The Retirees go Abroad – Derbyshire and the Elton Walk

It’s Sunday and after a week of re-cooperating in the flat and one day before venturing off to the Lakes District, we go for a 4 mile walk up hill and down dale in the Peak District Park. Although sunny it is cold so I get hot with my jacket on and drench my shirt only to freeze when I take my jacket off and the wind chills through my sweat drenched shirt.

Elton is an old lead mining village west of Derby in the Derwent Valley, surrounded by farms of cattle and sheep grazing on lush green hillsides. The walk includes, a medieval hermit’s cave, an unusual rock formation known as Robin Hood’s Stride and a stone circle wait on this popular walk from the of Elton.

The Walk starts from the Duke of York Pub (although there was no sign of Pub type activity there) along the main street towards the B5056 and turn left at a stile just beyond the edge of the village, to cross the corner of a field and a farm access road. We continue to angle to the left across the next field and reach a stile into Dudwood Lane. Walking down Dudwood Lane, it is worth recollecting that this route was probably used by travellers long before the Romans came to Briatin. It follows the line of the ancient Portway, which ran the length of the county.

We walk down to the bottom of the lane, and cross over the stile opposite and walk up the drive towards Cratcliffe Cottage, bearing left by a wall after going through an open gateway. As we begin to climb, there is a curious mass of rocks with twin pinnacles known as Robin Hood’s Stride. It is often referred to as Mock Beggar’s Hall, because the outline of the rocks at a distance resembles a large house with twin turrets. On the right are Cratcliffe Rocks and carved into a small cave, where a hermit used to live, is supposed to be a crucifix. I did not find the crucifix but I believe I found the cave.

A short distance further on, facing Harthill Moor Farm across the moor, are four great standing stones, all that is left of a circle of eleven. The others have disappeared for use as gateposts and stone wall construction. We cross two small fields diagonally to the left to reach a quiet country road opposite Harthill Moor Farm.

The walk continues through woods and farmland and, provides good views of the exposed position in which Elton is situated. We turn right down the road and, as it begins to drop more steeply, take the footpath on the left into Tomlinson Wood. We leave the wood, cross a corner of a field to a gate stile on the right, turn sharp left and follow a cow track until its begins to bear left, keeping straight on to a wall stile in front of us. We continue climbing uphill to walk alongside Tomlinson Wood, until we reach a finger post sign directing us to the right over a stile and straight up a long field to reach the access road to Cliff Farm.

We cross the stile opposite on the far side of the access road and angle slightly to the left to a stile, and follow a clear path down the hill to reach a road. We head straight across the road to a squeezer stile to follow a footpath sign marked ‘Elton’ and follow along a clear path, which straightens out on its way to the bottom of the valley.

The path then climbs up the other side of the valley with a thorn hedge on the left, before turning left at the top of the field, and going through a stile and turning right back to Elton Church and the Duke of York Pub across the road.


Well, we are exhausted. We thought that we had done enough walking that we could do this in our stride. Not so. The gentle slopes were long and steep. We will sleep well tonight.

The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham – Australia –v- Derby County

Somehow we learned that Australia was playing Derby in Derby and I managed to get tickets for the match. Unlike Friday the sun was shining but it was cold in the shade. Despite this I donned my shorts polo shirt and sandals and went to the cricket.

Arriving at 10.30am for an11.00am start we found that they started a half hour early because of rain yesterday. Derby was batting chasing a large total mounted by Australia and for a while it looked like they would be lucky to crack 100. A seventh wicket partnership gave Derby a respectable score.

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After lunch, Australia batted again but it was clear that there would be no decision. It was a lazy day out but great that we got to see a match at the county ground.

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The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham – Rainy Friday

The weather has prevented us from playing golf but Kerry does not need us sitting in front of the TV so I plan a trip for Greg and me.

We went west to Derby and the new Arena – the bike velodrome beside the Rams Stadium. Kerry and I could not get in in February but it is now open and Greg and I took a look.

Pretty slick.

We then visited Derby. Having been here a number of times I was able to give Greg a Cook’s tour and found that Speaker’s corner and its fountain had some changes. These little clay faces appeared on the wall and you could download an App to read or hear about who they were/are and why they are there. Too complex for me but I thought the clay faces looked great.

