Category Archives: Derbyshire

The Afternoon Passes…

The afternoon slipped past as smoothly as the morning, though it was arguably less productive. All I did in the afternoon was to eat lunch and take a trip to Sheffield.

Lunch was slightly disappointing, so I’m not going to review it, except to say that if we ever need to stop for food in Chesterfield again I will ignore Frankie and Benny’s and go to Harvester instead. You get more flavour at Harvester, and free salad. I say “free”, though I concede this may not be totally accurate.

They have a big wheel in Chesterfield at the moment.  I’m sure it will be quite interesting to go on it and see the twisted spire close up if you can ignore the fact you are being taken for a trip in the sky in a device where costs and weight have been kept to a minimum. I really should have taken my camera, as it made an interesting sight.

We then carried on to Sheffield and dropped Number Two son off, along with two bags of healthy foodstuffs and the contents of my wallet. He’s been home for the weekend discussing his dissertation with Julia. He discussed the Rugby and the Superbowl with me. It’s probably for the best, as, though my grasp of sport is poor, it’s far better than my grasp of matters academic.

Tonight, being back to sensible eating, we will dine on soup. Julia has already prepared and packed the lunch salads for tomorrow. I foresee a dreary, though virtuous, few days.

Books, Blue John and Bakewell Pudding

I had a bad night last night, waking up in the early hours with a pain in the elbow. I couldn’t lie on my back and I couldn’t lie on my side, and, most irritatingly, I couldn’t work out what I’d done to cause the problem.

Eventually I dropped off, but I slept a disturbed sleep and kept dreaming about having a painful elbow. I’m not sure what this signifies in the lore of the meaning of dreams, but suspect it might mean I have a pain in the elbow.

Finally I got up and started preparing for the big day out. We had to drop a prescription off at the surgery first, then set off for Derbyshire. We’ve been a few times recently, but we like it, and we wanted to get out rather than frittering the day away. That’s what normally happens if we stay at home – a few errands here, a few chores there and suddenly the day has gone. I’m an expert at wasting time, so you can believe me on this subject.

We stopped on the way to take a few views, including the tower of the Crich Memorial.

 

Apart from being a memorial to the dead of the Sherwood Foresters, the hill has been the scene of Roman settlement, an Armada beacon and an 1813 steam locomotive experiment. Today the village of Crich houses a Tramway Museum.

In the years leading up to 2002, Rolls Royce used the quarry at the back of the hill for dumping low level radioactive waste. The words “low level” aren’t much comfort in this context.

Florence Nightingale lived in the village of Lea, which is round the back of the memorial, so it’s been quite a busy place in historical terms.

Our main visit was to Bakewell, where I photographed the padlock bridge again, toured charity shops (the Air Ambulance shop is probably the pick of the bunch – much better than the one at Carsington). I bought some interesting books, which will be reviewed later and we looked at traditional Derbyshire Blue John jewellery in shop windows. It seems to be making a comeback.

I found a rotting tree stump covered in fungus near the car park, a Julia-sized jumper in the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and a Bakewell Pudding in a tea room.

 

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Bakewell Pudding with ice cream. It didn’t need the ice cream, but they insisted.

The pudding was excellent.

I also took a few other photos, including on of a dog’s footprint in cement. I bet that was a popular dog.

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Dog’s footprint, immortalised in cement at Bakewell

After that we went home, photographing a sunset on the way and buying white gloss paint  for a project in the Mencap Garden.

A Few Photos I Didn’t Use

I thought I’d cut down on Christmas effort by shoving in a few photos I haven’t used before. I may use them in the future, because I still have a few things to write up, but for the moment I will use them to save effort on a day when I need my energy for bickering with family members, over-cooking food and complaining about the poor quality of TV.

Some Christmas traditions are just too important to ignore.

The main photograph shows Julia walking across the bridge at Bakewell. It has an amazing number of locks attached to it, despite the article I read some months ago which said they were going to take some off. They are now so thickly clustered it’s starting to look a bit like Paris.

You may notice that Julia is carrying a basket.

It’s a sort of tradition with us – we go to Bakewell and Julia buys another basket. Like all the best traditions, the origins of this strange nehaviour are hidden in the mists of time. If there is ever a world shortage of baskets it is unlikely to have much impact on our family.

These are  afew shots of Bakewell. I have more, as you will find out later.

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Cottage Pie with a sweet potato topping, carrots and samphire. We know how to live.

