The Retirees return to Nottingham

Our trip by bus to Nottingham was part of the nostalgia of this entire trip. Whilst living in the UK we travelled the M1 by bus from Nottingham to London frequently even though we had Thistle (our car). For me watching the familiar countryside slip by was a cathartic feeling I had returned to somewhere where we had both been content.

Arriving at Nottingham and we made our way to Attenborough where Cilla and Bob have lived and raised their family. Bob is a retired Professor formerly working at Nottingham University in human genes and biology and Cilla a retired physiotherapist. Cilla has an interest in Leprosy and supports a foundation aiding people afflicted and seeking a cure. Hence upon arrival we had great joy in assisting in setting up a garden party in their back yard in aid of the Leprosy Foundation. Leprosy remains a problem in Niger Africa.

Saturday morning and its all happening. Ladies dropping in the cakes for the cakes stall, Michelle (another gardener from the church) dropping in with masses of plants for the plant stall and Kerry and me assisting where needed (me assisting on the BBQ doing bacon butties) and Kerry aiding in the kitchen. All the neighbours and other people from throughout the village attend with 77 people attending in all (the head count courtesy of a door prize raffle setup by me) and takings from sales raffles etc and donations in excess of 1,000 pounds to be donated to the Leprosy Foundation. This is something they do every year to help.

After assisting cleaning up we made our way by bus into Nottingham to meet up with Martin and Christine our fellow travellers on the Rhine in 2015. Martin is a former MP in the Army and was stationed for a period in Germany and else where and has a deprecating sense of humour and a thirst for a lager (two hands and only one mouth). We have stayed in touch visiting them in Manchester last time we were over that way and they made the trip to Nottingham (we haven’t been here before) to see us. We met at the Ye Ole Trip to Jerusalem a pub claiming to be established in 1172AD and the oldest in Britain ( a claim challenged by Martin who says he has drunk in pubs of much greater age but cannot remember where). It was as usual very busy but we battled through and made “friends” with a bunch of young blokes taking their friend for a buck adventure dressed in a pink chiffon dress and tiara. He got too close to me at one stage.

We moved on from there to another pub up the road and across the canal in brilliant sunshine unusual for Britain and then another pub for an evening meal. Both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are blessed with narrow boat canals from the Industrial Revolution when all cargo went by canal to the ports. Whilst the meal disappointed the company was grand and we parted promising to catch up again and keep in touch. Since returning home we have pledged to meet again on the Rhine in 2020.

Returning to Attenborough we noticed that one of the marquees remained standing in the back yard. Bob had invited Roger and Joan and Sue around for lunch the following day. We had met Roger, Joan and Sue at the Leprosy fund raiser and they were coming back to help with the leftovers. Not really although the menu included sausages from the BBQ. I am not sure how many bottles of wine (Roger is ex-military also) were consumed but Bob found himself needing a rest after lunch. So we finished cleaning up and packing away the marquee and still the sun shined.

We continued to click with Bob and Cilla and they offered to take us for a country drive to a pub for lunch the next day. They had chosen a remote pub in the Derby dales out past Eyam. The pub a former something converted to its present use sits on a ridge overlooking the valley below. On the way we travelled to Monsal Head where we could see a former rail bridge and line now converted to a bike and walking path through the hills.

We drove from Monsal Head to Tideswell.

In the Middle Ages, Tideswell was a market town known for lead mining. The Tideswell lead miners were renowned for their strength and were much prized by the military authorities. The Domesday Book of 1086 lists TIDESUUELLE as the King’s land in the charge of William Peverel with fewer than five households.

Tideswell is now best known for its 14th-century parish church, the Church of St John the Baptist, known as the “Cathedral of the Peak”, which contains three 15th-century misericords. A sundial lies in the churchyard; it is positioned on steps which local historian Neville T. Sharpe thinks likely to be those of the village’s market cross. A market and two-day fair were granted to the village in 1251. The Foljambe family, later the Foljambe baronets, were the principal landowners from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The tomb of Sir Thurstan de Bower and Lady Margaret lie in the chapel.

From Tideswell we moved onto The Barrel Inn, a traditional Derbyshire country inn, dating back to 1597 and stands at the head of Bretton Clough, in the heart of the Peak District.

