This was Chatsworth Country Show weekend and one we'd been looking forward to all year and it didn't disappoint, indeed surpassing all expectations and then some.
Our stay was Friday 31st August, officially the last day of summer to Sunday 2nd September.
Well Friday, still been summer was a little overcast with showers in the afternoon and quite at bit of rain into the early evening and pretty much summed up what the rest of the 2012 summer had been like.
Saturday and Sunday however, now summer was officially over, were much nicer days. Saturday started off a bit dull but brightened up from about 11.30 and Sunday was a sunny 22
c to 23
C pretty much all day.
We booked Friday off work and arrive on site at just after one o'clock and our guests for the weekend were Gary and Julie, Helens' brother and sister in-law.
By half past one we were set up and sat under the canopy for a chill and a chat.
Chatsworth Caravan Club site is set within an old walled garden on the Chatsworth estate and at one end of the site is a locked gate to which visitors are given a key which leads directly on to the house grounds.
Access to the house grounds is usually free but during the Country Show weekend and during the Horse Trials, which are held every May, on the estate side of the gate is a ticket seller and entrance fee for this weekend was £20.00 per day each.
We knew however, from previous visits to both events that the ticket seller usually clocked off fairly early. Last year, for example, we paid to go into the show in the morning and part way through the afternoon returned to Myrtle to drop off some purchases and for a brew and something to eat before returning to the show, only to find the ticket seller had gone.
So this year a about 3 o'clock I decided to take a walk up to the gate. The ticket seller, a very nice man, was still on duty so I enquired how much it was to enter and without too much questioning discovered that his knock off time was 3.30pm.
At just after 3.30pm the four of us returned to the gate and true to his word the ticket seller had gone and entrance to the show was now free, result!
We repeated this exercise on both the Saturday and Sunday.
The official closing time for the show is at 6PM each day but many of the stalls stay open beyond these times and on the Saturday and Sunday the 'tannoy man' was asking stall holder to stay open later to accommodate the crowds and to help ease the congestion in the public car parks and on the surrounding roads.
On the Saturday, to kill some time before we would go to the show and because we had the benefit of Gary and Julies car we decided to have a drive out and to visit Eyam.
Eyam is known as the 'Plague Village' and I'd often wanted to visit it when we'd previously stopped in the area but had never really left enough time and had also been unsure about motorhome parking.
The story goes that in September 1665, the plague got to Eyam via a flea invested bundle of cloth from London which had been delivered to the local tailor. To stop the spread of the plague to other towns and villages the locals of Eyam decided to quarantine themselves and in the 14 months between September 1665 and November 1666, 260 villagers of the 800 population had died. There are Plaques at various points throughout the village which tell the story of particular families.
Ironically one of the few survivors was the village grave digger!
Despite Eyams' bad luck, the gods were once again shining down on us because as we approached Eyam not only did we discover that this was Eyam Well Dressing week but it was also Eyam carnival day.
The village was full of visitors and there was a lovely atmosphere with many of the locals in fancy dress. There were numerous floats and marching bands, lamb and hog roasts and outside bars strategically positioned along the village.
The carnival entertainment also included the 'The Billerettes' a majorette marching troup with a difference in that they are nearly all men. This is the second time we've come across them in a carnival and once again they had the crowd in stitches with their hilarious marching routines.
To learn more about the Billerettes visit http://www.billerettes.org.uk/.
I can't think of another way to describe the atmosphere other than 'lovely' with everyone in good spirit and although drink was flowing we neither saw nor was there the need for a police presence.
Collection tins were plentiful too and I imagine a lot of money was raised for various charities and local causes whilst providing themselves and the many visitors with a 'lovely' day out.
Due to a fun day at Eyam we didn't actually get into the Chatsworth show until about 4.30 on Saturday but this was still in plenty of time to see and do everything we wanted to do.
The highlight of the show for me was the Red Arrows display complete with commentary which took place at about 5.30pm on the Saturday and Sunday teatimes.
Though I've seen the Red Arrows many times before this years displays just seemed even more spectacular than usual but I don't really know why. May be it was just because of the clear blue skies or perhaps the fact that we watched them on both occasions while sat outside the cider bar, I'm just not sure.
We were at the show from about 3.30 to 7.00pm on the Friday and Sunday and from about 4.30 to 7.30pm on the Saturday and despite everything being open there were many stands, stalls and exhibitions we still didn't get time to see and we can't wait for next years show.
Sunday was topped off with a visit from H's nephew Mark and his girlfriend Jess, though due to parking restrictions on site over the show weekend, to accommodate them for the day they had to park their car in Baslow and we collected them and brought them to the site.
As a review of the weekend I should really mention the site and I would have to say that the Chatsworth Caravan Club site is excellent and the facilities even exceed the clubs normally high standards.
The majority of pitches on site are very good too but as with every site there are always one or two pitches which are less desirable than the rest.
Due to not arriving till about 6PM last year we ended up on one such pitch, positioned in the shade, squeezed in a corner under a tree, we call these 'Cleethorpes Pitches' as in the last resort.
To avoid any disappointment this year we had booked a 'Super Pitch' to ensure we got a good spot. Though a little pricier and all you get extra really is a bit of block paving and your own water and waste points it does ensure a nice spot.
Ironically however we arrived early this year and would have had the pick of any number of suitable standard pitches but we weren't to know that when we booked and we don't regret the decision to book a 'Super Pitch'.
We also booked and paid for the Sunday evening to so we didn't have to leave at 12 noon on the Sunday. Me and H had even considered staying until the Monday morning but in the end we decided to travel home on Sunday evening at about 8PM rather than getting up early the next morning to be at work for 08.30am.
At 8Pm the traffic was still quite bad right up to Chesterfield so I dread to think what it had been like earlier in the evening.
All in all though, yet another cracking weekend.