As a former London resident for over a decade, a move to Derby was always going to be a very big transition. The energy and creativity in London lures you in, becoming an addiction. You are so accustomed to having so much on your doorstep that it is very difficult to imagine an alternative life. It is so easy to nip to The Royal Festival Hall on a weekend to see some live world music or The Globe Theatre for a Shakespeare play or Fortnum and Masons for afternoon tea. London will always remain a city that excites me very much and a city that was my home however, things do change.
The Arts are and will always remain a vital part of my life, but maybe no longer within the hustle and bustle of a capital city. These days I enjoy the offerings of my home city of Derby and boy has it been a wonderful surprise. I would like to share with you, ‘some’ of my favourite spots in and around the city.
The Silk Mill
Derby’s Silk Mill, a part of Derby Museums, is a spectacular building used as an exhibition and event space. Built between 1717 and 1721, it was initially a mill producing silk thread echoing the Italians’. Through the years, it went through a lot of turbulence including the lock out in 1833 where workers were fighting over better working conditions and wages. Now The Silk Mill stands proud and is recognised as part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
The Silk Mill is currently running the Weeping Window exhibition, the creation of Derby based artist Paul Cummins and Tom Piper. It is lovely to see crowds of people pouring into the city to witness this world-class installation.
Very much a part of my childhood, Markeaton Park is the most popular and scenic park in Derby. With over 207 acres of parkland it has a rich history dating back to the 1700’s. My favourite things to do in the park are sitting by the lake for picnics and tea at the beautiful orangery. (I do love an orangery mind you!)
Love! A cultural centre in the heart of the city, that shows independent and world cinema. It has a fantastic gallery space holding regular exhibitions. Team Labs digital exhibition last winter was an absolute treat! Again, it houses a buzzy café with artisan coffee and locally sourced cakes.
Tara Kadampa Meditation Centre
Hidden in the Derbyshire countryside is a little sanctuary of calm and beauty, the Tara Kadampa Meditation Centre. Sat Within 40 acres of greenery the centre is an oasis of tranquillity and a gorgeous escape when the need arises to dream and contemplate life. The centre run daily meditations, talks and social gatherings and have a cosy coffee shop named the World Peace Café. Meditation and coffee, a match made in heaven as far as I am concerned!
What strikes you first is it’s incredible façade, which teases the senses right away (or mine, at least). Alongside the historical dance centre sits a very modern glass exterior, which is home to The Cube café. Once inside there is so much on offer. At Deda you can learn a wide breadth of dance genres including belly dance (music to my ears!), watch live performances and if like me you are an avid reader the Cube run a monthly book club.
Friargate, one of my favourite spots in Derby. With its long fascinating history as a place where criminals were executed in the 18th century, it is ridden with old beauty and unsurprisingly, a conservation area.
Having been gentrified over the last couple of years it is the ‘fashionable’ part of town with an extensive range of gorgeous restaurants, bars and café’s. I find this area so incredibly charming that I even commissioned a painting of it by local artist Rebecca Morledge.
Royal Crown Derby
The Royal Crown Derby is the oldest remaining English porcelain manufacturer and what an honour to have this on our doorstep. To give you some background, ‘In 1890, Queen Victoria appointed Crown Derby to be "Manufacturers of porcelain to Her Majesty" and by royal warrant granted them the title "The Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company".
If you are looking to invest in some beautiful porcelain pieces than The Royal Crown Derby Visitor Centre has a factory shop where you can pick up some bargains. The centre also features a museum of porcelain items, and offers tours of the factory, a gift shop and a restaurant. A great place for inspiration, general pottering and cake.
Derby Museum and Art Gallery
One of my most vivid childhood memories involves visiting Derby Museum with my sisters and father and being mesmerised and maybe also slightly traumatised by the Egyptian Mummies. I do not remember much else so it was a must to return as an adult for an adventure and exploration. Nothing much has changed as I am equally as mesmerised and fascinated by all of the artefacts however these days I particularly love to lose myself in the whimsical nature gallery. The taxidermy mammals are surreal and give me a feeling of being on a movie set. I have promised myself that I shall return with my sketchbook in the near future so maybe look out for a blog post on my sketches.
I actually feel that this post could go on, as there are many little jewels scattered around the city that I have not detailed including The Roundhouse and Darley Abbey. There are also unloved spots such as Arboretum Park, again with a pretty orangery and a lovely landscape. Also Hartington Street that has huge dilapidated Georgian houses which once upon a time would have been extremely grandiose.
There is so much history in this city that can easily be overlooked depending on the lens from it is viewed. Writing this blog has been a further revelation as it has increased my knowledge and I shall be appreciating and noticing even more about Derby.