Being one of only five properties in this small hamlet, on a table of land some 1300 feet above sea level, The Barrel Inn claims to be the highest pub in Derbyshire. It has panoramic views of the majestic Hope Valley and the Peak District National Park. Old worldly charm – peaceful oak-beamed bar, real log fires, flagstone floors, studded doors in low doorways, beamed ceilings and polished copper and brass – have all been retained to enhance the overall charm and friendliness of the Inn.

Lunch was very pleasant and again Kerry and I found it difficult to resist the draw to once again return to live in Derbyshire.

Kerry had been trying to find some 3 ply wool for a shawl she had started and she had been unable to obtain it in Brisbane or at the wool shop at Chillwell nor at John Lewis in Nottingham so Bob made his way through the Dales to Buxton where Kerry had purchased the wool some 2 and 1/2 years ago. Buxton is an old Victorian spa town and often very busy with traffic. So whilst Bob and I caused a traffic jam Kerry and Cilla ran to the wool shop and purchased the necessary wool. An excellent day.

We also had time to visit Long Eaton and our old neighbour Pam Fowler. One of the memorable things about Long Eaton was the public gardens throughout the village. Here the Union Jack is proudly displayed in flowers and garden beds blooming line the streets and roundabouts.

Our time with Bob and Cilla was coming to an end but we had to visit the church. It was Tuesday the coffee morning at the Church, but the old crowd was not there. Trevor master of the kettle has passed on and Sue his widow (at the garden party) continues to work at the church but apart from Cilla, Sue and Michelle none of the old crowd were there. We visited the new memorial to the victims of the Chillwell munitions explosion from WW1 something that is still raw with some members of the community.

We had wanted to catch the bus to East Midlands Airport but Bob and Cilla would not have it and drove us to the drop off at the newly refurbished airport. Regretfully our nostalgic return had come to an end and who knows if we will ever have the opportunity to return.

The Retirees return to Nottingham – Old Neighbours

One of the things we wanted to do was catch up with our old Long Eaton neighbour, Pam Fowler. Pam and her husband John lived across the hall from our flat 41 and we regularly met and they shared their knowledge of the counties with us to help our explorations. Just before we departed Long Eaton we took John for his last walk around the lake at the University of Nottingham. John was determined despite his ill health to do the circuit and enjoyed the outing very much. We returned to Australia and learned that shortly after John had died. Now we wanted to catch up with Pam and see how she was getting on.

We walked from the Novotel to Oxford St (about an hour walk) past one of the many garden beds full of spring flowers and there was Pam waiting at the gate for us to arrive. Pam had planned that we have lunch at Bennett’s Hotel, a site which had been under redevelopment for the whole of the time we were living in Long Eaton. The hotel has been renovated internally in a modern style and it has a simple menu for seniors like us. Lunch was very pleasant. We returned to Pam’s flat, flat 40 a very familiar scene for us from the myriad of visits we made to John and Pam. Over coffee we reminisced about John and Pam spoke of life after John. It appears that Pam has come to terms with John’s passing and is now comfortable living on her own. We will continue to keep in touch.

Monday evening is Rotary at Nottingham. Still meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, we turned up for their AGM and surprised many of them despite having given notice to the Club Secretary. It was a great reunion and reminded us how supportive they were when we lived at Long Eaton. A surprise visitor (apart from us) was Eve Conway the RIBI President (Britain is the only country in the world where Rotary is administered outside of Chicago as a result of war time communication between Chicago and the UK being difficult during WWI). We posed for a photo with the Club dignitaries Paul Jones the President Elect on the left and Chris Spencer on the right the current President and Eve and it is posted on our Rotary website.

Tuesday, we visited Nick Smith at Direct Trimmings our former associate in the Glitter and Dance experiment in the UK. Nick’s business is on the 4th floor of an old spinning mill in Leopold St and site of the first G&D shop. Kerry had always complained that the stairs were killing her without knowing that she had a “wart” inside her heart. This time having undergone open heart surgery to remove the wart she climbed the stairs grinning about the change the surgery had made. The chimney in the yard of the mill, (formerly served the steam boilers of the old factory both now heritage listed) was undergoing some repair whilst we are there and we stared in awe at the blokes climbing the various ladders tied to the chimney to do the repair.

