Yes, I know you don’t come to this blog looking to encounter the upper classes of the land, but I’ve been put through it and now it’s your turn.
It’s Midsummer and we’re having a week off work. The day after our urban jaunt around Widnes and Runcorn finds us up north in the verdant coastal lands around Grange-Over-Sands.
I remember coming here as a child and there was still sand where the marshland is now.
If you’ve been around the blog a while you might remember our walk down that hill into Grange from the Hospice of Hampsfell. But today we’re not here for serious moorland walking. Today we’re looking for monkeys.
As you may know Sarah takes great delight in Monkey Puzzle Trees and is currently, for reasons best known to herself, compiling an international data-base of all known monkeys. She is busy appointing ‘Agents’ from as far apart as Hereford, Widnes, London and Texas to help her with this mighty, some might say foolhardy and pointless task. Whatever, it gives her great respite from her funeral work and her Monkey Puzzle Meanderings blog is quietly developing into a thing of intense and eccentric beauty.
So today we’re here looking for monkeys.
But the joy of a true ‘monkey hunt’ is to come upon monkeys by accident and serendipity. And that’s what we’re up to. Walking and driving between known monkeys, reckoning that we’ll then find others by chance. The reasoning for this is that this most ancient of trees became highly fashionable amongst the moneyed classes of the late Victorian/Edwardian era. And where one of them has planted a monkey you’ll usually find a few others have too, to all ‘keep up’ with each other.
As a town that grew up with its railway as a haven and holiday destination for mill owners and other industrialists, we’re confident that Grange and the villages around it will provide fertile monkey territory. We’re not wrong either, and a haul of 16 monkeys are found on this day and featured in a post over on Sarah’s blog.
So I’ll write little more about monkeys here, so’s not to take the shine off Sarah’s post, but also because we’ve still got the Nobility to deal with. Here’s how it happens.
Sarah’s got a map with known and suspected monkeys marked on it and we’re driving to a village called Cark, where at least one is thought to be. But I drive into and through the village and no monkey has appeared.
“Where is it then?” I ask a rather shifty looking Sarah. “Oh just keep driving, It’ll be along here soon” she reassures me.
With which we proceed to pull up in front of what we technically term the ‘Fuck off gates of a Nob House’. She has knowingly brought me to a stately home.
This is a dangerous moment for Sarah. As she well knows I loathe and despise the landed-gentry. Viewing the lot of them as squatters and thieves. I am never impressed when I hear how many centuries these huge tracts of land have been ‘in’ their family. Because I have never and will never forgive their arrogance in putting walls up round land that rightfully belongs to all of us and behaving like it ‘traditionally’ belongs to them.
You get the idea.
“Who are this lot then?” I ask in-the-know Sarah. “Erm, they’re called Cavendish and are apparently the Dukes of Devonshire.”
More harsh words are said, by me, as I sketch out for Sarah how close to the top of the greed-heap this lot have been since the middle ages and how I seem to remember that one of them took tea with Hitler in the days of appeasement before World War ll. All true as it turns out, plus the fact that this is nowhere near their main house, just a northern bauble that fell into the family’s lap early in the 20th century.
“Yes but I want to go in. They’ve got monkeys” states Sarah with steely determination.
Not the house mind, that would be even more.
And we do find monkeys, 6 of them in fact (so that’s £2.50 each they cost us) in a garden of no particular interest.
And no, we don’t meet any Nobility. But we do find their monkeys.
Lovely day though. Spiced up by a bit of righteous anger!
See Sarah’s politer version of the day here. Gives some insight on what it’s like taking me to visit a stately home!