Well hello there. It's been a while, hasn't it? I was working on the assumption that everyone would be away on holiday and therefore not notice that I had been slack and idle for the best part of a fortnight.
To be honest, that's not true. I haven't been slack, and certainly no more idle than usual. In fact, I have been out and about, gallivanting across the countryside like a frisky gazelle, scampering hither and thither.
Yeah, I have.
Where have I been? Well I'll tell you.
Mr WithaY and I went up to Derbyshire for a weekend. The Chatsworth Show was on, and we fancied having a look at it. We drove up to a pleasant B&B on Friday evening, and were advised to try a local pub for dinner.
If you are ever in the area, go and eat there. Really. The food was excellent, the staff were competent and friendly and the prices were not too steep. In fact, here's their website - The Black Swan. It was so nice that we went back again the next night and tried their "sharing dish" of rib eye steak and big chips. Mr WithaY and I enjoy our food* but we still ended up with a small tinfoil package of steak to take home at the end of the meal.
The B&B was good too. Note for American readers - a B&B is a Bed and Breakfast establishment, where you stay overnight and they feed you breakfast - usually a huge and sausage-filled extravaganza - but you don't get an evening meal. B&Bs are less expensive than a hotel, and often more interesting. Sometimes, though, they are shite.
This one was lovely, though, and on a farm, our room looked out across one of their trout lakes. People were fishing, and Mr WithaY sat with his nose pressed forlornly against the window, watching them till we went out.
There was a degree of grumbling along the lines of "I knew I should have packed my travel fishing rod," but it soon passed.
The Chatsworth Show was excellent fun. We missed the Red Arrows, who flew on the Friday for the first time since the crash that killed one of their pilots, but we did see a splendid display of stomach-churning aeronautics by two small stunt planes as we were leaving on Saturday afternoon.
Chatsworth House itself was under wraps, unfortunately, possibly to deter visitors to the show from gawping in through their windows and watching the Duchess sitting there in her curlers eating cheesy Wotsits and watching Jeremy Kyle.
I took a couple of pictures of their impressive wall carvings though:
There were hundreds of different stands and displays there, ranging from the traditional country pursuits of ferret-racing (no photos, I was laughing too much to think of using my camera) and stick-whittling to formal mounted displays of the Household Cavalry, with a fairground and lots of small trade stands in between. There were people doing clever fishing demonstrations, shooting stands where you could Have A Go, and more delicious food vendors than you could shake a stick at.
As is traditional, Mr WithaY and I Had A Go at as many of the shooting stands as possible. It got competitive.
I am officially Rubbish With An Air Rifle. Mr WithaY was hoping to win an air rifle on the strength of that result, but as yet has not had a phone call telling him to go and collect his prize.
However, the .22 rifle was more successful. Mine:
And yes, that is the noticeboard I made. We have our targets displayed in the kitchen.
We watched some lurcher racing. It;s like greyhound racing but a bit less organised. The dogs have to run at high speed through a field, after a fake rabbit on a bit of string that is being dragged along at even higher speed. Blimey, they can move.
To such an extent that there are warning signs posted. They'll BREAK YOUR BONES, so stand back. I wonder how? Perhaps they use cudgels, although I'd have thought gripping a big twatting stick between small lurcher paws might be tricky.
There were many different craft tents, some crammed to the gills with talented people, others less so, some just brilliantly demented. We found these chaps in a far corner of the showground.
They had a whole marquee full of teeny little model carts and things, all made to accurate scale. My favourite was the butchers shop on wheels. It had dolls-house size meat, including little teeny pigs trotters.
You get a sense of the scale of it by comparing it to the proud creator sitting behind the table there. He was delighted that I was taking pictures, even moving the butchers shop around this way and that so I could capture the interior properly.
Look at the tiny pigs feet! And black puddings! And tripe! I was entranced.
I spotted this giant letter "R" made from trees on the opposite hillside. No idea what it is, or why it's there. Anyone who has any answers, please feel free to comment.
Oh, this is me firing a 2-bore muzzle-loaded gun. The recoil was hefty, hence the rather appalling firing stance I have there. You could have a go with four different types of muzzle-loader, shooting at clay pigeons. I am proud to announce that I managed to shatter a clay with a flintlock musket. Yay me.
We also popped in to see my genius clock-making mate, and selected two of the types of wood he is going to use to make our clock. That was interesting, and I am looking forward to hearing how it's progressing.
Where else have I been? Oh yes. Ragdale Hall.
I went on another - ANOTHER! - short break to the home of all that is relaxing and beautifying, along with both sisters, mother and auntie. We had a blast, I have not laughed so much in a very long time. I had a reflexology treatment, a full body massage, a facial and a pedicure, and loved every minute. We all went swimming in the fabulous pools, sat in the various steam rooms and saunas, chilled out in the comfy chairs that are artfully scattered around the place, and talked and talked and TALKED. So much to say to each other.
Normally when we all get together there are hordes of children and husbands and partners milling around, getting in the way and preventing two-hour conversations about nothing.
Middle Sis and Youngest Sis and I shared a triple room. It was like the Three Bears house. Three beds in a row in the room. Three robes hanging in a row in the cupboard. Three coffee mugs in a row by the kettle. Only one toilet in the bathroom, though. I had half expected to see three of those in a row in there too.
Other news: I have been harvesting crab apples from the tree in the garden, and making crab apple jelly. The first batch has turned out remarkably well.
I'd post a photo if Blogger would let me. Maybe later.
*are fat greedy bastards.