After chatting to Nick regarding business trends and changes around Long Eaton, we jump onto the tram at Toton and headed into the city for lunch with Geoff and Diana Bosworth from the Rotary Club. Diana is a Kiwi who lived in Australia after meeting Geoff and then in Canada with Geoff ultimately moving to Nottingham. Coming from the Antipodes we had a connection. Diana selected the restaurant in a part of Nottingham that is new to us just to show us that we have not been everywhere. Typical Kiwi always trying to out do an Aussie. Not really but we keep the rivalry going.

 

The Retirees return to Nottingham.

We arrived at Gatwick Airport South and after resting our weary heads from trains and planes, we then set off in search of the Europcar office, which also proved to be difficult to find but we got there only to find the car we had reserved was not available. After one and a half hours we finally got away from Gatwick and headed off up the M23, the M25, and then the M1 to Nottingham. It really felt like we were going home with all the familiar features along the highway. Finally, 4 hours after leaving London Gatwick we pulled into Bostocks Lane off the M1 and arrived at the Novotel Nottingham Derbyshire; a hotel well known to us. When we left the UK in November 2015 the hotel was undergoing renovation, now in April 2017 we were given a comfortable room with a view of the bush leading to the canal path leading to the River Trent. Spring was coming and as usual flowers were blooming everywhere.

Rested we awoke to a grey day without any real plans. After speaking with our eldest daughter in Australia, we decided to ride the tram to Hucknall. In 2015 the council had just finished constructing a new tram line from Toton (the next village beside Long Eaton) to Hucknall through Nottingham and although we were there for the opening we did not ride the rail all the way to the end. So that is what we decided to do – ride the tram to Hucknall. As we left to drive to the park and ride station I took photos of the beautiful road side flower beds proving that Spring was in the air but it did not feel like it at all.

Kerry had read about Bridlesmith St and its boutiques and as I was foolish enough to comment that it was just near the Lace District and the tram passed through it, our first stop was Bridlesmith Lane. Of course there were some shops that needed investigation but we finally made it to the old Market Square and picked up the tram once again to complete the journey to Hucknall just down the road from Newstead Abbey the former home of Lord Byron. We had lunch at the Station Hotel which had a curious games room which included a quote from Lord Byron on its wall “What’s drinking? A mere pause for thinking!”

The Retirees go Abroad – the Iberian Peninsula – Lisbon Portugal

We have said farewell to Long Eaton – it will always be one of my homes in my heart. Farewell to our neighbours Pam and John and farewell to our other Rotary Club – Nottingham. After bouncing off the walls at the Novotel Long Eaton for 4 days we are finally on our way to Portugal and Spain. We still have the car as it is cheaper to park the car (and luggage) than just the luggage and hope to sell the car on 31/10/2015; the day before we leave for Australia.

Flying to Lisbon was no problem and finding our apartment in the old city no problem. But finding out where we are on a map of the city is impossible as the streets are so small and so numerous that all we can determine is our general area. Fortunately I spotted a restaurant around the corner so we could eat but only if we can speak Portuguese (it’s the 5th most widely spoken language so surely we know a few words – not a one). Hand signals and a lot of pointing at the dishes on other tables brought a result sort of.

To bed to dream – not bloody likely they pick up the garbage every night because the streets are so narrow. We managed to find a mercador (small shop) to buy some corn flakes (Portuguese variety), milk and other provisions so after breakfast we hit the track. Now the city is serviced by trams; small trams, but even though they are small there are some places where pedestrians are crushed against the buildings by the trams because the streets are so narrow. But it provides a bloody obvious track to follow to find whatever you want.

We wanted to find the information centre to plan our visit. So we followed the tracks, passing a viewing platform with restaurants and what appeared to be a public pool, an ancient tree, the main Cathedral, trams and buses jousting for passage along the narrow streets until arriving at the commercial area where we were inundated with things to do. There was even a stationers sharing the family name of our son-in-law. We decided on the “Red Tram” tour around the old city and two walking tours one for tapas and drinks and the other for dinner and Fado – the traditional mournful music telling stories of resignation to what life may bring. The Red Tram tour started under an impressive gate beside an equally impressive square and monument.

