All aboard the steam train

What is it about the sights and sound of a steam train? It is such a romantic image, viewed through rose tinted spectacles, which takes you back in time to a bygone era!

I think it’s the fact that it’s a multi sensory experience; your senses are brought alive as you watch the smoke swirling skywards, hear the sharp hissing of steam escaping and breathe in the unique evocative smells of a real steam engine.

A ticket to ride

You can experience all this at Peak Rail, watching the engine get up steam, before climbing on board and settling back in the beautifully restored carriages to enjoy a unique view of the Derwent Valley.

The Peak Rail line has been re-instated mostly by volunteers and was originally part of the old Midland Railway line between Manchester Central and London St Pancras which was closed in 1968. It currently operates both steam and diesel trains over a distance of 4 miles between Rowsley South Station and Matlock Platform 2.

Whilst the line is relatively short it is still an interesting experience. Peak Rail’s long term aim is to reopen the line between Buxton and Matlock, and extend the heritage train services.

Rowley South Station has an impressive 60 ft working turntable and a steam engine/restoration shed (not open to the public) and is the main base of all Peak Rail’s operating activities.  There are many events throughout the summer including the popular 1940’s weekend on 4th & 5th August 2018.

All aboard

Good news for many of our holiday guests is that Peak Rail have thought about accessibility and have space for up to 3 wheelchairs in one of their carriages. Just ask the staff for help and to use the mobile ramp to board the train. Rowsley South Station has the easiest access up a wide ramp to the platform and the best disabled facilities.

There is also a station buffet serving mouth watering bacon rolls, home-made meals and cakes, whilst the shop stocks a range of railway goodies for both visitors and railway enthusiasts alike.

Dine in style

To add to the authentic experience you can you can also enjoy the luxury of Pullman Style dining as the train leisurely travels along the line.

Make Sunday extra special with a delicious roast dinner, (£25 per head) or treat yourself to a sumptuous cream tea with a sparkling glass of Prosecco (from £15.50). Peak Rail believes in the old fashioned values of quality and customer service, so you are guaranteed a good time.

A link to the past

The Midland Railway route linking Derby and Manchester carved through Derbyshire’s great limestone hills, and has been described as the most scenic railway lines in Britain. The hilly terrain meant that numerous tunnels and other impressive civil engineering features had to be constructed, including the magnificent viaducts at Millers Dale and Monsal Dale. You can still take in these breath taking views today as The Monsal Trail is now a traffic free walking, cycle and horse riding route.

The railway was not just a passenger line, but freight traffic was also of great importance throughout its history.

Following the demise of the Lancashire coalfields during the inter-war years, much of the coal to power the industry of the north-west had to be transferred across the Peak District from the East Midlands.

Take a ride on the footplate

Imagine yourself on the footplate, taking hold of the regulator, the heat of the roaring fire and steady beat of the loco under your control! You can gain an understanding of what it was like to be an engine driver by booking a Steam Experience Course (from £115).

My grandfather was a fireman on the Great Western Railway, which judging from the dirty face of today’s stoker must have been a very hot, grimy and tough job!

Ticket Prices for 2018

During the summer months trains run on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Adult – 8.00
Senior Citizens – £6.50
Children under 3 years (maximum of two per paying adult) – Free
Children 3 – 5 years – £2.30
Children 6 – 15 years – £4.30
Family Ticket (2 Adults and up to 3 Children) – £24.00

Fares allow unlimited travel on date of purchase.
(Fares may change on some special events)

David and I had a fun day out and I hope our blog will inspire you to take a trip on a steam train at Peak Rail during your stay with us at Hoe Grange Holidays!

Felicity

4 Star Gold Awards for our luxury log cabins

We love our luxury log cabins and are delighted the VisitEngland assessor loved them too!

At our recent inspection we retained our 4 Star Gold Awards rating through the VisitEngland Quality Assessment Scheme.

4 Star Gold Award

Star ratings are not only awarded on the quality of our facilities, but also on the services provided and our hospitality. The inspection covers all aspects of the business and visitor journey, from initial enquiry and the website through to guest stay and departure. To gain the extra Gold Award in addition to the 4 Star rating shows that our standards and customer service are extremely high.

