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 – 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.

Bishops Visit – Interval – Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall is an English country house on the River Wye at Bakewell, Derbyshire, one of the seats of the Duke of Rutland. It is currently occupied by Lord Edward Manners (brother of the current Duke) and his family. In form a medieval manor house, it has been described (in Wikipedia) as the most complete and most interesting house of its period. The origins of the hall date to the 11th century. The current medieval and Tudor hall includes additions added at various stages between the 13th and the 17th centuries.

The Vernon family acquired the Manor of Nether Haddon by a 13th-century marriage. Dorothy Vernon, the daughter and heiress of Sir George Vernon, married John Manners, the second son of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, in 1563. A legend grew up in the 19th century that Dorothy and Manners eloped. The legend has been made into novels, dramatizations and other works of fiction. She nevertheless inherited the Hall, and their grandson, also John Manners, inherited the Earldom in 1641 from a distant cousin. His son, another John Manners, was made 1st Duke of Rutland in 1703. In the 20th century, another John Manners, 9th Duke of Rutland, made a life’s work of restoring the hall.

Our visit started on an indifferent day as we travelled up the M1 to Chesterfield and past the Oasis Café (this is a café in a layby on the side of the road with porta potty dunnies but from the advertising you would expect an oasis) and on through Bakewell. Now our Tommy had a different idea on how to get there and unexpectedly told us to turn right into a rural lane headed up a wooded hill. We were travelling over a rough dirt track rutted from water with exposed rocks and questioning if Tommy knew where the hell it was taking us. The rain started to fall, the road deteriorated and we agreed that Tommy had been smoking something weird when an old Land Rover came over the hill rocking and rolling along the path. We hailed the driver who pulled up beside us. He was a local farmer very amused that we were well off track trying to find the Hall. He gave us directions which meant we had to turn around and go down the hill. Not good for our Thistle.

Once back on track we made our way to the carpark which is across a busy road from the original gatehouse. Once you pass through the gatehouse the grand old house appears before you. You cross over the bridge (of course it has its own watercourse in the front yard) and walk up the hill (it is a fortified manor house) in through the large gate in the house walls. On the way you pass the gate keeper’s house with the topiary in the front yard in the shape of a boars head the heraldic symbol from the Manners coat of arms.

In the court yard you are immediately aware that this is rustic with uneven paving and not the place for someone with a walking disability. And it continues to drizzle. We are looked at by grotesques from every direction (I am referring to the stone ornaments on the down pipes and spouts not the other tourists).

I visit the chapel whilst the others head into the manor house. The chapel floor is uneven and very worn but I got the feeling that everything was very original and was unchanged for centuries.

I went up to the manor house and on entering you either went left into the kitchens or right into the main hall or straight through to another courtyard. I caught up with Kerry and we went through the kitchens and the rest of the house. In the Long Gallery the table had been set for Xmas dinner. This is where the Lord and his family would have their Xmas lunch. The family does still live here and I hope the family apartments have been updated as this was cold and breezy. Everyone wanted to be close to the fire.

There were peacock feather garlands around the walls and on the tree. The real deal from real cocks. A miniature piano (not its correct description) stood in the gallery by the tree. It all seemed very homely. The door hinges were weird with the bottom hinge extending beyond the wall at the bottom possibly to hold the weight of the doors.


There was a tapestry room and a back door with what must have been the fore runner to the viewing hole in doors today. I ventured out into the gardens but no other brave soul would do so due to the rain and the cold. We then visited the internal courtyard which also showed us the family vehicle entrance. The courtyard was filled with vendors of coffee and confection but we had our thermos in the car so we bid adieu to Haddon Hall to partake of a cuppa. On the way out we visited the old washrooms where there is a small museum of bits and pieces discovered during renovations and restorations including a picture of the last supper.

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.

Remembrance Day

It is the 11th hour on the 11th day 100 years after the Armistice.

The strength of support for Remembrance is tremendous. The similarity with ANZAC Day in Australia is phenomenal and the pride of the nation for its fallen servicemen is tangible. Everywhere there is silence as we remember those soldiers, sailors, and airmen sacrificed for the security and stability that British people enjoy today.

We feel we have been part of this remembrance and glad that we have involved ourselves. Our involvement started with assisting the British Legion with its Poppy Day fund raising through the Rotary Club of Nottingham. For two hours we sold Poppy Day mementos at Broadmarsh Shopping Centre in Nottingham. Our shift, 4.00pm to 6.00pm meant that we saw people of Nottinghamshire coming home from work (the rail station is accessed through the shopping centre) all stopping to donate or buy a poppy, badge or wrist band. One of the styles of poppies on sale was a knitted poppy. We had not seen these before. All individual but based on a standard pattern. We learned that these had been created by members of the public following a request by one of the local radio stations that 11,000 be knitted for the 11,000 Nottinghamshire soldiers lost in WW1.