The strange quality to the photograph is caused by steam rising from the meal. Most food in cookery books, I believe is cold to prevent this. However, considering what else they do to it, cold is the least of your worries. The carrots, for instance,would be coated with glycerine to make them attractively shiny. Samphire is getting quite fashionable and is actually being imported.

I first ate samphire when I foraged it on a camping trip in Norfolk. That would be around 1976. I enjoyed it so much that I had it again in 2016. I had it twice in 2017. It’s bitter, it’s salty and the last lot had some very fibrous stalks, but it’s crunchy after steaming and tastes like it must be doing you good. According to this article it’s also known as Mermaid’s Kiss and is loved by fashionable cooks.

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A brick from Watnall Colliery, Nottingham

This is a brick from a local brickyard – marked up as NCB Watnall (National Coal Board for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term). A lot of collieries also made bricks. There were 82 operating after the war and this example is from Watnall near Nottingham. The NCB indicates it was made after 1947. It’s a bit of local history we found when going through a pile of bricks at the Mencap garden.

 

 

The Birthday Present

Better late than never, as they say.

We went to Bakewell today and finally bought Julia’s birthday present.  We’d originally gone to the retail park just off the M1, then Matlock Bath, and finally Bakewell. Derbyshire seemed quite busy, with several Christmas events taking place.

We eventually ended up in a very nice jeweller’s shop and selected the pendant and chain in the main picture. It’s forget-me-nots in a silver mount. I’m not sure what the clear stuff is – it’s tempting to call it crystal but it’s probably some sort of plastic. This is the 21st century, after all, and it was very reasonably priced.

To sum up – Julia likes it, it looks good and it wasn’t expensive. What’s not to like?

When we left the shop they gave us a crystal angel decoration to celebrate their 15 years in business in Bakewell.

If you happen to be in Bakewell they are in Water Street and open from 10.00 until 5.00.

http://www.jewellerybystoneart.co.uk

They have a great selection of stock and I could have bought more, but Julia decided to be economical.

 

Lagging Behind, and Misery in Derbyshire

It’s Wednesday today and I’m still blogging about Monday.

Eventually we reached Carsington Water, where I discovered I had left my stick at home. Though I have a spare one in the car it is one of my Dad’s and is about two inches too short. It actually causes more problems than it solves and is only there for emergencies.

It was a handy excuse for not walking round and freezing. So we went to the shops. Julia spent the points off the RSPB loyalty card on crackers and cards and I poked through the books and bird food before deciding that I didn’t feel like spending money.  I never feel like spending money, but at Christmas I can at least get into the character of Ebeneezer Scrooge and claim I’m entering the spirit of Christmas.

We went into the Air Ambulance charity shop after that. It was a miserable experience.  They seemed to have taken delivery of a new consignment of stock, and most of it was stacked in front of the books so I couldn’t see the interesting books.  To make things worse, the staff member who was on duty seemed to go out of her way to obstruct Julia as she tried to look round. It takes a lot to wind Julia up but she wasn’t very pleased by the time she’d finished.

We like the air ambulance, and though the kids never needed it, we have been at events where other rugby players have been whisked off for treatment. We also like charity shops. Things are bad when I use the words “miserable experience” about a visit.

I was able to look at a cookery book – James Martin’s Great British Winter Cookbook. I won’t add a link as that might tempt someone to buy it. None of the recipes grabbed me, and one, Tomato and Cumin Soup, didn’t seem particularly British or wintery. I mean, where are all the winter tomatoes? In Spain.

Then we went for tea and cake. A day that features tea and cake can’t be all bad can it? And the restaurant is always good. I say “always”…

Julia liked her mince pie. I thought my raspberry and orange cake was a bit dry. And deficient in raspberries, though as I served myself I only had myself to blame. Then I started to think I detected the aftertaste of artificial sweetener. It may not have been, but it was definitely an unpleasant aftertaste.

To cheer things up I suggested a trip to the bookshop at Brierlow Bar.  I wasn’t expecting much, but as we were on the doorstep thought we might as well go.  To be fair, some of the book stock does seem to be improving, after a bit of a slump, as does the card stock. However, we bought cards and stationery and no books, which doesn’t look good for the future.

We couldn’t even eat cake as we are dieting and had already had our daily ration.

In my dreams of next year I see myself standing outside the shop with my nose pressed up against the window looking in at the bright lights. Inside, people enjoy tea and cake, buy expensive bird food and select books that I wouldn’t enjoy.

