Our home from home. Not literally, obviously , but it is a place where I have spent many, many lovely days over the year and it’s very dear to our hearts. Due to the UK’s lockdown, we hadn’t visited Chatsworth in over 6 months and it was sorely missed.
Over the Summer, while we were still in semi-lockdown, we celebrated both mine and Freya’s birthday. There wasn’t much we were able to do, and big birthday parties were out of the question, but we were able to spend a couple of lovely days back in one of our favourite places on earth.
As you would expect, Chatsworth has come up with a long list of regulations to help protect their guests during the pandemic. All visitors to the house or gardens must have pre-booked, and a limited number of tickets are available each day to allow capacity to be maintained to allow for good social distancing.
One way systems are in operation when entering and leaving the garden, and at various high traffic areas in the gardens themselves. Facemasks must be worn when in the shops and food kiosks. The main toilet block in the garden was closed, but plenty of portaloos had been provided, along with hand sanitizing stations.
We didn’t actually go into the house on either of our two visits, so I couldn’t comment on that, but the gardens felt incredibly safe and relaxed, even when there were quite a few people in there. It never felt over-crowded and people were very considerate at giving each other space when walking around.
Some areas of the gardens, such as the Maze and the Coal Tunnel, were closed due to Coronavirus restrictions. It is a little disappointing (the Maze is a particular highlight of the garden), but completely understandable as social distancing would have proven impossible in such tight spaces.
After a few months cooped up in the house, it felt so good to be able to take in some fresh air and stretch our legs. It was also lovely to watch the girls be able to run around a bit, as we don’t have much of a garden to speak of. It was particularly special that it was in an environment that is so comforting and familiar to us. It really felt like we were getting a little slice of normality back.
On our second visit (my birthday), we decided to order on of Chatsworth’s pre-packed picnics. The standard Chatsworth picnic for a family of 4 was around £40. I can’t find it on the website now, so I’m assuming it was a summer thing, but it was absolutely brilliant and I definitely plan to keep my eye out for them again next year.
Included in the picnic there were two “fancy” sandwiches, as well as two simple sandwiches (cheese and ham) for the kiddies. There was a large tub of coleslaw, potato salad, two quiches, two pork pies and a large salad. For sweet treats, there were delicious scones with jam and cream, chocolate brownies and strawberries. We also got to select a large bag of crisps to share, as well as two Fentimans drinks for the adults and two cartons of juice for the children.
When booking, I’d made a note in the “Special Occasion” section that we were visiting for my birthday. When I collected the picnic I noticed that they had included an extra slice of cake with a Happy Birthday message. It’s not the first time that Chatsworth have thrown in an extra treat to make my birthday special, but I really appreciate it every time.
After a very strange Spring, it was so refreshing to feel like we could just be “us” again, doing the kind of things that we would do before we’d ever heard the words “Covid-19” and “social distancing”.
Restrictions permitting, we are really hoping to be able to get back to Chatsworth to see their Christmas display. It’s a family tradition that we do every year and it will certainly help end this year on a slightly brighter note.