Living in Derbyshire, with two small kids, it's natural that I have a season ticket to my near neighbours, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire's pad. It's literally within walking distance, as I proved a number of years ago in a twenty mile round trip across snowy moors.
For small children, it's an ideal day out. There's an adventure playground, trees to go exploring in, a petting zoo, a maze, a cascade to paddle in on hot days, the Emperor Fountain that shoots a single jet of water several stories into the air and countless hectares of Capability Brown imagined landscape. My personal favourite part of the grounds is the kitchen garden. As an allotmenteer, I like to compare the state of my crops with the banana pioneering Cavendish family's.
Highlights of the Chatsworth calendar include a yearly sculpture show, which can be a bit hit and miss, but never fails to rouse my interest. Artworks by Takashi Murakami (hit) and Damien Hirst (miss) have been showcased here in recent years.
Each Christmas the house is transformed into something magical. Last year the decorations were Narnia themed, this year it's Alice in Wonderland. No expense has been spared. Travelling down the corridors and terraces, you almost feel like you are falling down a rabbit hole. All the staff are dressed as playing cards.
Now, at the grand old age of ten, my eldest daughter has declared herself "bored" of Chatsworth. I have probably been visiting since I was her age and I can honestly say there's always something different to see or experience. Last year I found myself in unfamiliar surroundings with two older women, agreeing with the one who said "I've been coming here for fifty years and never knew this bit existed."
in the park's hidden corner