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Paul Miller enjoyed a lazy, hazy time at Tissington summer fete

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: August 08, 2014

Crowds take in the stalls at the fete in the grounds of Tissington Hall.

Crowds take in the stalls at the fete in the grounds of Tissington Hall.

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Paul Miller enjoys a wander round Tissington Church Fete.

ONE of the things I love to do on a fine weekend is take a trip out to Tissington.

We park up and walk our dog over the fields to Bassettwood and have a cup of tea and perhaps a little cake.

In my opinion, the plain scone is the ultimate test of the baker and they happen to make a wonderful version served with clotted cream and jam.

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You can enjoy your refreshment surrounded by farm animals and a big friendly dog of strange parentage (don't ask).

Tissington is a charming confection. It is chocolate-box pretty in a "country estate" way and you never know what you are going to stumble across.

On two recent visits, we were presented with the local hunt. There are many walks across the fields (showing medieval farming traces) from the village and the eponymous trail runs nearby.

There are some lovely little shops. The marvellous White Peak butchers produces, in my opinion, possibly the finest sausage in the world.

I was weaned on to them by H. Smith (before their demise) and Bennett's (before they changed hands) and I still think they take some beating. Of course, there is also On A Wick And A Prayer. They make decorative and scented candles.

The Tissington Christmas weekend was an ideal opportunity to buy from the source. And finally there is Edward And Vintage – a real throwback to days gone by when most corner shops had rows of jars selling sweets. It's impossible to take it all in but you are guaranteed some waves of nostalgia whenever you visit.

It is situated by one of the little gates that take you over the fields to the trail in a perfect spot to feed the weary rambler and their little ones. The tone of Tissington was sealed by a sign on one of the garden walls advertising quails' eggs for sale in aid of Help For Heroes – an affluent surprise with a kind heart.

On my most recent visit, we bumped into the church fete in the grounds of Tissington Hall, the stately home looming over the heart of the village. I love a fete. There is something special about the simple pleasures of tombolas and other stalls.

The money that changes hand is all for a good cause, the air is full of goodwill and bonhomie, and no-one cares about winning, except the excitable young. It's a family occasion and, on a beautiful sunny summer day, there is no finer way to loaf for a couple of hours.

Immediately through the beautiful stone-arched front gate was a second-hand stall with clothes, books and bric-a-brac. My wife found a copy of a book that we have been looking for in second-hand book shops for years.

Further on was the bottle stall and a large plant stall. The staple of these events, which tend to be awash with skilled home bakers, is the cake stall. I felt duty bound to test the produce and duly bought a Weetabix cake and a lemon drizzle to go with it.

Sir Richard Fitzherbert was busy meeting, greeting, organising and feeding stallholders with tea throughout the day. Around the corner, cream teas were being served on one of the lawns. The tiered gardens create little "rooms" which are perfect for this kind of thing.

We could here the sound of music and, sure enough, sheltered in a corner by the house were the Osmaston Wind Band.

We sat down under a gazebo to listen to them. On this particular day, it was serving more as a parasol than a shelter. The set moved through folk music to film themes as the clarinetists can-canned in their chairs as they played.

We sat down next to a charming lady from Buxton and passed the time of day with her between the music.

After demonstrating our skills, or lack of them, at milking, bowling and splat the rat, we made our way up and took in the rose garden.

It really is a gorgeous setting. My daughter's prom group set off from Tissington a couple of years back and Sir Richard, seeing them outside, generously invited them in to have some photos taken in the stunning gardens.

Even though I'm now well into middle age, there is still something rejuvenating about seeing some of the enormous trees, which look made for climbing.

The formal gardens are worth a look and, at this time of year, they are spectacularly colourful. The butterflies, bees and hoverflies were in their element working their way along the borders of flowers and shrubs. The rose garden in particular is a fabulous and fragrant display.

For the residents, there must be enormous pressure to tend to your property year-round as part of Team Tissington. Fetes are one of the few occasions which bring together the local community and the tourists into one happy charitable event.

For Ashburnians it is an opportunity to be a benevolent tourist on our own doorstep. Tissington's fete is over for another year but, dotted through our town and surrounding villages this summer, are plenty of other organisers looking for footfall.

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