Sunday 1 July 2012

What I Did on My Holidays, by Nige

Up in Derbyshire the other day, I was strolling with my cousin when the subject of R.S. Thomas came up, and I related (hazily) what happened when the craggy poet met the undulating Liz Taylor ('And have you tried plaice?'). Now, back home after my too short Derbyshire sojourn, I find my original post on that bizarre encounter reissued in The Dabbler. There's a nice piece of synchronicity.
   High point of my latest visit to God's Own County (no protests from Yorkshiremen, please) was a walk along Lathkill Dale in glorious unexpected afternoon sun. The dale is one of the most variously beautiful of them all, with grand hanging woods, riverside lawns and slopes of flower-rich pasture. After much hopeful scanning of the sunlit pastures, we spotted numerous lively Common Blues, a single Large Skipper on a grasshead, and a tattered and faded Dingy Skipper (increasing by three my meagre species tally).
  And of course I had a look around the Best Bookshop in the World (aka The Bookshop, in Wirksworth), where, after a slow start, I found Stefan Zweig's novella Chess, Auden's For The Time Being (with The Sea and the Mirror), Iain Sinclair's booklet on the Millennium Dome, Sorry Meniscus - and The Last Englishman: The Life of J.L. Carr by Byron Rogers, the same Byron Rogers quoted in When R.S. Thomas Met Liz Taylor. Synchronicity again.
  The morning after that sunny afternoon in Lathkill Dale came the headline-making electric storms that swept the North and, to a lesser extent, the East Midlands. Lesser but quite enough, thank you. We revisited the fine permanent display of Joseph Wright's paintings in the Derby County Art Gallery. That's a Joseph Wright above - his charming alfresco portrait of The Hon. Brooke Boothby (which lives at Tate Britain) - not, in case you were wondering, me on my holidays. You wouldn't catch me with a volume of Rousseau.


  1. Next time you go to Derby from Wirksworth, drop into the Duffield Millennium Meadow. There you can see the spectacular results of volunteers' efforts to create some flower-rich acres for urbanites outside the Peak District. Terrific! The site adjoins the River Derwent, which you can contemplate in a much more majestic setting than by the Council House in Derby.

    Apart from Wright's works, did you notice the new portraits on display at Derby Museum by more homespun local artists, such as Harold Gresley and Ernest Townsend? I find them utterly compelling.

  2. Thanks Mary - I shall definitely seek out that flower-rich meadow - sounds beautiful.
    And yes I did like some of those other portraits - some very good stuff in there.

  3. I was strolling with my cousin when the subject of R.S. Thomas came up...

    Thus does this blog top all others in preserving the remnant.