(Best viewed large)
There are several stately homes within easy drive of my mother's home. One of them, Hardwick Hall, can be seen perched on top of the hill above the lake here. To the right is the Old Hall and just to its left, above the trees, you can see the towers of Hardwick Hall itself, one of the finest Elizabethan mansions in England. It was built in the late 16th century, by Robert Smythson, for the powerful Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury, the richest woman in England at the time apart from Queen Elizabeth I herself. It has huge windows, a deliberate statement of wealth at a time when glass was a luxury, giving rise to the saying: "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall". Now in the care of The National Trust, it's a fascinating place to visit - but on this occasion we simply enjoyed a stroll round the lakes and revelled in the beautiful autumn colours and the sunshine.