Like the Hotel Inspector Alex Polizzi on the television the VisitEngland assessor is extremely thorough, checking everything from cleanliness, to pots and pans and ensuring mattresses are springy and comfortable. No stone is left unturned – tops of wardrobes, under beds, backs of cupboards, all the nooks and crannies are checked!

Top Team

Thanks to our amazing team of hardworking housekeepers I am delighted to say that the inspector reported “The underlying levels of cleanliness were found to be very high” and “sanitary ware is sparkling”! She also praised the wide selection of accessories and lovely personal touches.

National Accessible Scheme

The Inspector also assessed our disabled facilities and we are proud to have retained our National Accessibility Scheme ratings for Mobility, Visual and Hearing. The inspector was impressed with the excellent provision of mobility aids including an off road wheelchair. You can read more about this in our next blog.

Welcome Cyclists, Walkers and Families

In addition to the star rating we also have extra facilities and provisions to Welcome Families, such as highchairs and travel cots, toys and games. Hoe Grange is an ideal base for exploring the Peak District countryside so to Welcome Cyclists and Walkers we have route maps, washing facilities, puncture repair kits and secure cycle storage for guests to leave their bikes.

Why bother with inspections?

We value the inspection process as an excellent way for us to ensure we have everything in tip top condition ready for your arrival. We continually strive to improve our log cabins and gorgeous glamping pods so you can relax and enjoy your holiday to the full. It’s all the little things that make the difference, such as new Denby pottery mugs, our #LoveLocal welcome pack of Peak District goodies and up to date leaflets to inspire you to visit our amazing local attractions.

A good nights sleep

Although the inspection is once a year we have a continual improvement plan in place to renew and improve our facilities on an ongoing basis . For example in January we refreshed Hipley master bedroom, which now has a sumptuous superking bed. With the new mattresses guests have the flexibility for the bed to be split into 2 singles if staying as a group of friends rather than a couple.

To add a contemporary touch I also bought a beautiful new print of Wirksworth skyline for the wall from a local artist.

New for 2018

There is nothing better than food with friends so why not treat yourself to a fun evening and hire the outdoor pizza oven. To make things easy we provide the oven and logs, together with the pizza dough and passata. All you have to do is provide the cheese, your favourite toppings and then get cooking.

Our new #LoveLocal shop and laundry room is also nearly complete – watch this space for further news!

I believe that our guests appreciate the effort we go to to maintain our high standards. However don’t just take our word for it; we have some wonderful comments in the guest book or read what our guests say about us on TripAdvisor.

Every picture tells a story, so why not take a peek inside our gorgeous log cabins with our new 3D virtual tours!

We look forward to welcoming guests both old and new in 2018!

Felicity 

 

Things to do this Easter in the Peak District

The Peak District is the perfect location for some family fun this Easter. Whether you’re staying in the Peak District for the week and using Hoe Grange as a central base, or simply in need of the perfect family day out.

With so much on offer for the whole family, you’ll be torn between the fantastic events that are taking place across Derbyshire.We’ve also included our top recommendations for those who require accessible activities.

Carsington Water

As the weather starts to brighten-up why not dive into your adventurous side at Carsington Water? There is a wide range of outdoor activities, and everyone can get in on the action. Why not get out on the water with Sailability on one of the accessible sailing dinghies? 

Take part in the Kayaking or windsurfing taster over the bank holiday weekend or hire a bike from just £11 for two hours and make the most of their excellent cycle routes, accessible bikes are available too. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.  

See our favourite cycle routes in the Peak District here.

Chatsworth House

Image credit: Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House provides an excellent range of Easter activities and family fun from the 24th March – 8th April. Let the kids join in on the famous Easter Egg Hunt and chase after the Easter bunny, whilst you explore the breath-taking Chatsworth gardens. Chatsworth has something for everyone, book tickets online to avoid missing out.