Then over to the museum at Wollarton Park in the refurbished Wollarton Hall. The museum also has a deer park and this time the deer were up near the hall because it is foaling season. Many were taking shelter under the trees from the wind and rain.

The hall is an interesting natural history museum. I learned here that ermine is the winter pelt of a stoat. Here is a bit more trivia about the stoat or the short-tailed weasel.

“The stoat (Mustela erminea), also known as the short-tailed weasel, is a species of Mustelidae native to Eurasia and North America, distinguished from the least weasel by its larger size and longer tail with a prominent black tip. The name ermine is often, but not always, used for the animal in its pure white winter coat, or the fur thereof. In the late 19th century, stoats were introduced into New Zealand to control rabbits. The stoats have had a devastating effect on native bird populations (see stoats in New Zealand).

Ermine luxury fur is often used by Catholic monarchs, pontiffs and cardinals, who sometimes use it as the mozetta cape. It is also used in capes on devotional images such as the Infant Jesus of Prague. The parliamentary and coronation robes of British peers of the realm are also made from ermine.” Wikipedia.

No stoats I am afraid but the Hall and its gardens were in full bloom and pretty as a picture.

The Retirees go Abroad – Tissington Hall Derbyshire

We have been planning the next few months before we return to Australia to do as much as we can in Europe as it is so cheap to travel from the UK to Europe. We even have a trip to Egypt in the pipeline. However there was one more trip to Buxton needed to buy wool. So it was on Friday July 17 we headed to Buxton and on our return we visited Tissington Hall. The Hall is an early 17th-century Jacobean mansion house situated at Tissington, near Ashbourne Derbyshire. It is a Grade II* listed building.

Wikipedia gives the following history;

“The FitzHerberts, descended from the Norman family of Norbury Hall, acquired Tissington by the marriage of Nicholas FitzHerbert (the second son of John FitzHerbert of Somersal Herbert) to Ciceley Frauncis, heiress of Tissington, in 1465.

The old moated manor at Tissington was replaced with the new mansion in 1609 by Francis FitzHerbert and remains the home of the FitzHerbert family. The current occupant is Sir Richard Ranulph FitzHerbert Bart. Both Francis FitzHerbert and his son (Sir) John served as High Sheriff of Derbyshire, a post that circulated among the county families.”

Tissington Hall:

“It is the hall that makes Tissington Hall unusual. It is one of a small group of compact Derbyshire gentry’ houses in which a central hall runs through the house from front to back. Nicholas Cooper surmises that the unusual, progressive character may be due to the influence of lodges (he counted some fifty emparked estates in Saxton’s map of the shire, of 1570) and the grand example of a through-hall at Hardwick. Behind a two-storey enclosed entrance porch the hall is entered at the centre of one end. On the left are two parlours separated by a stair hall, on the right a kitchen and buttery. Corner towers on the garden front, now linked by the additional upper floor above the gallery range, provide further rooms.

A rococo gothic fireplace in the house follows a published design by Batty Langley. The Hall is open to the public at specified times of the year and is available for commercial and private functions.” Unfortunately it was closed the day we called.

The estate includes from memory 3 farms and 40 cottages. The Hall is noted for well dressing. The week after Ascension in the Christian calendar of religious events, the residents of Tissington dress the 5 wells on the estate with placards carry a religious message. The Vicar of Tissington Church (there are two one Anglican and the other Methodist) conducts a service then the congregation go from well to well for a blessing and give thanks for the abundant water. The source of this ancient practice is not known.

Photos of two of the wells;

We walked and then drove around the village, visiting the gift shop the café and the sweet shop. There is also a butchery selling estate lamb, a nursery and a kindergarten. This really looked like the place where time has stood still but I expect that it has only survived because behind the scenes there is some clever management.

It is only 30 minutes from Ashbourne which is 15 minutes from Derby – quite accessible.

The Retirees go Abroad – Derbyshire and Elvaston Castle Country Park

We have driven the A52 to Derby so many times now that I have lost count. Each time we would pass the turn off to Elvaston Castle Country Park and think nothing of it. Then one day whilst attending the church working bee, Michelle informed us that this country park was definitely worth a visit, that apart from the park there was a ruin of a castle and some pleasant walks, colourful gardens and surprising topiary.

