The Retirees go Abroad – Loughborough Leicestershire

 

Somehow or other I found on the internet that Loughborough hosted a French Market on Fridays so on a whim we jumped in Thistle and went to Loughborough.

Loughborough is to the south of Long Eaton within the Charnwood borough of Leicestershire, England. It is the seat of Charnwood Borough Council and is home to Loughborough University. In fact when visiting the town it is hard to know which came first the University or the town. It is second in size to the city of Leicester. Before going I checked Wikipedia and found that the town has the world’s largest bell foundry — John Taylor Bellfounders, which made the bells for the Carillon war memorial, a landmark within the Queens Park in the town, Great Paul for St. Paul’s Cathedral, and York Minster. Loughborough has for more than a century been the home of John Taylor & Co bell founders and the firm has a museum—the Bellfoundry Museum—located on two floors telling the story of bell making over the centuries. The River Soar passes by to the east of the town.

The sun was shining promising a glorious English day. We found a parking station and made our way to the markets. Loughborough has developed the main St Cattle Street into a mall and here we got more than we bargained for. There is an antiques market every Friday and the French market is once per month and they both set up in the mall. Well like most antiques markets the word “antiques” is used very loosely. But there were many stalls with curiosities. We browsed through the stalls and when we got to the end there were the French market stalls operated by French people living in the area. Well Kerry found the nut shop then the Turkish delight shop and so we had nuts and Turkish delight for the next week. There were a number of stalls cooking in what looked like paella dishes and the aroma was wonderful. I found a stall cooking a cheesy potato dish and what appeared to be a prawn stir fry. It was 10.30am too earlier for lunch so we agreed we would return for lunch. I cannot say too much more because we did some Xmas shopping and it is a secret.

The town has gone to a lot of effort to turn its alley ways into shopping precincts so we had fun finding our way through it all. Indirectly we were looking for a particular shop providing all the bits and pieces for making jewellery. I cannot say anything more about that either except to say we ultimately fell into the shop. Our exploration also uncovered a new ultramodern shopping precinct. You have to wonder how all these shops survive. I was salivating waiting for lunch so all I could think about was tucking into the garlic prawns and the cheesy potato. Time seemed to be crawling but of course lunchtime arrived and I scurried back to the stall in the French sector of the markets to purchase lunch. With one bowl of prawns and one of potato we sat on the benches in the mall and tucked into the hot delights. The sunny morning was becoming grey, windy, cold, and wet. And the hot delights left me a little disappointed. The prawns were in fact a fish composite moulded to look like prawns. Ah well it wasn’t too bad and the potato was lovely and creamy with bacon pieces through it.

We then strolled a little more passing the Fireworks store. Guy Fawkes Night was fast approaching and the Brits celebrate the day with bon fire, guys and lots of fireworks (like we used to before the authorities decided we are too stupid to handle fireworks and banned the retail sale of them).

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The weather had turned distinctly unwelcoming so we found a coffee shop where we hoped to let it pass over us. After about an hour of supping coffee and reading the newspaper things were not getting better so we cut the day short and headed home.

The Retirees go Abroad – Bakewell Derbyshire

 

We have been fortunate over the years to have good neighbours and the same has happened here in Long Eaton. John and Pam are a retired couple who have lived their whole lives in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and know the area well. So when they suggested we go to Bakewell Markets we jumped at the chance.

Bakewell is a small market town and civil parish in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire, England, well known for the local confection Bakewell Pudding. It is located on the River Wye, about thirteen miles (21 km) southwest of Sheffield, 31 miles (50 km) southeast of Manchester, and 21 miles (34 km) north of Derby; nearby towns include Matlock to the south east, Chesterfield to the east and Buxton to the west northwest. The town is close to Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall.

We drove in Thistle guided by Tommy winding in and out of country lanes. John commented he had never travelled to Bakewell in the direction guided by Tommy so he guided us home. You have to wonder what goes on in a GPS sometimes because John’s directions were far more straight forward.

Anyway we had a pleasant drive and visited a “chocolate box” village. When parking John and Pam were surprised at how close we were to the village (we had made an early start). When it came time to go home the car park was full and where we had parked 7 or 8 rows from the Cattle Hall cars were now parked 30 or more rows from the Cattle Hall.

After walking past the cattle sales we crossed a small stone bridge and I got very excited to see a good size trout in the crystal clear water. We proceeded further to cross a second larger stone bridge beside a weir. As we crossed Kerry noticed that there were hundreds of padlocks of various kinds and sizes attached to the rails on the bridge. These are known as “love locks” attached over water to represent eternal love between lovers. However I was more interested in a grey crane wading in the river and tens of these trout lazing in the current all around two kilos in size. John identified them as brown trout and very delicious.

