at me. Apparently two Mumsnetters had been offered the prize before us, but couldn't make it. That's how lucky we were. (Thanks to them too. Without wanting to rub it in too much). So we unpacked all our things and spent four nights staying in the lovely Heathy Lea Barn.

I'm not sure whether or not this was meant to be part of the prize, but we woke the first morning to see giant flakes of snow falling. It was the Littlest Latte's first real snowfall - living near the coast usually guarantees a pretty useless show of snow - which was very exciting indeed.

For the tedious old adults, the exciting bit was when it cleared away in time for us to get outside and go see stuff.

Chatsworth House, promised the lady from the PR company, looked lovely this Christmas. She couldn't have been more right. The sheer scale of the decorations so awed the Little Lattes that they managed to make their way around the stately home without once attempting to touch something or knock it over. Everything twinkled. At the special Christmas evening openings, complete with wine and Christmas songs sung by a choir arranged on a huge staircase, the Lattes sat under the lights of the enormous tree eating their mince pies, barely spilling a crumb and staring in wonder.

So many excitements to be had! The gardens were frosty, and there was quite a bit of whining about the cold, but they soon shut up when they saw the maze...

and experienced the show-stopping beauty of the Cascade (you can just see the Eldest Latte and Mr Coffee on the shot, but I can see how you might be distracted).

It's not easy for the Eldest Latte to do proper days outdoors. But the number of disabled accessible paths meant we spent a good couple of days in the grounds. We even walked through the estate to the barn easily in less than half an hour. We saw farm animals. We stroked guinea pigs. We did Christmas crafts. We saw the rock garden and the grotto and the deer and the sheep. We ate an awful lot of chocolate cake.

Mr Coffee spent his evenings devouring the guidebooks of Chatsworth family history, as well as getting incredibly excited about the presence of a working Archimedes' Screw in the play area.

We had, in short, one of the best weeks ever.

And we got a good headstart on the magic of Christmas.


  1. That sounds lovely...the pictures are gorgeous. Glad your christmas is on track. I read about last year and my heart went out to you. it still does if you need it to!!

    I can imagine how you felt turning expecting the winner! we did that once with a night in a hotel in Bath. I was waiting for a camera crew and you've been framed to spring out from the reception desk. I was a bag of nerves until we were back in the car coming home!

    Loved your solution to Ali's armpit issues! Brilliant.

  2. what a magical trip. we went with my brother and his family to Chatsworth last summer, once for the house and gardens, and once for the farm and play area, and we loved it. The snow looks magical, we had rain, and mud, which didn't spoil the fun, but made the disabled access paths a bit slippery....

  3. Oh, you really did, didn't you? I used to live in Sheffield and I love that part of the world.

  4. A very dear friend of mine is hopping on a plane tonight to go to England for a month. It's always been a dream of mine to go (and your photos aren't helping to dissapate it!!!)
    Snow around Christmas though.... it just doesn't seem right. Our forecast is for 30 degrees Celcius and sunny. Just perfect!

    (I found you through Ali's blog.)

  5. Oops. Speeling nistake.

    And from an English teacher too...


  6. ge-ow-jus. And you got snow. Real, proper snow, not just the clippings from white paper I get in my house.

  7. Oh this is such a funny blog, you are making me laugh one minute and cry the next with your story about your daughter talking to you as you painted. I am not supposed to be on here as I am having a sewing day, but now I have found you I may become a bit distracted! You are welcome over to my blog, there are some cheating at motherhood posts early in the spring you might appreciate, and add to.

  8. What a beautiful family holiday...thanks for sharing!

    Such nice photos to remember it by, too.

    Congrats on the win!

  9. Just abandoning home and family so that I too can have a magical weekend at Chatsworth. Can you lend me some tiny Lattes to make it perfect??

  10. Whoa! You totally deserved to have an idyllic experience like this after last year! Just fab. And I'm relieved you made such progress on your shopping; maybe I'll get my present on time. >;-D

  11. Glad you had such a fab time Capp. I love Chatsworth but have never been at Christmas time. May pop over next weekend, You've inspired me to make the effort.


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