Monday was a bank holiday (May Day apparently but it is just referred to as a bank holiday). The weather was a perfect English spring day. Sunshine filled the sky and a gentle breeze kept a coolness in the air. It smelt fresh and clean. A perfect day for a visit to a country park.

We took the familiar journey down the A52 and turned off into the village of Borrowwash down a country lane and arriving at the carpark for the park about 9.00am. There were quite a few vehicles there already but plenty of car spaces. We parked paid the ranger for our 4 hours parking and strolled off with the intention that we would come back to the car to collect our picnic. The park is a delightful mix of woodland with shady walks, gardens with a feast of colour and scents, and a surprising topiary garden of privet and holly.

Our visit included a walk through the English Garden with its beautiful blooms

The topiary garden with its wonderful shapes and hiding places for the kids

The Home and courtyard, the Church and the Water Wheel a bit of a mystery

The garden walk around the lake with some magnificent trees

We finished with a picnic overlooking one of the open grass areas. The carpark was now full with cars circling looking for a space and the grounds were alive with people all enjoying the sun and the fresh air.

A bit of history and the future about the Castle:

Wikipedia reports “Elvaston Castle is a stately home in Elvaston, Derbyshire, England. The Gothic Revival castle and surrounding parkland is run and owned by Derbyshire County Council as a country park known as, Elvaston Castle Country Park. The country park has 200 acres (0.81 km2) of woodlands, parkland and formal gardens.

The centrepiece of the estate is the Grade II* Listed Elvaston Castle. The castle has been neglected and has fallen into disrepair; due to its condition, the building is not open to the public, and since 2008 has been listed on the Buildings at Risk Register.”

However something is happening as when we visited there is scaffolding all around the stately home and limited access to the hall on particular days is now organised by the council. Highgate Sanctuary is a developer and its website tells us that “Working with English Heritage and the County and District planning and conservation officers, Highgate Sanctuary is preparing a planning application under which the Castle and its immediate buildings will be thoughtfully restored to their original grandeur, providing a hotel with spa and leisure facilities.”

Hopefully the open spaces and gardens will still be available for public use in the future.

Retirees Go Abroad – Kedleston Hall Derbyshire

We have been back in the UK for 5 days now and recovered from jet lag but Kerry has caught a cold and is feeling miserable. However this Tuesday morning we awake to bright skies and warmish sun so it is time to break out of our flat and see more of the world.

We have a busy schedule coming up and we have to watch our pennies as pensioners so we pull out the 2015 edition of the National Trust Guide. We settle upon a visit to Kedleston Hall.

The guide says “Designed by the famous architect Robert Adam, the hall was built for Sir Nathaniel Curzon in 1765 as a house to rival Chatsworth. Intended as ‘a temple of the arts’ and as the location for grand entertainments, the main house was never meant to be a family home, but a canvas on which to showcase the finest paintings, sculpture and furniture.” This might be worth a look.

We load up our Thistle and 30 minutes later we arrive at the front gate with its two gatehouses either side of the road leading to the hall. Beside the entrance is the Kedelston Hall Golf Club. A sign inside the gatehouses warns that livestock will be on the road. We drive for almost a kilometre with the fairways of the golf course on our left before the house comes into view. In front of us is a magnificent bridge crossing a river, black angus cattle grazing casually on the banks of the river. To our right a strange building sits on the far bank of the river and we learn this is a ladies fishing lodge so that the fair ladies did not have to get their feet wet whilst fishing, Across the river we see sheep with their lambs skipping around dotting the grassy approach to the hall. And the back drop to this idyllic picture is the hall – you cannot miss it, it is large and grand.

Our guide book had promised “As soon as you arrive at Kedleston Hall you are invited to take a trip back in time to the 1760s, when wealth and power enabled the creation of this magnificent neo-classical mansion and beautiful landscaped park.” We were not disappointed.