Cromford Mills

Cromford Mills have an exciting Easter weekend planned for the whole family. Considered as the birthplace of the factory system, what happened at Sir Richard Arkwright’s first mill complex in the 1770’s changed the world we live in. Children can have fun on the Easter egg hunt trail and learn a little about our industrial heritage at the same time. You can meet the barn owls and there are also outdoor and indoor games (incase it rains!). There’s also a canal boat trip, barbeque and market stalls – something for all the family. The visitor centre is wheelchair accessible and there is a changing places toilet at Cromford Wharf.  

The good news is that the event is free, although some activities have a small charge, for more information click here.

Leawood Pumphouse

For those interested in engineering if you wander further along the canal you will find Leawood Pumphouse built in 1849 to pump water from the River Derwent into Cromford Canal.

The unique 1849 Graham & Co. beam engine is powered by steam from two locomotive style boilers built by the Midland Railway around 1900, and is very impressive in action. Although over 150 years old it is in full working order and will be in steam on 1st and 2nd April. Read more about our stroll along the Cromford Canal and visit to Leawood Pumphouse.

 Crich Tramway Village

 

 

 

Crich Tramway Village has two events over the Easter period. For family fun with the little ones, take part in the Make-do-and-mend activity days, open from Monday 26th to 29th March.

Or turn back the clocks on Easter Sunday and Monday for World War II Home Front event and step into 1945. There will be a mix of live music, wartime road and military vehicles and vintage trams. Enter into the spirit of the event and dress up in 1940’s clothes, and you’ll pay a reduced admission charge!

The Heights of Abraham

image credit: Visit Peak District

One of the Peak District’s most popular destination, The Heights of Abraham is perfect for a Family day trip. Step onto one of the cable cars and be prepared to be wowed by the fantastic views. Head underground to experience a day in the life of a 17th Century lead mining family. Or, if you fancy a walk, take the woodland path of the heritage walk, known as the ‘savage garden,’ famous for its natural beauty and zig-zag paths. And if that doesn’t tire out the kids, let them take part in the dinosaur egg hunt or burn off all their energy at the adventure playground. 

There’s so much to do this Easter in the Peak District, from Kayaking to Easter Egg hunts, get ready to explore with the whole family. We hope you’ve found our ideas helpful! 

Felicity 

TB, or not TB, that is the question!

A few days ago our herd of suckler cows underwent its annual routine TB (Bovine Tuberculosis) test. This is an anxious time for any livestock farmer, as it can have devastating consequenses.

The TB test involved shaving two small sites on the cows neck, then measuring and recording the skin thickness at both sites.The vet then injects tiny amounts of deactivated TB virus of 2 types, 1 is bovine TB and the other is Avian TB.

The cows are then left for 72 hours and the skin in the 2 sites is measured again. If there is a thickening of the skin greater on the bottom site (bovine TB) by a specified amount, then this is a positive reaction, which is not good news!

 

Finding Tuberculosis present, even in just one cow has massive implications on the next year or more of our farming practices, let alone our income!

A positive reactor cow is taken away and slaughtered and a full examination of the lungs is made post mortem to confirm the infection is present. The farm is immediately placed under movement restriction, which  means that no cattle may leave the farm unless going direct to slaughter. These restrictions are the same if you have one reactor or 100! Some local farms have lost 50 or more cows in one test, which is soul destroying when your whole life is dedicated to raising and caring for your herd.

If a farm has a positive test then all animals have to be retested every 60 days until 2 clear tests have been achieved, only then are cattle movement restrictions lifted. These extra tests place great strain on both man and beast; there is always a high risk of another failure, and the cows get to know what is coming and don’t like to cooperate!

A great deal is said in the press by all sides about the cause of the spread of TB from wildlife and the possible control of such. Each person must make up their own mind as to the facts and I will not get into that debate here.

Fortunately our test last week was clear, with no cows reacting so our business can carry on as usual. When we sell stock to another farm it must have been tested for TB in the 60 days prior to moving house. Sometimes this means an extra test for any cattle we need to sell, but we usually take advantage of a regular clear test result to  sell our stock.

