Sir Richard Fitzherbert of Tissington Hall, Derbyshire: Journal on life

Extracts from Sir Richard FitzHerbert's journal on life at one of Derbyshire's finest stately homes.

Ashbourne has a new radio station. Asked to the opening day launch of the new operation based in St Monica's House, Windmill Lane on the north side of the town, the assembled throng was invited to tour the studios and reception area before the 'Switch-on' officially occurred at 10am. The guest of honour was Roy Wood, local man and former front man of Wizard, whose record 'Flowers in the Rain' was the first ever to be played on BBC Radio One - although I could have sworn that the Beatles' classic 'Twist and Shout' was pretty close to the start time. Ashbourne's station will consist mainly of music and chat with guest appearances by well-known locals and celebrities. I have requested a show of my own show so that I can play my back catalogue of 750 pre-war 45rpm 7-inch singles. To date, I have not been offered a slot! Listen out in the Ashbourne area on 96.7 FM.

THIS LAST Bank Holiday, I settled down to catch up with the piles of paperwork that had accumulated while I spent a couple of days at the Old Trafford Test Match. The Bank Holiday is usually a busy day, with the house open to visitors in the afternoon and the other businesses throwing open their doors throughout the day. However, it did not turn out as calmly as I had anticipated. At around 11am I took a telephone call from a cottage tenant near the duck pond. A beech tree had snapped in the high winds and was about to demolish half their abode! Fortunately I was able to contact our tree-surgeon and he and his team were on site within the hour to deal with the situation and ensure, using a local farmers' tractor, that the 100 foot beech could be eased down and away from the cottage and high-voltage wires. How lucky that I was there that holiday morning for who knows what might have happened if I had been elsewhere!

THE RISE in oil prices recently has resulted in a corresponding rise in oil theft from tanks and containers all over the country. It has been reported that Norfolk police are investigating over 30 instances of oil theft in one week in one rural location alone in their county. Coupled with the rise in gas and electricity prices, surely it is time now for the Government to really back the 'renewables' agenda. We hosted a Fisher German/Nat West Bank day at Tissington in May when the hundred gathered attendees were invited to a succession of workshops concerning the rural economy. One of these was entitled 'Home Revolution' and given by entrepreneur Robin Hamilton. It consisted of his views and opinions about the 'eco-friendly' house that he is about to build at Snelston, just south of Ashbourne. The designs for this revolutionary structure involve 'tyres tracks and turbines'. This 'dream home' will store energy, generate its own power and export any surplus to the National Grid whilst the structure turns on its axis the full 360 degrees on a daily basis. Planning has been granted by the Derbyshire Dales District Council and work is well underway but I feel we need better tax concessions now so that this technology can be developed further.

THE ABSURDITY of bureaucracy in this country continues unabated. I have 'volunteered' to camp overnight at Freddie's Pony Club Camp in the summer, so it is necessary for the Government-backed Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to check my credentials. This is despite the fact that I was fully checked two years ago when we ran the school. The organiser of the five nights under canvas is pretty familiar with the CRB as, in her various positions (both paid and unpaid), she has had to have five separate checks undertaken, at a cost of �45 a time. On each occasion the piece of paper is returned with a clean bill of health and the coffers of Capita gain �45. Good news for Capita's shareholders, whoever they may be ...

A NEW BUSINESS has risen from the peaks around Wetton and Ilam. Stately Home Vacations is the brainchild of Charlie Hurt and Mark Chichester-Clark, who have set up a website to attract overseas visitors to the many fascinating houses and homes around the county with themselves acting as informative and entertaining guides. Supported by the National Park and the European Union, the duo and their proposed itinerary can be viewed at and, of course, Tissington will be one of their stops for dinner. However, it should be noted that there are no lunch appointments on their trips, rather it states that 'Luncheon' will be taken on a daily basis.

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