The tram took us back up the hill we just walked down around the castle (yes another castle) back down to the commercial area and out to the Basilica of the Scared Heart of Jesus and back down to the square. This can be an ponderous journey depending on the misadventures of the motorists sharing the road with the trams.

After completing the tour and gaining an idea of where everything was we had lunch – cod cakes, a glass of wine and a glass of beer. This is a new version of the traditional concept in Portugal (the cakes include a soft cheese) and the restaurant was a bit bohemian as well. having completed our repast and a stroll down the avenue viewing some of the exotic tiled buildings and a viewing tower constructed against the ruin of another monastery, we headed for the Basilica of the Sacred Heart as the tram audio had informed us that there were magnificent views from the church.

Our tour ticket gave us use of the public tram system as well. Arriving at 3.00pm we were able to go up to roof where we could view the city and view the dome of the church. 120 steps later and 8 euros lighter we stepped out onto the roof of the Basilica. The views are outstanding until we then stepped into the dome.

Then we went into the Basilica to view the tomb of Queen Maria who had built the church to keep a promise after giving birth to a son. Inside we found the tomb but I also found behind the tomb the Nativity Scene of Estrela Basilica sculptured by Joaquin Machado de Castro in wood and cork with over 450 ceramic and clay figures. Not only is this the biggest nativity scene you will ever see you will be surprised by all the people present at the birth of Christ – even a bloke with bag pipes! After that I decided to get a haircut.

We walked back to the old city along the tram tracks past the Parliament building but we could not go inside – at least that is what the two armed guards at the front door said and I was not in an argumentative mood. We discover some wonderful graffiti in Lisbon and it all seems to relate to the culture and the people. Here is one on the side of a building in the street below the Parliament. Then we passed what I thought at that time the most ornate church on the planet – Church of Santa Catrina and Monastery of the Paulists (Church of Saint Catherine – there must have been a sale on gold leaf and silver leaf in the 18th century and this church bought the lot!) I left there shaking my head about the extravagance of the Catholic Church – there is no end to it.

After that experience we found the funicular running down to the river banks of the River Targus and into the Time Out markets – a mixture of fresh food markets and restaurants, bars and dining areas, where there is nothing your heart could desire that was not for sale. Even beer on tap that you pulled for yourself. Take one credit card, tap it on the beer of your choice and pull your beer.

The day is drawing to a close. The traffic is chaotic so it’s time to take a tram home buy some dinner and get some rest for tomorrow is another day in Lisboa (Lisbon). The tram takes it time so I photograph one of the many baroque buildings in Lisbon. After arriving at the apartment we carefully make our way to a restaurant in Rua Ecole do Gervais – nothing special about the food but the view and the music floating up from the Fado restaurants below gave it charm its drab exterior would never convey.

The Retirees go Abroad – Cologne –Back to Long Eaton via Monchau.

Next morning we arose with the alarm to finish packing and put the cases outside the cabin have breakfast and get on the bus. Thus far on this trip our bus drivers had got lost three times and our tour guide Jill was found wanting in her knowledge outside of the script given to her by Shearings. So it should not come as a surprise that Jill forgot to tell those of us waiting in the lounge to board the coach leading to a late scramble to board the bus. Derek our new driver from Lancashire seemed a bit more positive in his knowledge so when we ended up at Monchau and not the retail designer outlet village that had been a feature of our return journey, there was consternation in the camp – Kerry let him know her opinion and she was right; they had changed the itinerary without informing us.

After sharing our opinion with Derek, we went off to view the village and a pretty village it is. Established in the 12th century the village had its glory during the 18th century making fine quality clothe and some of the buildings evidence the wealth of the town. Most of the village is original as it was saved from damage through the Second World War probably because it no longer had any commercial importance or strategic value. Our walk took in the oldest church, and the river that runs through it a cafe where we enjoyed goulash soup and a strudel, the into the oldest part of the town where we found a family of coffee blenders and some chocolatiers making chocolate with mustard from the local mustard factory, the Red House (an impressive 18th century mansion now a museum which closes at lunch time of course) and lots of other quaint buildings.

