Bah Humbug – Oh Dickens it’s Christmas at Chatsworth

What the Dickens! It’s Christmas at Chatsworth House and once again there is the most spectacular display of Christmas cheer, with just a few bah humbugs thrown in. With book characters as your guide the spirit of Christmases past will be upon you!

The theme for this year’s Christmas celebrations at Chatsworth House is the famed Victorian author and social critic Charles Dickens.

His epic stories, vivid characters and detailed description of contemporary life are unforgettable.

His novels have become much loved classics including, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.  He cleverly crafted some of the world’s best-known fictional characters, including Uriah Heep, the Artful Dodger, Fagin, Miss Havisham and of course Scrooge.Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812, the second of eight children. His father, John Dickens, was a naval clerk who dreamed of striking it rich, but instead fell into debt, so the whole family ended up in a debtor’s prison. His first novel, Oliver Twist, which follows the life of an orphan living in the streets, was inspired by how Dickens felt as a penniless child forced to get by on his wits and earn his own keep.

Charles also lived through the Industrial Revolution and through his many characters he was able to chart how life was changing, especially for the poor people.

8 fascinating facts about Charles Dickens

  1. He first won fame in 1836 with the antics of the cockney sportsmen portrayed in The Pickwick Papers. Like many of Dickens’ stories this came out in monthly instalments, chapter by chapter. Perhaps this is why Dickens’ books make good films and TV series!
  2. Dickens was an insomniac, often roaming the streets of London in the early hours of the morning; the people he met and things he saw were later brought to life in his stories.
  3. Dickens was interested in the paranormal and was a member of The Ghost Club. Inspiration perhaps for A Christmas Carol? After his death Marley is sent back to earth as a ghost in heavy chains, as punishment for being such a greedy, hard-hearted business man, and to warn his old partner Scrooge to mend his miserly ways.
  4. Famous during later life, Charles Dickens was a house guest at Chatsworth House. I think he would have been delighted with the spectacular Christmas displays you will see!
  5. Famous in death, Dickens has appeared on the British £10 note.
  6. He was a prolific writer and throughout his stories he wrote over 4.6million words, and many of his novels are much loved classics.
  7. He invented many words we still use today such as, butterfingers and slowcoach. My favourite less well know is “trumpery”, meaning something of apparent value, but little real worth or use!
  8. Charles Dickens died in June 1870 and is buried in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.

On your tour around Chatsworth House you will discover the splendour and squalor of Dickensian London, with Victorian shop fronts, the London Docks, Scrooge’s bed and much more all magnificently dressed for Christmas.

The decorated rooms sparkle to life with hundreds of Christmas baubles and twinkling decorations. The displays are as imaginative as Charles Dickens stories.

My favourite is the character cleverly created out of actual books in the entrance hall.

There is also plenty of opportunity for interaction. Children will love trying to spot Bill Sykes’ dog, Bullseye, as they follow through the house, and can also have fun dressing up. You may also encounter Miss Haversham or the dastardly Bill Sykes. Be warned – definitely don’t turn your back on Fagin or you may find your watch is missing!

“I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Oh Dickens it’s Christmas is on from now until 7th January (except 24th, 25th, 26th December 2017 and 1st January 2018). We hope you enjoy your visit as much as we did!

Check here for our December availability in our cosy log cabins and gorgeous glamping pods.

Felicity

 

A day out at Ashbourne Artisan Market

A bustling, vibrant market is nothing new in Ashbourne; the town was originally granted a market charter way back in in 1257. Today the tradition continues with a thriving Artisan Market held on the second Sunday of the month.Ashbourne became a prosperous and fashionable social centre for the wealthy during the Georgian period, with six coaching roads meeting here, including the route from London to Carlisle. The market place was originally much larger than the cobbled square where the current market is held, but there is still space for lots of fabulous stalls.

Today at Ashbourne’s Artisan Market or Malt Market the emphasis is very much in line with our #LoveLocal ethos and traders are carefully selected for producing high quality authentic goods.