In June 2015 we bought our pedigree bull, Gawsworth Phil 28th, to be the new husband to our ladies (if you know what I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink!) He has done his job wonderfully well since then, but as time passes his daughters are now old enough to enter the herd as breeding animals.

This means Phil has to go (while we have a clear test window). We will miss him as he has been a well mannered chap who has produced some lovely calves. Fear not, he hasn’t gone to the great pie factory in the sky, but has moved on to a whole new herd of ladies!

Over the 3 years here he has fathered around 75 calves, many of which can be seen in the fields around the farm, and there are another 20 or so are still to be born this spring.

Shortly I will start looking for a new husband for my ladies, but not until July as a cow is pregnant for just over 9 months and we don’t want any calves born until April when the grass is growing again.

Watch this post for news of the new bull later in the year, as well as the calves when they start arriving in April.

David

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football 2018

On Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, the town of Ashbourne takes on a strange appearance with shops and houses boarded up. If you are not a local you will be wondering what on earth is going on!

It’s all in preparation for the ancient game of Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football. As 2 o’clock draws near the town springs to life and crowds start gathering on Shaw Croft car park in anticipation of the start of the game.

It is basically a frantic football game played through the streets with hundreds of people and few rules. The painted leather ball can be carried, kicked or thrown, but not transported by car! A goal is scored by banging thrice upon the millstones at the goals at Sturston Mill and Clifton, which are 3 miles apart .

It is regarded as a great honour to be chosen to throw up the ball to start the game. The honoured guest is carried shoulder high from the town centre to the “plinth” carrying the painted leather ball. The noise and tension rise as the crowd sings Auld Langs Syne followed by God Save The Queen, before the ball is thrown sky high into the jostling sea of people.

From there on it is a scramble as the die-hard players form a “hug” round the ball trying to gain control for their team – either Up’ards born North of the River Henmore, or Down’ards born to the South.

It’s like a huge rugby scrum with tens of players on each side, and many more onlookers, shouting encouragement. There is a lot of jostling, shoving and pushing and you rarely see the ball – often the only way to work out where it is from the steam rising from the hug!

Due to the sheer number of players the ball often gets stuck in one place for a long time, before suddenly and very briefly emerging into the air above the crowd, where it can move very quickly indeed – you need to be on your toes not to get caught up in the action by mistake!

Shrovetide football in Ashbourne was first recorded as long ago as 1682, and hasn’t changed much over the centuries, except that it is now watched by hoards of people from all over the UK, not just the locals!

More photos and videos of todays #Shrovetidefootball action on our Facebook page. It’s a fabulous friendly atmosphere, so why not catch more of the action tomorrow on Ash Wednesday?

Felicity

It’s time for a 3D virtual tour!

Exciting news! Join us – you can now step right in and take a magical 3D virtual tour of all our log cabins and glamping pods.

Wow – this new virtual reality technology is simply amazing and Leighton of 3D-Pi has made a fantastic job of capturing our self-catering holiday accommodation. Standing admiring the view you can almost feel the wind in your hair!

We can guarantee that once you taken the tour you’ll want to book a holiday with us in the stunning Derbyshire Peak District countryside.

3D Virtual Tour

These 3D virtual tours even show a dollshouse view so you can see the layout and floor plan of the each cabin, before zooming into each room for a closer look. It’s so easy to explore all the spaces and even take in the view from the decking.

The process uses cutting edge 3D infra-red camera technology to scan each room in 360 degrees. Leighton worked progressively through each log cabin strategically placing the camera in the right spots to enable the images to be stitched together, a bit like piecing a jigsaw together.

Once each cabin was completely scanned, all of the images were uploaded to Matterport and pulled together to enable the 3D model to be created. It’s a little mind boggling and you might even say magical, but I am sure you’ll agree the result is a seamless, immersive and fun experience.

It’s such fun that I have to keep going back and looking round the cabins. The 3D tours show so much more than a flat photograph and are even more intuitive on a mobile phone. You can clearly see for yourself exactly what our facilities are like before you book – go on take a peek! and if you’re a real techy, and have VR googles for your phone, it’s mind blowing!