On arrival we booked to join the introductory tour and the Conservation tour. The introductory tour was held in the grand hall and we learnt about the history of the family which still resides in the hall today even though the hall is now the property of the National Trust. Kedleston Hall is the seat of the Curzon family whose name originates in Notre-Dame-de-Courson in Normandy. The family helped finance William the Conqueror and received 10,000 acres in Derbyshire as their reward.

Whilst waiting for the tours to commence we visited the family church and the crypts within.

The Curzon family have owned the estate at Kedleston since at least 1297 and have lived in a succession of manor houses near to or on the site of the present Kedleston Hall. The present house was commissioned by Sir Nathaniel Curzon (later 1st Baron Scarsdale) in 1759. The family ended up with two titles, the family title of Viscount Scarsdale and the personal title of Lord Curzon (an Irish title given to by Queen Victoria to a second son of the Curzon family so he could be Viceroy of India in 1898). This is the Lord Curzon I speak about in my blog on Tattersall Castle. (Somewhere different – Lincolnshire)

Our second tour dealt with the difficulty for the National Trust to live up to its motto “Forever, For everyone”. Conservation is a knotty and costly problem full of decisions around conservation or restoration and what is important. For this part of the tour we were taken to some rooms in the top of the house (formerly the guest rooms) which had not been restored and now were used as storerooms via subsidiary stair cases which were never designed for frequent use and therefore are not structurally able to handle more than ten people at a time. The tour started in the hall beneath the grand hall where we witnessed some of the deterioration caused through use (they had five thousand visitors over Easter) and the fact that the hall does not have engineered foundations as would be done today.

Even the grand hall is deteriorating quickly because of the building technique employed. In the former guest rooms we were shown the tools of conservation and the bits and bobs which are stored there for conservation. We even found a doorway in a cupboard through which we reached another set of stairs so frail that only one person at a time could view the staircase.

The guides told us that “Soon after he inherited Kedleston in 1758, Sir Nathaniel Curzon met a young architect called Robert Adam, who had recently returned from three years study in Italy and who shared his enthusiasm for ancient Rome and the principles of classical design. Sir Nathaniel had already demolished his grandfather’s house and, while he was initially commissioned to redesign the parkland, by April 1760 Adam had sole responsibility for the design of the new Hall and its interiors.”

On the ground floor Lord Curzon created the Eastern Museum, displaying objects collected on his travels in Asia and while Viceroy of India (1899-1905).

The West Wing housed the servants’ quarters and kitchens (now the offices and restaurant), while the East Wing remains, as it always was, the private residence of the Curzon family. For further information here is the link to the National Trust site.

The weather had been glorious so we strolled through the park (now only 4,000 acres) taking in the sunshine. We inspected that bridge more closely, interviewed some of the lambs frolicking in the pastures and inspected the Ladies Fishing Lodge although it was fenced off preventing a close up inspection.


It had been chill in the morning and in the hall but by 2.00 o’clock the day had reached its full potential. And so we bid farewell to Kedelston.

The Retirees go Abroad – Living the Ordinary Life – Derby Arena, Pride Park and Derby Round House

It has finally arrived. Saturday and our guided tour of the Derby Roundhouse.

Tony Robinson (formerly Baldrick now Sir Tony), featured this bit of Derby’s history on one of his telly shows and we were intrigued. So the following day we set off in search of it and found it just beside the Derby Rail Station and in walking distance of the Rams Stadium (Pride Park) and the new Velodrome (Derby Arena).

Unfortunately the Roundhouse is only accessible by tour and you have to book. So we went over to the Velodrome (pictures below) and found that although complete it is not open to the public til March. Beside the velodrome is the Rams home ground (the Rams are Derby’s Division 2 team in the Champions League). It also can be visited but again by appointment only, unless attending a game of course. So perhaps a wasted trip.


On arriving home we booked our appointment for the Round House and here it is: Saturday. The weather is mixed. When leaving home it is overcast and blustery. On arriving it starts raining and when the tour starts the sun is out but the temperature is 4C with a strong breeze so it feels like -1C. Got to love this English weather! Our tour guide is Darren and we are joined by two other tourists, one from Derby and the other from Nottingham neither of whom has visited the Round House previously.