Sadly, I cannot participate and I gradually fade away like the ghost of readers past…

I will leave you with that picture.

The next post will be more cheery.

 

Guess Where We Went Today?

The sign might be a giveaway. We started off with breakfast at Harvester, which featured rubber sausages and a severe lack of melon or crumpets. I rather disgraced myself with a couple of muffins as an alternative, despite the no bread and potatoes rule. I suppose they were under pressure with having a surge for half-term. However, they were still charging the same price so they should provide the same service.

From there we went to the garden to drop off plastic crates and donated bird feeders. Then, via an ill-fated “shortcut” we dropped into Derbyshire. At one point, with the hedges nearly touching the door mirrors and a strip of grass growing down the centre of the road, Julia started her impression of duelling banjoes…

We eventually found civilisation, in the shape of the Homebase DIY store at Ashbourne, where we bought a bag of Scottish River Cobbles and some half-price violas. It cost £10 for a bag of rocks, which Julia is going to use in a project. I was all for stopping by a river and helping ourselves to some for free but Julia pointed out that this would be irresponsible and illegal. For the purposes of the blog I’ll pretend that this was what stopped me doing it.

From there we drove into the low cloud to visit the High Peak Bookstore and Cafe. As you can see from the header picture, grey is creeping in and the cafe is getting more space on the sign. This is true in physical space too. The cookery books have been removed and were being replaced with jars of jam on the former bookshelves. We were able to sit and watch this act of sacrilage when we visited.

Tripadvisor is full of upbeat comments about book stock and prices. They must be being visited by people all love thing the same thing, and I am out of step. The fact that the shop reply is always identical adds to the impression of sameness.

The tea and cake were good and the book selection is generally holding up well though the nature section has still not recovered and the craft books are now starting to suffer. It could still be OK, but I’m still concerned. Last time I went head to head against a cafe I came off second best.

On the way back I tried a few photographs. Light hadn’t been good during the day but the view was pleasantly misty and as it coincided with passing a lay-by I thought I’d have a go. As luck would have it, the camera managed to get rid of the atmospheric haze and I resorted to the effects button.

 

 

More Grumbling

After we decided not to risk more garden centres we decided to drop down through the Peak District. This involved use of the satnav, and I have to say it didn’t cover itself in glory. For one thing, it kept interrupting our conversation with it’s constant chanting of taking second exits at roundabouts and turning left in 700 yards. No, I don’t know why 700 is seen as significant, that’s why it sticks in my mind. I’d be much more boring if I was designing a sat nav – 800 and 500 would do for me.

That, unfortunately, wasn’t the main problem. The infernal machine insists on using main roads, and is quite prepared to make a substantial detour to use dual carriageways and motorways, despite the map and common sense. That was how we found ourselves travelling through various unattractive industrial areas on dual carriageways, rather than the drama of the High Peak.

When we eventually got into the countryside we had an entertaining drive with some breathtaking views and impressive viaducts. Unfortunately these weren’t matched by equally impressive viewpoints, so there are no photos. I could have taken several photos of the back ends of traffic queues too, but I didn’t. Once you’ve seen the back of one car for twenty minutes, you’ve seen all you need for a lifetime.

We did manage some photos of the heather and snow fences  on the A628, just before we got to the really good scenery. Isn’t that always the way?

The good news is that we reached the bookshop in time to top up the cheese toasties with a restorative cup of tea and a good chunk of date and walnut cake. Dates and Walnuts are healthy aren’t they? Made into cake they are even better.

I do have some misgivings about the shop now the cafe is proving more popular. It’s difficult to put my finger on it, and even more difficult to defend my position, It has got to be good that the shop is more profitable, and I’m resigned to putting up with the inane chatter of customers and staff (who seem to spend more time yacking than serving) but I am concerned about the number of books, and the fact it’s getting more difficult to find books that I want to read.

We’d nearly finished the cake before the tea arrived, and struggled to find books. That, to me, means that a top class bookshop has now been replaced by a less good bookshop and a cafe that needs someone to get a grip.

Menus on clipboards, lamps made from vintage petrol cans (I shudder at the thought of the desecration) and mix-and-match crockery is all very well, but good tea, good cake and good service is essential. Two out of three isn’t good enough in this context. And the man in the kitchen needs to get some work done instead of loafing about chatting up the female staff.

If I was an anthropologist, or if he was a wild bird, I might find his courtship behavior interesting. But as a thirsty book-buyer, I really don’t need him droning on when he’d be better employed loading the dishwasher.