With Access in Mind

We hope these new interactive 3D tours will be of great benefit for guests with disabilities, who will be able to see how spacious our accessible log cabins are.There is also a 360 view of the wet rooms, showing the various shower chairs we can provide.

It is often said that a picture paints a thousand words and hopefully this will give guests confidence to select the right cabin and will answer many of the frequently asked questions that you need to know before arrival.

Go glamping

Taking a step inside has particularly worked well in the glamping pods, where it can be difficult to get a good photo as the space is relatively small. We have shown the day time layout with the sofa in Swallow and the night time layout with the bed pulled out in Skylark, to give you an idea of how the space works when you stay.

As you take your 3D virtual tour you will notice all the little extras that we provide so you don’t need to overload the car with unnecessary extra equipment.

In Swallow glamping pod you can also see that you can bring your dog on holiday to enjoy the many wonderful walkies through the Peak District countryside and up onto the High Peak Trail.

The tours are linked so you can jump from one virtual tour to another by clicking on the coloured pins and choosing where to go next. You can journey through all the log cabins and glamping pods before deciding which view you like best and which to book!

It is such a realistic interactive 3D experience that you can easily imagine yourself on holiday here at Hoe Grange, relaxing on the decking, sipping your glass of wine and watching the world go by.

Felicity 

New Year, New You!

As the chimes of Big Ben welcome in the New Year we take stock, and look forward to the year ahead. We start planning our summer holidays and promise to loose all the weight we have piled on over the Christmas period by going on a detox diet.Your trousers seem to have shrunk in the wash – surely it couldn’t be down to all those extra chocolates, crips, alcohol and excess food that you ate over the Christmas holidays?

Energy Balls

Fear not, it doesn’t need to be that difficult! You’ve had a healthy breakfast and lunch, but now you’re craving something sweet to help get you through the afternoon. Chocolate, biscuits and cake are a fast easy option, but if you want a healthier sweet fix, why not try your hand a making energy balls?

Made from a combination of nuts, dried fruit, cacao, nut butter or shredded coconut, energy balls are high in protein and packed with vitamins, antioxidants, proteins and all sorts of bits and bobs that help keep your body fighting fit. They are an ideal healthy mini snack to satisfy those sugar cravings and tide you over until dinnertime.

Help is at hand from Victoria who has lots of delicious energy ball recipes for you to try out – no cooking required!

As a New Year giveaway you can win all the ingredients to make January’s mean green energy ball recipe, including maple syrup, organic spirulina powder, hazelnut butter and walnuts, worth £15.94.

Spirulina is a superfood, grown in ponds in China, which doesn’t sound great, and perhaps these energy balls look a little like overcooked brussel sprouts, but trust me they taste amazing and are really high in nutrients.

Pamper Packages

Maybe dieting isn’t your thing. Instead use natural healthy ingredients in a different way and give yourself a simple homemade avocado and oat face mask to get your skin glowing again.

If that sounds too much like hard work perhaps you would prefer to take time out to re-energise, rejuvenate and repair with a relaxing full body massage, pedicure or facial. My Personal Sanctuary therapists can visit you whilst on holiday so you don’t have to leave the comfort of your cosy log cabin!

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are relaxing in one of our cosy cabins or glamping pods, wrapped in a warm fluffy towel, lying on a heated treatment bed, soft soothing music playing in the background, and heavenly scents filling the air.

What better way to make the most of your relaxing self-catering holiday in the Peak District hills, than to pamper yourself?

Take advantage of the Early Bird SPA Treatment Package and book your treatments before 28th February to get a £30 discount. (offer valid for treatments taken between 1st Jan and 31st Dec 2018).

Or enter the MPS competition to win a 1 hour Spa Treatment Package.

I can’t think of a better way of spending quality time with your family or friends.

Happy New Year  – Felicity

 

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our lovely guests, followers, family and friends! 🎄 Thank you for your support and love over the year.

We’re all set for Christmas and hope you have a magical time with your family and a prosperous New Year.

There’s lots of new things happening here and we’re looking forward to welcoming you back to Hoe Grange in 2018!

