One of the highlights of the festive season is a trip to Hardwick Hall. Whilst many other National Trust properties are closed at this time of year Hardwick Hall has never seemed so alive.
This year's theme has been the Twelve Days of Christmas with a trail around the Hall that takes in the gifts from the traditional song. We started off with a partridge in a pear tree.
Three French hens...
Around the house we also found a papercut troupe of nine ladies dancing. Above the chapel there were five golden frames for the rings. The seven swans a swimming were on a mirror lake. In all it was a imaginative and fun idea for everyone to get involved with.
Even without the trail the hall looked spectacular in its Christmas finery. The feel is of a 1930's country house party. The huge fireplaces in each room were festooned with swags and garlands.
The dining room is decorated with full glitz and glamour with evening dresses made out of conifer branches.
The closed off staircases are put to good use.
The chapel was more simply decorated but the plain white nativity scene was perfectly in keeping with its surroundings.
Even at this time of year Hardwick isn't just about the house. The woodland walk had a series of snowman painted fence posts to guide the way.
In the gardens you had to be on your best behaviour as Santa was watching wherever you walked.
Christmas had come early to the fairy tree houses with a delivery of Christmas presents.
The trees may have lost their leaves now but they have been brightened up by the stick stars.
Even the chard in the herb and vegetable has a touch of Christmas colours about it at the moment. I can't wait to come back next year and see the gardens in their full glory.