Saturday, 14 February 2015

2015 Caravan Season – The Prologue

So this doesn’t really count. The caravan season hasn’t started, not properly. Then again, we did hitch up the ‘van and tow her for nearly a hundred miles today, but we’re not staying with her. No, it’s that time of the year when she has to go in for her annual service. It’s hard doing all the packing and hitching and towing, and then not getting that first cup of tea in a grassy field by way of a reward.

To ease the blow, we decided to make a day of it, so after leaving our Sally Swift with the gentle folk of Derby Caravans, we did a spot of early season National Trust bagging with a visit to Kedleston Hall. This was a new NT for us, and we had to ask ourselves, why haven’t we been before. Because it's wonderful, and it’s not that far, really.

At this time of the year they are doing the conservation stuff, a little like the thing we are doing with Sally Swift, waking the hall up from a long winter slumber, rubbing her aching joints, prepping her in readiness for the 100k visitors who will trample across her 250 year old carpets for the next nine months or so. In many ways it is more interesting to see the nature and scale of this task than it is to see these old homes fully open and performing.

I have to admit, I struggle with the history. This might seem to be a bit of an odd admission from someone who’s been a member of the National Trust for fifteen plus years, but I will be honest, I find it hard to be moved by time and history and stuff, and I think it is because I just can’t get the time scales into my head. It’s too much. Too many years.

Then I start to wonder about how the hall might have looked back in 1765 when it was new. The marble floors were perfect and unmarked. There would have been a smell of paint and fresh plaster everywhere, a little like going into a Wimpy show-home but factored up a bit. The park would be, I don’t know, bare? Grassy with a few sapling oak trees scattered around, maybe with little cages around them to stop the wildlife nibbling. There are probably piles of building materials scattered around the yard, wooden scaffolding waiting to be collected by the local builders merchant. Everything is clean and new. This kind of imagining helps me some. I usually look at a National Trust home as being an old house where rich people once lived. But today I tried to see it differently, because for some of those rich people, Kedleston was once a modern home; empty bright rooms waiting for the first items of furniture, the first curtains to be hung, and the first ever logs to burn in the grate. Wow.
The domed ceiling above the saloon with its glass oculus 
Had to include this, because if ever I need to describe a very scary alien...

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