With our holiday almost over and my return to the office imminent (as in tomorrow - eeek!), Richard invited Dave and myself to join him at the Chatsworth Country Fair which is based at Chatsworth House. We'd never been before, but a quick look at the website seemed to imply it would be fun day out, so we were easily persuaded, so yesterday we set off for Derbyshire well before nine in the morning to begin our day out.
We swapped to Richard's 4x4 to head to the fair itself, which turned out to be a good thing given that we were directed to drive up some fairly steep fields to the slopes set aside as a parking area. We changed into walking boots and joined the crowds descending onto the fair proper.
The fair itself was one of those events with so much going on, that there was no way we could cover everything. There was a massive market of stalls, selling a multitude of wares that a countryside goer might need. There were hats, water proofs, boots, walking sticks and a plethora of tweed - just the sort of thing you could imagine farmers wives wearing, or being kitted out in to go hunting with guns and dogs. We saw chickens, toys, food, bed linen (that one surprised me), table linen, luxury wooden gazeebos, outside dining sets, garden furniture, petshops and even a huge wooden fort complete with telescope that Dave wanted for our garden. After a while, the shops all blurred into one but I did start my Christmas shopping while Dave bought some nuts and liquorice.
We didn't really sit to watch events in the main arena, but did look at some victorian steam driven machinery, peered at ancient cars and admired model wagons. We watched the fun fair rights in horror, particularly one which seemed to consist of a cage attached to two bungee cords. The riders were strapped into the cage and the bungee stretched, before they were flung into the air as if shot out of a giant catapult.
We watched some novice gun dogs doing retrieval work, saw the more experienced dogs being far more energetic doing the same with far less hints from their owners, watched a dog agility relay and agreed there was a bit of a dog theme going on here.
We lingered for a while watching the ferret racing...
This seemed to consist of putting your ferret into a flexible plastic tube and encouraging them to run to the other end and back again, with the first ferret home the winner. The ferrets thought this was great with several of them choosing to run back and forth inside the tube and never actually emerge at all. Great fun to watch and undoubtedly fun for the ferrets, which were very sweet.
We returned to the car at the end of the day for a cuppa while we waited for the car park to empty. This meant we got to watch the many hot air balloons take off and drift up the valley towards us.
There wasn't a huge amount of wind yesterday, with the weather remaining stubbornly muggy and mostly overcast, with the odd spot of strong sunshine to take us unawares. I'm not sure what constitutes good weather for ballooning, but the crews were having problems getting any real height, colliding with trees and desperately firing their burners to stop their balloon's crashing into the parked cars they were flying over.
It was quite a sight to see and certainly worth hanging around at the end of the fair for. I even managed to get some nice silhouetted shots of those few balloonists who made it up the hill. The sun was beginning to set by then and the crest of the hill made for some dramatic shots.
Finally we went home and it was a very exhausted me who ate some chips at Richard's before bundling Dave into the car shortly after 10pm for the long drive home. A long, exhausting day... But a good one.