In planning our trip, I just couldn't help but try to fit in literary stops. I would have loved to have done so much more but limits, limits. So in my research I discovered that Lyme Park - the house that is used for Pemberley in BBC's Pride and Prejudice - is only 1/2 mile from the train stop in a small town called Disley. And Disley (or Disley-land as the locals apparently call it) was on the way from Liverpool to Edinburgh. You better believe that I worked it in! The plan was to take the train to Disley, drop the luggage at the hotel down the street, then walk out to Lyme Park and spend the afternoon exploring.
Disley became the scene of the worst disaster (fixed thankfully) of our entire trip. And it was my fault.
After acquiring more animals (stuffed) at the Harry Potter studios, we realized we needed another bag to accommodate all of our souvenirs (although honestly we were being good!). We bought a blue duffel for all of that and it became my backpack basically -- Chopper and I each had a backpack and a rolling suitcase that we carried. We get off the train at Disley, I count heads, I count luggage, and realize that I have left the blue bag on the train. Clothes would have been replaceable but this had William's blankets, Abby's WALL-E, and Megan's Kitty -- all items that they have had for years. I felt TERRIBLE. The whole reason we got the bag is because they were carrying those things around themselves and I was worried they would set them down and forget them! Also, this is pretty much the Disley train station:
A platform. Ok there's a shelter on the opposite side with a ticket agent's office but it was closed because no one really comes to Disley unless they're local and they know what they're doing!! One other couple got off the train with us and Chopper immediately approaches the woman and asks if there is a way we can contact the train to let them know we've left a bag. She immediately takes our problem in hand, leads us over the bridge to the ticket agent's office telling us that we can call there because the call box is broken at this station. As we get over (oh yeah, it's pouring rain by the way), the office is closed! But a worker is just walking in at that very moment and he says the emergency button is broken but the information button still works!! The kids at this point overhear what the problem is and this happens:
Megan and William are REALLY upset. Abby was too of course but she is a cuddly one and takes on the job of consoling Megan while we figure things out.
Chopper calls information and they say that they can contact the conductor and locate the bag. Then another train pulls in and Geraldine (the sweetest woman in the world!) runs up to the conductor and asks him radio ahead. They stay with us as we wait for information and we find out that she and Roger are friends who are out to hike around Lyme Park because today is her birthday!!! After about a half hour we get in touch with the information lady again who says they have the bag and when the train stops at Disley on it's way back, they will stop and give the bag to us. Happy day!!!!
But we weren't done yet. Roger and Geraldine walked with us to find out hotel (2nd floor of a sports pub by the way) in the pouring rain. We said goodbye and took the kids upstairs to change into dry clothes. Chopper went back to the train station about 20 minutes later to be sure and be there for the return train. When he came back (with the bag!!!), he told me that Roger and Geraldine had gone back to the train station and were waiting themselves -- just in case Chopper didn't make it in time! Then they gave him some juice boxes for the kids and said good-bye again and took off!!!
Miracles are real and good people are real.
With peace and tranquility restored, we changed pants and socks and donned our rain jackets again and headed out into the wilds of Lyme Park. The rain did let up a bit and we mostly got sprinkles instead of a downpour but I wasn't going to let that stop me from seeing Pemberley!!
Ok so honestly I didn't really know where we were going. I knew where to start on a trail but it was really muddy so when it intersected with a road, we took the road. Then we started seeing a few great views.
We found out later that the building in the background is called The Cage. It was built as a prison for poachers and such but later made into a hunting lodge.
The property was only half a mile from the train station but the house was TWO miles up the road! Fortunately they run a shuttle from the entry gate to the house. And there we were!! Except, that's the front of the house and that's definitely not Pemberley.
The only interior shot we have - because it was in the ticket office!
Beautiful courtyard, bought our tickets to roam the gardens (the house wasn't open that day)
And there she is!!
Pond and all! Which, despite the rain and the cold, Chopper immediately tried to dive into for my sake. Such a good man!
They had a beautiful Italian Garden on one side, a Rose Garden on the other and they were in the middle of planting other plants as well. In another few weeks it will be even more gorgeous than it was today!
We also found a small Vicar's garden off to the side with hydrangea's (some of the my favorite flowers) and a gorgeous dogwood -- I don't think I've ever seen one quite that full!
If you didn't have your own umbrellas they had some to borrow. If it had been available for purchase, I totally would have gotten one!
It's kind've a sad story actually. The family that owned Lyme Park did so for 600 years! Then in the mid-1900s, like so many other great estates, it became too expensive to keep up and hard to find staff. Who wants to work in a remote estate doing household work for next to nothing? It's an era that in many ways has died out. If you watch Downton Abbey they deal with this exact problem and ironically, it's the filming of Downton Abbey that really has saved Highclere Castle. But I digress. They turned the property over to the National Trust and it became "famous" when it was used for Pride and Prejudice. Although it was just the outside. They were in the middle of a management change and so couldn't use the interior -- that's a different National Trust property.
Playing in the rose garden
William's favorite part
If we ever live in England, we will definitely become National Trust members and visit as many as we can!
After wandering the grounds we found their cafe and had lunch. They have a great playground but it was soaking wet and still raining so no playing. But the kids did get followed LITERALLY by a huge group of ducks looking for bread. Probably they hadn't had much that day because of the wet weather! The kids saved some crusts from their sandwiches and fed the ducks after our lunch so that made them happy. Then we caught the shuttle back down to the main road.
On our way back into the village we saw a sign for St. Mary's church and turned off to explore. English churches aren't generally open (like German ones are), but they have fantastic graveyards! They are fascinatingly old and always slightly overgrown with plenty of interesting stones. German graveyards are always neat, orderly, and new.
Despite the tragic start that we got to our day, I really think that this was one of my favorite days. And not because it was Pemberley necessarily, but because it was doing something that I really enjoy. I love exploring away from the cities, seeing beautiful countryside, and letting the kids get out and run and enjoy. I also enjoy meeting and talking with people and learning about them and their culture. We don't really do that in Germany because of the language barrier and it's hard to go places and be silent. It's amazing how much I miss simple conversation at the grocery store or post office or whatever. That's part of what made our vacation wonderful - the people that we met and talked to!