Quite often I am called in for duties at our Herbert’s’ Fine English Tearooms in the village. When I am there I do my best to promote our hallowed magazine (and sell a few as well) and also the accommodation and attractions around and about the greater Peak District. I also try and make myself known to customers in order to jolly them along. In late April I accosted one family with the line ‘Hello I’m Sir Richard and we live in the big house. Have I met you before? The response came from the youngish mother who declared that ‘I’m in the Cabinet’. Touché I thought as the lady declared herself to be Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough and Education Secretary in the Coalition Government who was having tea with her tribe prior to the Election. I rather liked her style!
Another sad occasion at the Ashbourne Parish Church of St Oswald’s as we said goodbye to Pip Player a mother and grandmother of great friends of ours who died too young at the age of 67. A full church gathered to appreciate her life and then the congregation repaired to the Marquee at Osmaston Park to celebrate it. As a result of my help in ushering the many I had visited the previous day to measure the lengths of the pews and I had also reacquainted myself with the beautiful monument to Penelope Boothby.The only child of Lady Susannah and Sir Brooke Boothby, sixth baronet of Ashbourne, Penelope died in March 1791 a few weeks short of her sixth birthday. Six little girls and six little boys, all holding umbrellas, carried her coffin in the rain. After the funeral her parents parted and Susannah returned to her family in Hampshire. Sir Brooke, already with a reputation for being artistic, emotional and self-indulgent, took to writing sonnets about his daughter and there is a copy of his Ode to Penelope in the library. He also commissioned the moving memorial in Cararra marble by Thomas Banks that lies in the north chancel of Church. Well worth a visit.
Oliver Stephenson is our new High Sheriff of Derbyshire for the year 1915/16.At a glittering ceremony in the Derby Law Courts on St Mary’s Gate Olly was installed as our holder of this great honour. With over sixty family and friends in court it was in sharp contrast to my previous appearance before the beak in Warrington where I was in the dock charged with various speeding offences. Olly was geared up in his stunning regalia and proceeded to make the most amusing speech about his yearlong imminent tenure to the enchanted crowd. The office of High Sheriff is the oldest secular Office in the United Kingdom after the Crown and dates from Saxon times. Although his and Fiona’s diary is full to brimming with invitations Olly is adding a new string to the position’s bow with the first High Sheriff Twitter account…..follow him @DerbyshireHS . It will amuse you.
I have an application (app) on my smartphone that measures the amount of steps that I take throughout any given day. Called ‘Footsteps’ rather unsurprisingly it takes into account any movement as the device is stored in a pocket on my person. With my life walking around the Estate on a regular basis and notching up 10,000 steps in a day I was surprised to note that a day ‘waiting on’ at Herbert’s tearooms produced a step count of 18,000. What is consistent, however, is my average speed, at 4 miles an hour. Therefore I reckon it would take me four and a half hours to walk to Derby. I must try it one day.
The recent Election has seen me also stalk the footpaths and pavements of the Derbyshire Dales Constituency. Campaigning for the Transport Secretary Patrick McCloughlin I was bidden to parts of the Dales that I had barely seen before…. The Plain at Brailsford, the environs of North Matlock, the subtleties of deepest Doveridge and the villages of Earl Sterndale and Youlgreave, the latter where I encountered the most charming home that had been built as the Summer House of the Wills’ tobacco family in the 1930s. But the only place where I was screamed at with abuse, threatened with trespass and subsequently had my leaflet hurled back at me was as I meandered the pavements of Hartington! Would you believe that?