The atmosphere is vibrant and there is a wide variety of goods on sale, whether it is something to tickle your taste buds, a gorgeous gift, a treat for someone special, or simply stocking up on essentials that you can’t find elsewhere, you’re bound to come home with some must have goodies. It’s also a great source of inspiration if you’re looking for Christmas presents!

As well as tasty treats, you can sip the #LoveLocal Kniveton cider, chat to the passionate artists, knowledgeable vintage dealers and creative designer-makers, whilst being entertained by local musicians.

It’s a true celebration of all things local and our fabulous Peak District artisan traders will have been busy, baking, brewing, preparing, making, designing, distilling, sewing, stitching, stirring, cooking, sourcing, painting, growing and constructing for your delight!

There is a special festive market on Sunday 25th November, from 10am to 4pm to coincide with the switching on of the Christmas lights!

A family day out with something for everyone, including the dog! Why not come and stay in one of our cosy log cabins or glamping pods and get your Christmas shopping sorted early?

Felicity

Rural Business Awards Champion of Champions

At a glitz and glamour gala evening hosted by Jules Hudson of BBC Countryfile fame, the Rural Business Awards overall Champion of Champions was revealed at Denbies Winery in Surrey on Thursday 5th October.

We thought the competition in the category of Best Rural Tourism Business, of which we were one of 5 finalists, was stiff to say the least. With a diverse group including, an open farm/craft venue employing 50 people, a welsh Eco wedding center, a glamping site in Yorkshire and a stunning holiday cottage in Lancashire, we were resigned to be leaving without a prize.

However when the runner up in our category was Barleylands Farm and craft village there was a glimmer of hope for the top slot. As Jane Headley, Senior Tutor at Harper Adams University, opened the gold envelope Felicity and I were overwhelmed to hear Hoe Grange Holidays from The Derbyshire Peak District announced as the winner!

After being presented with the Best Rural Tourism Award on stage before the 300+ audience we were whisked off for photos and interviews.

It was then time to relax and revel in the glory of such a prestigious award. Having removed my jacket and loosened my tie I enjoyed a celebratory glass of the excellent Denbies red wine.

And the overall Champion of Champions are…

At the very end of the evening the co-founders of the Rural Business Awards, Jemma Clifford  and Anna Price, announced the outstanding category of Champion of Champions. The winner was the finalist with the highest overall scores in the highly secretive and technical judging system. Judges marked entries individually so no one knew what the other judges thought or indeed who had won! The atmosphere was electric.

The judges were unanimous in their decision and you cannot imagine our surprise when the clear winner was announced as Hoe Grange Holidays!

Wow! Stunned and amazed, after a rapid re-dress and quickly retying my tie we made our way to the stage to rapturous applause to receive our second trophy of the evening.

It was all was a bit of a blur and our heads were in a spin, so imagine the shock and horror when they asked us to address the gathering! Thinking on my feet I thanked my wife Felicity for all the hard work over the last 12 years and said that to be recognized in such a way by a host of industry experts was the ultimate reward. I think I may have earned some extra brownie points there!

Felicity added her thanks and said how the teamwork between the two of us was well balanced; with her creative ideas and me keeping a close eye on the purse strings ensuring that as well as having a fantastically inspired business, it remained financially viable!

As well as a scrumptious meal with superb English wines from Denbies, guests were entertained by Faith Tucker, a very talented 17-year-old opera singer.

The evening was sponsored by the Country Landowners Association (CLA) and Amazon and celebrated businesses from all corners of the UK. The finalists in the 13 categories were as diverse as technical fabric producers, butchers, PR companies, software developers, sporting businesses and of course holiday providers. Find out about the other amazing finalists and winners of the Rural Business Awards 2017 here.

Since the Rural Business Awards ceremony life has been quite hectic, appearing on East Midlands Today TV, and Radio Derby breakfast show, to talk about our eco-friendly, accessible self-catering holidays, as well as featuring on many social media platforms and blogs.

Awards co-founder Anna Price said: “We had more entries in our tourism category than any other but Hoe Grange Holidays just blew us away and was a clear winner, not only in this category but of the whole awards. The shortage of holiday providers offering good quality disabled access is shocking and we loved how Hoe Grange was showing such imagination in filling this gap in the market. Huge congratulations to them, and we wish them every success in the future”.

