Memories of Lyme Park
The cool stream splashed against my bare ankles. The water was shockingly cold; a bold contrast from the balmy summer’s afternoon that was blissfully unfolding around me. The soles of my feet gripped the rocky surface underfoot.

The sun lazily stretched its rays across the lake’s surface; a twinkling mirage that multiplied the engulfing feelings of serenity.

My Grandma and Grandad resided contentedly on one of the picnic benches behind me, smiling fondly as I splashed in and out of the shallows. I ran backwards and forwards, in and out of the water, marveling at the distinction between the cushiony, tickling grass and the sharp invitation of the water.

The sight of the ice-cream kiosk beyond the car-park beyond the lake was tantalizing to my seven year old self. Even now, the taste of Lyme Park’s raspberry ripple ice-cream takes me right back to that very afternoon. The simple pleasures.

*

When I look back on my childhood, I feel so blessed to have grown up with Lyme Park on my doorstep. The National trust property – based in Disley, Cheshire - beholds some of my most precious recollections. Such memories have kept me returning to the park time after time, years later; keen to relive some of my most treasured times spent with the people who meant the most to me, all the while creating brand new experiences.

My Grandma Barbara was the most influential person to have ever graced my life. A day at Grandma’s never consisted of theme parks and lavish technology. Grandma was a firm believer in both the ‘great outdoors’ and valuing the importance of imagination – passions she made sure she passed down to me. They are some of the greatest gifts I have ever been given.

It is thanks to my Grandma that so many of my memories are centered around Lyme Park. It was our ultimate ‘go to’ place during every school holiday. From playing Pooh Sticks on the bridge at the back of the Timber Yard, to feeding the ducks in the lake – I fondly recall every single detail of those heavenly, seemingly never-ending days.

I take a trip down memory lane, and the events that spring to mind are not the most eventful, nor are they the most significant. There is no flash photography of expensive day trips and technological bribes. The memories that come flooding back in a rush of sheer comfort are those I actually spent doing the simplest of things. It is with this revelation that I know my Grandma was successful in her wishes when it came to my upbringing.

Lyme Park nurtured my imagination over the years, and obligingly took on the shape of the desired settings of many of my childhood fantasy games.

At four years ago, my Grandad and I spent hours trampling through the woodlands, setting ‘pixie traps,’ and yelling out in delight whenever we thought we might have caught a glimpse of one.

We ran from the Gruffalo all the way down the moors and through the woods, shrieking giddily.

The winding pathway below the Cage morphed into the Aintree Race Course, whereby nine year old, pony-obsessed me galloped to victory on my own two legs.

Lyme further took on the form of the vast, royal grounds of my very own stately palace that I, the 11 year old Princess of Cheshire, had inherited.

Imagination stimulating aside, Lyme Park was also a place I learned real life with Grandma, who had a keen interest in flowers and nature. She really came into her own in Lyme Park, reeling off the names of the dazzling flowers in the hall gardens until I could recite them like a nursery rhyme. I learned to identify foxgloves, rhododendrons, and snapdragons. I was able to point out overhead sparrows, Blue Tits and starlings.

We skipped stones in the lake, and picked Elderberries and blackberries. We collected pine cones to preserve for Christmas crafting, and we made wishes by blowing dandelions.

My Grandma has long since passed, but I have Lyme Park to thank in my quest to keep her and our unrivalled times spent together alive forever more. Whenever I yearn to feel close to my Grandma, I head for Lyme Park and take a stroll around the lake. Visions of those days I prayed would never end create the most spine-tingling reel of reminiscences in my mind’s eye, reflected upon the lake. I am momentarily transported back in time in a surge of nostalgia, and I cannot express my gratitude to the National Trust enough for preserving places like Lyme Park for myself, my future children, and their children to enjoy and make memories in as I did.

I can’t express how important it is for families to continue the legacy of such events and such places. We should strive to protect and promote the very locations that shaped our own childhoods for our future generations, thus ensuring that we keep this miraculous cycle of imagination and indescribable freedom alive.

Lyme Park is so much more than just a property, a day out, a quick fix boredom buster. It is an imagination-provoking space of endless possibilities. It possesses the power to set both children and adults alike free from the mundane.

Inside the vast four walls of the refreshingly open space, one is immediately granted with the alluring sense that anything is possible, even if only for a few hours.

‘Family time’ takes on a whole new meaning; invaluable, priceless.

Lyme Park, the undeniably unbeatable Cheshire countryside, and our incredibly fortunate collection of beautiful National Trust properties are sheer sanity in a world that can often present as a dizzying 100 miles an hour predicament.

A diverse attraction in many ways, Lyme Park is arguably the jewel in Cheshire’s crown. With a stunningly preserved hall dating back to the 16th Century, majestic, sweeping gardens to rival royalty’s, spiraling moorland with spectacular views out across the plains, and an intriguing history, Lyme Park boasts something to take anybody and everybody’s breath away.

Wild deer roam the craggy moorland, their antlers a thrilling giveaway on the horizon.

Lyme Park is whatever one makes it. For a low-cost day out, it plays host to an adventurous play park for the kids, as well as hundreds of walks of different abilities.

Afternoon tea in the hall provides a ravishing treat for those looking for a more sumptuous occasion.

I can quite confidently state that Lyme Park has everything and anything, no matter the spectator. Where else could you immerse yourself in a delicious concoction of an adorable second hand book stall, locally sourced food, and picture-perfect landscapes, amongst a whole host of alternate factors?

While I hope to inspire audiences far and wide to visiting our remarkable Lyme, the main aim of my article was to provoke similarly wondrous recollections from reader’s own childhoods.

How many of us played Pooh Sticks, running breathlessly across the bridge to catch a flash glimpse of the rapidly declining stick?

How many of us ate blackberries fresh from the bushes, our fingertips purple for the rest of the day?

How many of us played football in a wide open space, discarded jumpers marking the goalposts? Showed off our handstands on the grass, ignoring Mum/ Grandma’s warning yells that we were going to ‘topple into someone?’

How many of us look back and thank our grandparents and parents for making all of this possible?

We didn’t realise it at the time, but we were richer then than we would ever be.

*

I craned my neck to look over my shoulder. My Grandma, sat on the bench to my right, grinned and put her thumbs up in encouragement. My palms were blistered with my undying efforts, but my stubborn, seven year old determination prevailed, and I fiercely swung myself towards the next monkey bar. I wasn’t leaving Lyme Park until I had completed the set - even if it took me all afternoon.

The play park was a hive of joyous activity. All around me, children squealed, slid and swung. Proud parents looked on, clapping, cheering, chatting.

I reached one hand forwards; made a grab for the last monkey bar. My other hand slipped from the metal bar and clawed at the one in-front. For a few seconds, I was floating in mid-air; flying. And then I did it. I completed the monkey bars!

The beam on Grandma’s face was priceless.

Author: Cara Jasmine Bradley

Related

Lyme
Historic House / Palace
© National Trust Images - Lyme Gardens

For a tranquil walk explore the Edwardian rose garden, ravine garden or luxurious herbaceous borders next to the reflecting lake where a certain Mr Darcy met Miss Bennett in the BBC production of 'Pride and Prejudice'.

0 Comments

Comments

Nobody has commented on this post yet, why not send us your thoughts and be the first?

Leave a Reply