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 – 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.

The retirees go Abroad – Living ordinary lives in the UK – Royal Crown Derby Porcelain

We have been coming to the UK now for over 6 years and each time we have agreed that we must visit the Royal Crown Derby Porcelain factory. Sounds a bit boring so we managed to skip it time and time again. At this time of the year when very little is open and the weather is cold, we could not escape so on a grey day we tripped over to Derby and the Royal Crown Derby Museum and factory for the tour. The factory is in the inner suburbs of Derby.

“The Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company is an oldest or second oldest remaining English porcelain manufacturer, based in Derby, England (disputed by Royal Worcester 1751 year of establishment). The company, particularly known for its high-quality bone china, has produced tableware and ornamental items since approximately 1750. It was known as ‘Derby Porcelain’ until 1773, when it became ‘Crown Derby’, the ‘Royal’ being added in 1890. The factory closed down in the past under Royal Doulton ownership, but production was revived under the renewed ownership of Hugh Gibson and Pearson family.” (Wikipedia)

Upon arriving at a plain looking factory we entered into a reception/ Museum. Whilst waiting for the tour to begin we looked around the Museum and as I did not see the sign prohibiting photography I took these shots, so you are very lucky to see this lovely display of porcelain. First thing I spotted was the Zepplin marked service which is the contents of the furnace when the factory was hit by a bomb dropped by a Zepplin in WW1 (there are very few of the pieces still remaining and if you see a piece marked with the Zepplin then it is very rare) Then there is the settings for the SS Olympic and SS Titanic. RCD made the settings and of course had to replace the settings for the Titanic. There are also copies of specific orders for the Royal family, middle-eastern potentates and American millionaires.

In the centre of the museum is a very special piece which was the last photo I snapped before I was informed about the prohibition. We toured the factory and saw everything from the throwing of the clay to the hand painting of special pieces. We even learnt how to distinguish seconds from first pieces. Certainly interesting and worth doing. We then visited the visited the general museum with pieces from 1750 through to the present. It included a special exhibition from a private collector which basically filled a room 15m x 7m. Then as we left there was a special exhibition of vases. So I took some special photos of these very precious vases.

As usual we ended up in the gift shop and noticed that there was a special on certain firsts but just as we started selecting our pieces this other chap started taking the pieces off the table by the armful. It turned out that he is a retailer who grabs all these things for his shop. We got away with our few pieces before he swooped.


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.