Although back down to earth at home in the Peak District countryside, cleaning log cabins, greeting guests and farming, we are still on cloud nine and celebrating our tremendous achievement!

David

5 reasons to go glamping in Autumn

Autumn is a Magical time of year. Cool misty mornings followed by warm golden sunshine, and stunning sunsets. The fabulous array of changing colours as the Autumn leaves glow in the sunshine before fluttering gently down from the trees. Who doesn’t love the sound of leaves scrunching underfoot? It brings out the child in you!

5 Reasons to come glamping in Autumn

Summer may have slipped past, but there are plenty of reasons to come glamping in the Peak District in Autumn!

1. Magical misty mornings

Wake up to a stunning view from your pillow! Whilst you might need to turn up the heating inside your glamping pod to keep you cosy, the cooler temperatures outside with higher levels of moisture in the air create some magical misty autumn mornings. Imagine waking up to watch the mist slowly lifting to reveal the stunning White Peak landscape. Relax and watch the wildlife before they hibernate for winter.

 2. Hygge hot tub

The peaceful surroundings at Hoe Grange means that you can truly relax in the steamy water of our log-fired hot tub and soak up the atmosphere. Hygge means being aware of the moment, whether it’s simple or special. Why not add a glass of our homemade mulled wine, or a bottle of bubbly for that extra special touch? What better way to have a romantic Hygge holiday at Hoe Grange?

3. Stars that light up the sky

As the night-time falls, you can take time to gaze up at the starry skies as they sparkle into life. Our rural location with dark skies provides a wonderful opportunity for stargazing. With minimal light pollution and no distractions you can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

4. Colours to lift your soul

Autumn brings the most amazing colours to nature’s palette. The splashes of vibrant reds, golden-yellows and rich browns produce a colourful and ever-changing landscape which inspires and lifts your mood.

The purple heathers stretching across the moors are a sight to behold and worth the climb – why not bring your dog on holiday with you?

5. #LoveLocal seasonal goodies

There is nothing better than the taste of seasonal produce, ripe and ready just as nature intended. If you want a complete break from it all on your glamping holiday you can enjoy the flavours of the Peak District by ordering delicious local foods from Sauced Here. Luke will deliver your tasty goodies direct to your gorgeous glamping pod ready for your arrival. We make it easy for you to relax – why do the hard work if you don’t have to?

There you have it – Autumn in a nutshell!

Why not make the most of the Autumn by staying in one of our cosy glamping pods in the glorious Peak District? We would love to welcome you to share this special season. Wrap up warm and enjoy the wonderful walks from the door, and feel the warmth that the sight of the changing seasons brings!

Felicity

Trit trot, meet the new kids on the block!

Trit trot, trit trot… look who’s arrived at Hoe Grange Holidays now!
Back in January we introduced you to our friendly Pygmy goats, Dora and Luna.

Recently our little goat herd has expanded somewhat as these two lovely ladies have both had kids. Meet Luna’s adorable twins, Nutmeg and Saffron, and Dora’s cute kid Looby Lou.

Here at Hoe Grange we are used to the arrival of lambs, but the kid goats were so much smaller when they were born that we were truly amazed and smitten – these cuddly kids have definitely stolen the “cute factor” from our Jack Russel dog Fudge!

Lambs are up on their feet fairly swiftly after being born, but these baby goats were instantly trying their hardest to stand and within minutes were staggering onto their feet.

One of our holiday guests was so captivated by the new arrival that she sketched this fantastic pencil drawing of Looby Lou when she was just 24 hours old! Emma had never drawn a goat before, but as you can see she is very talented. Emma Warlow creates pet portraits, so if you want to see more of her amazing dog and horse pictures and paintings check out her Instagram @ebmw_artist.

Now that the kids are 2 and 3 weeks old they are very entertaining as they don’t just gambol about like lambs, but positively spring and leap from all four feet like Tigger in Winnie The Pooh!

Indeed “Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs!
They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!”

These adorable baby kid goats have already proved popular with guests and love nothing better than a cuddle!