Kerry delighted in relaying this story to the many women who picked through these poppies looking for the right one. I am not sure if they were interested in the poppies or just wanted to hear the Australian talking. We were visited by one surprised Aussie who heard the accent and had to ask what the hell we were doing raising money for the British Legion.

We were visited by Val Lievers, a past District Governor for this Rotary District. Val is one of the originators of the project and she continues with organisation for the British Legion and has cemented the relationship between the organisations. Busy and bubbly, Val was surprised to have a couple of Aussies on the stand. Below are the snaps of us on the stand courtesy of Val. According to Val tens of thousands of pounds will be raised through this effort by the Legion and Rotary.


Val also told us that the response from the public to supply the knitted poppies was overwhelming with more than 100,000 poppies being donated from Nottingham.

We also had present servicemen visit and donate. One in particular stopped with his wife and family to talk to me as we shared a common interest – it is probable that he encountered our son Adam serving with the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan. This fellow is currently in his 30th year in the service, having started as a Private and risen in the ranks to Major and having served a number of times in Afghanistan, Iraq and Falklands.

Our next encounter was when we went to the Tower of London to see our Poppy. For those of you who are not aware the British Legion has arranged the sale of hundreds of thousands of ceramic poppies (almost 900,000 in fact, designed and made right here in Derbyshire) to represent the British soldiers, sailors and airmen lost in the WW1. The poppies have been planted in the moat of the Tower. These poppies are about 4 feet tall and cost 25 pound. We hope to receive ours in January 2015 as the display will be dismantled after today. The vision of these poppies is spectacular and has been visited by over 4 million people according to press reports. A picture is worth a thousand words or so the saying goes. I agree in this case and here are my photos.


Here in Britain they remember on Remembrance Sunday. This is the Sunday before the anniversary of Armistice Day and they have two minutes silence at 11.00am on the 11th as well. I was not aware of this and by accident came across the Long Eaton Memorial parade and service returning from Tescos. On returning to the flat, I told Kerry and both of us hurried back to the Memorial. Marketplace Rd and Tamworth Rd were closed and now filled with people. We had missed the parade but the formal service and wreath laying was taking place. There were dignitaries on the official dais beside the Memorial in the centre of town. It was hard to see what was happening from the back of the crowd but the audio was crystal clear. I don’t know who everyone on the dais was but there was clearly a priest who conducted the service and probably the Mayor for the borough in mayoral regalia. There were representative units from the Army, Navy, Air force and Commandos, and other community organisations laying wreaths.

The priest gave a moving and interesting address about the first two minutes silence. Someone, and I cannot remember who, put the idea to King George V shortly before the first anniversary of the armistice. The King approved of the idea and through the Times requested that on the 11th hour of the 11th day that everyone stop their daily activities for two minutes silence in remembrance of the fallen. Even with the short notice, the country came to a standstill. Traffic stopped. Trains delayed their departure. Pedestrians stood still in the streets. And every year thereafter this ritual of remembrance was performed until Remembrance Sunday was announced for the remembrance of those lost in war, as well as the two minutes silence on the anniversary. With the completion of the ceremony the parade reformed and marched out down Tamworth Rd. I have captured some of it for you.


Lest we forget.


Derby – the industrial city

August 11 2014


We have been redecorating the flat now for almost a week (repainting and replacing some of the worn out and broken furniture – 6 years of tenants) and whilst we are within sight of finishing we decided it was time for a break (and to acquire some further bits and pieces to finish off). Close by Long Eaton is the city of Derby and Westfield has constructed a large shopping centre just on the fringe of the CBD. So it is a little bit of home I suppose but there is parking and on a rainy day you are warm and dry.

Derby has quite a history. It is both a city (approx. 250,000 people as at 2011 census) and the name of the county in which it is located. It is the home of the Industrial revolution with the first mechanised factory in the world having been constructed there in 1721. The entrepreneur was a fellow named John Lombe (died 6 years later rumoured to have been poisoned by an Italian “Mata Hari”) who was one of the first industrial spys in the world taking technology from Italy for the spinning of silk and patenting the process in the UK and thereby breaking the China/Italy strangle hold on silk. The remnants of his factory remain today as Derby’s Industry Museum.

Derby is the home of Rolls Royce but many of the industrial engineering industries for which Derby became famous have closed. Royal Crown Derby makers of fine bone china has gone through a metamorphosis to emerge as a specialist manufacturer of porcelain and bone china.