We then had a wearisome drive to our hotel arriving at 7.30 pm because of traffic. After a good night rest (the first time in a bed larger than a ships bunk for 6 nights) we boarded the coach only to learn that the refugees had been rioting at Calais again. Despite this the bus driver insisted on stopping at a duty free store for all the addicts to stock up on nicotine (one woman had the habit so badly that even though the weather got mist and freezing winds , she would stand outside the hotel sucking on a ciggie chain smoking rather than forsake the ciggie and join us inside). Our worries about the ferry and delays proved unfounded but the French are taking it more seriously. Two police were posted at our hotel to stay with the bus overnight to ensure no illegals hid on the vehicle. We boarded the ferry on time and at this rate we expect to be at Long Eaton by 6.00pm tomorrow will be a busy day finishing the packing and moving out of our home for the last 18 months.

The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham – 18 holes at Sherwood Forest Golf Club

Being a passionate golfer, Greg has organised two golf days: a competition game at Sherwood Forest Club and a game with me at The Belfry in Warwickshire. Today it’s Sherwood Forest and tee time is 9.20am. The weather has decided to turn wet and cold. I fish out my corduroy trousers and shower proof jacket and Greg looks for anything warm, in his summer wardrobe.

We arrive with time to spare despite Tommy’s best efforts to get lost – I’m certain I have set the machine for the most convoluted way. I even get to hold a putter and pretend I know what to do whilst Greg warms up in the driving nets then on the putting pitch and even tries a few chips (with the pitching iron not hot chips). I must have looked professional enough to draw a comment from a course official. This chap wandered up to me and commented that I did not comply with the course dress code and did I intend to play in that coat. After correcting his misapprehension and informing him that I was there to photograph that famous Australian golfer Greg Young, he apologized exchanged some pleasantries and then slunk away.

Shortly we were in the hands of the starter and met the other two players David and Martin. David was a member and quite well to do – his Bentley sports car said so. Martin was from the north – Huddersfield I think he said but I could rarely understand his accent.

The Club was formed in 1895 and has a wonderful clubhouse with the first tee sitting directly in front. Now follows a series of photos of Greg in every predicament that golf can throw at you. They gave him a 10 handicap when his club handicap is 12 – an extra incentive to play with dedication. At the end of the day Greg had carded with his handicap 83 – not bad on an unknown course in difficult conditions of rain and wind. As Oscar Wilde said of golf – a good walk spoiled. So with the golf finished and our cards handed in we tucked into the smorgasbord – well Greg and I shared particularly as I had not paid anything for the privilege.

We left Sherwood Forest golf Club with happy memories of some holes and forgot about those we did not like. Friday we would challenge the Belfry.

The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham

My brother Greg arrived in Nottingham yesterday for a stay of about 8 days. The allure of free accommodation and golf in the Midlands could not be resisted.

We met him at the bus station on Sunday and allowed him to settle and recuperate as we had a busy itinerary planned. So rested and fed, Monday morning we went on the walking tour of Long Eaton (just so he knew where Tesco is located in case he needed to go to the shop) finishing at Anderson’s for a cup of coffee, followed by a visit to Nottingham city centre.

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We caught the bus at Market Place into Nottingham to investigate the Caves beneath the city. Now I had been here before but the tour had been changed for the better with three guides giving different parts of the story. It starts with the geology of the city and explains that Nottingham (Snottingham in Saxon – fortunately the name developed over time) is built on a sandstone plinth and that from the times of early settlement people were digging cellars and caves into the rocky plinth. A number of the caves were joined together during WW2 to provide an air raid shelter. Our first guide showed us one of the wells used by inhabitants down through the ages and explained how they unknowingly poisoned themselves through sewerage passing into these wells. She also pointed out the chisel marks of ancient tools on the walls explaining how these caves were dug by hand.

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Our second guide was looking for apprentices to work in the underground tannery and described the dirty filthy work undertaken to produce leather and how this industry also polluted the water of the river causing illness among the inhabitants. Not only did they pollute the ground water by storing the hides in sandstone tanks which leaked into the ground and wells but they also polluted the river by washing their hides in the river.