10 amazing facts about Pygmy goats
  1. In the wild Pygmy goats prefer leaves to grass which is why we have no begonias left!
  2. Although Pygmy goats are small they produce quite a lot of milk, which is why our babies are growing so fast and have oodles of energy!
  3. Goats milk is naturally homogenized and is therefore more easily digested than cows milk.
  4. If threatened they stand up on their hind legs to make themselves appear bigger before bowing down and head butting the approaching enemy – which in our case is Fudge the Jack Russel.
  5. They have a lifespan of 10-15 years, so will be with us for quite sometime!
  6. Their horns start growing as soon as they are born – amazingly our little cuties already have tiny stumps at just 2 weeks old.
  7. A baby female is called a Doeling until it is a year old.
  8. Did you know goats can climb trees? At just 2 weeks old our kids are already jumping up the stone steps in the garden.
  9. Research shows that goats can change their accents when they move group or grow up. The only other mammals that do this are Dolphins, Elephants and of course Humans.
  10. No kidding our doelings are the cutest things you could ever see – why not stay at Hoe Grange and meet them?


Share our #UniqueDistrict – photo competition

Have you visited the Peak District?

Have you stayed at Hoe Grange Holidays or visited the Peak District? If so, what’s your all time favourite place or activity?

By simply sharing your #UniqueDistrict experience of our stunning region on social media you could win some fabulous prizes, one of which is a short break in our gorgeous glamping pods!

It’s quick and easy to get involved. During September and October share inspirational photos of your experiences and what you think makes the Peak District unique using #UniqueDistrict on Twitter and tag @vpdd or Instagram and tag @visitpeakdistrict.

What inspires you?

It could be anything from stunning scenery, wicked wildlife, getting active outdoors rock climbing, walking, caving, canoeing or rock climbing, a selfie at one of the amazing attractions, meandering through the market towns and villages, finding #LoveLocal products at the artisan markets, or perhaps relaxing with friends over the best brewed pint of local beer.You can post as many photos as you like. Anything which best depicts your unique experience here in the Peak District, that will hopefully inspire someone else to visit the area!The Peak District was designated the first National Park back in 1951. If you have visited our stunning region you will know it consists of two distinct areas; The southern White Peak with its steep limestone valleys including Lathkill Dale and Dovedale, with its famous stepping stones, and The northern Dark Peak with its dramatic gritstone ridges and heather covered moorlands including Kinder Scout.Did you know that Castleton is the only place in the world where the semi-precious stone Blue John can be found? That definitely counts as #UniqueDistrict, as does the ancient art of Well Dressing, where plants and petals are pressed onto clay boards to create amazing pictures in celebration of pure water from the wells!

Chatsworth House is another #UniqueDistrict jewel of the Derbyshire Peak District, home of the Dukes of Devonshire, with amazing gardens designed by Capability Brown and set in over 35,000 acres of stunning parkland.Hardwick Hall, now run by the National Trust, was built by the formidable Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury or “Bess of Hardwick”. This lavish house, often said to be more glass than wall, was a reflection of the wealth that Bess accumulated by marring four times, so that she became the wealthiness woman in the country!

Other famous people with links to Derbyshire include Izaak Walton, author of ‘The Compleat Angler’, who fished along the Rover Dove. The book was first published in 1653 and is one of the most reprinted books in the history of English literature.

Visit Peak District and Derbyshire are running the #UniqueDistrict competition until 1st November, so get snapping and sharing using #UniqueDistrict. Anything memorable, exciting or unusual counts.Don’t forget to tag @vpdd on Twitter or @visitpeakdistrict on Instagram to be in with a chance to win a short break in our gorgeous glamping pods!Good luck!

Felicity

 

Take a walk on the wild side

If you have a family who are mad about animals then why not take a walk on the wild side at Peak Wildlife Park near Leek?

We had an interesting and very enjoyable day out getting up close and personal with a wide range of wild animals. Peak Wildlife Park is situated just over the Staffordshire border, high on the moorlands and is only half an hours drive from Hoe Grange.