David and Felicity

12 gifts of Christmas inspired by The Peak District

Christmas is coming so we thought you might like some help with gift ideas for your loved ones. Here is our own handpicked selection of the 12 gifts of Christmas inspired by our unique Peak District landscape.

We #LoveLocal and are sure you will be inspired by this years Christmas selection. As tomorrow is Small Business Saturday it is an ideal opportunity to support small independent businesses and shop local.

12 gifts of Christmas Inspired by The Peak District.

1. Those boots are made for walking…

Get your walking boots on and enjoy all the Peak District countryside has to offer by taking a guided walk with Cath Lee of Peak Walking Adventures, whose local knowledge and fascinating facts will bring the experience to life. Don’t worry  you won’t get lost as Cath will do the navigation so you don’t have to!

An ideal way to make the most of your holiday while staying at Hoe Grange as Cath caters for couples, friends, families, and small groups.Cath is as passionate about caring for our special landscape as we are and also holds the Peak District Environmental Quality Mark.

2. Woollen Knits

On your walks wrap up warm with Sally’s range of hats, gloves, scarves and accessories, which are hand knitted and felted using soft luxurious wool from her pedigree flock of Icelandic sheep. Another amazing Peak District Environmental Quality Mark member.

Or brighten up your home with vibrant cushions, and throws in a rich palette of seasonal colours which reflect the very special character of the Peak District; calming greys, brought to life by rich purple blues and zingy Spring green. If you are crafty and creative Dewsnaps Woollens also sell knitting kits so you can knit and natter yourself at home.

3. Capture the countryside in a click

Photographer Guy BadhamMake the most of your walk and take home some special memories captured on camera. Guy Badham offers personalised training days to de-mystify your camera, giving you the confidence to use it more creatively.

Whether you’re a complete beginner keen to learn the basics, or a more experienced photographer, Guy can help you capture our stunning Peak District landscape and wildlife as you walk and talk. At just £100 per day for a single adult or £150 for up to three adults, it makes the perfect Christmas gift.

4. Add a little sparkle

As you trek through the countryside you might see a hare or a deer? Lucy creates unique and beautiful jewellery inspired by the Peak District landscape and wildlife, myths and folktales.  In her  Lucy Palmer Jewellery collection you will find a magical world of enchanted forests, mysterious creatures, and far away places.

Her beautifully intricate designs are cut in precious metals and often layered to give a three dimensional, miniature stage set effect. Decorative techniques embellish the surface, including ‘Keum Boo’, an ancient Korean technique of fusing 24ct (pure) gold foil to silver. My favourite is of course the beautiful horse pendent. If you’re looking for that extra special sparkle Lucy also takes on commission work.

5. Wonderful in wood

Whilst out in the woods you’ll see many a tree – the raw material for local wood turner Matthew, who creates beautiful bowls, plates, and objets d’art. It’s great to know that Matthew at Woodturning at Christmas Cottage uses mainly local woods from sustainable Peak District sources, and doesn’t waste a thing as he uses the off cuts to create smaller items such as light pulls, tops, wedges, and pendants.

Wood is so wonderfully tactile and we particularly love the new kitchen graters with a wooden bowl, which are both practical and pleasing to the eye. A perfect gift for any masterchefs in the making!

6. Tasty treats

After your wonderful walks why not give your dog a tasty treat and pamper your pooch with Marge and Mabel’s homemade dog treats? These healthy treats are created using fine human-grade ingredients (no added salt, sugar, preservatives, colourings or flavourings) and are a firm favourite with our chocolate Labradors Twix and Crunchy!

The range of delicious doggy treats include a selection of sweet and savory muffins, biscuits and cakes and all of which come presented in beautiful packaging, an ideal Christmas present for your four-legged best friend! We love the fact that wherever possible ingredients are sourced locally, eg meat from the local butcher, flour from Caldwell’s Mill and organic fruit and vegetables from the local grocer.Treats can also be baked to order depending on any specific nutritional or health needs your dog may have.

