A throw of the dice, metaphorically, was what brought us to Earl Sterndale, deep in the Peak District. A few days with friends, what could be nicer?

The dice were part of exhibits in the museum room at Haddon Hall – found behind the panelling in 1909. Haddon is one of the more interesting ancient houses and features among other things an unimproved Tudor kitchen and a chapel with remarkable wall paintings.  And a garden. And a cafe, of course.

Not far away is Matlock Bath with more fish and chip shops in one street than we have ever encountered before, great riverside walks and a surprise find: Willersley Castle, built by Arkwright – never a castle but now a hotel doing nice lunches and offering views over the valley.

And finally, Thornbridge Gardens, another great discovery. Lots of statues and urns and so on lurking in the terraces and along the paths. A loose looking piece of stone at the base of one attracted my attention. A little hidey-hole – perhaps for romantic messages?  And lo, there was one, slightly distressed, from Josephine arranging an appointment at ‘the pub at 10pm’.  I wonder if the recipient ever got it. I guess not, otherwise he or she would have taken it, surely?

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