What’s fabulous about Peak Wildlife Park is that the keepers are not just passionate about the animals, but dedicated to conservation, especially of endangered species.

It’s not a typical standard zoo where you watch the animals at a distance from behind the fence, here you can wander through the various walk-through enclosures and actually meet your favourite species face to face! You can experience the animals’ unique habitats from within, and hang out with the meerkats, waddle along with the penguins or watch the leaping lemurs as they glide from tree to tree.

You can take a walk on the wild side and wander around for as long as you like – no set paths here! This also means you can catch feed time in the different enclosures, which is just pure animal magic!

Who can resist the pesky Humboldt Penguins or the cheeky Ring-tailed Lemurs, the wonderful Wallabies, or the noisy Pygmy Goats? Then there are two adorable, perfectly trained pigs, who were better behaved than our dogs, sitting on command and walking to heal round the grounds!

Not only will you have fun, but you will come away with a greater knowledge and understanding of all the animals you come across. The keepers are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic and more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

The site is accessible for guests with wheelchairs or pushchairs. The walk-throughs are ideal for toddlers and there are various indoor and outdoor playareas and a bouncy castle. There is an indoor picnic area to eat your packed lunch, or like us you may be tempted by the sumptuous stone-baked pizzas and local ice cream – delicious!                                                                                                                         For a more involved, hands on understanding of animal husbandry and a peek behind the scenes you can even book a Keeper Experience, or a Mini Keeper Experience – a great way for little monkeys to meet all their favourite animals!

This is the closest you can get to endangered animals in natural surroundings, alongside keepers who know them well, understand their needs and have a wonderful rapport with them. Here’s my favourite video of the day – leaping Lemurs in slow-mo!

Lemur on the lookout!

It’s a fabulous whole day out, with interest to all ages. I certainly enjoyed our visit and thought it was great value for money with adult tickets costing £10.95, children £8.95 with under 2’s going free. Even better value is a season pass at £29.99, or 10% discount for groups of 10 or more. The concession price for entry into the wildlife park is £9.95 for students, disabled people, carers and senior citizens.

Whilst they don’t have facilities for dogs there is a local kennels near by who are happy to take your four legged friend just for the day.

A great way to spend a family fun day out, safe in the knowledge that you are supporting important conservation work.

Felicity

#Farm24 – What’s it all about?

What is #Farm24?

#Farm24 is our chance to showcase 24 hours of farming in the UK, from 5am this morning on August 10 until 5am on August 11 2017. By encouraging farmers to share what they are doing throughout the day with a live feed of pictures, videos, Facebook posts and Tweets the British people will have a greater understanding of how much passion and commitment goes into producing the food they eat.

#Farm24

Pleased to report that #farm24 is now trending on Twitter so hopefully our message is getting across! It gives a rare and honest, ‘behind-the-scenes’ insight of what goes into producing British food and a chance to celebrate the achievements of farmers from all sectors of British agriculture.

From our perspective

#Farm24 offers an opportunity to share our story with the wider public and raise awareness of the care and attention we take to raise our beef cattle and sheep and farm our Peak District landscape sustainably, harnessing the latest technology. We have a policy of #loveLocal and are delighted to share our special place with our holiday guests too.

she must be ready to drop her calf?

Here at Hoe Grange Farm we have been taking part in #Farm24 and recording some of the farming activities David has got up to today; from the early morning cockerel alarm clock, to , checking stock, calving a cow, pasture topping and repairing the many dry stone walls. There is always plenty to do and people often forget that maintaining the landscape is as important as caring for the animals.

Farming has never been considered an easy option; each day is different and you are at the mercy of the weather, seasons and needs of livestock, and the hours are long. Farming is a way of life which shapes the countryside, sustains rural communities and produces essential food for all.

At Hoe Grange we also harness the natural resources around us by using renewable technologies, including solar panels that track the sun, and a wind turbine to generate electricity. Modern farming is a business like any other that has to minimise overheads and reduce costs to remain competitive.

Whilst farmer David is busy with the animals, farmer’s wife Felicity takes care of the holiday business, cleaning the log cabins and gorgeous glamping pods, baking biscuits, greeting guests and suggesting fabulous local places to visit, not to forget Tweeting along with the outside world! Hopefully everyone goes home with happy memories and a little wiser about modern farming.