7. More cheese Gromit

Once your dog is happily tucking into his treats you can tickle your taste buds with some delicious local Cow Close Farm Cheese. Farmers Sophie and James Summerlin, a husband and wife team, are passionate about cheese. All their artisan cheeses are produced by hand, from milk sourced from a single herd of local cows near Hathersage.

The cheese’s distinctive shape is definitely inspired by the Peak District and echos the many millstones found throughout the area . It is kept as simple and as natural as possible, and has the most delicious creamy taste. It can be purchased locally or online from The Old Cheese Shop in Hartington, (another Peak District EQM business) along with other local Derbyshire cheeses such as Dovedale Blue and Peakland White, or can be ordered in your holiday grocery pack from Sauced Here.

8. The perfect cuppa

After romping through the Derbyshire hills you can then put your feet up with a cup of Full Moon Coffee. Coffee brings happiness and there’s nothing better than enjoying a mug whilst catching up with good friends, not to mention how it can round off that great meal perfectly.

Full Moon Coffee is carefully blended and roasted to perfection locally in Wirksworth, using 100% Fairtrade, Arabica goodness. The guys at Full Moon Coffee are passionate about getting your brew just right. They realise that the ritual of preparing your cup is an important part of getting everything spot on, and so have created tasting notes to help you select the right roast.

9. Do you crave chocolate?

What goes better with coffee than chocolate? David certainly wouldn’t let me create a Christmas gift list without including chocolate !

Holdsworth Chocolates made in Bakewell are a delicious treat. In 1988 Barbara Holdsworth started making chocolates to her own unique recipes, and expanded by training her own chocolatiers how to make her tempting treats. Truly scrumptious is the only way to describe these chocolates, which are created using sweet cream butter and Belgium couverture, before liqueurs, spirits, fruit purees or praline pastes are added to create a delicious flavoured centre. (not that I ever get a taste if there is a box around as David is a chocoholic!)

Now run by Barbara’s daughter Genevieve, Holdsworth Chocolates have become Britain’s best-selling entirely handmade chocolates, and are stocked at fine food halls throughout the country.

10. Vintage tours
Vintage Car Tours from the door

If walking is not your thing, then take a tour with a difference. Steve White offers tours of the Peak District in a vintage 1929 Ford model A. The only vintage car registered as a taxi in the UK.

Steve (dressed up not unlike Mr Toad) is geared up to guide you through the landscape in style. You can take in the scenery when stopping off for a picnic or a cream tea, or even a local ale or two if that is what you fancy. Our suggested tour is Train Tracks and Troglodytes as it covers our very local area and you could even pick up your cheese on route!

11. Friends of Peak District

Helping protect all the stunning sights Steve will show you on your vintage tour is the wonderful charity Friends of the Peak District. What better way to support our special Peak District landscape than buying a gift membership?

This organisation will inspire your loved one to help keep our special place special, as well as helping to pay for all the good work being done behind the scenes. You even get a Peak District Calendar as well as discounted entry to some of the top local attractions. Have a look here to see what benefits your membership will give.

12. Wrap it with style

Once you’ve bought your Christmas presents why not make a little extra effort to wrap them beautifully too? Lyn at Caltonberry helps you celebrate the little things in life as well as the milestones with a beautiful range of porcelain gift tags, decorations and personalised ribbons with a contemporary look. As an alternative to the traditional Christmas wreath we love the willow wreath with porcelain snowflakes – simply stunning!

If you’re still stuck for ideas you could always buy your loved one a Hoe Grange Holidays Voucher to come and stay next year and share our special place. Available from £50 upwards – just e-mail us at info@hoegrangeholidays.co.uk.

Hoe Grange Gift VoucherYou can relax in the hot tub, de-stress in the sauna. You could also visit all the fabulous businesses mentioned in this blog and perhaps get ahead by starting next years Christmas shopping early!

Derbyshire has a wealth of artisan producers, so for further inspiration you can read previous years Top 10 gifts inspired by The Peak District 2015 and Christmas Gifts 2016. For more interesting and unusual ideas visit Made in Derbyshire and Peak District Environmental Quality Mark businesses – happy shopping!

Felicity

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