Monday, 14 October 2013

This Is The Life

Kids, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about something I did this past weekend...


I'm not even going to explain what it is because you'll already be well-versed in classic English literature and period dramas by now.

This was the view driving through the grounds up to the house:

And this was the side of the house we walked up to:

After chatting to the nice ladies (more on this in a bit) whilst getting tickets, we wandered the grand rooms of the house, largely kept as they would have been in Edwardian times.

I walked up the very stairs that Mr Darcy rushed down to go and
catch Elizabeth Bennet as she fled his "beautiful house and grounds at Pemberley"
in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice.

The house was gorgeous and the attendants very willing to answer all our questions! They were overjoyed when we started playing the (dusty and very out of tune) grand piano. I even played a few bars of my bucket list piece - music from the Little Women soundtrack. My period drama worlds collided!

And so with the very apparent relationship between Lyme Park and Pride & Prejudice, someone thought it would be a good idea to stick a 12 ft Darcy sculpture in the lake, referencing Colin Firth's (not so skinny) dip in the lake at Pemberley in the 1995 BBC adaptation. You all know the one I'm talking about, but for those who don't, here it is:

I've always been a bit bemused by the director's choice to have him jump in the water, especially watching it as a child I had no idea what all the fuss was about. To some degree I still don't, but I have come to appreciate Colin Firth in a way 8-year-old me couldn't :P

I've always thought that what happens afterwards was much more swoon-worthy! When Lizzie finally sees that Mr Darcy has turned up to his own house early (unbeknownst to her) and they lock eyes, it makes for an extremely exciting exchange!

I can't help but include an excerpt from the book; you just know the book is always better (despite lack of involvement from Colin-dearest):
"As they walked across the lawn towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also, and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road, which led behind it to the stables.
"They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance, that it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immovable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself, advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility."

And so Elizabeth Bennet's opinion of Mr Darcy gradually begins to change :)

Anyway, back to my visit to Lyme Park.

I was talking about the 12 ft Darcy "sculpture" that dwells in one of the lakes. When it was in Hyde Park's Serpentine, Alex dubbed it "Tacky Darcy" which on seeing him in the flesh, turned out to be very accurate!

Here's a photo I found online...

And here is the photo I took on my awful blackberry...

It was raining on Saturday so he looked even more dismal, not to mention his shirt was all the more see-through....bizarre! So when chatting to the ticket ladies, I asked them what the reaction had been like to him/it/Tacky Darcy. They very diplomatically said "mixed". Some of the more hardcore (less classy) fans of P&P loved it, and others thought it was an atrocity! I actually think it's pretty hilarious, and considering it's being taken away in February, I'm strangely glad to have seen it.

So finally, after reading for years about Mr Darcy's beautiful grounds I had the chance to walk around them. The "a-ha" moment came when we rounded the path and there appeared the vista I've seen a hundred times, but this time with my own eyes. Absolutely stunning.

It may have been a dark and rainy Saturday afternoon, but the weather couldn't stop my enjoyment of visiting this stately home and gardens that I've had in my head for yonks. And as the National Trust's umbrellas gloated, we managed to keep relatively dry!

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