Darren explained that the Round House is one of many built in the early 19th century following the development of the steam engine by George Stephenson in Derby. This particular building was constructed in 1839 and ceased life as a steam engine repair shop in the twentieth century. Many of its contemporary buildings have been demolished but this one was spared not for preservation but through good luck. The University of Derby has acquired the site and created a unique campus. I have set out below what is said in the website for Roundhouse Events below.

“The Roundhouse at Derby is the world’s first and oldest surviving railway roundhouse. It was originally developed in 1839 by four rival rail companies, including North Midland Railway (NMR) for whom George Stephenson and his son Robert were engineers.

Robert was responsible for the engineering of the NMR buildings on the site, including the world’s first railway roundhouse, built for the princely sum of £62,000. The Stephensons are probably even more famous as the inventors of the Rocket steam engine which was designed and built by George and Robert for the 1829 Rainhill Trials.

In 2008, the Grade II* Listed building and other associated buildings on the site were sympathetically restored and repaired using the William Morris principle of ‘honest repair’. There are also two newly-constructed buildings which have been designed to blend in with the existing structures.

A number of innovations were incorporated into the new-build construction including a ‘chameleon glass’ which changes colour depending on the light and angle of view. Naturally, the short, 12-metre engine turntable can still be found in The Roundhouse today and is just one example of the rich manufacturing and railway heritage of the site.”

As we toured around Darren told us that George was also famous for the invention of a miners lamp used in the mines in Newcastle. The lamps became so famous that they took his name; George Lamps. Then the miners became known by the name of their lamps; Georges. Later the whole of the population of Newcastle on Tyne became known by that name, corrupted to “Geordie”. This is one of the explanations for both a regional nickname for a person from the larger Tyneside region and the name of the distinctive Northern English dialect spoken by its inhabitants – “Geordie”.

First we visited one of the new buildings to gain an overall view of the site and to catch glimpses of the workers houses, hotel, pub and other buildings on the other side of the rail line constructed to house and provide services for the 5,000 strong work force employed at the peak of its activity. Derby University teaches vocational activities so in this building was the hairdressing teaching school.

Then we went to the Engine Room which now accommodates the hospitality school and the training kitchens. Its original purpose was to maintain the locomotive engines and carriages. From there we went into the new glass panelled building and then into the Roundhouse itself. In this building 32 locomotives could be worked on at the one time. Whilst a marvel of efficiency it was a dangerous place to work with smoke, steam and close working quarters making it unsafe.

After the tour finished we went across the rail line to see the World’s first purpose built luxury hotel built for the first class passengers using the railway, the rail cottages and the rail worker’s pub. Its game day so plenty police officers in the streets and outside the pubs. We went into the New Brunswick (formerly The Railway Hotel) as it remains in the same internal layout as existed in the 19th century. Lunch was unique – the hamburger was an unbuttered bun with a meat patty – £2.60. We shared a table with a couple who are Sheffield Wednesday supporters (Derby –v- Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 Derby) and had an interesting chat – one of them had lived in Brisbane for two periods of 6 months and both thought they would like to emigrate (he had left a Sheffield Wednesday jersey at the Centenary Tavern Jindalee and wanted to go back to see it).

We popped into the former Midland Hotel to see what 19th century luxury looked like and then headed home before the footy crowd got too boisterous.

Retirees Go Abroad – Ordinary Lives living in the UK –A cunning plan

As an avid viewer of Blackadder and his side-kicks Lord Percy and Baldrick, my attention is always grabbed by anything featuring Tony Robinson (Baldrick) now Sir Tony. Ironic that the lowly Baldrick gets the knighthood whilst Rowan Atkinson (Lord Blackadder)and Hugh Lawrie (Lord Percy) go without.

Sir Tony hosts a programme called “Walking in History” in which he walks the countryside visiting places of historic interest – much the same as Kerry and I do except we don’t have the BBC paying for us and the team. One day flicking through the channels I saw one of his programmes and quickly switched it on. He was in the Derwent Valley going to the site of the world’s first factory. Now I thought I had visited that in Derby – Lombe’s silk mill, but Sir Tony was not talking of that mill but of Richard Arkwrights mill at Cromford.


