Colin Firth in a wet shirt. Talk about fantasies…that’s definitely one of my top contenders. I can’t say I’ve ever lived in a country estate approaching the perfection of Pemberley or Lyme Park. I did grow up near one, however and I have to agree there is some very inhospitable about such remarkable homes when they open themselves to the public. It’s as if when the doors open these magnificent spaces shut away their souls. Perhaps it’s because no one really lives there anymore, or at least, not in the portions open to the public. Instead of a home, visitors are confronted by a hodge podge of what historians, travel/tourism experts and other visitors say must be. The result is a mishmash of impressions that is not just difficult to sort out but also disconcerting. To me, these places are remarkable for the people who lived here, the history they experienced or even the pop culture they inspired and yet somehow those are the very things that are lost over time and viewing. Let’s hope such accidental visitors are the norm not the exception and Pemberley can retain a little of the magic that make it the ideal home for so many Austin fans.

open the curtains

With the road atlas spread out in front of us, I put the finishing touches to the set of complex instructions that my friend and I would have to follow the next morning as we headed south, attempting to avoid a) getting ourselves lost, b) driving into another quarry, and c) Manchester. Despite having looked forward to Yorkshire so much it had not turned out quite as we’d expected. We’d been on the road about two weeks already, and the day’s events had had a somewhat dispiriting effect on us.

‘I hope the Peak District’s good. Derbyshire’d better be better than Yorkshire anyway or I think we might have to just drive straight home.’

With the mention of Derbyshire, there were many ideas connected. It was impossible for her to see the word without thinking of Pemberley and its owner.

‘Of course it’ll be good,’ I replied confidently, ‘Mr Darcy…

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