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With the commencement of WW2 and particularly the Battle of Britain, many of the cellars and caves were joined together to create Anderson shelters. Our third guide took us through one such shelter constructed in the caves, fitted out in much the same way as it was during the war with gas masks and bunks.

Even after the war, the caves continued to be used until the development of the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre when through public pressure the developers were forced to preserve the caves and build the centre over the top of them.

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It was after 4.00pm when we finished at the Caves however we had purchased a two for one ticket which included the Galleries of Justice which we planned for the next day. Before heading home we visited the Castle and decided to return there tomorrow also. For now we had to meet Kerry at the Crowne Plaza for our Rotary meeting.

The Retirees go Abroad –  2 Nights three days in Liverpool

Since returning to Nottingham we have taken it easy. David and Veronica have arranged to visit friends Anne and Dave in Preston and before too long Kerry has planned another trip – this time to Liverpool. Now Liverpool is not very far away provided that there is no road work on the M6, and no delays at the Manchester Airport turnoff. Of course we encountered both. Fortunately the hot weather has finished (we decided to fit a new air con pump to the car and so the weather goes from sub-tropical heat and humidity to chilling gale force winds).

On arriving at Liverpool we have some fun and games finding our apartment so David and Veronica head off for Lime Street Station and a train to Preston while we try to find our apartment. Soon we work out that it is a doorway off the mall with reception on the 1st floor. Tidy apartment but there was little natural air flow and the apartment was somewhat stifling. After dumping the suitcase we head off for Albert docks the restored dock area of Liverpool. We quickly spotted some pretty startling buildings and some canal boats. The weather was treating us kindly. Although there was a strong breeze it was delightful in the sun.

We found the tourist information centre by accident. I wanted a hot dog and Kerry was not prepared to wait while one attendant tried to serve too many people. That brought us to the Tuk tuks and that in turn lead us to the Tour Centre. We learned that Liverpool was celebrating 175 years of Cunard history with a visit from the QM2 (RMS Queen Mary 2) and there would be all sorts of entertainment food and people including 2000+ from the ship wanting the attractions of Liverpool. This made us decide very quickly to take the 4.00pm Magical Mystery Tour of the history of the Beatles with free entry to the Cavern Club at the end of the tour. Perfect we will do the tour and have dinner at the Cavern club and walk home.

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The tour started on a bus with the guide proclaiming a connection to the lead singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood – he is his brother. So he says this makes him well qualified to guide the tour. We will see.

Throughout the tour we had music by the Beatles of course and the groups that inspired them and a track by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. So it was a swinging time. First we hear about the unfortunate Pete Best and how Ringo got the gig, Ringo’s life growing up and see the derelict housing estate in which he grew up (still preserved whilst people fight about one of them – Ringo’s house.).

Next is Penny Lane. The Beatles wrote about where they lived and came from so Penny Lane is a story of the community the different occupations and buildings.

After Penny Lane we visit the house where George grew up. He was the youngest Beatle and probably from the poorest background. His house still exists but it is one of a number of unremarkable house down an alley called Arnold Grove fronted by a car repair shop. By the way “Unadopted” on the street sign means the Council did not have responsibility to maintain any of the services. That has changed to day but it shows the impoverished circumstances from which George became famous.

 

From there we went to the hall where the Beatles first started to perform as the Beatles and the graveyard containing the grave of Eleanor Rigby. Down the road we stop at the gate of Strawberry Fields which in the early sixties was a girls’ orphanage which John used to visit to spy on the girls from a tree. The orphanage has closed now of course but the song reminds us of the boyhood adventures for John.

We move to John’s house where he lived with his Aunt. It now has a blue plaque as John has died and it is deemed to be a significant site. Paul’s house is nearby as the crow flies and has been bought by the National Trust and can be visited by appointment. It is said that Paul returns there each year for Xmas to remember his mother Mary.

On the way back to the city now we pass the art school in Hope St attended by Paul and John which Paul has purchased and established a trust to run the school for future students. Nearby is the Liverpool Philharmonic, the Anglican Cathedral and the RC Cathedral.

As promised we were dropped at the Cavern Club and given free admission. It is 3 stories below Matthew St and it is where the Beatles played 274 times before stardom. The Club continues to promote new talent and of course the Mersey sound. The night we were there a Kinks tribute band was playing so for £10 each we stayed for the entertainment and entertained we were.