Lombe’s mill does in fact predate Arkwrights mill by 50 years but Arkwright successfully started the Industrial Revolution with his successful mills where Lombe’s mill spun silk and well silk worms don’t like the cold so when the silk worms contracted a fatal disease the industry in Britain stopped. Then along came Arkwright. Now I am not going to try and tell you the history of the spinning jenny etc but suffice it to say that my interest was peaked and Kerry and I paid a visit to Cromford.

Again we were the only tourists lining up for the tour which was great. We learnt about how the new factory building 5 storeys high were designed on a similar work progression like a wind mill – the raw product (the cotton bowl) is loaded into the top floor where the elderly women who could no longer manage the spinning looms picked the raw cotton out of the bowls and removed the seeds. They then passed the raw product to young girls who carded the cotton – a process whereby passing one large flat plate with comb teeth over it across another such comb loaded with cotton the girls formed a cotton roll which they twisted to give it strength (this was subsequently replaced by a machine). Then it was curled into tall cylinders and these cylinder went to the next floor where the spinning process started. Here all the kids did the work supervised by the mothers. Men were the maintenance managers and the bulk carriers. So kids worked their way up to being supervisors then ended up as old hags pulling cotton out of the bowls.


There is not much of the original factory and water wheel but the society running the show are in the process of putting it back together. Invention and adaptation saw bigger and better mills being built down the Derwent so that by the next generation of Arkwright’s this mill was unprofitable hence all the records and most of the artefacts have been destroyed but even so you still get a real sense of the first factory from the remnants that remain. A must visit for all historians.

Whilst there we also visited Arkwrights house/castle now known as Willersley Castle. It is owned by Christian Guild and operated as a hotel.The castle location is just fabulous with views of the factory obstructed but the vista of the river river valley and surrounding green hills in your face.

Whilst there we ran into a Banner Society on its annual pilgrimage. They are a bit like our Quilting Clubs. So I took some photos for Pam Gaskill back home.

Retirees Go Abroad – Ordinary Lives living in the UK – Poole’s Cavern

One of the things that Kerry misses over here is the grandchildren. But she now has time to knit so all of those having children (Ben and Phadera, Damien and Barbara, Robert and Dana) are the beneficiaries of her cluckiness as she knits shawls for all of these new borns. We purchased the pattern (and the first lot of wool) in Sheringham in Norfolk. Then having pulled her hair out over the difficulty of the square shawl she decided to knit the round pattern, ran out of wool bought more wool in Buxton in Derbyshire only to find it was not the same shade of white and the pattern seemed to be inaccurate and she abandoned the trial. Purchasing more wool she set sail into her second shawl.

Now all this is to tell you how we ended up back in Buxton visiting Poole’s Cavern. She needed more wool for the third shawl.

Poole’s Cavern can be found in Buxton itself. The Cavern has been known about for centuries but only really became a tourist Poole’s Cavern attraction in the 19th century. The cavern has been sculptured by water over the centuries and archaeological finds show it has been used by pre-historic cave dwellers, romans and highway men like Mr Poole who has given the cavern his name. The first explorers would have trekked through forest and climbed through a narrow opening into the cavern where they would have used candle light to climb over the rock strewn floor of the cavern to marvel at the stalactite and stalagmite formations. Then an inventive Victorian opened the cavern entrance and paved a path through the cavern installing the first gas lamps as he went. This work no doubt interfered with the natural environment but it also gave us the access to the cavern we enjoy today.

The cavern is home to various types of bat but they are shy creatures and are rarely seen by visitors. There is a feature of the cavern which has the scientific population in a stir. Certain Stalagmites which are phallic in shape are growing in decades not centuries and there is argument as to how that can happen. Above the cavern is Grin Low hill which over the 18th century was home to Lime burners. One theory is that it is the accumulation of this lime in the soil which activates the fast growth of the stalagmites. Whether true or not it is spectacular to see a forest of penises all with a yellow head poking their heads to the roof of the cavern.

Now once again we had the pleasure of an exclusive tour due to the time of year and the weather. Notwithstanding the weather, the guided tour and the visit to the cavern is well worth the trip.

