I think it started with the teasels. I had been looking forward to a more restful day in the Peak District by visiting Caudwell’s Mill followed by Haddon Hall. The first was lovely – an excellent example of a working 19th century flour mill. On the ground floor I found the roller mills and bagging equipment and on the higher floors there were storage bins, purifiers, sifters and graders. It was love at first sight with the graders. All lined up along the bare wooden floorboards. Each one different and yet all roughly the same size and shape. They reminded me of an old advert about graded grains making finer flour. The light was bad, but I crouched down at one end of the room to take the photograph below.
There were far too many stairs for my liking, but I ventured one floor higher than the average tourist and found a small and dusty school room right at the very top of the building. There was something about the upturned chairs on the desks and the light filtering through the small windows that made me pull out the camera again. My only lens at the time wasn’t nearly wide enough, but I took the image anyway. Of course, my little adventure meant I had even more steps to negotiate on the way down and my poor knees were beginning to complain again. I had overdone things the day before – Mam Tor, Headstone tunnel and The Roaches.
I made my way to the car, saying goodbye to the friendly pair of ducks I had met on the way in. I didn’t think Haddon Hall was too far away, but in reality it was just a few minutes along the same road. I parked up on the other side of the busy A9, paid the fee and crossed carefully. I noticed a board warning visitors they would be required to leave large rucksacks at the entrance. I lifted my little child’s rucksack a bit higher on my back, never dreaming it would be barred too. In my head I had a vision of serious walkers, with bed rolls and everything but the kitchen sink. After dragging myself up the long drive in the heat, I discovered my mistake. I was asked to leave my bag, but it contained everything precious to me. After all, I was up there for the week and it wasn’t like a few bits and bobs you might throw in a handbag for a short day out. I protested and was eventually handed a plastic bag. I ducked into the guide’s room and transferred everything over. My camera and lens, filters, spare battery, car keys, money, drink and phone. I felt so vulnerable.
I stood outside for a few minutes before deciding to make the best of it and I entered one part of the house. I was interested in the place, but not enough to read a detailed history I’m afraid. I needed one day away when I could chill out, sit down for lunch and generally take pictures without worrying about the right light for landscapes. I guess I stood out like a sore thumb because I didn’t want to photograph the “normal” things and instead headed for an arrangement of dried flowers against a wood panelled wall. One of the guides walked over to keep an eye on me. I was mortified! First the plastic bag and now this. I moved on to another room, which is when I spotted the teasels. Laid carefully on the antique chairs, each one had been thoughtfully wrapped in a ribbon. Then I spotted an old spinet at the other end of the room. I thought it would make an interesting subject and moved in for a close up. Not that close of course, but yet again I attracted the attention of a guide who moved nearer just in case. I don’t know what they expected me to do – lift the spinet into my plastic bag perhaps. I took one photograph and decided to leave the house and get some fresh air in the garden. I felt as though the teasels were laughing at me as I walked away.
The garden was nice and in one quiet corner I found the table and chairs you can see in the image featured at the top. I had to wait for at least fifteen minutes for a wispy cloud to cover the sun, but for once nobody seemed to mind as I stood my ground and waited.