Although after midnight we had no trouble walking back to our apartment and sleep.

The next morning we ventured off to see the QM2. It was only 10 minutes walk away and we became celebrities posing for the Liverpool Echo taking a selfy in front of the ship. We also met David Fawkner one of the official artists for the Festival doing a water colour of the ship. David spoke freely about his life in the Merchant Marines before trying his hand late in life at maritime drawing and painting. He said he had some little success and mainly did it for his own enjoyment. He allowed us a photo and told us of his family connection with Australia. The Fawkner’s were one of the early settlers in Melbourne (which I remembered from my grade 6 Social Studies) and later Harry Hawker (another of the Fawkner family he said) returned to the UK to work as chief design engineer at Sopwith and when that company failed and the owners reformed to design the Hurricane for the Brits during WW2, they named it and the company after Harry – Hawker Hurricane by Hawker De Havilland.

We continued our walk and some days later we followed the QM2 out to sea and watched the fireworks farewell.

 

We saw the three Graces – three buildings of note one of which was once the Cunard HQ and visited the food festival the antiques festival and the Museum of Liverpool.

It was a full on 3 days and we finished by picking up David and Veronica and driving them back to Long Eaton through the Derby Dales.

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.

Bishops Visit – Arrival in Long Eaton

Our first Australian a visitors arrive today. Doug and Nerida have been friends for over twenty five years and we have done trips down the Volga, up the coast of Norway and through Paris with them but this is the first time we have lived together and travelled. They are flying into Manchester International Airport and we have driven over to collect them. Their arrival is on time and Manchester is much easier to navigate than Heathrow.

After greetings and the short walk to the car, we decide to avoid the motorway on the return journey and by the time we get into Long Eaton it is already dark but their journey through the

villages of the Peaks District gives them a taste of what is to come including unexpected users of the road.

Conscious of the effect of jet lag, we don’t plan much for the next day. Our neighbours John and Pam have told us that Shardlow (a nearby village) has had a glorious history during the great industrial canal era. I don’t need any more than that to make me curious as to what it looks like today.

So I looked on Wikipedia to find the history of the village and it says: “An important late 18th century river port for the trans-shipment of goods to and from the River Trent to the Trent and Mersey Canal, during its heyday from the 1770s to the 1840s it became referred to as “Rural Rotterdam” and “Little Liverpool”. Today Shardlow is considered Britain’s most complete surviving example of a canal village, with over 50 Grade II listed buildings and a large number of surviving public houses within the designated Shardlow Wharf Conservation Area.”

The trip over to Shardlow took little more than 10 minutes and we did not find anything of the past glory. It is cute in some ways but nothing of a “Rural Rotterdam” remains. The most interesting bit was the canal house caught between the canal and the lock

 

The next day we showed them around Long Eaton and then a trip was into Nottingham to the caves under the city.

“Nottingham sits upon a soft sandstone ridge which can easily be dug with simple hand tools to create artificial cave dwellings. Indeed Nottingham was once known as Tigguo Cobauc meaning Place of Caves and was referred to as such by the Bishop of Sherborne Asser in The Life of King Alfred (893AD). The caves here are some of the oldest remaining in the city, with pottery finds dating them to 1270-1300, and were inhabited from at least the 17th century until 1845 when the St. Mary’s Inclosure Act banned the renting of cellars and caves as homes for the poor. None of the caves are natural, they were all cut into the sandstone for use as houses, cellars and place of work by the inhabitants of the city.

As of 2014 more than 500 caves in the city have been catalogued, including 100 that were only rediscovered in the last four years. Construction of the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre began in the late 1960s, but the opening up of the caves to vandals and plans to fill them in with concrete caused a public outcry. A detailed study by The Nottingham Historical Arts Society led to the caves being scheduled as an ancient monument and the development plans were subsequently changed to preserve most of the caves. The caves were cleared by volunteers from the 2418 Sherwood Squadron Air Training Corps and Rushcliffe School and opened to public tours by the Friends of Nottingham Museum in 1978.”(source Wikipedia)

After visiting the caves we took a walk through part of the city and stumbled onto the city square set up as a Christmas wonderland.