While we were on tour the guide informed us of some of the dignitaries who visited down the ages and told us they had all stayed in a particular hotel in Buxton – The Old Hall Hotel, claimed to be the oldest surviving accommodation hotel dating back to the 17th century. So we visited the hotel (which backs onto the baths) and at the same time looked over the Opera house. On the way home we stopped at Ashbourne for afternoon tea. Photos of Buxton and Ashbourne follow.

Kerry did get her wool so all orders for a shawl will be fulfilled.

Retirees Go Abroad – Ordinary Lives living in the UK – Svein’s Day Tour

Our day started completely differently to yesterday. Yesterday was very wintery but today the sun is shining and although the air is cool it is comfortable. I was determined to show Svein the grand tour of Long Eaton. So scarves on and beanies pulled over our ears, we strolled off to the High St.

Long Eaton has been invaded by a Tesco Extra, and an equally big ASDA store. Beside Tesco is a large Aldi Store. All of these stores have been constructed on the fringe of the central business district so it should come as no surprise to learn that the Long Eaton High St has been decimated. The High St, once the centre of commercial activity in the town, is now a ghostly mall with mostly charities and vacant shops. But there is one unlikely survivor, Rowells, a 19th century haberdashery shop. On entering the shop I am reminded of the haberdashery shops my mother visited in Stones Corner and Bay St Wynnum in the early 60’s. Perhaps because of Tesco and ASDA, Rowells continues to survive offering old time service and selections.

At the end of the High St where it joins Main St. we turn right and proceed to an abandoned building which must have once been the tallest in town with its clock tower above. Pasted on the grime and dirt covering the building is a hopeful notice of a planned renovation. I have no idea whether this is current or past history. We walk along Main St passed Bank St where once Glitter and Dance had its warehouse. The street is largely unpaved and derelict. Access to the warehouse was from the car park of another merchandise shop. It looks sad without the colourful posters inviting customers to drop in. We walk around past the Duchess Theatre which always looks closed but the advertising assures that a local theatre group will be putting on a show soon. Then past the “antiques shop” which apart from its contents is advertised for sale or lease. We walked on to the library and into Tamworth Rd. We followed the road around through Market Place back into Regent St and home. I have included photos of two icons of Long Eaton – Rowells, and the “antiques” shop.

Our next stop was the Attenborough wildlife centre. There are some new visitors, a flock of black and white tufted ducks (these are here all year round apparently but I don’t recall seeing them) and a porchard duck – all on his own. Some Canada Geese goslings were there in their teenage plumage. I showed Svein the bird hide but with everything else we wanted to achieve we could not go walking through the wetlands.

We drive into Nottingham stopping at the DH Lawrence centre in the grounds of the University of Nottingham where we have morning tea and check out the ice on the lake and how the birds are handling the cold weather. I had hoped to show Svein the George Green display but it has finished so we must go to the windmill.

On to Nottingham which sits on top of a sandstone shelf which has given the people of Nottingham the resource for caverns and tunnels under the city. We find a park below the place where Nottingham Castle once stood and park the car. Some of the tunnels and caverns are immediately apparent but the best thing we could do to show Svein how this rock shelf has been used was to visit the UK’s oldest pub – Ye Olde Trip to Jeruselum said to have been founded in 1187. We could not pass the Olde Trip and its rooms in the base of the Castle rock. A glass of mulled wine and an inspection of the pubs interior gives you a clear idea of how the locals used the sandstone shelf.  Pictures of the excavated sandstone and some of the caverns follow.

We head off to Sneiton and the windmill. This is the windmill where George Green Nottingham’s famous but almost forgotten mathematician started life and raised his family. Uneducated beyond primary school Green developed theories on physics and magnetism that are still in use today.


Then onto Southwell Minster and Arch Bishops Palace. A magnificent cathedral it has seen some of England’s more tumultuous events. From the tiles for the former Roman villa to the Saxon foundations the Norman nave and transepts with its gothic extensions it really is extraordinary. Some different photos of the Minster are set out below.

To end the day we went to Thoresby Abbey where Warner Hotels has brought the old Abbey back to life as part of one of its leisure hotels. Some different photos of the Abbey are below. The sun has now set as we warm ourselves in front of the fire with a beer in hand. It will take us an hour to drive back home but we have had a pleasant day.