We proceeded on into the market stalls which crawled through the village. Everything from farm products to craft and some “antiques”. We stopped for a cup of coffee and purchased Bakewell Puddings to sample. Very sweet and greasy.

After about 1 hour we had seen the markets and the village had a cup of coffee and it was time to go home. So we wound through the markets where a very Muslim looking vendor charmed Kerry to purchase some new bath towels. John was greatly amused saying that this chap was a fixture at the markets and was always putting on a show to make a sale.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the pictures.

The Retirees go Abroad – Chancery Lane and the Silver Vaults

 

I hope by now you have read my Remembrance Day post. You will have seen all the fabulous photos of the Poppies. Kerry took a video of the scene and posted it on Facebook. I have been unable to down load it for your enjoyment here but I have attached some other photos which I hope will interest you.

Apart from visiting the Poppies we undertook some guided walking tours of London. We can recommend these to anyone visiting London and wanting to understand what surrounds you. They are reasonably priced (9 pounds per person), you don’t have to book (you turn up and meet your guide at the designated spot) and they take about 2 hours but be ready to step it out as they push along at a quick pace. Check the timetable as the walks change from day to day and different times on different days.

We chose to do the “the Hidden Pubs of London” with Andrew, and “Shakespeare’s and Dickens’s London” with Corrina. I can recommend a visit to their website: http://www.walks.com.

We chose to travel to London via National Express Bus. We were able to get tickets from Nottingham return for 29 pounds; yes 29 pounds for both of us. Of course we had to make our way to Nottingham Bus Station and at the other end from Victoria Bus Station to Queensway in Paddington (the other side of Hyde Park). The ride down was uneventful until we got to Golders Green (clearly a Jewish precinct of London from what I saw) when the traffic became stop start. After Swiss Cottage (yes there is a precinct called Swiss Cottage) Kerry started to become car sick so by the time we reached Marble Arch all she wanted to do was get off the bus believing we were close to Queensway at this point.

After some discussion about catching a cab (dismissed obviously because Kerry was car sick) and consulting google maps, it appeared we were within 11 minutes walk from our hotel. Not so. We walked for about ½ an hour before coming to our hotel. After checking in and changing shoes, we set off to have some lunch and find the Silver Vaults and Temple Church. We purchased our oyster (the tube, bus and train card) and headed for Chancery Tube Station. By this time it had become another grey and drizzling day. Lunch at Nero’s (the coffee shop) then down Chancery Lane to the Silver Vaults.

This is an underground safe custody area. One of the vendors told us that before WW2 it had been used as a safe custody area for lawyers at the Inns and that during the bombing of London jewellers had moved their stock down there for safe custody and it had become a sliver ware jeweller’s market ever since. Entry is free and down stairs you are confronted by a huge safe door as the entrance to the market. No photos allowed so I will just have to explain it to you.

Inside the main vault are over 40 minor vaults all being used as a showroom shop for all kinds of silver ware: from silver galleons standing five feet high and six feet long to the finest of jewellery pieces, majestic timber and silver thrones to cufflinks. All too expensive for a pensioner. My favourite piece was a pair of candle taper holders with upright griffins holding up the taper. Exquisite and only 160 pounds! If we stayed we would spend our kids’ inheritance so we quickly moved on.

 

It was now dark outside but only 5 o’clock. Rain clouds had closed over London but unlike Brisbane they dripped rain in short squirts continuously through the night putting a damper on things. Undaunted we scurried through the showers along Chancery Lane until we arrived at Fleet Street and Middle Temple Lane. The building above Middle Temple Lane appears to be of Tudor origin with its exposed blackened timbers and quite out of place in a modern Fleet St. We were about to enter the past.

Past Middle Temple down the lane to the Temple Church. It closes at 4.00 o’clock so it went onto the itinerary for tomorrow. Still we took the opportunity to walk around the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple. For those of you who don’t know this is the Barristers precinct in London. We were going to learn a lot more later on our walking tour.

The tour started at the Temple Tube Station Entrance at 7.00 pm. We had some time to kill and it was wet and cold. We now moved into the Strand and came upon Somerset House setting up its ice skating rink for the winter. It reminded us of the Rockefeller Centre ice rink in New York. The just about across the road we spotted the Lyceum Hotel. It presented as a warm and dry shelter to partake of a meal and quench our thirst which opportunity we did not pass up.

In my next blog I will tell you about the Hidden Pubs of London.