Day Four: Food, Drink, Holidays, & Culture
This is a tricky one, since so much of what goes on around the Carsingthorpe estate is very similar to elsewhere in Derbyshire. Obviously, many events are still arranged around the farming year, and that's how time is often measured too: Craig the slightly mysterious Aussie barman came to the estate for the early calving (there are several beef and dairy herds on the estate and its associated farms and in 1976 they still aim to calve in compact batches). He then stayed on for lambing, and is still there when the sheep shearing takes place in June.
The end of any important phase in the farming year is marked by Edward, the 17th Duke of Derwent Dale, standing all his workers (permanent and itinerant) a round of drinks in the Derwent Dale Arms, Lower Pemberley (Upper Pemberley being one of those rare villages without a pub). In spite of its rural location the pub doesn't serve food, other than roasts on Sundays (and sandwiches for very special patrons) but Lower Pemberley does boast a fish and chip shop, whose batter is only rivaled locally by that of establishments in Matlock Bath.
From Chapter Ten:
They took their picnic of 'cod and chips twice', with a large bag of batter scraps, and two more bottles of wine as far up the hill as the Volvo could manage. Edward spread out a large red and blue tartan blanket in front of the car, and then opened both wine bottles with the corkscrew attachment of a many-bladed Swiss Army knife. Having poured the wine into two plastic cups, he settled himself at one end of the blanket, lying on his side, propped up on one elbow.
Linda lowered herself carefully at the other end of the blanket, smoothed her skirt over her knees, and tucked her feet in close to her side.
"I always miss this view when I'm away." Edward handed one newspaper-wrapped bundle to Linda, opened up the bag of scraps within both their reach, and then began to unwrap his own cod and chips. "If we stay here after sunset, we should be able to pick out the lights over Derby." He speared a chip before continuing. "On clear nights I sometimes take one of the bikes up to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, but it's not nearly as magnificent a sight."
"Do you live near there?" Linda tried to work out the most elegant way to cut up a large piece of battered fish, armed only with a very small wooden fork. "I mean, where do you live when you're in London?"
"Oh, here and there." Edward seemed to have no problems tackling his own meal. "Sometimes I stay with friends, sometimes in hotels, sometimes in one of my properties if it's between tenants. I once spent a whole winter staying on a houseboat – until the owners returned from the Balearics, and kicked me off."
"Don't you have a house of your own?"
"I used to, but it got expensive, once I had this placed to pay for as well. Mother tries her best with the Lodge, and she's had more visitors so far this year than in the whole of last year, but it's too close to Chatsworth. People want a big, elegant country house, not some glorified hunting lodge that's been added to over the years with no real thought put into what rooms to put where." He reached over, and took a handful of scraps from the bag. "There's hardly any money in farming now, even on an estate this size, and the rental properties cost almost as much to maintain as they bring in in rent. Add in the fact that I'm still paying off two sets of death duties, and it's a wonder we're not all destitute."
"How do you pay for everything?" Linda took a handful of scraps before Edward claimed them all. "If you don't mind me asking?" She would quiz him on his family history later. The Lodge might not be grand, but she was certain there was a wealth of anecdotes that Kate was too polite to tell her about, much less include in the guide book. Edward seemed unlikely to be similarly inhibited.
Upper Pemberley, meanwhile, is home to Bessie Bamford's tea shop, serving a wide array of homemade cakes, scones and sandwiches: although rumours abound that her prices vary according to whether a customer is a hiker or a local.
For more substantial fare, visitors and locals alike need to drive out to the Packhorse Bridge pub overlooking the Duke's Reach Reservoir, or to one of the nearby towns. The New Bath Hotel in Matlock Bath (as it is now) and the Rutland Arms in Bakewell (as it is in the 21st Century) are highly recommended, the latter establishment being the legendary originator of the famous Bakewell Pudding.
From Chapter Sixteen:
"I have to ask." Edward backed his car into a space outside the New Bath Hotel. "What made you choose this place?"
"Is there something wrong with my choice?" After changing for dinner, and while waiting for Edward to shower and do likewise before collecting her, Linda had flicked through recent entries in Mrs Ollerenshaw's Guest Book. All of those which had mentioned the Hotel's restaurant had praised it.
"Not at all." Edward sounded distracted. "It's very good, possibly better than the Rutland. I just wondered if you'd been before."
"I had afternoon tea here on Tuesday." While there she really should have checked the prices of more substantial fare. She couldn't let Edward pay for her every time they dined out, but nor could she insist on paying her way if she didn't have the funds in her purse to do so. She would read the menu carefully when ordering, and then offer to take Edward out for a meal another time if splitting the bill wasn't going to be an option that evening.
"How about you?" Linda asked as Edward opened the car door for her, and then led the way into the hotel. She was curious about the tattoos on Edward's right arm, and whether they implied a link with the motorbike visitors to Matlock Bath. "Do you come here often?"
From the way the hotel manager greeted Edward, it was clear he not only dined there regularly, but stayed overnight often enough to have a favourite room. It was available tonight – the manager glanced pointedly at Linda – if he wanted to reserve it now.
"That won't be necessary: I brought the car." Edward held out his keys to Linda. "You'll be all right to drive back, won't you?"
Linda took the keys, wondering which of them she should glower at. She couldn't be simultaneously offended at contradictory assumptions, could she? She didn't want Edward's flirting to stray further towards the realms of her fantasies, nor did she want the hotel manager thinking she was some kind of loose woman. It would be nice if there were some middle ground. If they could go for a meal as friends, but no eyebrows would be raised if, at the end of the evening, they decided that they might want to take things further.
Edward, it seemed, also had a preferred table, at the back of the restaurant, whose Reserved sign was hastily swept to a less desirable location by the head waiter. They both moved towards the chair commanding the better view of the whole room, and Edward graciously conceded it to Linda.
Photos show Derbyshire and Peak District scenes taken around Calke Abbey, Tittesworth Reservoir and Monsal Dale
Next up, my Worldbuilding Excerpt