The Retirees go Abroad – Sherwood Forest and a Bakewell Tart

One of the things on the bucket list for Rod was a visit to Sherwood Forest. There is not much of the original forest remaining but there is a section of the forest containing “Major Oak” a thousand year old oak tree rumoured to be one of Robin’s hiding places in the forest. Without thinking we prepared and took a BBQ for lunch in the forest.

On arriving at the car park we were met with a sign “NO BBQS IN THE FOREST”. Ah well we had come all this way so we walked to Major Oak and completed the circuit to the visitors centre. Having fulfilled the bucket list wish we set off for Clumber Park as we were told it was permitted to BBQ in that park. Clumber is near to Sherwood Forest is a National Trust property and does have a place for BBQs – an open field with no facilities. We had purchased a disposable BBQ from Tesco and some kebabs to cook. The wind was still gusting so we manoeuvred the car to form a wind break, lit the BBQ and waited to cook lunch. A memorable BBQ because of the laughs we had trying to cook in that wind with that BBQ.

A visit to Sherwood Forest is not complete without visiting Thoresby Abbey and Ingrid Pears Glass Works. Ingrid was still there working busy with curious tourists. But our goal was to visit the Abbey show Rod and Kerry the restoration performed by Warner Hotels and to enjoy a hot liquor coffee.

The next day was relax and pack day. But we managed to fit in a trip to Bakewell so that Rod could try a genuine Bakewell Tart and then over to Buxton to visit Poole’s Cavern and see the limestone cavern. To finish off the day we walked some part of the way along Erewash canal to Trent Lock then to the Bulls Head in Breaston for dinner. Early to been this night for tomorrow we drive to Gatwick Airport to farewell Rod and Kerry and collect David and Veronica.


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 – Winter Wonderland in the Peak District

The Peak District is west and north – west of Derby. It is comprised of hills and valleys covered in heather and green during spring, summer and autumn but in winter it is covered in snow. Svein’s wife Diane had visited Kerry in September whilst I had returned to Australia for work and she was so taken by the Peak District that Svein needed to see it for himself.

Now Svein is an artist and lives in the old town of Brugges in Belgium. Painting landscapes is not his style but he has a keen appreciation of nature and it’s beauty. We decided we would visit Matlock then visit Chatsworth House and move onto Buxton and then home. Here in Long Eaton we had seen snow flurries and felt the chilling winds but the snow did not last and fortunately neither did the ice that follows the snow. But it was a different story as soon as we started climbing the rural roads outside Chesterfield to travel to Matlock. Upon arriving in Matlock the temperature had dropped significantly there was slush in the street with black ice and we decided it would be good to visit in spring.

I set Tommy (our gps) for the quickest route to Buxton and we would pick up signs to Chatsworth on the way. However at one point Tommy told us to turn left and clearly that was not going to happen. In front of us there appeared a narrow village street with both sides lined with parked cars both street and cars covered in snow (no snow plough here). Thistle has front wheel drive and after we had travelled about 4 metres, Thistle started to slip and slide up the hill in front of us. We had another 200 metres to go to the top of the hill when I made the decision to slide back down to the intersection and find another road to Chatsworth House. However it was so pretty I was directed to stop for the photo gathers to snap pictures.

We found our way to Chatsworth House under snow. Now I expect Diane will be envious but it cannot be helped. We have been here numerous times but we were still not ready for the Christmas card scene. The house was not open for visitors but the stables were and it was nice to get out for a walk and shelter from the wind. Inside the stables we found the local Peak District Artisans had a display. Fantastic promotion of the artisans and their work which included jewellery, silverware, ceramics, art, furniture photography and textile design. Svein was jealous that there is no similar promotion for the artisans of Brugges.

We moved on to Taddington. As we drove to Buxton through the snow and frozen trees of the Peak District a sign on the edge of the road pronounced “Food – next mile”. Svein was looking for lunch at a country pub and you don’t get much more country that Taddington. So we left the road for the track that led to Taddington and the Queens Arms Hotel.

After parking Thistle in a down – hill position to ensure we could leave we went into the hotel where we were the only patrons. The fire was alight and warm a small space in front of it. Otherwise the bar was as cold as a witch’s elbow. Sitting beside the fire we ordered lunch and it was just what Svein wanted – a large plate with lashings of chips and ale pie. An hour or so went by and still no other patrons came into the pub. I awakened the barmaid sitting prone in front of a two bar electric heater messaging on her phone. As we paid our bill the barmaid announced that the road to Buxton was closed due to snow and we may need to rethink our route.  We decided to risk the journey and set off.

The snow had stopped and we made it safely into Buxton. We had read about the world’s largest unsupported dome being in Buxton. With a diameter of 44 m (144.356 ft), larger than the Pantheon (43 metres (141 ft)) and St Peter’s Basilica 42 m (137.794 ft) in Rome, and St Paul’s Cathedral (34 metres (112 ft))it was created for the 7th Duke of Devonshire between 1780–1789 from the Great Stables formerly part of the Crescent. The Crescent was modelled on Bath’s Royal Crescent along with an irregular octagon and colonnade of the Great Stables. The Dome became the Devonshire Royal Hospital (now the Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby). The record was surpassed by space frame domes such as the Georgia Dome (256 metres (840 ft.). The building and its surrounding Victorian villas are part of the University of Derby.

After a visit to the Dome and a hot chocolate at our favourite chocolate shop we agreed we were cold enough to call it a day 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.