There is evidence of Roman settlement and later Anglo Saxon records of a settlement that has grown into Derby. The origin of the town name could be Anglo Saxon (Djura-by), Roman (Dervinto) or Danish (deor)


In the Civil War (Cromwell times 1642 – 1646) Derby had a turbulent history but was on the side of Parliament against the Royalist Armies but 100 hundred years later it played host to Bonnie Prince Charlie where he planned his assault on London to regain the throne of England for the Stuarts. As you all know Charlie backed away from the fight and faced his “Waterloo” at Culloden in 1746, which saw the House of Hanover replace the House of Stuart on the thrones of England Scotland Wales and Ireland. (I will have a little more about Cromwell and his connection with Long Eaton/Attenborough later on).

Derby is built upon the Derwent River and many mills were establish in the Derwent Valley to make use of the water power generated by the river. There is a whole system of mills along the valley but the most interesting to us was the mill at Darley Abbey. We have not made it to the Abbey this time but when we do I will show you all that remains of the 12th century abbey and the industrial weir providing the power for the mills along the Derwent.

In the photos following you will see

• the symbol of Derby the Ram located in the Mall,

• the Book Café (the home of the largest scones known to man) – we stopped for a cuppa and I had an enormous cheese scone and Kerry a sultana scone; the premises were so popular it seemed no one was able to walk past it without coming in,

• the Tiger Bar (a pub which is built over the entrance to the Derby Catacombs – regular ghost tours are conducted where the tourists disappear into a trap door in the floor of the dining room in the bar and reappear later) – we may return for the ghost tour ourselves,

• Derby Cathedral dating from the 12th century and where Bess of Hardwick (a famous identity from Elizabeth I’s reign, one of the wives of the Lord Cavendish and she starting as a 15 year old had 4 husbands and 11 children herself [the family are now the Duke of Devon and much of the privately owned land in London belongs to this family] and gaoler of Mary Queen of Scots) is buried along with all the family members since the 17th century

• Bonnie Prince Charlie on his horse to commemorate his plotting at Derby,

• the Old Silk Mill Pub (no connection with the original factory other than it is close by)

• Derby’s oldest pub Ye Old Dolphin,

• the catholic monolith St Mary’s (it replaced an older church destroyed by Henry VIII)

• the remnants of the first industrial factory (the Silk Factory) now the Derby Museum of Industry

• a painting by an unknown (and not very good) artist of Derby showing the Silk Factory, Exeter House and the town of Derby circa 1725 – they purchased this from an auction because it is the only record they have showing what the town and factory looked like and it shows Exeter House where Charlie and his co-conspirators met – this was later used to entertain visiting industrialist checking out the factory

• a 3D printer in action at the museum – we saw it produce a whistle which worked and two feathers usable as book marks – amazing to see an image turned into a solid, and we saw kinetic sand which is remarkable because it only sticks to itself and therefore is perfect for model making

• remarkable premises of a local law firm “Flint Bishop” occupying this whole building – have a look at their website they have people for just about every letter of the alphabet

the Ramthe Book Cafethe Tiger BarDerby CathedralBonnie Prince Charliethe Silk Mill HotelYe Olde Dolphinthe Silk Factory18th century Derby 3D printerFlint Bishop offices DerbyThe Abbey - the remenants of the Darley AbbeyWhat a place of worship - The Abbey

I have also included some older photos of Darley Abbey from previous visits. All that remains of the Abbey is a former church turned into a pub. Somewhat of a miracle turning water into wine women and song.

Long Eaton Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire

Date August 5
Long Eaton Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire
Long Eaton is a town in Derbyshire but lies just north of the River Trent about 7 miles south-west of Nottingham and is part of the Nottingham urban area but not part of the city itself. Long Eaton is referred to in the Doomsday Book as Aitone and is located at the lowest bridging point of the River Erewash. In 1228 the town gained the “Long” prefix due to the length of the town. In 1694 “the Great Fire of Long Eaton” destroyed 14 houses and several other buildings. The town developed around lace making with many old lace factories abandoned or converted in the town. It also had a railway wagon industry. (Source Wikipedia)
These industries were probably the influence for the construction of the Erewash canal which runs immediately behind our flat building.
One of the notable buildings in town is the Parish Church of St Laurence which local tradition dates from the 11th century (built by King Cnut) but it is more likely 12th century Norman. It is now overlooked by the eyesore Tesco Extra behemoth. There is some surprising architecture in town including the old Glitter and Dance UK headquarters at Harrington Mill built in 1885 with one and a quarter million bricks and is 167 meters long. There is also some pretty ordinary architecture from the 60’s and 70’s.

Our flat is in an old mill converted to the use and has retained its original chimney.

Photo of the building, entrance gates and chimney along with

• St Laurence Parish Church,
• The monstrosity Tesco store,
• Its companion ASDA,
• The old cinema showing some of the more acceptable 60’s architecture,
• The beautiful flower beds in the Main St,

• the High St which has been decimated by Tescoe and ASDA

• Market St/Tamworth Rd

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