Check us out on Twitter #Farm24 to see what we got up to today!

Felicity

Finalists in the Rural Business Awards

Exciting news! We are thrilled to be one of five finalists in this years Rural Business Awards in the Best Rural Tourism Business category.

The judges are looking for unique rural businesses offering exceptional customer care, who have strong links with local communities, consider inclusivity, and have sustainability at their heart.Some of the other categories include Best Diversification, Innovation, Social Enterprise, Food & Drink, Best Employer and many more.

Rural tourism was the category with the most entries, so to be picked out from such a large number from throughout the UK is amazing, and makes all our efforts worthwhile.

It gives us a real sense of satisfaction when we exceed guest expectations and everyone goes home with happy memories of their holiday with us.

Created by Directors and Co-Founders Jemma Clifford & Anna Price, the aim of the Rural Business Awards is to give recognition to businesses operating right across the Rural sector, from engineering through to artisan food producers and professional services organisations.

A shortlist of 5 entries per category was announced last week, and the winners will be revealed at a glamorous awards ceremony on Thursday 5th October 2017 at Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking Surrey. It will be wonderful to be guests ourselves for a change!

We are up against some pretty stiff competition in the Best Rural Tourism category from

Barleylands Farm Park and Craft Village, Ceridwen Centre, Humble Bee Leisure, and The Rookery, Roughlee Holiday Cottage.

Such a diverse set of businesses, it will be very difficult for the judges to choose a winner!

So wish us luck!

David

Peak District Boundary Walk

There are so many things to do in The Peak District, but why not use our outdoor gym and explore our special scenic landscape by following the new Peak District Boundary walk?At Hoe Grange Holidays we have long been supporters of Friends of The Peak District. This active charitable organisation supports local communities, champions renewable energies to help tackle climate change, campaigns to safeguard and also helps to maintain the unique landscapes of Britain’s first national park.

In celebration of Britain’s first and arguably most beautiful national park, Friends of The Peak District have created a brand new long distance (190-mile) walking route around its entire boundary.

Don’t worry if you think 190 miles is too much of a challenge, the walk has been split into smaller stages so you don’t have to tackle it all in one go!

The Peak District Boundary Walk passes through stunning scenery, stretching from the moorland tops of the South Pennines to the gentle limestone scenery of the Derbyshire Dales near Hoe Grange. The route touches the urban edges of Sheffield and Oldham, as well as Staffordshire’s rugged moorland and the undulating slopes of Cheshire.

The Peak District Boundary Walk follows existing footpaths, tracks, quiet lanes, former railway lines and a canal towpath, but it is the variety of vistas that makes experience extra special. What could be better than keeping fit by using the outdoor gym!

Hoe Grange Farm is situated right on the Peak Park boundary so the walk goes right past our door, along The High Peak Trail. If staying with us in one of our cosy log cabins or our gorgeous glamping pods for two, you can easily walk over our fields to pick up one of two sections of The Peak District Boundary Walk. Either Royston Grange to Winster (stage 13) or Royston through Parwich to Thorpe (stage 14).

Stage 13 Winster, past Hoe Grange to Royston

Royston is one of my favourite walks as you pass through the steep beautiful limestone valley, surrounded by nothing but rocky pastures full of wild flowers, fluttering butterflies, hawthorn trees silhouetted against the skyline, buzzards circling overhead, and the odd sheep or cow.

You can check out the individual stages of The Boundary Walk or buy the complete book which features all 20 walks for just £10 plus £2.50 p&p.

Friends of the Peak District campaign for a living, working countryside that changes with time but remains beautiful for ever. Their aim is to ensure the balance is kept between a vibrant, sustainable rural economy and protecting the outstanding Peak District countryside.

They hope this new boundary walk will increase awareness of the beautiful Peak District landscape and encourage people to cherish and protect it.

Find out more about Friends of the Peak District and help us to protect and conserve this stunning landscape. Why not make a donation to this worthwhile charity?

Felicity