Chatsworth (Part III)

On Saturday, we all got up in good time, and in good spirits, since everyone had reassured us that on this day sales were going to be much better than on Friday. The weather was with us, in fact it was marvellous. A slightly blustery, but sunny spring day, and Chatsworth estate showed itself from its most magnificent, almost magic side.

For those of you who have never been there, Chatsworth is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire. The house is located on the west side of a string of hills, to the east of which the proper high moors of Derbyshire begin. In front of the house is an extended (several miles long and about 1 mile wide) landscaped English garden, with big trees dotted all around, and sheep and cattle freely roaming around. A stream flows through the garden and on the other side another string of hills frames it all together. With spring blossom in full flow, and all the trees showing fresh greenery, blue and white skies above, and the flags of many a country flying around the various riding arenas, surrounded by white tents, it doesn’t take much imagination to feel yourself transported across the times. This is the quintessential English rural idyll.

Spectator numbers were certainly up from Friday, and we had much more visitors to our stall. Alas, no sales. More interesting conversations, more boredom, more of everything except sales. We managed to sell precisely one piece on Saturday.

On top of that, my neck was still playing up badly. I had more sessions lying down in the van, more pills and more cream applied to the neck. Eventually I figured out that the only that really helped was paracetamol, lots of it. It didn’t remove the stiffness in my neck, but at least it subdued the stabbing needles every time I moved my head ever so slightly.

Michael and Helen rearranged the items on the shelves several times, and we tried every trick in the book to get people to come in and have a closer look. It was no good. The stalls were kept open until 18:30, to catch even the last possible prospect. Again, we were not the only ones. All around us, everybody complained. Nigel from the RCA observed that this was a different crowd from last year. According to him, there are three different crowds you can get at horse events. The first sort are the town people. They hardly every buy anything, mostly because they expect things to be priced at Tesco level, and secondly because many of them simply don’t have any money to spend. The second sort of people are horsey people, i.e. people who have horses and look after them themselves. Again, they don’t buy much. They do appreciate the work and they don’t haggle over prices, but they haven’t got any money left once the horses are fed. And finally, the third lot are horsey people who have others looking after their horses. These are the ones that buy stuff, as they appreciate the value and they have the money.

Sadly, on Friday it was mostly horsey people and on Saturday almost exclusively town people. In consequence, bad business.

We finished the day with a nice meal at a restaurant just down the road from Riber Hall. If you ever get into this part of the world, The Royal Oak in Tansley has a good cuisine, moderate prices, excellent quality and service.

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