Monday, 15 March 2010

A Very Merry Unbirthday

Except, of course, it has actually been my birthday, and Mother's Day, on the same day. Greedy, that's what I call it. I'm pretty sure this is the first time it's happened, as Mother's Day is usually the week after my birthday. But bear in mind it was our anniversary on the 10th and you have what I refer to as 'receiving week,' where I go round the family and receive various gifts. It's wonderful, I've been doing it for years, you ought to try it!
After the physical antics of Saturday, I decided to have a leisurely day on Sunday, so after we'd done the horsey chores, we set off to Hardwick Hall. It's not very far away from us at all, maybe ten or fifteen minutes by car. It's the Tudor mansion that belonged to Bess of Hardwick, or Elisabeth Shrewsbury as she was also known. I didn't know what to expect, but thought I would compare it to Chatsworth and it would be found wanting, but I thought it was a fantastic place, quite breathtaking. This is the first thing you see:

"Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall."

There is a 'Long Gallery,' full of paintings. This is Bess herself:


She was married four times!

And this painting of Elizabeth I was so beautiful, I nearly cried. The photograph doesn't do it justice. (Sorry it's so dark.) Obviously it should be on the wall, but the tapestry it hangs on has been taken to Belgium to be repaired and restored and it won't be back for a year, so the painting will stay here for the time being.

It's a picture full of meaning. Firstly carpets were so expensive and valuable in those days, you had them on the wall, or on the table if you really wanted to flaunt your wealth, but the queen is standing on a carpet, which is symbolic of her immense wealth. Her dress fabric is covered in sea creatures and other animals, which says she is queen of the land and the seas (The english had just beaten the spanish when this was painted). The dress is covered in pearls, to represent her purity. She is holding gloves in her right hand. Gloves were a symbol of love, and her hand is on the throne, to show she loves her country. It was an awe-inspiring thing to look at.

We moved through various bedrooms, all rather stunning.

I was very pleased with my camera as flash photography isn't allowed, and there are drapes at all the windows, to filter the light, because too much light will quickly fade the wonderful


and paintings.

Oooh, look, Henry VIII.

I'm so glad we went, it was a fabulous experience. I've been meaning to go there for years, but never got round to it. We had tea in the restaurant, which was very busy, but nice, and I bought two poetry books in the gift shop, which I wasn't expecting. Expect to be regaled with verse on a regular basis from now on!
We came home and offloaded everything, then set off to Worksop to visit the children. They've given me some wonderful presents, a watch from Abby and lovely smellies from Lisa. The Flower Fairy had rung us and said, "Will Tessa be coming?" I hadn't planned to, but how could I disappoint her? When we got in the car to go, she waved frantically, and called out, "Bye, Tess!" no word about us at all. Oh well. I know my place.
It was lovely to see all the boys as well. They kept bringing all their toys out to show us. I have such a giggle with them. They are such characters. Being a granny is much more fun than being a mum was, and where I was fairly strict with my own children, I would willingly grant my grandchildren their every wish. Funny, isn't it? Something obviously switches over between Mummydom and Grannydom that I wasn't prepared for.
All in all a lovely day, but I was phenomenally tired when we got home. One of those days when I would sink into a hot bubble-bath, if only we had one!

1 comment:

  1. wow, what a wonderful day you had and thank you so much for your awesome insight into the interpretation of the 'liz' painting...i learned so much! speaking of her...have you been to hatfield? would love to go there...


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